THE Hahnenkamm downhill race ensures that Kitzbuhel continues to occupy a place in the limelight. Well, normally: last year (not for the first time) the World Cup race had to be moved because of lack of snow. The resort's snowmaking has now been bolstered to make this a much less likely occurence; but there is no denying that Kitzbuhel suffers by comparison with other major Alpine ski areas simply because it lacks altitude.

But it's a beautiful, extensive ski area with long, easy runs and short steep ones, and great views. More important, the resort is exceptionally captivating: a medieval town as charming as any in the Tirol. I've always visited the place with a car, which simplifies the business of avoiding the queues for the antique main cable-car (which can be extremely serious) and of getting to the best snow in the area at Pass Thurn.

CHRIS GILL'S VERDICT: Outside race weekend, Kitzbuhel's glamour slips away and it becomes a mass- market package holiday resort; this is no exclusive hideaway in the style of Lech or Gstaad. But it is a rounded resort, with lots to do besides ski.

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