Resort Profile: Mayrhofen

By adamrowden, 5 Dec '12 at 11:36

Mayrhofen is one of Austria's top resorts and the third largest community in the Tyrol, but it has managed to retain the ambience and architectural integrity of a traditional Tyrolean village. The skiing takes place on two separate mountains, the larger of which is reached by the impressive Penken cable car. The local ski area is extensive, but the Super Zillertal pass increases the maximum to more than 500km.

Known to snowboarders as 'Big M', Mayrhofen is very snowboard-friendly, even bravely claiming to speak the language of 'snowboardish'.

If you get the chance to do a season in Mayrhofen - grab it - you'll be in for a fantastic time! Unlike many resorts, Mayrhofen is also a thriving town, which has an awesome party atmosphere.

On the Slopes

With a lift pass that covers over 400km of piste up & down the valley & provides free transportation between 145 lifts, the variety on offer is hard to beat. The skiing ranges from 630m to 3250m & includes Hintertux, one of the largest glaciers in Europe.

Every year sees new installations & improvements to the pistes & lift systems. The Penkenbahn opened in 1995, replacing the old cable car & making the horrendous queues to get to the slopes a thing of the past.

The main local skiing area is the Penken, which is accessed using the Penkenbahn. The Penken has plenty of long trails that can take you down to Finkenberg, but there are also some challenging and exhilarating runs including the Devil’s Run, which is on the linked Hoberg Mountain. The Knorren side is well worth hitting early as you can take advantage of some nice conditions and the morning sunshine.

Beginners can learn and develop their skills in the Ahorn area, where the slopes are much easier. And, once there you can also head for a lovely relaxing break at the White Lounge. But, the Ahorn is not just for the beginners as the famous 5km Ahorn Valley Run, which is well worth hitting, is also situated here.

Speed demons will want to check out the Ahorn Abfahrt. This 5.5km descent to the village is a real favourite with experienced skiers and snowboarders. It gets good snow all season thanks to the snow cannons, so you can fly down it every day from the day the lifts open to that sad day when they close!

Mayrhofen has become more & more famous over the last few years with its hugely publicised SPC board park at Tux. Featured in just about every magazine & video, including Onboard & Snowboard UK, the resort has also hosted the British Board Championships in recent years.
Mayrhofen has its own dedicated board park off the Hintertrett lift (express 4-man) with a half pipe, race track & impressive kickers & rails. The SPC board camp makes Mayrhofen a haven for boarders year round.

Off-Piste

If you fancy a bit of freeriding then you can always exit the Penken and drop down to the Penken Express. There are also some cool tree runs to be had over here off the sides of the red runs, which are well worth checking out when the conditions are right.

The more challenging terrain in this area is off the top of the Penken heading down the north side. It can get pretty steep over here and there are also some ace rock drops to be had below the Nordhangbahn chair.

Living in Resort

Mayrhofen is definitely the place to live & there are a large variety of apartments & rooms available if you ask around at the start of season. If you are arriving later on, you could also try Laubichl, Hollenzen & Schwendau a 10 minute walk out of town but the prices are cheaper.

Bars and Clubs
There is a great choice of bars & clubs in the resort & because it is flat it's perfect for a pub crawl! Here are a few choice ones for starters.

The party starts before you've even left the slopes at the Schirm Bar & Pilz Bar. These two umbrella bars are at the top of the Penken Gondola. Anything in a shot glass or a test tube is the order of the day.

Once you step off the gondola you can fall straight into the Eis Bar. In here it is very loud, very Dutch, very drunken & very, very good fun! Should you end up working here as the Ice Bear - you ARE the chosen one!

The Scotland Yard is a cracking bar that is very popular with seasonaires and guests alike. It has a dart bord, pool tables, and serves Guinness. What more could you want?

If you are a fan of live music then you will want to check out Lobby Bar. This place is more often than not, packed, and has a great atmosphere. Mo’s Diner is also worth a visit. They have some great live music and serve awesome food.

If you are in need of a cosy bar to escape to, then you will most probably want to head over to Gerry’s.

And, when you fancy going clubbing, you can always head over to the Arena Night Club. It is part of the Hotel Strass and has a huge capacity. It is often full and is great for live bands and entertainment.

Other bars to check out include:

Garage Bar - continue late night drinking when you can no longer dance.
Schlüssl - late night haunt where workers go to drink, dance & trap.
Apropos - another late night favourite with the locals. I have no recollection of when it actually closes….or even if it does!

Famous Visitors
Although graced by numerous Dutch TV stars throughout the season, more well known visitors have included Midge Ure, Boy George, Ugly Kid Joe & Faithless (who performed a free gig on top of the mountain!).

Famous people hailing from the area are Stefan Eberharter, Austria's No. 1 downhill skier & Tom Eberharter, one of the country's best freestylers. Mayrhofen is also home to Uli Spiess, World Downhill Champion in the late 70's & Peter Habeler, a legend amongst mountaineers, being the first man up Everest without artificial oxygen.

Away Days
There is plenty to do if you fancy a day off the slopes. Innsbruck is only an hour away for great shopping & much cheaper prices than in resort. 1 hour in the other direction, over the Gerlos Pass, is Krimml Waterfalls. They are the highest falls in Europe & partially frozen in winter making them a spectacular day out. They can also be combined with a trip over to the pistes of Kaprun & Zell am Zell, half an hour further on..

With such a variety of skiing available, if you fancy a change from the Penken or Ahorn mountains in Mayrhofen, just hop on the free transportation & spend a day exploring Zell, Kaltenbach or Fugen.

Eating Out
There is a wide variety of good value places to try, such as:

*Bar'n'Grill - really good Mexican food
*Manni's Hotel - pizzeria is well worth a visit
*Mo's Diner - American menu, great service & value
Mt Everest - a mixture of traditional & more conventional tastes
Taverne - cosy & very local. Has the best tomato soup in the world!
*Mamma Mia - very good pizza & pasta & reasonable price
Grill Küchl - very good traditional food, a bit more expensive, but worth it.

As Austria is not famous for being a vegetarian paradise, those marked with an * offer a good veggie menu.


Mountain Restos
If you are out guiding guests, these huts are definitely worth a visit:

Zell am Ziller - Rosie's Sport Alms (Run . Have the schnitzel.
Gerlos - Hansi's Sonn Alm
Mayrhofen - Vroni's. Has a fantastic outdoor grill area & amazing views over the surrounding valleys & up towards Tux.

Transfer Day
The fortunate thing with the resort being based in a wide valley is that the road does not have the risk of avalanches blocking it. Volume of traffic is the only thing that slows transfers down at the weekend.

Transfers are split between Innsbruck (1 hr) & Salzburg (2.5 - 3 hrs). Salzburg buses tend to combine with the Grossraum area which can make transfers longer. Don't forget to check out the staff room at Innsbruck which has free coffee & pastries for reps - can be a life saver!

Après-ski Options
With so many bars to choose from, it would be rude not to show the guests around some of your favourites - pub crawls are always a winner. Tobogganing is also very popular& there are several excellent tracks to choose from. One of the best is in Ginzling. Run by two English guys, Martin & Gavin, a ski-do tows you to the top & then you hoon back down 4km's of well lit track. Paragliding is massive business in the valley & (company insurance permitting!) you can jump off the mountain in your skis at the end of the day & skip the last lift down.

Thanks to Helen McGrory for putting the majority of this Guide together

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