Last winter my family and I visited the small resort of Galtur, for a family ski holiday in the Austrian Tirol. My three year old son learnt to ski for the first time, our youngest played in snow for the first time and my wife and I explored the mountains. Between us we experienced enough to write this review of Galtur family ski holiday in Austria.
Galtur is just 9 km from Ischgl, but in many ways it’s a whole world away. I love Ischgl, and even though I wouldn’t take my kids there, it is great to know it is a short bus ride away. However for a small resort Galtur packs a big punch and is the perfect destination for a family ski holiday in Austria.
Getting to Galtur
For most people getting to your ski holiday is the worst part – particularly with a family. So I will start this review of Galtur family ski holiday in Austria by saying getting to Galtur was very easy.
We left home after breakfast and the drive to Gatwick was quick and traffic free. Dropping our car with I Love Meet and Greet went smoothly, having them collect your car from the terminal saves a lot of hassle, particularly with huge ski luggage and two young children.
The EasyJet flight to Innsbruck was on time, and luggage – including the important ski bags – arrived as it should. We then had a private transfer with Four Seasons Travel which took under 90 minutes to reach the Hotel Ballunspitze in Galtur – the driver was very friendly giving us an unofficial tour enroute.
The Galtur ski area is at the head of the Paznaun Valley in Wirl. It consists of 40 km of pistes, including 6 km of blues, 24 km of reds and 10 km of blacks. The resort rises from 1600m to 2300m and although fairly small it’s perfectly formed.
The uncrowded pistes are immaculately maintained, they offer both a good variety and plenty of space. The lift system is efficient with one gondola, three chairs and two drags, plus a second gondola under construction planned. In case nature does not provide, seventy five percent of the pistes have snowmaking.
Galtur has dedicated freeride zones that are both avalanche controlled and patrolled, they even have a kids’ off-piste area to teach youngsters about safety away from the piste. There’s also a kids’ adventure zone with a route through a witch’s grotto and another teaching you all about about the native wildlife.
There is a good snowpark inside the Galtur freestyle zone. It has a range of kickers, rails, boxes and other features. It’s not huge but big enough to keep freestyle skiers and snowboarders of different abilities entertained.
Galtur village is just outside the ski area in Wirl, so this means a short hop on a free bus. The village is quiet with a few shops, restaurants and hotels. If you want nightlife you can catch the bus to Ischgl with its abundance of bars and restaurants and legendary apres.
In the centre of Galtur the Alpinarium museum commemorating the 1999 avalanche is well worth a visit. It doubles as an indoor climbing centre and a cafe and is built into the avalanche wall that protects Galtur from a repeat of the disaster that took 31 lives.
Review of Galtur family ski holiday: Ski area
With 40 km of piste it’s a small ski area, but I never felt the need to leave Galtur and explore the 238 km on offer in Ischgl. This is partly because there was knee deep powder to play in and I was the only one playing in it, but also because the ski area punches well above its weight.
Most of the runs are classified as reds, but because they are wide and fairly empty they feel easy, making them perfect for nervous intermediates – like my wife – to build confidence. They are also fun for experienced skiers and snowboarders as the wide empty pistes mean you can go fast or try tricks without constantly dodging other slope users.
The black from the top of the Ballunspitz lift is probably the most difficult in the resort, even the reds from here have a little more steepness to them. But what kept me entertained was the freeride zones and the between piste off-piste.
It had been snowing for a few days before our arrival, and didn’t really stop while we were there. Being a quiet resort, that doesn’t attract hardcore freeriders, the powder just didn’t get tracked out. Even the safest, most easily accessible lines alongside the pistes remained untouched, and I effectively had three days of laying fresh lines.
Review of Galtur family ski holiday: Childcare and ski school
Our three year old son skied for the first time during the Galtur family ski holiday in Austria. Despite the ski boot fitting resulting in floods of tears – because he couldn’t wear his special winter wellies – he was soon sliding down the bunny slopes and negotiating the magic carpet.
He was the youngest and smallest in the ski school so it was hard to leave him with the instructors – but his huge smile and insistence that ‘falling over was fun’ certainly helped. The ski instructors were all friendly and English speaking, although only being three and a half he struggled with the Austrian accent and following their instructions.
Plus being so small within an hour or two he was exhausted – meaning like his mum he only skied in the mornings. After lunch he joined his little brother in the creche for indoor adventures.
The creche is part of the Ballunspitze Kinder Hotel that we were staying in. It’s by far the best equipped childcare I’ve experienced anywhere, including a large soft play, climbing wall, kids cinema and lots of toys, plus they even provide swimming lessons. The childcare is from 9am to 9pm and they even ferry your little ones to and from ski school.
Overall we felt the childcare was very good and that the kids were happy. Except for one lady all the staff spoke fantastic English, but this was clearly a creche with German as its primary language. This is not a huge problem, however in comparison to being in a English creche I felt it was more difficult for our eldest to integrate with the other children.
Review of Ballunspitze Kinder Hotel
No review of Galtur family ski holiday in Austria would be complete without talking about the accommodation. We stayed at the 4* Ballunspitze Kinder Hotel which has large and comfortable rooms with everything a family needs.
The Ballunspitze oozes friendly charm. The staff are happy and helpful, they always had time to play peekaboo with our one year old, and to answer questions – normally about the animals heads on the wall – from our inquisitive three year old.
The food was very good. Kids meals had enough options to keep the fussiest of kids fed, and included healthy dishes to keep the adults happy. Adults are treated to four delicious courses, including meat, fish and vegetarian options plus a selection of traditional Tirolean dishes.
The Ballunspitze includes a spa and wellness centre which is perfect for post skiing relaxation. With a pool, sauna, steam room, alpine baths, hot tub and heat beds there is plenty to help relieve aches and pains. There’s also a range of beauty and massage treatments available at extra cost.
Review of Galtur family ski holiday: Conclusion
If you don’t mind skiing the same runs a few times, but like to have the piste – and ample off-piste – all to yourself then a Galtur ski holiday is a great option. The ski area has enough to keep experienced skiers and snowboarders entertained and Ischgl is just 10-15 minutes away if you want a change of pace and scenery.
Galtur is as quiet, small and unassuming as Ischgl is lively, large and in your face. I love both resorts but for a family ski holiday, Galtur is just about perfect.
We flew from London Gatwick to Innsbruck with EasyJet and then travelled 90 mins on to Galtur by road with Four Seasons Travel. We stayed at the 4* Ballunspitze Kinder Hotel where packages are available from €1869 for 7 nights for two adults and one child. More info about Galtur visit: www.galtuer.com.