As the first stop on their trip to the Austrian Tirol, the Ski Club of Great Britain invited television presenter and skier Kev Harris to join them in exploring Kitzbühel being guided by two locals who call it home.
Experience your perfect winter in Kitzbühel and get a taste of what Kitzbühel has to offer in this locals resort guide from the Ski Club of Great Britain and videographer Jonny Cass.
A few months ago, when I was asked by the Ski Club of Great Britain if I would like to go on an Austrian adventure to explore the Tirol, meeting locals along the way who would show us around and give us their insider knowledge of the resorts, my answer was immediately, “Yes of of course!” or….“Ja, sicher!” to feel like I was fitting in already.
For me, Austria was where it all began as a keen 10 year old boy being taken on a family ski holiday for the first time. And ever since then I’ve had a great love of the Austrian Alps and skiing in general. My memories of that Austrian holiday back then and many more since are of great quality hotels, a warm welcome and outstanding natural scenery.
The first stop on this adventure was to Kitzbühel and I was really excited to visit the home of the legendary Hahnenkamm mountain and the "Streif" race course. A place that has one of those names that conjures up memories and images of some of the greatest ski racing moments you will ever see.
Our guides for the trip were Phillip and Lucas, two local ski instructors both born and raised a snowballs throw from Kitzbühel in the neighbouring village of Jochberg. Upon meeting them both, their love of their home in the Tirolean mountains and sliding down them on skis or board was immediately apparent.
Riding up in the Hahnenkammbahn our natural first point of call was at the top of the "Streif" race course, that was being prepared for the famous race that was taking place the following week. It was a real treat to get that close to the famous start hut and then ski down to stand in awe and amazement overlooking the "Mausefalle", a terrifying drop that sees the racers fly through the air at around 60 miles per hour for nearly 80 metres only a few short seconds after the timing beeps in the start gate!
One could only imagine the buzz and excitement created by the 150,000 or so spectators cheering and screaming when the World Cup circuit comes to town. This is something I think everyone should experience and certainly something I will try to do this coming season.
From the top of the Hahnenkammbahn our time skiing with Philip and Lucas passed by in a blur of smiles, miles and soft white falling snow.
Meeting the locals continued later that evening, when we joined a free guided tour of the town lead by Josef "Pepi" Treichl, another Kitzbühel resident who’s love of the town was matched only by his knowledge and history of the beautiful place he calls home. The hour or so that we spent in the company of Pepi was great and only served to add to our already growing affinity to this charming Alpine Town. I fully recommend taking Pepi's guided tour when you visit and the times and dates of when you can join him are available at the tourist office.
The final port of call on this first stop of our Austrian adventure, was the 5 star hotel Tennerhof, reportedly the place where Sir Ian Flemming penned the first of his James Bond novels. Being driven up the winding, softly lit, snowy driveway and then walking in to the classic Alpine hotel reception, it was easy to imagine yourself being 007 himself on his way to charmingly and yet clinically dispatching an evil despot who has designs on World domination, over the course of an award winning four course meal! I did refrain however from introducing myself to the concierge with a perfectly delivered, “The name’s Harris, Kevin Harris”, opting instead for a friendly, “Guten Abend” in my best Austrian accent.
The food and service at the Tennerhof under the guidance of head chef Stefan Lenz, recently awarded with 3 toques from Gault Millau, really was on another level and it was the perfect end to what had been an excellent first stop on our Tirolean adventure.
As a visitor to Kitzbühel you are invited to feel like you’re coming home. And if as they say “There’s no place like home” surely then, “There’s no place like Kitzbühel”? Well after this awesome local experience I can wholeheartedly confirm this to be true.
Kevin Harris is an ISIA qualified ski instructor and television presenter from the UK. Follow his travel and skiing adventures on Instagram: @kevinharrisTV