The Austrian resort Grand Tirolia is a dream destination for golfers, writes Lynne Edwards
Fed up with ash clouds, airline strikes and queues at airports, I have taken to enjoying summer holidays driving. I can load up the car with all my essentials and not worry about overweight luggage and heavy golf clubs. In fact, the driving part made up a lot of the holiday as I travelled through Strasbourg in France and via Western Austria, finally arriving at my destination – Kitzbühel, nicknamed the most legendary city of sports.
By the time I arrived at this haven of luxury I was totally chilled out, although the weather was 30 degrees! I was welcomed at the recently opened Grand Tirolia Golf & Ski Resort with perfectly ice-cool, mint-fresh cloths to cool and calm, which gave me a taste of what was to come.
I chose the Grand Tirolia because it has a renowned golf course, and the recent addition of this luxury five-star spa resort could not have been in a better location, sitting just outside the beautiful town of Kitzbühel in a picture-postcard setting overlooking snow-capped mountains.
Austria has long been my preferred summer destination, not only because of the lush golf courses and clear mountain air, but I have always experienced fabulous higher-than-UK temperatures. Anyone will tell you how popular the Tyrol is in the winter time, but I promise you it is every bit as beautiful in the summer. If you enjoy outdoor pursuits like hiking and golf, you are spoilt for choice; mountain trails abound, and there are several cable car rides to the various mountains surrounding the resort, including the famous Hahnenkamm, which rises 1,712m (5,617ft) above sea level.
“If you enjoy outdoor pursuits like hiking and golf, you are spoilt for choice”
My fabulous room had a spacious balcony with a view of the mountain and a glimpse of the inviting first tee of the golf course. The hotel itself is characterised by materials produced locally, such as wood and stone, which are combined with sophisticated design elements. There are two outstanding dining rooms, including the award-winning Petit Tirolia gourmet restaurant with an outside terrace enjoying mountain views.
After all the fabulous food I was itching to get out onto the pristine golf course. It is not for the faint-hearted; the challenging Eichenheim Par 71 championship course is spectacular and is probably one of the best I have played. If you find it too tough or are just a beginner you might want to try one of the other four golf courses in Kitzbühel, or use the practice facilities.
I headed straight to the Green Spa after a day on the course. You can easily spend a day just moving through the serenity of this space. I chose to swim in the indoor and outdoor pools and do a spot of sunbathing, but there is also a Turkish bath and sauna, salt grotto, Finnish sauna, Tyrolean herbal bath and a gym. Massages and beauty treatments are also offered.
I ventured up the Hahnenkamm one day and enjoyed a lovely lunch, followed by the two-and-a-half-hour trek down the mountain. I was in two minds whether to tackle this since I had already overdosed on exercise, but I felt I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was helped by the fact there was a halfway hut offering snacks and drinks and, tempting as it was to opt for another local lager, I took up the offer of the healthier option – a fresh elderflower spritzer, which put the spring back in my step.
What other guests told me the next day as I was staggering around the hotel is that I should have tried to walk up the mountain rather than down it, because doing so leaves you stiff for days. I had no alternative but to take it easy and hit the designer shops and cafés in Kitzbühel after that!
After a week at the Grand Tirolia I can understand why they call it “the peak of indulgence”. Go on and spoil yourself – just don’t tell too many other people about the secret of Austria in the summer.
Grand Tirolia Golf & Ski Resort, Eichenheim 8-9, 6370 Kitzbühel, +43 5356 666 15, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.grand-tirolia.com