Oetztal in Tyrol - Between skiing and thermal waters

The Austrian Tyrol appeals to skiers, hikers and simple epicureans. The Oetztal, Tyrol's longest valley, is no exception. Between Ötzi and James Bond, it is even a very popular region from prehistoric times to the present day.

Latest edition : 22 March 2015

Many stars come to the Oetztal in winter to ski and rest. The undisputed star is him, Ötzi, the 5300-year-old ice man discovered in 1991. But don't expect to see it: the world's most studied mummy is kept at -6 ° C in a specially fitted cold room at the Archaeological Museum in Bolzano, Italy. But at least you can discover the open-air archaeological park dedicated to Ötzi in the village of Umhausen in the Oetztal.

Skiing on two glaciers

Head to Sölden and its slopes to fully enjoy spring skiing. The landscapes are magnificent: 250 peaks reaching over 3000 meters!

With two glaciers and 150 km of slopes, skiers and snowboarders of all levels have plenty to have fun. If beginners prefer the Giggijoch (or the top of the Rettenbach glacier, even if it means going down by gondola), lovers of more technical slopes without hesitation choose the Gaislachkogl.

Before setting off on the slopes, we climb up to the cross at the top to admire the view towards other trails waiting to be explored: those of the Rettenbach glacier. Even “average” skiers can ski on slopes that are not too difficult. It is also from there that the “Schwarze Schneid” trail starts, 12.8 km long with a drop of 1,800 m. This is THE track not to be missed (for good skiers only).

"The adrenaline cup" allows you to test your abilities in ten disciplines on the slopes. something to spice up a stay with friends or family by facing slalom, speed, carving, freeride, etc.

To fill up with sensations and take the most beautiful tracks in the area, the BIG 3 rally (three peaks above 3,000 meters above sea level in the area) is a must. For athletes since it is necessary to cover 50 km in one day.

At the top with 007

About thirty chalets invite to invigorating stops. A “must” is the Gaislachkogl mountain restaurant.

In this futuristic all-glass construction, scenes from the James Bond film, "Specter" were shot .
What a thrill to admire these magnificent landscapes on the big screen and to say: I was there! Some holidaymakers have also had the surprise to stay in the same hotel as Daniel Craig and his ennemy, Christophe Waltz. The "bad guy" enjoyed the Aqua-Dome (see below).

Obergurgl and Hochoetz

Two other areas attract skiers and hikers.

Obergurgl- Hochgurgl as well as Hochoetz, at the entrance to the alpine valley. If Sölden is renowned for its technical slopes and unbridled parties, Hochoetz is much better suited to families with, in addition, more affordable packages. Here, the slopes are also wider, courses specially adapted for children (“on the trail of wild animals”, “the dwarves ski path”) and a daycare center to allow parents to ski in peace. The package also allows you to explore the beautiful area of Kühtai, the highest resort in Tyrol.


Non-skiers roam the valley on a network of 185 km of winter hiking trails. Without forgetting the frozen waterfalls for climbing, the ice rinks and toboggan runs which allow you to vary the pleasures.

In the valley, there is always a party somewhere. Tyrolean evening with night skiing and fireworks, night show with ski instructors, fireworks shows, concerts, etc.
Among the highlights: “The electric mountain festival”, the show on the “Hannibal” glacier, the “skifinish” week in Obergurgl, the winter finale on the glaciers with lot of action on the slopes and party in the bars, the peak to creek competition with athletes from around the world competing in eight sports.

INFOS www.soelden.com

The beautiful sheep's wool

In Umhausen, still in the Oetz valley, a stop at the Regensburger factory is a must.

Everywhere, bags are full of brightly colored wools, the clatter of machines can be heard even in the small sales store where two craftsmen, equipped with large needles, are putting the finishing touches to woolen rugs. Welcome to the "Schafwollzentrum" in the Oetztal! In this workshop, the wool of Tyrolean sheep is transformed.

Guided tours allow you to discover the entire cycle of this traditional work. On its arrival, the raw wool is first washed and degreased in large vats and sorted by color. The wool then arrives in compact balls of about 200 kg at the workshop (a sheep gives between 1 kg and 1.5 kg of wool).

