Serfaus is idyllically located, perched high above the Upper Inn Valley in an area known as the Oberes Gericht, one of three villages together with Fiss and Ladis, in the picturesque region of Tyrol, Austria.
Within easy driving distance, Serfaus was perfectly positioned from our base in Zurich. The location as well as the reputation of Serfaus is what influenced us to book a week there in March. Being based in Switzerland means that there is no shortage of ski options, especially for a young family, but the eye-wateringly expensive Swiss resorts are always a drawback.
A friend recommended the Löwe & Bär hotels in Serfaus as a resort to consider as we were after a family friendly place that could offer decent skiing and, selfishly, a chance for the parents to snatch a couple of hours on the slopes, kid free. Indeed the Serfaus ethos is built around a family resort but with enough entertainment and skiing facilities to cater for all tastes.
Humble beginnings to a skiing powerhouse
This region is now no longer a skiing secret given it’s rising popularity, much to the disappointment of visitors who have been coming here for years and have wanted to keep this little jewel of Tyrol quiet.
The story behind Serfaus’s emergence as a major ski resort in Austria as well as a popular destination for hikers and families in the summer months is a remarkable rise from its humble origins.
A hundred years ago Serfaus was a poor but close-knit farming community. In those days, the only way to attract investment to develop infrastructure and housing was via the alpine clubs.
In the 1920’s, the Alpine Club of Cologne financed one house in Serfaus having obviously seen what a beautiful part of Tyrol this was and what Serfaus had to offer. The influx of funding increased and gradually Serfaus started to establish its identity and potential of a ski resort not just for locals but also to the nearby Benelux countries. A gondola was one of the first facilities to be built paving the way to allow one of Austria’s favorite pastimes, skiing, to take center stage.
Over the ensuing decades Serfaus has grown into a thriving village with the steady development of hotels, guesthouses and tourism-driven businesses. The merger between the neighboring Fiss, Ladis and Serfaus valleys in 1999 has completed Serfaus’s transition from a local ski resort into an international and all-year round outdoor activities resort.
Skiing in the Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis valleys
One of the initial appeals to Serfaus is the quality and quantity of the ski slopes that are now available. The three valleys of Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis have 214 ski slopes, 70 lifts and cable cars across 200 kilometers worth of sugarcoated mountain slopes.
The Tyrol region is renowned for the quality of its skiing but Serfaus is more in tune for the leisurely skier, which yours truly falls into. Unintimidating blue and red runs are plentiful but there is also a number of testing black runs, particularly through the Pezid and Zwölferkopf mountains for those who want a sterner test of their skiing skills.
Relaxation is the name of the game in Serfaus. Illustrated in many guises especially among the slopes where strategically placed hammocks, recliners and bean bags entice the likes of me whose aching limbs and old muscles were in need of constant rest and refreshment.
There are plenty of après ski outlets to choose from and an enticing number of delicious restaurants to make sure everyone has enough fuel for a day on the slopes. Kölner haus just below the gondola at middle station is a great place to sample some of the local delicacies.
For a beer at the end of the afternoon a particular favorite is a tented bar beside the Komperdell panoramic restaurant at the middle station where happy and well-oiled skiers sing heartedly along to 90s euro pop music and famous German folk songs.
What we liked about Serfaus is that although it was constantly busy, as befitting this time of season, we never felt rushed or intimidated, which can happen for novice skiers and children in other larger and better-known resorts. There are numerous activities besides skiing which adds to the versatility of the resort, including zip-wires, a sky-swing and a terrifying (I was not brave enough) toboggan run from the top of the Komperdell lift station down to the Serfaus valley lift station.
Serfaus is a charming village that retains some of its chocolate box mystique from a century ago. This is thanks in part to a remarkable underground train system (allegedly the second smallest in the world) which transports skiers and visitors to and from the Valley Station. This has meant that Serfaus operates a virtually car-free zone and has a very calm, chilled out atmosphere as a result. The village has good restaurants and bars as well as a healthy number of shops to peruse through.
Excellent accommodation options
During our week in Serfaus we stayed at the Löwe Hotel and in truth we would have happily moved in, such was the excellent service and welcome. The Heymich family is one of the original families in setting up Serfaus and their family continues to run both the Bär and Löwe hotels. Löwe is elegant, well run, with delicious food and facilities to match. There are a number of trump cards such as the water park complete with spa and pool, as well as a sumptuous wine list for these tiring parents to enjoy once the children had (finally) gone to bed. The fact that the Löwe was a two-minute walk to the ‘Kirche’ (Church) station was also a big bonus in getting to the ski slopes quickly and efficiently.
Serfaus is now firmly established among the Austrian skiing heavyweights of Innsbruck and Kitzbuhel. The challenge that this delightful little resort has from now on is to brace itself for the increasing numbers of visitors coming there and at the same time maintain it’s humble identity.
TOP IMAGE: Alpine skiing (Via Pixabay)