Damuls-Mellau Ski Area
Situated in south western part of Bregenzerwald, Damuls-Mellau is the biggest ski area in the Bregenzerwald with 89km of well-groomed pistes. The ski area is forgiving for beginners and fun for intermediate skiers and boarders who like to ski fast undulating blue and red runs.
Damuls-Mellau ski area and ski lift system has been significantly extended and improved by the addition of two new chairlifts between Elsenkopf and Hohe Wacht and most notably in 2009 by the addition of the new 8-person Gipfelbahn gondola which connects two previously separate ski areas.
Consequently, Damuls-Mellau is now the biggest ski area in Bregenzerwald with 89km of well groomed skiing and a choice of two pretty villages. The ski area is best for intermediates and the mix of blue, red and black runs is 32km, 44km and 11km respectively plus a couple of ski routes (2km) and opportunities to ski off-piste close to the pistes as well as ski touring and more challenging off-piste for advanced skiers beyond the ski area.
The ski area above Damuls (64km) mostly faces south and south-east and is largely treeless making it pleasantly sunny in good weather. One of the special attractions of Damuls is the choice of ski-in, ski-out accommodation in the ski area, with restaurants, sun terraces and the occasional umbrella bar. In contrast, the ski area above Mellau (25km) on the north facing slopes of the Rostelle is not as sunny, but offers good snow conditions until late spring.
There are good panoramic views of Portla Horn (2010m), Ragazer Blanken (2051m), Hochblanken (2053m) and the iconic Damulser Mittagspitze (2092m) which dominates the landscape and, from the highest points in the ski area, you can see Lake Constance (Bodensee) to the north.
While the vertical elevation from the highest chair lift down to the village of Damuls is just 600m, the skiing is fun and the wide, open landscape makes it easy when riding the chairlifts to visualise whole of mountain possibilities and to spot good routes both on- and off-piste. The Mellau section of the ski area is smaller but includes bigger vertical from Wildgunten (1705m) down to the village of Mellau (600m).
Damuls-Mellau ski area includes the impressive Burton sponsored Snowpark Damuls and elsewhere on the mountain there are numerous jumps, both man-made and natural, that will keep boarders and freestylers challenged and entertained.
Besides skiing, other activities include a quite challenging 3.5km toboggan run beneath the SB Uga chair lift which is floodlit on Wednesday and Friday nights from 7:30-9:30pm. There's also cross- country skiing high on the mountain and lots of winter walking paths in the ski area.
Higher up the valley, 4km from Damuls is the small ski area at Faschina (1436m). Here you'll find half a dozen blue runs including nursery slopes for beginners a couple of red runs and a few ski routes one of which (Hahnenkopf Nord) is described as extreme. Faschina and the main Damuls-Mellau ski area are not connected by the lift system.
Damuls-Mellau ski season runs from the beginning of December until mid-April and Damuls claims to be one of the most snow sure villages in Austria.
Damuls-Mellau Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
The Damuls-Mellau ski lift system features mostly modern high speed lifts with a carrying capacity of more than 30,000 riders per hour. New ski lifts in recent years include a high-speed gondola linking Mellau with Damuls and the Ragaz chairlift opened up skiing on Ragazerblanken at Damuls.
Damuls Ski Lifts
The Damuls lift system is efficient and queuing is rarely an issue except at peak periods, which includes day visitors arriving by bus first thing in the morning, but usually even then it's only a few minutes waiting time to get up the mountain.
The south facing slopes above Damuls are served by nine chair lifts, most of which are high speed Doppelmayr chair lifts for 4-6 people with bubble covers, two beginner lifts and two moving walkways for beginners. The main access lift to the ski area from Damuls is the 4-man SB-UGA chairlift, which is just below the village, next to the 4-star Walliser Hotel & Café Restaurant and 3-star Brunnenhof apartments. This is also the main arrivals point for day visitors coming by bus or car.
