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Saturday September 26, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

The Austrian ski area of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl has had something of a transformation in recent years. Here are six things you may not know about the resorts.

In our continuing series where we pick out six aspects of a ski resort or snowsports business, we now look at the resort at the end of the Oztal Valley in the Tirol.

1. This winter it is opening a lift with a difference. The Kirchenkarbahn 10-person gondola replaces an old, cold and long T-bar. "So what?" you may think. Well is opens up a new area to many skiers and offers two new restaurants in a unique architectural structure. It is one of the most funky ski lift designs we know of. (See number six below for another reason).

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2. Obergurgl is the single most popular resort in the Crystal Ski portfolio. Crystal is the UK's largest operator and so there is stiff competition for the No 1 title.  "It quite simply offers a wonderful mix of old and new with some of the best skiing in the Alps," is how Marion Telsnig from Crystal put it. "The fact that it is our most popular destination comes as a surprise to those that have not been and no surprise at all to those that have been." It offers huge amounts of freeride skiing and gentler, more traditional, pursuits.

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3. The new James Bond movie, Spectre, was filmed in the area.  Many of the cast and crew stayed in the resort during the making of the ski scenes last winter. Spectre has its premier world premier on October 26th and PlanetSKI has been invited to a preview in Innsbruck a couple of days later. And then a tour of the Bond filming locations. It's great to see 007 back on skis.

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4. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl mixes modern with old in harmony. The Top Mountain Star is one of the most stunning high-altitude alpine restaurants we know. Then there is a modern boutique chalet in the resort, Chalet at 11 °East. It's run by an English couple and is the only property in the ski resort run by the British. Old meets new.

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5. It is usually the first non-glacier resort to open. Hochgurgl is at 2,150m and Obergurgl is at 1,930m and this year there will be skiing and snowboarding from November 12th. Some snow has already been falling. And that is one of the reason why the US ski team has made the area its European home and training base for the past winter seasons. In 2012 we were lucky enough to spend a few days with the team.

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6. It will soon have a motorbike museum. There will be more than150 bikes on display including a 1939 Brough Superior SS 100 that is valued at £200,000. It will be one of the largest collections of motorbikes in Europe and certainly the highest. It will be in the base station of the new gondola lift (see number one above). A ski lift with a motorcycle museum incorporated; now that is unique.

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PlanetSKI hopes to be visiting Obergurgl-Hochgurgl next winter and we look forward to reporting back on an area that is one of our favourites in the Alps.

We last skied in the area in 2011 and 2012 and we have also visited in the summer months.

Meanwhile don't just take out word for it:

For the spirit of the mountains

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