Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Mark Nicholls took his family on a summer holiday to Austria and enjoyed an active break.
The Austrian landscape in summer is a scene to behold. Lush grassland blooms with wild flowers, where cattle and their clanging bells roam free in what is a wonderful outdoor, natural playground.
Streams chilled by melted snow from the higher peaks, tumble through valleys adding to the scented incredible freshness and purity of air that pervades.
This is Austria in the summer – a holiday destination that is delighting hikers, mountain bikers and families.
For families with young children, Austria is a tremendous destination, made so much easier with hotels that are geared up for youngsters of all ages, while also catering for parents who may want to go off on a challenging hike or simply relax by the pool.
Kinderhotels, as the name suggests, is a network of child-friendly hotels across Austria where the young guest is king – or queen – with all activities, food and timetables set up to meet the needs (and demands) of a younger clientele.
We stayed at the family-run Hotel Egger in the picturesque resort of Hinterglemm in the SalzburgerLand region.
Offering magnificent views along the Hinterglemm valley, Hotel Egger is ideal for those who want to view the mountains from a pleasant balcony or go up into the mountains either to walk, take in the scenery, or to enjoy a drink or lunch at one of the numerous mountain huts that the Saalbach-Hinterglemm is renowned for.
Run by Christa Egger-Jurikovszky and her husband Josef, it is perfect for families with its five swimming pools, play areas, and many organised activities – not only for kids but adults too.
With its own team of guides, the hotel offers hikes ranging from sedate strolls into the valley that are suitable for pushchairs through to more adventurous walking challenges. Activities such as tennis, aqua gym and Nordic walking are also available.
With all-inclusive packages, apart from alcoholic drinks and flights, the hotel was among the first to join the Kinderhotel network.
Mrs Egger-Jurikovszky says: “For us that was an easy question to answer as we have always had children in the hotel and have a long tradition of hosting families.”
The hotel offers babycare up to two years old and childcare from two to seven years, and during July and August there are further activities for teenagers.
She added: “We prefer children to be out among the natural landscape rather than sitting indoors with a Playstation or watching TV.
“The great attraction of Austria in the summer is the landscape – it is wonderful for our guests to enjoy and there are so many things to do and see in the valley.”
One of the great attractions in summer for children (and braver adults) is the high-ropes course further along the valley with a suspended route through the trees that gives those with an ape-like agility the freedom to enjoy ropes, swings and airborne pathways.
The Hochseil Park high-ropes course, at the end of the Saalbach-Hinterglemm valley at 1,300m above sea level, has six separate stages that can be challenging for those of all ages, abilities and levels of daring and as well as the various imaginative obstacles to cross, there are flying foxes (zip wires) and even an intriguing ‘toboggan ride’ suspended on pulleys between two trees.
The well-designed course sees participants negotiate a route through the trees, tackling innovative and imaginative obstacles, ropeways and narrow planks to walk many feet above the ground but while constantly strapped to a lifeline in the event of a small slip.
Nearby is a children’s park and farm animals, the Treetop Path and Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps with spectacular views and the imaginative Devil’s Water with activities and refreshing pools for kids to play in.
And back at the hotel, after an energetic day in the valley or up in the mountains, is a choice from an excellent menu. While there are dishes specially prepared for younger guests, parents can enjoy five-course meals as part of the package where the emphasis is on traditional Austrian cuisine.
For relaxation and pampering, there are steam rooms, saunas, a spa, beauty treatments and therapy rooms, along with creative opportunities.
A former maths, music and art teacher, Mrs Egger-Jurikovszky is an accomplished artist and is delighted to share her skill with painting classes for guests.
“We have a painting workshop and we help people to paint in whatever style they want,” said Mrs Egger-Jurikovszky, who specialises in acrylics and has work on show around the hotel.
The Saalbach-Hinterglemm resort, set at an altitude of 1,100m above sea level, is just over an hour’s drive from Salzburg, with many hotels, bars and restaurants in the villages. There are direct flights from Stansted to Salzburg.
Austria is a fabulous place to be in spring or summer with hours of sunshine, clear blue skies and warm weather… a perfect outdoor playground.
And for those who have enjoyed an amazing summer holiday break in Hinterglemm, the Hotel Egger would be perfect for a winter return too, ideally placed for the ski slopes.
Accommodation – Mark Nicholls and family stayed at the four-star Hotel Egger Kinderhotel. All-inclusive prices start from 1,797 euros a week for a family of two adults and two children (under six) in a family studio but all packages can be tailor-made depending on type of accommodation, number of children and number of nights. The hotel has 46 rooms of different sizes, including large or small family studios. Liaise directly with the hotel for a package to suit your needs. Visit the website at www.hotel-egger.at or telephone 0043 6541 3220. You can also log on to www.kinderhotels.co.uk or telephone 0845 0822 422.
Flights – Ryanair flies from London Stansted to Salzburg. For more information or to book log on to see www.ryanair.co.uk Activities – Hiking, mountain-biking, nature trails, woodland parks, painting, swimming and sports are all available. Take advantage of various summer discounts and offers that are available through the Saalbach-Hinterglemm Joker Card. For more information about Austria tourism and Saalbach-Hinterglemm visit the websites at www.saalbach.com and www.austria.info/uk