The village of Lech was known as a remote mountain outpost until it experienced a reversal of fortunes at the start of the 20th century. Locals realised that the surrounding slopes offered some of the best skiing in Europe, and Lech reinvented itself as an exclusive ski resort. Each winter the village is visited by European royalty, British aristocracy, and global celebrities, who rush to enjoy a hearty ski in luxury surroundings. The Austrian village has hosted several high profile skiing events, and it is the first and last stop on the famous White Ring skiing tour and race. In the summer time, the River Lech melts and the area is transformed into a lush countryside, which attracts hikers and painters.
Location: Lech–the twisty road to the top
Lech sits on the banks of the River Lech, in the midst of Austria’s Tannberg district. At an altitude of 1,444 m, it is accessible via a number of twisty mountain roads–however, the main road between Warth and Lech is closed for most of winter due to the risk of avalanches. The village is just a few kilometres from the Austrian borders with Liechtenstein, Germany, and Switzerland, and the nearest airports are at Innsbruck, Friedrichshafen, and Zurich.
Business: A resort with a difference
Tourism is definitely the biggest draw here, with a retail and hospitality sector worthy of a much larger town. For decades, Lech has promoted itself as a high-end ski resort and a premier destination for winter sports. The village boast several luxury hotels and a number of holiday chalets, and there are a number of excellent restaurants and bars to cater to the seasonal visitors.
Culture: High-end Austrian values
Lech’s cultural history is wedded to the slopes–it is a member of the famed Arlberg skiing region, which claims to have been the birthplace of the popular Alpine skiing technique. Visitors don’t come to Lech for a lesson in Austrian traditions, although the village restaurants pay tribute to their Alpine heritage in their décor, cuisine and use of local produce.
Activities: Go off-piste...but be safe
Whether you are an amateur skier or a professional, there is a slope for you in Lech. However, regular visitors swear by the off-piste options in and around the resort. Take all the necessary precautions before setting out on the mountains, always let someone know where you are planning to ski and heed any avalanche warnings.