Travel: Skiing in IschglBy Jonny Fordham
March 16, 2012
"There won't be any snow," said another one of my jealous friends.
St Anton had just put their opening party back by a week as the Tirol region sweated on the arrival of the white stuff - but I had absolutely nothing to worry about, I was coming home.
No, not back to England, but Ischgl, Austria.
I've never lived in the picturesque party town, I had only been once before. You see, Ischgl is where I learned to ski, pushing myself to the limits on the slopes as well as in the countless apres ski bars - and for me it's now my home in the mountains.
Us Brits are only just starting to take advantage of the 'snow-sure' five-month season they guarantee every year.
More than 1,000 snow cannons plaster the 240km of superb slopes high up in the Silvretta Arena so if the powered isn't falling from the skies, then you're still guaranteed excellent conditions on piste.
The village itself, at 1,377 metres, is high up in the Paznaun valley and 44 lifts cater for the thousands of visitors who flock to explore the groomed runs.
Skiing in Ischgl is intense, but the apres ski scene is even more pumped up.
The Austrians know how to have a good time and the resort's slogan of: "Relax, if you can," sums the place up.
We were there to watch Swedish pop duo Roxette open the 2011/12 season in the village, each year a different act is brought in to welcome the new season.
Superstar Mariah Carey has been booked for the closing concert on Monday, April 30 at Ischgl's world-famous "Top of the mountain concert" in front of 20,000 revellers.
The tourist board don't do things by halves, in 1995 Sir Elton John wowed the crowds and the list of a-listers reads like a who's who of the music industry.
The Killers, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Kylie Minogue, Lionel Richie, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Pink, The Pussycat Dolls, Sting, Enrique Iglesias and Rod Stewart are just some of the acts to take part.
There's no doubt that Ischgl doesn't need these names to liven the place up - it's already running at 100mph during the winter season.
Ski down to the bottom of the mountain into the village from the Idalp station to the stunning Elizabeth Hotel and make a beeline for Niki's Stadl for your fix of Europop and ski-boot stomping anthems.
DJ Niki has his own album and his bizarre, but adictive tunes will get even the tiredest of legs up and about - after a few Jägerbomb's of course.
If you fancy a change of scenery then ski down to the other side of the village and the Trofana Alm is a always packed with like-minded party people.
And if you want to go mainstream, then there is even a Pascha nightclub with, ahem, a strip club alongside it - this is Ischgl after all!
Back on the slopes and away from the poles and pints there are plenty of well-priced restaurants.
The Pardorama restaurant at Pardatschgrat (2624m) offers stunning views across the region to go with your schnitzel and the the Alpenhaus Restaurant at Idalp is the home of Ischgl's exclusive VIP club, make sure you save some of that beer money to treat yourself to a meal one day, you won't regret it.
There are limitless hotels to eat in as well. Staying in the Hotel Brigitte, we didn't go hungry.
A buffet breakfast sets you up nicely for the day and evening meals are relaxed and plentiful.
Just make sure you don't overdo it as the party-scene never fades in Ischgl.
There's plenty of time for relaxing, save that for when you get home.
Getting there: we travelled with Swiss International Airlines from London Heathrow to Zurich [ www.swiss.com ] but from December to April easyJet flies direct to Innsbruck from London Gatwick, Bristol and Liverpool [ www.easyjet.com ] and British Airways offers flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck [ www.britishairways.com ]
Where Jonny stayed: The 4* superior Hotel Brigitte [ www.hotel-brigitte.com ] Inghams offer 7 nights from £1149 per person on a half board basis, which includes flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.
Regional flights are also available at a supplement. For more information and to book visit www.inghams.co.uk or contact 020 8780 4447.
Skipass: the adult VIP Skipass for the Ischgl-Samnaun ski area is from €186 for 6 days with the Ischgl guestcard, which is given to visitors staying in the village.
For further details on Ischgl visitors should contact the Austrian National Tourist Office in London on 0845 101 1818 or the Paznaun-Ischgl Tourist Office in Ischgl on 0043 5099 0100; firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.paznaun-ischgl.com