Blue sky skiing into 2011

By Adam GoodwinFilzmoos prides itself as a family ski resort and as keen English skiers, ranging from the novice to the intermediate, we decided to put it to the test. ‘We’ being a family of five. My wife, myself and three children: Evie, aged 12, Esme, eight and three-year-old Albert.The resort itself is situated in the province of Salzburg and a 45-minute taxi ride from Salzburg airport. Taxi transfers are available on arrival and will cost approximately 120 Euros each way. Prior to setting off you might want to consider a quick trawl of the internet of the numerous transfers available as this can save money for those on a budget.We managed to find a deal for only 95 Euros each way and were greeted by Max, ready and waiting with booster seats in situ. A very welcome sight after schlepping luggage and kids across Europe.We arrived in the village of Filzmoos in the early afternoon and were checked into our self-catering apartment immediately. ‘Haus Lowe’ was very impressive, with not a hint of chintz in sight. The rooms were clean, very well furnished and maintained to a very high standard. The owners were appropriately welcoming and offered all the information and guidance that we needed.Filzmoos itself is a beautiful Austrian village nestled at the foot of the Dachstein and Bischofsmütze mountains. Although small, it is packed with good family restaurants, bars, local store and supermarket, shops and even a communal swimming pool with sauna – a prerequisite for recovering and entertaining the kids on days off from skiing.In fact there is plenty to do as Filzmoos operates an exciting events calendar with activities for visitors of all ages, including the non-skiers. Whilst there, we enjoyed a leisurely evening candlelit walk in the mountains, featuring backlit murals and folk-art nativity scenes. Not Disneyland, granted, but intoxicating in a charming, naïve winter wonderland way nonetheless.If visiting late December check out the parade of the “Devils” – if you dare. These ugly characters run through Filzmoos scaring women and children. Apparently this old alpine tradition is a way of ridding a village of evil spirits. Handy tip – watch out for their whips as Evie will attest. All in good humour though and of course the devils are just local guys in elaborate costumes.It is also well worth booking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. An open-topped sleigh pulled by lumbering shire horses drags you lazily up the mountainside whilst you, cosily wrapped up in warm blankets, enjoy the view and in our case supplied by the driver’s home brewed pear schnapps. Well worth hunting him down I’d say.There are three nursery pistes in the village serviced by either T-bar or drag-lifts. All are easily accessible utilising the excellent free bus service and include small and larger moguls to excite snowboarders and skiers alike of all abilities for a time.Unfortunately, the leap from nursery to blue on the main pistes is rather large. The blue routes on the piste proper are at times more akin to red for short bursts and can challenge an adult beginner, let alone a child. As a result it is probably safer to stay on the nursery pistes as a family and venture further afield when confidence and ability allows.However, if you are able to watch more than one child at a time, it is well worth the effort of a slow, snow plough down the steeper parts of the mountain to reach the long, wide bursts midway down.For those of you who are not prepared to expend the time and effort of a slow descent then another option is the gondola. The trip to the top is worth it for the views alone. We were lucky enough to travel up as a family on a particularly clear day and as a skier of over fifteen years I have yet to experience views like it anywhere else in Austria. Magnificent!All in all Filzmoos does live up to its promise. It is a pleasant resort with good facilities, although the ski lifts could do with updating, and buckets of Austrian charm. The people are friendly and can converse with you in numerous languages. Without any doubt you are able to ski as a family and enjoy Filzmoos as a family. The skiing is good, the food is good, the ambience is good. Ultimately, the adults enjoyed themselves and the kids enjoyed themselves too. Job done!