There's also chairlift at OberDamuls for the convenience of guests staying in upper Damuls and the free Damuls Ortsbus shuttle bus service transports guests from Damuls village and hotels to the ski lifts in Damuls and Faschina as well as to the cross-country and winter hiking trails.
If coming to Damuls for the day by car, there is car parking close to the ski lifts, but it's best to leave either before 3:30pm or after 4:30pm if you want to avoid the 4:00pm rush hour when day visitors will be uploading on to buses.
Mellau Ski Lifts
Mellau has eight ski lifts including an old 4-person gondola from Mellau to Rossstelle, two chair lifts, three rope tows, a beginners' lift and the new high speed 8-person Gipfelbahn gondola linking Mellau ski area with Damuls.
New ski lifts include the new high-speed 8-person Gipfelbahn gondola added in 2009 which links Mellau with Damuls and the Ragaz chairliftis added in 2010/11 opened up skiing on Ragazerblanken (2051m) at Damuls. The ski lift capacity on the north facing slopes on the Rosstelle above Mellau has also been increased by the addition of a new gondola, which was the first of a series of necessary improvements.
The gondola leading from Mellau to the ski area is situated approximately 1km from the centre of the village, but there's ample free parking next to the base station and free shuttle bus services running every half hour - the blue bus service runs between the gondola and a single stop in the centre of Mellau next to the Sonne Lifestyle Resort Hote , whereas the green bus service also stops at other locations in the village and may be more convenient depending where in Mellau you are staying.
The 4EUB Rossstelle gondola is more than 5 million passengers old and needs replacing, firstly to avoid the 150km walk to a T-bar and better connect with the other main lifts on Rossstelle and, secondly, to increase rider capacity to keep pace with the expected increase in numbers of skiers coming to Mellau.
Faschina Ski Lifts
Five more ski lifts including a couple of chairlifts, T-bar and practice lifts serve the small Faschina ski area, which is an entirely separate ski area, on the Glatthorn (2134m).
Damuls Mellau & Faschina Ski Lift Passes
The Bregenzerwald 3-Valley ski pass is valid for Damuls-Mellau, Faschina and all other ski areas (and buses) in Bregenzerwald and costs approximately €100 for 3-day and €170 for 6 days, with 50% discounts available for young children, and lesser discounts for teenagers and senior citizens.
Damuls-Mellau Ski Lift Companies
Tel: +43 (0) 5510 600
Web: www.seilbahnendamuels.at (German language only)
Tel: +43 (0)5518 22 22
Damuls-Mellau ski area is very well groomed with plenty of easy skiing on wide blue runs, most of it on the Damuls side of the ski area, and a choice of easy red runs for fast-track beginners.
If you're a second time skier able to ski a controlled snow plough or better, you'll find plenty of good 'beginner' runs above Damuls, but you need to be ready to ride chairlifts as there's not much nursery slope skiing down in the valley at base level.
The ski area above Damuls will suit confident beginners who can get good value from their lift pass starting with a choice of easy blue and progress to ski intermediate runs descending from the top of most ski lifts. And because the slopes are invariably well groomed and often exceptionally wide, beginners can traverse for longer between turns and gain confidence.
Group ski lessons are available for adults and children learning to ski from age 4 or to snowboard from aged 6. There's also a dedicated children's area behind Damuls Ski School with kindergarten facilities for pre-school children aged 2-4.
Over at Mellau there are short blue runs suitable for beginners at the top of the Rossstelle gondola, but not much worth writing about as Mellau's ski runs are mostly north facing reds and blacks and less suitable for beginners.
When pre-booking lessons at Damuls-Mellau ski schools bear in mind that the majority of guests are from Switzerland, Germany, France and Benelux and ask the ski school to provide you with an instructor that speaks good English. Most ski instructors do so you shouldn't have any problems.
Damuls-Mellau well-groomed ski slopes are great for intermediate skiers and boarders who will appreciate the many extra wide runs and for more experienced skiers and riders who enjoy skiing fast.
