Looking for a large varied ski area with great apres and reasonable prices? Fancy some fun Austrian snowboarding? Then this review of Solden snowboard holiday in Otztal is a must read!
For the last 15 years my friends and I have enjoyed an annual ‘lads’ snowboarding trip. All now in our 40s ‘lads’ is probably not the right term… But it is a guys getaway in which we wind back the clock both on the slopes and in the bars.
After thirteen seasons in France, because a few of the blokes live in Geneva, last winter we visited Austria. For some of the group it was their first time in an Austrian ski resort. We had a great time on a snowboarding holiday in Montafon in the Vorarlberg region.
After fun Austrian snowboarding in 2018 we wanted more of the same in 2019. But we decided to take the lads tour to a larger more well known resort. We chose Solden as prices are reasonable, the slopes vast and it is snow sure – we were visiting at the end of March.
Solden is located in the Tirol region of western Austria. To get there we flew British Airways to Innsbruck and took a Ski Lifts transfer to the resort. The transfer took just over an hour, the vehicle was comfy and the driver sensible.
Located in the Otztal Valley, Solden combines with six other resorts and two glaciers to offer 350km of pisted slopes. The four ski areas are linked by free buses.
Solden is the biggest individual area in Otztal with 143 km of slopes. The lifts reach up to 3249m, and include two glaciers on which you can ski from September to May. So Solden is large, snow sure and if you want more you can head to the other Otztal resorts.
Solden is located at 1377m so there is nearly 2,000m of vertical to play in.
Located at the base of the valley, the town is spread along the Ötztaler Ache river. There are two main gondolas out of town and free shuttle buses linking everything together.
We arrived in resort at around three in the afternoon thanks to the efficient Ski Lifts transfer. I had a feeling we would be going straight to the pub. But one of the guys said that lift passes purchased for the next day can be used after 3pm.
None of us believed him, however it turns out he was right and it is something many Austrian resorts do. So we got our lift passes and hit the slopes as quickly as possible.
The Giggijoch Tal was our local gondola less than five minutes walk from the Residenz Tamara that we’d booked through Inghams. From the top of here there are four chairlifts to choose from – we managed to squeeze them all into our short first day session.
The slopes here are wide. In fact so wide that often we were not sure were one piste began and another ended. At points it was like they had pisted the entire mountain providing plenty of space for fun Austrian snowboarding!
This meant there was room to express yourself and to enjoy the undulating terrain. From the Giggijoch area you can head up to the glaciers or ski down to the Gaislachkogl zone – it’s a very nice long run that we did most days.
Giggijoch is home to the Area 47 snow park. It’s easily lapped from two comfy chairlifts. This is a large freestyle zone with long lines of features suitable for all levels. I enjoyed the beginner jib line and the beginner and intermediate kickers.
There are a couple of large kickers for experts and enough jib features to keep the most dedicated of park rats happy. It’s a very creative with some innovative features for all levels. If park is your thing you’ll love Area 47.
Finally the ‘home run’ from Giggijoch back into town is long and a lot of fun. But be prepared for it to be cut up and busy at the end of the day. I enjoyed it, but my less experienced ski buddies were not so impressed with the moguls.
The other major lift out of town is the Gaislachkogl 1 gondola. You can switch on to the Gaislachkogl 2 halfway up the mountain which takes you up to 3040m providing a leg burning 1700m of vertical.
There are many routes back down to town although from the very top there is only a red. There is a 007 Elements experience at the summit because part of the James Bond film Spectre was filmed in Solden.
The Gaislachkogl area has a variety of other chairlifts opening up different sections of the mountain and there are a good amount of slopes to explore. To avoid the crowds head to Heidebaan. Off-piste conditions were not good during our visit but this area would be great in fresh snow.
If you want to access the Giggijoch or the Glaciers from Gaislachkogl then you need to take the Langegg chair. During this review of Solden snowboard holiday in Otztal one of my favourite pistes was the black that begins near the bottom of the Langegg.
Below the Gaislachkogl mid-station there are plenty of runs through trees. This is a good area to ride when visibility is poor. I spotted plenty of side hits to do tricks off and glades through the trees so keep your eyes peeled.
No review of Solden snowboard holiday in Otztal would be complete without talking about the high altitude glacier skiing. The Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers reach up to 3249m and offer around 35 km of slopes from September onwards.
The glacier area is a slight faff to reach. From the top of either the Langegg in the Gaislachkogl area or Silberbrunnl in Giggijoch you do a short run and then there are four consecutive lifts to reach the top of the glacier area.
