Does spring skiing in Austria with a side of spa break sound like bliss? Deborah Stone discovers Naturhotel Forsthofgut is a little like Aspen in the Alps for family ski holidays 2023.
I’m sitting on a luxurious circular sunbed watching the occasional skier go by as I dry off from a quick dip in the heated outdoor infinity pool, with views of snow-topped mountains. There’s not a sound except the occasional cawing of choughs.
This is Alpine bliss, but far from adults-only. A couple nearby have their sleeping baby beside them and a woman on the nearest lounger is warming her pregnant tummy in the midday sun. In fact, peace is virtually guaranteed at Naturhotel Forsthofgut in Leogang, only an hour’s drive from Salzburg in Austria’s Salzburgerland. And in more good news, you can ski easily here – or not at all.
The Leogang Rocky Mountains bring Aspen to spring skiing in Austria
Today I’m taking the no-ski option because I’m not as keen on late spring skiing as my husband. Although, when I meet him for a late lunch at the top of the gondola, the mountains do look enticing. Especially the gigantic Skicircus area laid out in front of us with its 167 miles of pistes joining Leogang to neighbouring Saalbach, Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn.
If that sounds daunting for a family ski holiday, you’ll be pleased to know Leogang is one of the smaller resorts and Forsthofgut, one of its best family hotels. Run by Christoph and Christina Schmuck, the original Alpine chalet style hotel blends with a newer contemporary look. And, thanks to a recent £10 million makeover, it’s close to offering the type of spa breaks you might find in Aspen. The mountains across the valley are actually known as the Leogang Rocky Mountains.
Spacious family suites with fabulous mountain views
Mountain views also feature in our family suite, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony, as well as a three-bed children’s room, large family bathroom and enormous master bedroom.
The hotel’s newer wing features a parent-child room. There’s also a kids’ painting studio and nature workshop, which converts into a cinema room in the evening. Plus, if you’re keen to solo-ski, Rocky’s Club offers free childcare for over-twos from 9am to 5pm. The club is run by English-speaking staff and nursery lift passes for under-fives are included. And if you take the full-day option, children can even have lunch and tea here.
Forsthofgut combines family spa breaks with incredible Austria ski holidays
But it’s the 5,700 square metre waldSPA which really sets Forsthofgut apart from other spa hotels.
Opened in 2021 it includes five pools and several saunas, both indoors and out. The family pool area comes with a mini slide in the baby pool, a slide in the children’s pool and another huge slide with water cannons for shooting at parents!
On the spa’s second floor, there’s an open-air 25-metre pool for over-16s. Then, one floor up, an outdoor, adults-only whirlWASSER whirlpool with spectacular views on the side.
The hotel also has a natural swimming lake next to a barn-like sauna, which incorporates a family sauna and a steam room. At the side of the building, you’ll find the infinity pool as well as a heated Japanese Onsen to ease aching joints. Heavenly!
Leogang offers spring skiing in Austria for all levels of skiers
The hotel sits minutes from the main Asitzbahn gondola. This links with Saalbach and an easy blue all the way down makes it a wonderland for families. You can even ski under part of the Naturhotel Forsthofgut to the back door or back to the gondola, if you prefer.
Also at the top of the gondola is Leo’s Kinderland which features six magic carpet lifts, a ski carousel and igloo. The Skicircus is good for intermediates, so kids with a little experience shouldn’t be out of their depth. More serious skiers will be pleased to have access to the only two black runs in the entire region. And as an added bonus, an easy cruising link connects to Zell am See’s world famous lake view slopes.
However, if snow and water fun aren’t enough for kids, they can also help Cristoph feed his deer and goats. He introduces each one by name and, depending on the age of your children, this could be the memory of skiing in Austria that sticks the most.
Of course, Naturehotel Foresthogut is a one of the gorgeous spa hotels for a winter or spring ski holiday. But it’s also open year-round, so you could think about it in summer or autumn. We’re already planning our next visit.
How to plan spring skiing in Austria with kids
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Salzburg take from 1 hour, 56 minutes. Leogang is an hour’s drive south of Salzburg.
Where to stay
Rates for family suites at Naturhotel Forsthofgut start at £746 per night (2 adults, 2 children).
Rate includes breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, free childcare is also included.
Free toboggan hire for the hotel’s toboggan run is included in the family room rate too.
Good to know
Leo’s Kinderland is run by Skiszene Altenberger ski school which starts lessons from age three offers half and full-day childcare with ski-fun from age two.
Naturhotel Forsthofgut offers a variety of family experiences like Alpaca Hikes and camping under the stars.
A range of family packages including kid-friendly activities are available at Naturhotel Forsthofgut throughout the year.