I have spent a week of every winter of my life with my family in Zürs, a small village in Arlberg, Austria. It isn’t at all the most famous resort in the region — with fewer slopes than Lech and a quieter nightlife than St. Anton — nevertheless, it possesses a quality that brings most who go there back, season after season.
Part of the place’s attraction must be that it couldn’t exist at all without skiing, from which it derives practically its entire economy, and consequently great pride. Except for a few cattle it is entirely uninhabited during the non-season (rather like that hotel in The Shining), which effectively makes it one of the most wholesome ski resorts imaginable. There’s nothing there which doesn’t revolve around the sport, from the faded photographs on every hotel wall of the town’s first rickety button-lifts, to the countless inns and shops whose doors stay closed right up until first snowfall, at which point the whole place is suddenly transmogrified from an eerie ghost town into a percolating hive of activity, picking up exactly where it left off at the last cheerless arrival of summer.