There’s a buzz in the air at Rayburn HQ… and it’s not just because ski season is almost upon us! This time it’s because there’s a new set of resorts to get our hands on – which is always exciting!
This month, Tour Co-ordinator Ollie and Senior Tour Consultant Mike packed up their woollies and jetted off to Austria, spending their time in Saalbach and the Ski Amadé resorts inspecting new areas, new hotels and, of course, testing out new slopes.
With exceptional hotel set-ups, potatoes by the plateful and enough snow to give the Alps a run for its money, Ollie shares the highlights of their Austrian adventure.
Day 1 – ‘Ay up, Austria!’
Ski gear packed and winter warmers at the ready, we bid farewell to a dreary-looking UK and set our sights on a much more favoured Austria. As my old stomping ground, I was pretty eager to return.
Still blurry-eyed from our early start and after a long drive from the airport, Mike and I finally arrived in the Ski Amadé in Austria. Ah, hello old friend! We kicked off our first day visiting some of our favourite towns in the Salzburger Sportwelt, exploring the area one corner at a time.
Feeling pretty beat from the journey, we headed to our hotel to drop our bags off and ventured back out with only one thing on our minds… food!
Day 2 – It’s snow joke
Waking up to a wintery wonderland outside your window? You really can’t beat it. This morning we met up with our host who took us to Schladming to see the area. Well, we couldn’t have picked a better week to go. The amount of snow was incredible! Everywhere you looked, it was a blanket of white. Safe to say we made the most of it!
We skied some fantastic tree-lined pistes in simply unreal snow conditions. A truly unforgettable experience which we’d want every group to enjoy. If only we could control the weather…
However, while all this snow provided some awesome skiing, the drive back from our appointments wasn’t so much fun. More of a surreal experience! Snaking around the roads in a blizzard, in the dark… it wasn’t the best! But we’re never scared of a challenge. There’s a day 3 below, so you know it all ends well!
Day 3 – Good grub
Another early start, but we could hardly complain, not when you wake up to a traditional Austrian breakfast of meat, cheese and semmel rolls. Now that’s real, hearty food that gears you up for a day of skiing.
It wasn’t long before we were back on the road, this time heading for the Salzburger Sportwelt. We managed to sneak in a morning ski session in fresh powder, before tucking into some more Austrian cuisine at a mountain restaurant. Meat and potatoes are always on the menu and they certainly didn’t disappoint!
Another night of heavy snow and the roads were still a bit manic. I managed to get the car up to the hotel despite the conditions, but even when we returned to the hotel and planned our evening out, we were unsure if we’d get the car stuck somewhere en route!
Anyway, we managed to get out and headed to Altenmarkt for some food. A staple of a school ski trip is always an evening at a local pizzeria (we are in Italy after all) and tonight’s plate of doughy, cheesy goodness went down like a treat.
Day 4 – Personally inspected hotels
As our last day in snowy Austria, we squeezed in some final few visits, driving around more hotels in the Sportwelt and then up to Saalbach to see some of our suppliers. We’ve seen a lot of youth hotels in our time, but very few can beat some of the ones we’ve seen on this trip.
From a perfect piste-side hotel to another with one of the best set-ups for youth groups that we’ve ever seen – think comfy rooms, great communal spaces and friendly owners who really understand what makes the difference on a school ski trip – we’ve got some great accommodation options on the cards for our 2018 groups.
The whole reason behind these trips is to personally inspect new hotels and products and ensure they’re the perfect fit for our groups. We test, trial and tick-off everything ourselves, so you can have confidence in the quality of our trips. All part of the ‘Rayburn way’. Feeling pretty chuffed with our inspections, we headed back to Munich Airport for our flight home.
We’re always striving to make our trips the best that they can be for our groups. So whilst we work with our new partners to fine-tune the trips, watch this space for new and upcoming developments with our Austria product. Exciting times ahead!