Friday, November 26, 2010;
Austrian Airlines offers connecting flights from Washington Dulles to Innsbruck, Austria, with fares starting at $955 round-trip. United, Lufthansa and Continental have nonstop flights from Dulles to Munich, about two hours from the Zillertal, starting at $720 round-trip.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
The Hotel Theresa
Bahnhofstr. 15, Zell am Ziller
Superb family-run hotel with 70 rooms, extensive spa and wellness facilities and views of the high Alps on every side. Rates start at $182 per person and include three meals a day. Hot pool and sauna are free for all guests, but massages and spa services are extra.
The chef, a former Olympic skier and member of the owner Egger family, cooks haute Austrian, with an emphasis on roasted local beef, pork and veal, occasional wild game and Zillertal trout. Every dinner features an extensive, and exquisite, strudel bar.
The Neuhaus Hotel and Spa
Am Marktplatz 202, Mayrhofen
Another good hotel option, in central Mayrhofen, near shops and clubs and a short walk from a major gondola station and the ski areas above. Rooms, including two meals daily, start at $143 per person.
WHERE TO LUNCH
Abundant independently owned mountain huts are the best lunch options on the slopes. Some are gourmet level, but many are casual cafeteria-style places offering traditional schnitzels, hearty soups and dark breads. They open onto expansive decks where Austrians eat, take the Alpine sun and sip hot chocolate or schnapps. A bratwurst and beer runs about $17. Lunch at the fancier huts starts at about $27.
The Zillertal boasts four major ski areas and three lesser ones, all reached by gondola and connected by a convenient train. A single electronic smart pass allows access to all the gondolas and more than 170 ski lifts: Superskipasses range from $110 for two days ($88 ages 15-18, $49 ages 6-14) to $530 for two weeks ($423 ages 15-18, $238 ages 6-14).