As the second biggest ski resort in the SkiWelt, Ellmau is large enough to cater for most its visitors needs and yet small enough to retain a village atmosphere. It is popular with the British, the Dutch and, of course, the locals. It's a quiet, family-oriented resort mostly composed of small hotels and cozy restaurants, so whilst there are apres-ski bars up the mountain and late night bars in the village, those seeking a more vibrant party scene would be better off in Soll or Kitzbuhel. The village is rather stretched out: much of the accommodation is a long walk or a short bus ride away from the main lifts.
There is a lot of skiing in the SkiWelt - over 284kms of runs and 90 lifts - and a staggering 81 mountain bars and restaurants. Most of the pistes are short, treelined, gentle blues and red runs that are great for novices and intermediates who like easy cruising, and this is very true for the slopes above Ellmau and neighbouring Going. The Ellmau ski schools have a good reputation and there are decent nursery slopes on the edge of the village and up the mountain.
Ellmau is therefore definitely more of a beginners' resort than an experts' resort, but there are just enough challenges for advanced skiers who come here in a mixed ability group for a week. There are a few local black runs and ski routes like 'East', and more in the SkiWelt, most notably around Soll; there is also some proper off-piste that can be explored with a guide; and lastly, Kitzbuhel which has steeper terrain is less than half an hour's drive away; or you can ski into its KitzSki area via Westendorf with the help of a short ride in a ski bus that connects the KitzSki lift at Skirast with the SkiWelt lift at Ki-West. There are various lift passes that cover both ski regions, such as the KitzAlps AllStarCard and the Super Ski pass, or you can buy day passes.
The SkiWelt is very low for a ski area - all the slopes are below 2000m. 90% of the pistes, however, now have artificial snow-making, and this plus Ellmau's orientation (its runs mostly face North) and vigorous piste-grooming mean that its runs remain skiable, provided night time temperatures are cold enough for the snow canons to work. That is unlikely to be a problem in January but in a warm Spring the ski area can contract or become very slushy.
Ski & Board Hire in Ellmau
There are plenty of ski rental shops, but you are unlikely to get a good deal if you just walk into them when you arrive. ALPINRESORTS.com works with several shops in Ellmau and the SkiWelt and offers discounts of up to 35% if you book online in advance here.
SKISET also has outlets in Ellmau and it too gives discounts if you book online.
Ellmau Pros & Cons
+ Family-friendly quiet village
+ Large lift-linked ski area
+ Good resort for beginners
+ Impressive artificial snowmaking
+ Stronger skiers have access to more challenging slopes at Soll and Kitzbuhel
- Resort is rather stretched out
- Lifts can be far away from accomodation
- Too low to be snowsure in warm weather