There is just one route so it can get a bit busy and we experienced some queues. But we never waited more than five minutes as the lifts are all fast and efficient.
Once you reach the glaciers you could easily spend the day snowboarding there. Be sure to check out the viewing platform at the top.
There are plenty of blues and reds and a couple of blacks. In better conditions off the side of the slopes there would be good off-piste, although you have to be extra careful in glacier areas.
Our visit was at the end of March so we were experiencing spring conditions on the lower slopes. This was not a problem up on the glaciers where the slopes were still in pristine condition.
And what slopes they are! Plenty of wide pistes with lots of space. I also spotted quite a few side hits for doing tricks. Everyone spreads out once in the glacier area and with six different lifts there’s no queueing.
Being a guys holiday we embraced the Austrian apres scene with gusto. Unfortunately this meant not everyone in our group was able to attack the slopes with the same enthusiasm the next day!
My latest night was 1am and twice I hit the sack before 11. However some of my friends stayed out partying until four or five in the morning. We didn’t see them until after lunch!
On our first day of this review of Solden snowboard holiday in Otztal there was a huge party at the top of the Giggijoch gondola. There was banging dance music and a huge crowd. We arrived for a pint just in time to catch the great atmosphere just before it closed.
From here we made our way down towards town stopping at the Obstlerhütte. Located near the bottom of the Rotkogel chair typical Austrian apres tunes were blaring and beer and Jagermeister were flowing.
We stayed until they closed, which made snowboarding down the rest of the way rather interesting. Fortunately the slopes were pretty much empty by then. Unfortunately they were very cut up and full of moguls. But it was fun Austrian snowboarding!
Arriving into town if you want to continue the party you are spoiled for choice. Marco’s, Grizzly Bar, Fire and Ice, Katapult, Alms Rauch, Schirmbar, Kuckuck and Mogul Bar were all constantly lively and close to our hotel.
We visited more of them then perhaps we should have… And I certainly can’t claim to remember most of them in any detail. However we spent long enough in both Marco’s and Fire and Ice for me to be able to recommend them.
We stayed at the three star Residenz Tamara which we booked through Inghams. It’s a great base in the centre of Solden just 300m from the Giggijochbahn and a stone’s throw from the apres.
Our twin room was big and comfortable with plenty of storage for all our gear. The bathroom included both a walk in shower and a bath – which is always nice.
We were half board which is what probably saved us from going over the top with the apres. Each evening we headed back for a shower and food at about 8. By the time we’d eaten bed was more appealing than extra booze with the rest of the gang.
Dinner was served at Hotel Sölderhof just a few minutes walk from Residenz Tamara. It was a large buffet with many options. Only small amounts were cooked and put out at a time so everything was always fresh.
There were many traditional Austrian dishes, including vegetarian options, meat and fish. Plus there was a huge salad buffet, soups, breads and many cakes, deserts and ice creams. My buddy is vegetarian and he ate well.
Breakfast was in the Tamara and was a good range of fruit, cereals, continental and cooked options. Whilst not being the best breakfast I have ever had there was always enough to fill me up – eggs, bacon and sausages helped!
A review of Residenz Tamara would not be complete without talking about the other facilities. There is a very useful ski room with boot heaters. Furthermore there is a small spa area with sauna, steam room and whirlpools. There is also free access to a nearby swimming pool.
Without doubt Solden is a cracking ski area. It has plenty of slopes to explore with more in the rest of the Otztal if Solden’s 143 km are not enough. It is high and snow sure even in spring, plus there is great vertical and long runs.
The Area 47 snowpark is very good. I just wish I had the skills to really do it justice. Off-piste was off the menu during our visit but Solden would be great in fresh snow.
The apres in Solden is excellent and goes big early in typical Austrian style. It also keeps going very late leaving you in danger of missing out on slope time.
I was happy our half-board dinner gave us a reason to leave the party early. Whilst I still had a couple of hangovers compared to my mates I got off very lightly.
Residenz Tamara is a great base for fun Austrian snowboarding. The rooms are comfy, food is good and all the staff are very friendly. To conclude this review of Solden snowboard holiday in Otztal I highly recommend you visit.
Inghams offers seven nights half board at the Hotel Sölderhof & Residenz Tamara in Sölden, from £869 pp based on two sharing. Price includes return flights and airport transfers. To book, go to www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 938 047.