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The Chalet, at 11 degrees east:  New lift in Hochgurgl / Obergurgl, amusing story about The Chalet, at 11º East, Obergurgls luxury ski chalet

I must be honest and admit that when Sandy wasn’t watching, I took a sneaky glance at the label on the bottle of bubbly she had oh so deftly and generously opened for me and some friends during a visit to the Chalet, at 11o East she runs with her husband Chris in Obergurgl. Not just one bottle, I hasten to add, but three. And no, it wasn’t Prosecco (perish the thought!)

Not that I would have objected to Prosecco – but it just wouldn’t have been her style. Nor quite the right ambience for this swish yet homely chalet tucked away right next to a children’s ski area almost in the heart of the resort. In fact it’s so close to the baby lift and the Madstuhl area that you could almost “post” your young skiers through the window and they’d be skiing moments later. And when they have exhausted the excitement of the children’s area, you can easily take them on a very short trek to the nearest “grown-up” lifts at the bottom of the Gaisberg, thus linking up with the extensive skiing in Obergurgl and its neighbour, Hochgurgl.

You feel instantly at home at the Chalet (although my home in West Sussex, much as I love it, doesn’t have a gym, a cinema, inspirational mountain views or a beautiful spiral staircase – but we do serve Prosecco!). And I doubt if we could fit up to 10 overnight guests into our home; we certainly don’t have five luxury ensuite rooms like the Chalet, at 11o East does!

But all 10 could fit in to the first section of an important new lift which has now opened high on the Hochgurgl side of the slopes, with a second section due to be installed in the next couple of years or so. The exciting new state-of-the-art Kirchenkarbahn can transport 2,400 people per hour – not only increasing capacity but also reducing lift queues.

The only downside of the new lift for me was the discovery that it has replaced a T-bar I was once rather fond of because it accessed some little-known powder stashes that I regarded as my little secret. Now Hochgurgl’s hoi polloi can all join in the fun!

Meanwhile the futuristic, extensively sweeping lines of the “Top Mountain Cross Point” base station will house an impressive motorbike museum, plus a restaurant serving Austrian alpine cuisine favourites. There’ll be room for 220 inside and seating for a further 220 outside on a terrace (so not quite as snug as the Chalet, at 11o East!).

Other highlights include the completely refurbished Schönwies Hütte (2266m), reached from the top of the Steinmann chair by skiing behind a skidoo or quad bike, Snow Fun Parks with a Fun Slope in Hochgurgl, and a smaller, more technical one in Obergurgl – the Quattro Snow Park with rails, benches and, jumps, etc.  And on Fridays, the recently introduced “First Line” is popular with early risers who book in advance to make first tracks with a ski school instructor.

But pride of place in terms of altitude and novelty still goes to Hochgurgl’s Top Mountain Star restaurant (3030m) with its striking viewing platform near the top of the Wurmkogl 2 quad chair. On a clear day you can see right the way across to Italy’s magnificent Dolomites. So here at least a glass of Prosecco as the sun starts to go down wouldn’t be out of place!

– Arnie Wilson from the Huffington Post

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