I open my eyes to rays of crisp, golden sunlight streaming through the window. All at once, I become very aware of the warmth of the blanket, the utter softness of the sheets, the purity of the air, and just how incredibly recharged I feel. I race downstairs to a sumptuous, healthy breakfast and then to the slopes. What greets me takes my breath away… again. Perfect blue bird, slopes so immaculate that I almost can’t believe my eyes, and a day ahead that I know will surpass each and every expectation I have of a winter getaway. Ischgl, you beauty… thank you!
Sustainability in focus
So, Rebels, is this scenario I painted above true or something my snowboarding-obsessed mind conjured up? Well, it’s 100% true, and it gets even better: Ischgl, a ski resort village in Austria’s Paznaun Valley, is also the first (and largest!) climate-neutral ski resort in the Alps.
What does this mean exactly? Above all, a firm determination to minimize CO2 emissions. Through countless measures to reduce current emissions, and adequately compensate for future emissions, this town really is the stuff a sustainable traveler’s dreams are made of.
Here are just some examples. All ski lifts are mostly powered by renewable energy from hydropower stations. Unavoidable CO2 emissions are offset by a reforestation programme in the Paznaun and an acclaimed, internationally recognized climate protection project. Solar and heat recovery systems are all set to save around 80,000 litres of heating oil per year.
And this is the part I found super cool: Sustainability efforts aren’t just limited to the ski areas, they include many of the alpine huts, taverns and other facility buildings as well. For instance, the Ischgl Slope Food restaurant and Gampenbahn station are both powered by geothermal energy.
These days, everyone loves to talk the sustainability talk. Ischgl walks the walk as well. Kudos!
To the world, I may be an adult, managing businesses and work and so much else, but in my heart, I think I’m just a snow addicted kid always dreaming of the mountains. As you all know, I’ve been skiing and snowboarding since I was little (even worked in a snowboard shop and on the slopes during my holidays), and in my experience, there is no better place for snowboarding than Ischgl. The conditions are just spectacular. The slopes are wild, the skies sunny, and the snow abundant. It’s assuring to know that there’s quite some snow security here during the winter, especially as more and more ski areas are suffering a dearth of snowfall.
When I visited, our group got a private guide to show us around the area, and I strongly recommend you do this. There’s so much you will learn from the guide that you possibly cannot on your own, especially if you’re there for a limited time. Well worth the money. The official website is extremely helpful, so contact them if you want more information on this.
The lap of luxury
What I absolutely adore about Ischgl is that the sustainability initiatives don’t detract from anything, including luxury and glamour. You do not, in any way, have to sacrifice comfort for compassion. After all, Ischgl is all about having a fabulous time!
We stayed at the Schlosshotel Ischgl and let’s just say if you have a penchant for the finer things in life, you’ll love it here. The location was spectacular as well — right next to the slopes. And the spa… oh the spa! Will take care of all those sore muscles in a heartbeat.
And how can we forget retail therapy when talking about luxury? When you holiday in Ischgl, you’ll find yourself just a few kilometers away from the border of Switzerland. The Swiss town of Samnaun is a paradise for bargain hunters. It’s duty-free!
Perfect place to party
And, yes, this is also known as the Ibiza of the Alps… because you can party hard (yup, first hand experience!). I spent countless weeks in the mountains working for an organization that throws snow parties, so the combo of snowboarding and partying is something I know a thing or two about — and it’s truly topnotch at Ischgl.
Mind-blowing culinary delights and drinks
I don’t say this lightly: I had one of my top culinary experiences EVER in Ischgl. Where? At the gourmet restaurant Stüva (exceeded only by the meal in Sao Tome, remember?). Head chef Benjamin Parth is a true artist. I still drool when I think of the insanely good menu he whipped up.
Also make a stop at the famous Trofana Alm, where the ambiance and culinary diversity are simply wonderful. From sushi to crisp wood-oven pizzas, you’ll find what you’re craving for here.
If you’re in the mood for some extra luxury, check out the Mountain VIP Club. We had lunch here and I don’t regret it one bit. Great food, FANTASTIC views.
For drinks, there are simply too many awesome places to count. Champagne and wine bars abound, and they’re always a nice way to spend an evening. Some of the places we tried out included the well-known Kuhstall, which didn’t wow me, the Champagnerhütte at our hotel, which I deffo recommend, and Bar 67 at the Post Hotel. Will never forget the fancy Smokey Glamour cocktails here… think mysterious, glam ingredients, such as gold dust. Seriously!
A trip to remember
Ischgl was beauty. Ischgl was love. Not just for me, but for pretty much everyone I went with. Although we stayed at Ischgl, we also checked out Galtür nearby, which has a huge family focus. There’s so much to do there — good ski schools for kids, freeride possibilities, and breathtaking views.
We visited Ischgl towards the end of Jan, which is slightly out of the crammed holiday weeks of winter, so we never had to wait for ski lifts and found all the serenity we needed. Do keep this in mind when you plan your own getaway.
And plan, you must! Stunning natural beauty, pristine ski conditions, top apres-ski parties and nightlife — check, check check. After all this, can a destination also be a sustainability leader as well? Ischgl certainly is. And that’s the main reason you shouldn’t stay away.
It really doesn’t get better than this.