Travel Austria: Sölden resort in beautiful Alpine scenery

TRAVEL AUSTRIA Wellnessbereich-LE-FEEL_Pool©THE-SECRET-Sölden_Matthias-Dengler (2)
l©THE-SECRET-Sölden_Matthias-Dengler (2)

In our latest Travel Austria article Mark Browne visits the Sölden resort in the Oetz valley, a jewel in Austria’s skiing crown.

As the ski season draws to a close, those seeking a last outing to the spring snow in Europe face a limited number of reliable options, especially if the preference is for a resort that combines snow security with a lively nightlife and good entertainment options. Fortunately an answer is at hand – Sölden in Austria.

Sölden is the largest ski resort in the Oetz valley, one of the longest valleys in the Tyrol, a region famous for its skiing and beautiful alpine scenery. Once just a collection of buildings along the mountain pass, the village has grown extensively in recent years and is located in a sunny location at just under 1,400 metres in altitude. However, it is surrounded by a series of high mountains, including three peaks over 3,000 metres, one of which, the Wildspitze, at 3,768m is the second highest mountain in Austria. Access to the ski areas is afforded by two giant lifts including the Giggijoch cable car at the entrance to the village, which passes over the higher winter sport hamlet of Hochsölden (at around 2,000 metres), and the Gaislachkogl. These bring skiers up to enjoy the over 140km of ski pistes on the slopes above the village.

And what slopes they are! Including more than 25km of black slopes as well as a series of adrenaline raising race runs and glacier skiing, it is little wonder that the resort regularly hosts the first World Cup races of the season: typically, a giant slalom scheduled for late October on the Rettenbach glacier. However, it’s not just about racing – the resort also caters for tobogganing runs, fun parks and an ice skating rink, as well as having nearly 60km of blue ski pistes for those preferring to take it easier or still learning the sport. Furthermore, with the end of Covid restrictions in Austria in March, Sölden has once again assumed its position as a hive of lively après-ski entertainment renowned throughout the ski world and beyond.

A unique feature of the resort is the new 007 Elements cinematic installation. Constructed following Sölden’s appearance in the James Bond film Spectre, it is housed inside a bespoke building at the summit of the Gaislachkogel Mountain at over 3,000 metres – a spot worthy of a Bond villain’s lair! 

Its space-age aspect somehow blends seamlessly with the inspiring beauty of its natural surroundings. It is also located next to the location for the ‘Hoffler Klinik’ in Spectre, where James Bond meets Dr. Madeleine Swann before an epic snow pursuit sequence begins. Today that building can be enjoyed by visitors as the Ice Q restaurant. An essential spot to visit for Bond fans, 007 Elements is also of general interest as it affords not only incredible insights into the big-budget movie industry, but also a microcosm of the evolving views of Western society as reflected in the cinema. And that is without even mentioning the gadgets and film costumes on display! It is a spot for all the family to enjoy.

Where to stay
Sölden has grown hugely in popularity as a resort so that it can now offer over 15,000 beds to meet all tastes and budgets. However, at the luxury end, it now has a new pinnacle in the form of a brand new resort location – The Secret Sölden.

Constructed to the highest standards, with an eye for French flair and influences, The Secret Sölden combines the luxury and quality of a 5-star spa resort with a relaxed and welcoming ambience that is evident right from the entrance lobby and gives it a charm that can be lacking in larger hotels of this calibre. Located very near the main Gaislachkogl lift, guests have easy access up to the pistes and can ski all the way back down to within 50 metres of the hotel.

There is a keen focus on wellness. Apart from a selection of saunas in the spa, ‘Le Feel’, a highlight is the well-heated outdoor pool accessible as a swim through from inside the pool area of the hotel into the gardens beyond.

SkybarTHE-VUE ©THE-SECRET-Sölden_Matthias-Dengler (1)
SkybarTHE-VUE ©THE-SECRET-Sölden_Matthias-Dengler (1)

While the nightlife generally – and the après-ski in particular – in Sölden is well known for its exuberance, Skybar ‘The Vue’, located in the penthouse of The Secret Sölden, offers a much more refined and relaxed, luxurious environment in which to unwind and enjoy an exquisite cocktail after a day on the slopes – or in the spa! It affords incredible panoramic views over the surrounding mountains as well as dramatic widescreen multimedia visuals once darkness descends. Meanwhile, for evening dining, the LA’LIV restaurant on the ground floor serves up first class gourmet French-Alpine fusion cuisine and afternoon tea, including drinks, which is served throughout the afternoon and included as part of the resort price.

With the ski season in Sölden continuing until May and Easter special deals being offered, The Secret Sölden is an ideal place to treat yourself and indulge in luxury with family and friends this April!

How to get there
Sölden is only an hour’s drive from Innsbruck airport, 2.5 hours from Munich, 2.2 hours from Memmingen or 3.15 hours from Zurich. There is no train line all the way to the village, but public transport options are available in the form of local buses and private transfers. Those who do wish to travel by rail can reach the Ötztal Bahnhof at the end of the valley before getting a transfer for the last stretch of the journey. 

Mark Browne was a guest of The Secret Sölden.

Read more Travel Austria articles…