How you explore the Damuls-Mellau ski area depends whether you are staying in Damuls or Mellau. If staying in Damuls, ride the 4-man SG-UGA chairlift (1) to Uga Alpe (1850m) then ski blue 11 or red 12 and take the 6-man Hohe Wacht chairlift (9) to Wannenkopf (2006m) from where you can see Bodensee (Lake Constance) or sometimes just a sea of fog in the distance.
From Wannenkopf you can either whizz down red 13 or blue 14 (Damuls side) or ski a short red run to the top of the new Gipfelbahn gondola (17) at 1924m then ski Mellau's north facing slopes beginning with red 23 then ride the 6SB Wildgunten chairlift (18) and ski red runs 25 and 29 or black runs 32-34. Return by riding the 6SB Suttis chairlift (19) or you can ski the 9km long red run 35 all the way down to Mellau and take the old gondola (20) then T-bar (16) and ride the Gipfelbahn gondola (17) back to Wannenkopf.
After skiing red 13 or 14 from Wannenkopf, ride the 6-man Elsenkopf chairlift (8) and ski across to ride DSB Hohes Licht 2-man chairlift (2) to Hohes Licht (2009m). Enjoy views right to Damulser Mittagspitze (2092m) then ski red run 4 and ride the 6-man SB Hasenbűhel chairlift (4) back up to Hohes Licht and it's time for ski routes 4 or 5.
The ski routes are not difficult but relatively steep for the first 100m or so. If too steep for you, repeat red run 4 past (or through) the Speed Test to the bottom of the 6SB Hasenbűhel chairlift (4) or follow signs for blue run 3 and head over to the skin-ski-out Hotel Gasthof Walisgaden for lunch or quench your thirst at Heike's umbrella bar.
Ski red run 2 from Walisgaden and ride DSB Sunnegg chairlift (3) towards Portla Horn where there are more good blues and reds running down to the SB Furka chair lift then a choice of longer blues and reds running down to Damuls.
By this stage you've explored most of the Damuls-Mellau ski area, but not skied all of the runs, so ride the DSB OberDamuls lift to get high again and work your way back across from left to right and check out more ski routes either side of the DSB Sunegg chairlift.
Ifstaying in Mellau, you start by riding the old 4 person gondola to Rossstelle then it's a short but rather irritating 150m walk up a slight incline to reach the T-bar (16) which you need to use to gain enough height to be able ski to the Gipfelbahn gondola or to 6SB Wildgunten chair. This minor inconvenience is expected to be solved by building a new lift station higher on Rossstelle and extending or replacing the old gondola, but we dn't know when this will happen.
If you have skied Damuls-Mellau fully and want to explore other ski areas nearby, there's lots more good intermediate skiing on the Diedamskopf (44km) at Au Schoppernau and at Warth-Schrőcken (66km), which are 16km and 33km respectively from Damuls and similar distances from Mellau.
Damuls-Mellau Advanced & Expert Skiing
Good skiers can easily ski Damuls-Mellau’s groomed pistes and marked ski routes in a day or two, but there’s also plenty of easy off-piste skiing between pistes and more freeriding opportunities for advanced skiers who enjoy skiing off-piste.
The marked runs and the ski routes are fun but there's nothing on-piste that is particularly challenging for strong skiers. Most of the ski area is wide open alpine pastures so you have to go out of your way, and make the effort to boot-up or skin-up, to find more difficult terrain. There's a fair amount of easily accessible off-piste terrain alongside and between the pistes - good to practice your off-piste technique - but safe access to the best off-piste requires local knowledge and hence it's advisable to hire a suitably qualified guide through the Damuls-Mellau ski schools.
The new Ragaz lift opens up more ski routes higher up on Ragazer Blanken (2081m) and above existing ski routes 1, 2 and 3. And the new Gipfelbahn gondola joining Mellau with Damuls will open up the north facing slopes running down from Wannenkopf towards Mellau.
