By Peter Ellegard
The tiny village of Lech in the Arlberg area of Austria’s westernmost state, Voralberg, is one of Europe’s most exclusive ski resorts. Its patrons down the years read like a Who’s Who and have included the Dutch, Monaco and Jordanian royal families. It was also a favourite of Princess Diana and featured in the movie Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Among its clutch of five-star hotels is the charming and historic Hotel Gasthof Post Lech, a winter favourite that is aiming to attract more visitors to experience this beautiful alpine region in summer, particularly golfers.
I fly to Zurich for a two-hour taxi transfer to Lech although guests can also take an express train to a station 17km away, from where the hotel will then pick them up.
At the Post Lech I am welcomed by owner Florian Moosbrugger and given a tour by English assistant manager Matt. The hotel is a real family affair. Florian and his wife Sandra are the third Moosbrugger generation to run it, with occasional help from their two teenage daughters. Originally a farmhouse, it had 20 guest beds a general store and post office when it was bought in 1937 by Florian’s grandparents.
They helped Lech develop into a stylish winter sports resort and expanded the hotel, passing the mantle on to Florian’s father, Franz, who with his wife, Kristl, rebuilt it and added more rooms and facilities. In the 1970s it joined the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group. Sadly, Franz, a keen mountaineer, died suddenly in the Himalayas in 1988, leaving Kristl to manage it on her own.
Since Florian and Sandra took it over in 1999, the Post Lech has been named Austria’s Hotel of the Year and Florian has been Hotelier of the Year. They have continued to augment its offerings under the watchful eye of his mother.
The Post Lech has 48 rooms and suites. Many are traditionally Austrian and rustic in feel, others being more contemporary but all exuding class. Every room has a hair dryer, safe and minibar, telephone, satellite TV, DVD player and hi-fi system as well as broadband internet.
My spacious room is traditionally furnished and has a red wooden-framed bed with matching bedside cabinets all bearing the postal horn logo, with an alpine scenery painting and canopy above it with lamps hunging from antlers either side. There is also a sofa and two wicker chairs with a table that has a bowl of fruit and bottles of water and juice.
The huge, gaudily-tiled bathroom has a free-standing bath, shower and toilet cubicles, two sinks and two bathrobes with Post Lech-branded slippers. A branded backpack, to use when out hiking or on day trips, hangs on one of several hooks in the vestibule, where there is also an umbrella. Leave your shoes out at night and they are cleaned by the morning. Outside, there is a balcony with a table and chairs where I relax and enjoy the scenic mountain and chalet views.
Restaurants and bar
The main restaurant in the hotel is the open-plan Postblick, which has large windows enveloping two sides giving lovely mountain vistas. There are another two restaurants offering a more intimate dining experience while the Kutscherstube serves Austrian fare from 10am to 10pm. The Terrace also offers outside dining, weather permitting.
The food, served by friendly staff dressed in traditional Austrian clothing, is exquisitely presented and delicious, prepared by a kitchen masterminded by creative, award-winning young Tyrolean head chef David Wagger. Dishes served up for dinner on one evening included beef tartare – ever-present on the menu, along with schnitzel and tafelspitz (boiled beef) – as well as lobster foam soup with gin cream and saddle of deer.
For breakfast, there’s a comprehensive selection of muesli, cereals, fruit, cakes and cheeses, cold meat sliced as you wait, fresh honey dripping from a beehive honeycomb and a menu of cooked options.
The cosy bar, named after US writer Ludwig Bemelmans, a regular guest in the late 1950s, is just the place for a pre or post dinner cocktail. I recommend the mojito.
Spa and wellness
The uber-modern spa offers a range of massages, therapies and beauty treatments. I’m reluctant to leave the relaxing swing seat by reception for my massage. There’s a salt-water steam bath with exterior grotto, a sauna giving a view to the glorious nature outside and a relaxation room looking out to a towering mountain.
The outdoor infinity pool, accessed via glass doors on the hotel’s top floor, is heated and open all year. There are loungers set around it and the blossom-filled Ebra Park has paths through pretty floral and herb gardens laid out behind the hotel in what was the farmyard where guests can walk and enjoy afternoon tea in its tea house.
Families are catered for, too. Inside the bath house is a children’s pool complete with water slide.
Opened in 2015, the nine-hole Lech Golf Club lies just above the village, and at an altitude of 1,500 metres is the highest course in the Alps. Post Lech guests enjoy 40% off green fees and golf and stay packages are available. There are four 18-hole Voralberg courses less than an hour’s drive away including Lech Golf Club’s sister club Bludenz-Braz and Monfort Rankweil Golf Club, right on the Swiss border.
Post Lech guests can explore the surrounding area on its mountain bikes. The hotel also offers hikes with experienced mountain guides, stopping off for a snack at its Formarin mountain hut.
Although Lech is renowned more as a winter resort, it provides spectacular mountain scenery that can be enjoyed to the full in summer, which is strangely off-season for the high Alps. And the Hotel Gasthof Post Lech makes a welcoming, stylish and comfortable yet traditional home-from-home base, whether you want to climb every mountain or just enjoy a few of your favourite things.
HOTEL GASTHOF POST LECH
Dorf 11, A-6764
T: +43 55 83 22 06 0