This is where venerable machines come into action to "decompact" these balls of wool, to card and then spin around the "soul" (4 yarns of spun wool) to end up with kinds of large "noodles". It is these “wool noodles” that are shipped around the world to artisans who transform them. A part is used on site to weave rugs on large looms. Each rug is then finished by hand. In the small shop, you can find sheep wool products, rugs, fashion accessories.

100% relaxation at the Aqua-Dome

After a day of skiing, hiking, in case of bad weather or just to laze around, head to the village of Längenfeld and its formidable thermal baths, the Aqua-Dome, 50,000 m² dedicated to relaxation and well-being. In the snow or in the evening, the Aqua Dome complex looks a bit like a spaceship.

Steam escapes from the three large hemispheres filled with hot water (saline, sulfur and classic), torches throw mysterious lights into the darkness, a crystal-shaped dome illuminates the night.

Numerous saunas and rest rooms invite you to relax with, always, the view on the breathtaking panorama of the mountains. It is a place where well-being is not an empty word, the whole site being arranged according to the teachings of the feng shui. Water must have particular virtues.

This water coming from the glacier, which has flowed into the bowels of the earth to form an immense underground lake, is enriched by suflur when spurting out from a depth of 1,865 meters at a temperature of 40 ° C! In all the pools, massage beds invite you to settle down, let go of your aching muscles in hot water and enjoy the view of the surrounding peaks. You have to enjoy it without moderation! 

A specific aquatic area is reserved for children, “Noah's Ark in the Alps” with two swimming pools, slides, game rooms and creative workshops with animators allowing parents to enjoy the facilities in peace.
In the spa section, several saunas, hammam, baths, water beds, etc. provide total relaxation. Much of it is nudist, but one floor is reserved for saunas in swimsuits. Among the treatments offered at the spa, there are of course all the classic massages dispensed by specialized therapists (the Aqua-Dome is part of the VAMED group which manages several thermal baths in Austria).

To create a “local touch”, the therapists collected pebbles from the river bed for the “hot stone” massages. Each has its own pebbles that must be recharged regularly at the time of the full moon. It doesn't matter if you believe in it or not, in any case the massage is good!


The thermal baths hotel

Arriving in front of the Aqua Dome hotel, we are a little disappointed: a long building, however with a lot of woodwork to soften the contemporary architecture far from the lovely traditional "mountain chalet" style.

But upon entering, we are seduced: the foyer opens onto the small shop and the vast bar.

Everywhere, wood, granite, bay windows, beautiful materials such as leather or noble fabrics with prints that make a nod to the mountain environment. Everything is of a discreet and warm elegance, the few decorative elements chosen and arranged with great taste. Orchids bloom abundantly inside the hotel.
The hotel being built in length and our room being at the end of a corridor, a scooter would be not bad! I'm exaggerating a bit, the path only seems long in the evening, after hours spent at the spa ....

Our room "Auszeit Alpin" is like the hotel, warm and elegant, with beautiful quality materials highlighted by a minimalist decoration.

From the bed we have a wonderful view of the mountain.
In the evening, in the restaurant, we have the choice between a “vitality” or “gastronomic” menu which we cannot resist ..... The Austrian wine recommended by the sommelier is perfect.
While we are having a nightcap at the bar (a "zibernschnäpsle", mountain pine brandy), other customers head for the thermal baths which are open until 11 p.m. or even midnight. At night, the whole installation becomes magical ...



Therme and hotel Aqua-Dome

Aqua-Dome, Tirol Therme Längenfeld, tél . 00.43.5253.6400

The beautiful sheep's wool


We loved :

Ursula: The beautiful fabrics, the spacious bedroom with discreet elegance, the mountain view from the bed; the smile of the employees; the possibility of making fresh orange, carrot, apple juice in the morning for breakfast; non-alcoholic drinks provided free of charge in the minibar; outdoor pools with sulfur and saline water ...

Hervé: The warm and smiling welcome; the impressive breakfast buffet; the spa reserved for hotel guests; the various relaxation pools with views of the mountains.

We did not like :

Anne-Lise: the exterior architecture, but I must admit that the hotel blends in well with the landscape.

Hervé: nothing to say!