We visited this hotel for 5 nights as a family of 3 (including our 8 year old) in October half term. Booked on the internet for half board and the communications were excellent. The hotel is in Schuttdorf, just outside Zell am See and approximately 15-20 minute walk (nice, along the lake) to the main commercial centre of the town. Rooms at the front of the hotel have views of the mountains but not much of the lake.
Welcome was very good, with a free glass of bubbly and a good explanation of the hotel layout and facilities. The reception staff all spoke good English, and although we do not expect everyone to speak our language, it was a bonus in this case simply because my German is so shamefully poor!
Our family room was huge, very nicely furnished and had loads of storage, a lovely bathroom and very comfortable Austrian twin beds (2 single mattresses pushed together in a single bed frame with a king sized bed sheet but separate single duvets). Our son had a comfortable sofabed. There was also a safe in the room, free of charge.
The hotel had a lovely spa facility offering treatments and a great indoor/outdoor pool. Although it was October it snowed heavily when we were there, making the views from the outdoor section as the sun set over the mountains really atmospheric. There was also a fantastic child/teenager activity room in the basement, with internet connected PCs, Xbox, Playstation 3, Wii and table football. Some readers may be tutting at this point, but our 8 year old enjoyed it in moderation only, and not as a replacement for outdoor activities.
Food on the whole was very good, with an extensive hot and cold buffet breakfast (including an egg/omelette station. Choices for evening meal were made in the mornings at breakfast, but we like this kind of thing. Evening food was mainly good, but with 4 or 5 courses each night, understandibly some things were a bit hit and miss. Local house wine was very nice and excellent value, as were the drinks in general.
Our biggest bugbear was the bar. There IS anti-smoking legislation in Austria, but it is being implemeted very slowly indeed. If you smoke its great, back to the good old days in England, but if you do not, its awful, back to the bad old days in England. It seemed smokers vastly outweighed the non-smokers (possibly due to the 'mature' age of many of the guests), so best you could do was choose carefully where to sit, then just grin and bear it, which we did.
We were at the hotel between the main tourist seasons, and it was very soon clear that the hotel keeps going during these periods by taking a lot of coach tours on single night stays. Most were from Germany and all were of senior citizens. No problem really, except all the entertainment was aimed at that generation and was a bit samey. There was lots of local thigh-slapping music and dancing and bingo (yes, bingo!). The coach tour guests all seemed to enjoy themselves though and were universally friendly, so the atmosphere was good, and we had a few good laughs simply watching the action. The biggest shock to us was when there was a crossbow firing contest arranged for one elderly group, with real crossbow and real bolts. Nobody got hurt, but some of the participants struggled to keep the loaded crossbow steady and upright before firing. The health and safety bods in England would have had a fit if they'd seen such a thing going on back home, but they weren't there and all seemed to have fun!
The staff generally were couteous and bar service was pretty good. There was an extensive cocktail list, but these were all commercially premixed, so not the real deal but probably cheaper as a result.
All in all this family-run hotel tries pretty hard and comes up short on very little. The smoking issue will go away when the Austrians are ready and willing to do something more concrete about it. I would expect a very different guest age mix in the main seasons, which will probably mean more varied entertainment. Although not very close to any of the main ski lifts, there is a skibus stop right outside the hotel, with buses going all the way to the Kaprun Glacier (7km away) if needed. On that subject, we had 2 fantastic days skiing in October which was a real bonus, so worth bearing in mind if you're a ski nut!
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- Also Known As:
- Sporthotel Alpenblick Hotel Zell Am See