If you go to Seefeld and do all your skiing there, you'll have a memorable vacation on some of the best snow around. If, on the other hand, you use Seefeld as the most convenient and sophisticated base camp in the Austrian Tyrol, you will be getting in on a great secret.
Located in the heart of a region loaded with exceptional skiing (six major areas, including Ischgl and St. Anton, are within 90 minutes), Seefeld is an insider's choice for alpine charm and seclusion. And though this tasteful hideaway has more five-star hotels (seven) than any other resort in the Alps, it isn't obnoxiously exclusive.
Seefeld is a spectacular, pastoral community of 2,800 perched on a high, sun-washed plateau. The village is surrounded by striking mountains with beautiful, uncrowded skiing. Most of all, it's beguilingly small and quiet¿a tidy array of traditional Tyrolean stucco-and-wood chalet-style buildings with steep, overhanging roofs. The village is gathered around a picturesque parish church and a cobblestone downtown pedestrian core.
Hotels are spread across the plateau but all are within a 15-minute walk, or a quick free bus ride, of the slopes. The Skizentrum Rosshutte-Harmelekopf, Seefeld's biggest area, is spread across two hulking mountainsides rising on the northeast edge of the village, about 1 mile from downtown. The view from the summit reveals Seefeld as a tranquil island in a wide sea of roiling peaks. Rosshutte-Harmelekopf's groomed runs are mostly buttery smooth intermediate tracks, some stretching nearly 3,000 vertical feet. For a whip-sawing, sugar-coated ride from top to bottom, try the 2 1/4-mile-long Harmeleabfahrt. Bumpers will enjoy the runs off the Jochban cablecar. And with the expertise of a guide, there's excellent off-piste to be explored. When it's time for lunch, grab a refined sit-down meal at the mid-mountain Rosshutte Panorama Restaurant. From here, you get a 180-degree view across the valley: To the west is the mighty Hohenmunde peak; directly north of Seefeld is the Wetterstein Range, rising as ominously as a storm front; and to the northeast looms the wild Karwendel Range, part of central Europe's largest nature preserve. To the south lies the Inn Valley, and closer, at the southeastern end of Seefeld, is the Gschwandkopf ski area¿an ideal learning hill with some good intermediate terrain that wends its way to neighboring villages. At Gschwandkopf's base are a 70-meter nordic jump and a serious freestyle kicker. Spectators can catch exciting big air competitions and practice sessions from the outdoor stadium.
Don't miss the equally entertaining off-hill diversions. The extensive Sportzentrum Olympia has indoor tennis courts, two ice-skating rinks and swimming pools with grottoes and waterfalls. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the parish church in the town center, the site of a 15th-century miracle that attracted religious pilgrims for centuries. The pit where a bad knight was caused to sink into the floor is still visible. But today, more pilgrims visit Seefeld for the "miracle" of the sun, the mountains and the quintessential Alpine village experience.