Your Bregenzerwald ski lift pass is valid for all ski lifts and buses in the Bregenzerwald and if you have time you should also aim to visit other ski resorts nearby.
Warth-Schrőcken (33km from Damuls) has 64km of enjoyable piste skiing and strong off-piste skiers can ski off-piste from Warth to Lech (but not without a guide) and back. Nearer still, Au Schoppernau (half way between Damuls and Warth) is home to the Diedamskopf ski area which has 44km of well groomed but generally steeper piste skiing including some quite steep black runs and a 600m long ski route which is dead straight and steep.
Damuls-Mellau Boarding & Freestyle
Boarders and freestyle skiers are especially welcome in Damuls-Mellau where much effort is made each winter building jumps in the ski area and maintaining the Burton sponsored Snowpark.
The marked runs are invariably well-groomed and often very wide so you can travel longer distances between turns, which is good for beginner and early intermediate boarders as well as for more experienced boarders carving big turns. And there's lots of off-piste terrain between the pistes which doesn't get tracked as fast as it would in better known resorts.
The Burton sponsored Snowpark Damuls (German language website) is professionally constructed each season by a dedicated crew of ten boarders and three snow cat drivers. You'll find it close to the Walisgaden chairlift.
Snowpark Damuls is shaped daily from mid-December until mid-April. Features include Mainpark with Staircase, 8m Downrail, 12m Kinkbox, 8m Straightbox, A-Frame, 8m Bocoloco Straightrail, 8m Roller Kicker, 12m Roller Kicker and a Chillout Area in the middle in the park plus 4m Straightrail, two 5m Picknicktables, 5m Skatebox, 6m Rainbowbox and the popular all Mountain-Line with Woop Woop Line, Corner and more new snow elements.
Nearby, there's steeper terrain and yet another excellent terrain park on Diedamskopf at Au Schoppernau, which is about 16km from Damuls-Mellau villages, and easily reach by car or free bus service. Warth-Schrőcken is also nearby (33km) and worth visiting for riding on- and off-piste.
Damuls-Mellau Mountain Restaurants
Damuls-Mellau ski area offers a good selection of mountain restaurants to choose from, the better ones are on the slopes above Damuls, mostly with sun terraces and the occasional umbrella bar for quick pit stops and easy refuelling.
Damuls-Mellau ski area includes eleven mountain restaurants, nine of which are on south facing slopes above Damuls. Their positions are clearly marked on the ski map by knife and fork symbols, but unfortunately the ski map doesn't yet name them.
Restaurant menus are offer traditional Austrian fare and are quite reasonably priced. Soup dishes average €3-4, local sausage and fries €5 and main course dishes €10-13. Expect to pay around €20 per person for lunch with drinks, unless investing heavily in the wine list.
Damuls Mountain Restaurants
Elsenalpe Stube is a busy self-service restaurant at the top of UGA-Alp chair lift, which also provides family friendly accommodation and has a popular sun terrace. The popular Hotel Gasthof Walisgaden restaurant (next to the umbrella bar) is worth visiting as is s'Landle where they serve a healthy chicken (fitness) salad, which is recommended. You can reach these restaurants easily via the UGA-Alp chair lift then ski red run 2 in the direction of Walisgaden chair. Downhill next to the valley station of Hohes Licht the Uga Alp is a large self-service restaurant with accommodation.
There are more mountain restaurants worth visiting on the left hand side of the ski area alongside Portla Horn blue and red runs, including Gasthof Sonnenheim and stylish Hotel Alpenstern, both of which have sun terraces.
Gasthof Elsenalpe Tel: +43 (0) 5510 297
Hotel Alpenstern Tel: +43 (0) 5510 513
Gasthof Sonnenheim Tel: +43 (0) 5510 257
Bergrestaurant Uga Alp Tel: +43 (0) 5510 318
S'Ländle Hotel Tel: +43 (0) 5510 610
Jausestation Sunnegg Tel: +43 (0) 676 783 7858
Eisbar Herte Hof Tel: +43 (0) 5510 27
Berggasthof Walisgaden Tel: +43 (0) 5510 214
Almstűble Tel: +43 (0) 5510 307
Mellau Mountain restaurants
Mellau has two on-mountain restaurants at Rosstelle close to the top of the gondola, both include outside terraces, but neither of them can be recommended.
