A - Z Of resorts: Untergurgl

Once upon a time, Untergurgl was just a bus-stop and afterthought for visitors to Austria's popular resort of Obergurgl. Before 1997, if visitors to Obergurgl wanted to ski the Hochgurgl slopes which double the ski area's size, they needed to hop on a bus for the 20-minute ride to Untergurgl, from where a chair-lift took them to Hochgurgl. (Yes, all three places sound like stomach complaints.)

Once upon a time, Untergurgl was just a bus-stop and afterthought for visitors to Austria's popular resort of Obergurgl. Before 1997, if visitors to Obergurgl wanted to ski the Hochgurgl slopes which double the ski area's size, they needed to hop on a bus for the 20-minute ride to Untergurgl, from where a chair-lift took them to Hochgurgl. (Yes, all three places sound like stomach complaints.)

Once a cable-car spanned the valleys between the two ski areas, Untergurgl could have become even more of an irrelevance.

Instead, it has become a serious alternative base, albeit one for those whose plans do not include nightclubbing. An eight-seater gondola, newly installed this season, links Untergurgl to the centre of Hochgurgl's skiing in 15 minutes. There is also a new ski equipment rental shop at the base. And Untergurgl has woken up in the evening: Schirmbar is lively for après-ski, while the Almstube is a traditional wooden restaurant and drinking hole. However, you still need a bus up the road to Obergurgl for late-night action.

Untergurgl's big advantage over its neighbours is price. Airtours sells the resort's Jagdhof hotel, but other than that, it's a place for independent travellers to find B&B accommodation on the resort website ( www.obergurgl.com).

The Gurgl area is one of Austria's best bets for the skiing future. In the event of global warming, the likes of Saalbach Hinterglemm and Kitzbühel (neither of which have skiing over 2,000m) could be looking at an endless summer market. The highest skiing in both Ober- and Hochgurgl is over 3,000m and they are confident enough to open a fresh area of glade skiing called Zirbenwald, served by two lifts. Worth a look.

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