LECH is what Aspen wants to be when it grows up,” is how I’ve heard Austria’s Alpine region described. Now, I’m no skier (hate the cold and don’t have great balance) but this statement alone made me want to visit Lech.
So, full of Olympic fatigue and eager for a change of scenery, I headed to Lech for a long weekend at the swish Hotel Gasthof Post (www.postlech.com ), a five-star hotel which has been in the Moosbrugger family for over 75 years. My companion and I were met in Memmingen, a couple of hours west of Lech, by Peter, a Serbian whose dry sense of humour made the 172km journey to Austria fly by (the absence of a mandatory speed limit on the Autobahn helped too).
Our room at the Gasthof Post overlooked the mountains and outdoor pool (complete with rising steam). I’m told the experience of being in a heated outdoor pool in minus 25 degree temperatures during ski season is “wonderful”. And bracing, no doubt.
Day one and I had to tear myself away from the lure of the cable car and apple strudel to explore one of the many hiking routes – not such a hardship thanks to the stunning Alpine scenery, ample benches and random scattering of fitness props: think gym rings, balance bars and pull-up equipment nestled among fir trees. Our riverside route took us to the neighbouring town of Zug, where, if you desired, you could select, catch and eat your own fish from the rather large village pond. An authentic culinary experience indeed, but as my companion and I were still fuelled by the hotel’s Viennese iced coffee (think posh, caffeinated Knickerbocker glory), we headed straight back to Lech, where it was treatment time.
The hotel spa offers a wide range of treatments but when I informed the therapist that I was a runner who suffered with Achilles tendon problems, she announced matter-of-factly that she was also a physio and therefore my treatment would consist of a soft tissue massage followed by some strapping of the tendons (a method of stabilising joints that has grown in popularity after hundreds of athletes rocked up to their events adorned in neon tape over the summer). Having thought I’d be getting a run-of-the-mill rub down, it was at this point the slogan “Carlsberg don’t do massage. But if they did...” came to mind. During my treatment the therapist explained why Lech is so popular during the winter: “The fact that Lech’s not party central, has little or no queuing for the ski lifts but some of the best skiing means that people return year after year, literally booking the same room or suite for the same week year in, year out. Plus the ski lift seats are heated,” she added with a smile.
And then it was food time again. The hotel’s gourmet restaurant serves light, interesting and visually spectacular cuisine: local Char fish served still smoking on a bed of hay; locally caught venison and game with the usual drizzling of foams, sorbets and jus, and of course the most mouthwatering, waistline-sabotaging, Sachertorte, all accompanied by wines from the family’s Schloss Gobelsburg estate.
On day two we set out to discover the hype behind e-biking, which is just what it sounds like – a bike with a battery, making a two-hour mountainous ride to the stunning Spullersee Lake do-able. The fact that the battery can go flat means that you don’t use it unnecessarily, thereby providing you with a decent workout. Clever. I’m sure to the aspiring Pendleton/Wiggins, cycling on an e-Bike’s a doddle but as my companion and I have probably clocked up three spinning classes between us in the last decade, we still struggled and definitely felt like we’d accrued sufficient calorie credits to justify the evening’s mixed grill.
All too soon, Peter was loading our bags into the car for the return journey, “Ready to go? You look like you’ve got some colour now,” he announced happily. I’m not sure that’s a compliment. The Austrian tourist board’s website (http://www.austria.info/uk) claims you will “arrive and revive”. And Lech delivered – Austria does what it says on the tin.
Laura Williams is City A.M.’s resident fitness expert. Follow her on Twitter @laurafitness or visit her website laurawilliamsonline.co.uk
NEED TO KNOW
Room rates at Gasthof Post start at €160 for a single room, including breakfast and €200 for a double room, including breakfast. Go to www.postlech.com for more information. For more on Austria, visit www.austria.info/uk and for more on Lech, visit www.lech-zuers.at