Restaurant Simma is cosy and has seating for 150 with waiter service. Alphof Rossstelle is an impersonal self-service establishment with seating 400 people but the food is disappointing. Also red run 21 above the restaurants is often used for slalom racing and while a couple of hundred Austrian teenagers racing slalom gates is an impressive sight, it's not quite so appealing when they all pile into Alphof Rossstelle at lunch time.
Restaurant Simma Tel.: +43 (0) 5518 2761
Alphof Roßstelle Tel.: +43-5518 2310 or 2751
The pretty villages of Damuls (1431m) and Mellau (690m) are situated 20km apart on opposite sides of Bregenzerwald’s biggest ski area. Both villages offer a wide range of affordable accommodation including ski-in, ski-out hotels in Damuls, allegedly the snowiest villages in Austria.
Damuls is a pretty village built around a hilltop church at over 1,400m above sea level with some good hotels in the village centre and ski-in, ski-out hotels slopeside in Upper Damuls and also higher up in the ski area.
There's not much to see or to do in Damuls besides snowsports and winter walking, there being only a handful of shops in and around the village and not many other places of interest, and après ski outside of the hotels is practically non-existent. But it's a pretty place and one of the most snow sure villages in Austria, with great mountain views. Ideal for families, couples and anyone else content to chill-out and relax after a day's skiing in the comfort of your hotel.
For this reason it's worth studying the location of the various hotels. If staying in the village then the Hotel Gasthof Adler is a charming 4-star hotel, which is traditional, tasteful throughout and in a prime location in the centre of the village. If you're planning a holiday with young children and want to be as close as possible to the ski lifts and the ski school then check out the 3-star Walliserstube Hotel & Restaurant.
Or for ski-in, ski-out convenience try the attractive 4-star Hotel Alpenstern which is slopeside in Upper Damuls or the 3-star Walisgaden Hotel & Restaurant (and umbrella bar) high up in the middle of the ski area. Both these hotels have busy mountain restaurants and sun terraces for late afternoon après ski.
Mellau is situated on the opposite side of the ski area, about 20km from Damuls, at an altitude of 690m above sea level. Bigger than Damuls, Mellau is one of the largest communities in Bregenzerwald (yet still quite small) with 1,300 inhabitants and 1,200 guest beds. The Bregenzer Ache River runs through the village and the imposing Kanisfluh mountain towers above.
There's a good choice of accommodation including self-catering apartments, hospitable private pensions offering bed & breakfast and a range of hotels rated 1-4 star, most impressive of which by a long way is the landmark 4-star superior Sonne Lifestyle Resort Hotel in the centre of Mellau.
The village of Mellau is peaceful day and night and there's not much in the way of après ski, although compared to Damuls there are few restaurants and bars for alternative eating and drinking away from your hotel or apartment.
An efficient bus service runs between Damuls-Mellau, Au-Schoppernau and Warth-Schrőcken, but to explore the area fully it's easier if you have a car.
Getting to Damuls-Mellau from three nearest airports typically takes two hours or less and if you plan you travel well via Zurich you can ski on your days of arrival and departure.
Damüls Faschina Tourist Office
Kirchdorf 138, A-6884 Damüls
Tel: +43 (0) 5510 6200
Mellau Tourist Office
Platz 292, 6881 Mellau
Tel: +43 (0) 5518 2203
Damuls-Mellau Bars & Restaurants
Damuls apres ski is an especially low key affair mainly in hotels and just a few bars. The majority of guests are content to chillout in their hotels, many of which are dotted around the ski area, so there’s nothing much happening late at night in Damuls.
Damuls and other Bregenzerwald ski resorts mainly appeal to families and groups of people who are comfortable relaxing with friends over drinks and dinner back at their hotel. Additionally, many skiers come from other nearby villages and return after skiing so there's not much demand for apres ski late of the kind you'd expect to find in better known Austrian ski resorts.
With just a few apres ski bars in Damuls village and many people staying in ski-in, ski-out accommodation, there's no real focal point for apres ski, so it's worth splashing out that little bit extra for a hotel with good lifestyle facilities.
Damuls-Mellau Other Activities
Besides skiing and boarding, there’s an adventurous toboggan run, cross-country skiing and winter walking throughout the ski area, but winter sports activities aside there’s not much else to do in Damuls or Mellau except chill-out and relax.
Tobogganing in Damuls-Mellau
Damuls has a 3.5km natural toboggan run on Uga, which is open during the day and night times from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, Wednesday and Friday. It's quite an adventure and strict rules apply. You can rent a toboggan from Madlener Sport and at night times you must buy an extra card to gain lift access.
There's an 800m natural toboggan run in the centre of Mellau, which is illuminated on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and at weekends from 6pm until 9:30pm. Schmucks Rodelhüsle, at the bottom of the run, serves mulled wine and Schupfnudeln and a relaxed atmosphere. Contact Mellau tourist office to confirm opening times which will be dependent on snow conditions in the village (690m). You can rent toboggans at Sport Natter.
Cross-country skiing in Damuls-Mellau
Damuls has 16km of cross-country trails, most of higher up on the mountain, and there's 22km of groomed cross-country skiing down in the valley at Mellau including a routes of varying difficulty from beginner level to advanced cross-country skiers.
Winter walking in Damuls
Damuls has 22km of groomed winter walking trails, also used for horse drawn sleigh rides, including well-lit trails for romantic evening walks. There's a map of winter walks which includes the locations of nearly 20 hotels and mountain restaurants most of which can be reached on foot. The walks range from 1.5km to 6.5km and typically take between 45 minutes and 3 hours to complete.
Night skiing nearby at Faschina
There's night skiing with music at Guggernűlli ski lift in Faschina on Thursday evenings from 6pm until 9pm in high season, free for ski pass holders.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides in Mellau
Wrap up warm and enjoy a horse drawn sleigh ride, day time or evening, with a variety of routes through snowy winter forest and the delightful winter landscape. Your sleigh drivers Raimund Dietrich (Tel: +43 (0) 5518 2164) and George Simma (Tel: +43 (0) 5518 2768) will be pleased to advise you further.
Spa & Wellness in Mellau
Not everyone can afford to stay in a luxurious 4-star superior hotel, but you might like to check out the spa facilities at Sonne Lifestyle Hotel in Mellau, which offers an extensive range of wellness treatments.
Explore other Bregenzerwald
Travelling to other villages is easiest by car, but there are regular bus services running between six villages. Bregenzerwald Landbus No. 43 runs at regular intervals during the day between Damuls and Au, and from Au, bus No 40 runs regularly to Mellau, Schoppernau, Schroecken and Warth.
The villages of Au-Schoppernau are full lovely lovely traditional buildings, sometimes sympathetically modernised with expansive areas of glass as well as traditional shindeln clad wood walls. There are several good hotels with restaurants and cafés open to the public and shops selling handicrafts and local cheeses (for which Bregenzerwald is famous). For women, the Wolfurt factory outlet shop in Schoppernau (well signposted and easy to find) is significantly cheaper than retail outlets and handy for stocking up on lingerie.
Damuls and Mellau Tourist Offices
For more information contact the Tourist Office:
Damuls Faschina Tourist Office
Kirchdorf 138, A-6884 Damuls
Bregenzerwald, Vorarlberg, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 5510 620
Mellau Tourist Office
Platz 292, 6881 Mellau
Bregenzerwald, Vorarlberg, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 5518 22 03