Lech is found right on the border of the state of Tyrol, in the famous Arlberg region where modern skiing was invented over 100 years ago. This region includes world-famous St Anton, Oberlech, Zug and Zürs which, interconnected by lifts, comprises the largest contiguous skiing area in Austria.
Lech is high end, with shopping and looking good as important as getting onto the snow for many visitors to the resort. The bars and restaurants cater well to those who have money to lavish and the furs walking around the village attest to the perpetual fashion show.
That said, the village still has an Austrian charm to it and there is generally a more relaxed seasonal worker crowd than St Anton, given also that the terrain at Lech is fairly gentle.
Compared to St Anton, the terrain is very moderate and the nightlife and après not nearly as crazy.
Lech is named after the river on which it lies. It is 120km west of Innsbruck and 20km from St Anton. Zurich is 200km away while Munich is 300km away. An interconnected town, Zürs, is just a few kilometres from Lech, while another little town, Zug, is a few kilometres away.
The best way to get to Lech is using the very efficient and easy Austrian train network. You take the train to either the Langen am Arlberg railway station or the St Anton am Arlberg station from any major city in Austria, and then take a regular taxi or bus transfer.
From Langen am Arlberg it is 15 km to Lech and the bus connection is line 91, with the trip taking around 20 minutes.
From St. Anton am Arlberg, it is 20 km to Lech and the bus connection is line 92, with the trip taking around 30 minutes. The advantage of passing through St Anton is that you get to check out St Anton on your way to Lech.
Tickets can be bought at www.oebb.at/en
There is a free bus included in your season pass which takes you between Lech, Oberlech, Zug and Zürs and Alpe Rauz which is the entrance to St. Anton. Between 8pm and 3am, the 'James' bus runs around Lech to get you home after a night out. A season ticket for the 'James' bus can be purchased for around € 60.
Lech is fashionable, upmarket and the type of resort where a large number of visitors come simply to shop and relax, rather than hit the slopes. There are a decent number of high end restaurants and boutique retailers, placing a heavy burden on your wallet if you do indulge in these places.
The main street of Lech can be a proper Euro fashion show for the rich Austrians and Germans and you are not likely to find much grunge in Lech.
The accommodation around town is heavy on five star hotels and Lech is considered a favoured resort for many royal families around the globe. The nightlife is accordingly more focused on sophistication than riotousness.
Lech is, for the most part, a gentle resort consisting of beginner and intermediate on-piste runs. The runs are wide, open and suit riders who are finding their feet and improving their technique. The runs are generally well groomed and the big spaces means there is a lot of room for carving.
As such, expert seasonal workers may find Lech a little dull and not challenging enough over the season.
While there is a small selection of reasonable off-piste terrain, including some gladed areas down lower, it is not nearly as good as at St Anton. Expert seasonal workers will likely want to spend their days off at St Anton where possible throughout the season.
Lech is connected to other ski resorts in the region including Zürs, Oberlech, Stubenbach and Zug which offer a bit more variety of terrain but nothing exceptional for on-piste expert terrain. There is a further connection to the Warth-Schröcken ski areas further north. Zürs is the most practical resort to visit as it is so close, but it is really beginner focused and even tamer than Lech.
However, Lech is now connected via lift to Stuben and St Christoph, from where you can access St Anton which has some truly awesome off-piste and expert terrain, probably the best in Austria.
Seasonal workers like to attempt, at least once during the season, Der Weisse Ring. This is a circuit of the connected resorts, totalling 21km which takes a good part of the day to ski.
The terrain is fairly basic but enough to keep most seasonal workers happy unless you are looking for truly expert lines. The park at Lech is the only one in the Lech, Zürs, Oberlech, Stubenbach and Zug region.
Like most Austrian resorts, Lech is not naturally blessed with huge snow. The average sits around 5 metres which is on the higher end for Austrian resorts.
Snowmaking is used abundantly at Lech to provide a strong base. This is more feasible at Lech given the majority of the on-piste runs are beginner and intermediate.
It does mean, however, that low snow years mean very patchy off-piste riding, in particular on the slopes that receive a lot of sun.
The crowds are generally fewer than at St Anton, but this is still Austria and you won’t find complete solitude unless you go deep off-piste. However, Lech/ Zürs has a policy of closing ticket sales if more than 40,000 tickets are sold in one day which helps to curtail the insane crowds sometimes associated with Austria.
The three main ways to get a job are to: work for a local business, work for a foreign owned business in Lech, or work for a tour company.
To work locally, you will be required to have an EU passport as Austria has strict rules on hiring workers outside the European Union, unless you are from New Zealand (see below). You will also need to speak German to a proficient standard given that most of the clientele is German-speaking.
Lastly, you will need to be very proactive about finding a job with a local business if you are not Austrian, given that you are a risk for the business when there are plenty of willing locals to fill the job. That means sending out resumes early (towards the end of summer) and following up companies.
If you arrive in town without a job, remember that a lot of people get fired, get injured or quit after New Year which means job vacancies often open up in January.
To work in mountain operations directly with the resort, see www.lech-zuers.at/jobs (in German only)
There are a limited number of local jobs where you won't need to speak German, although you will still need a valid visa or EU passport. These jobs include ski schools, the following operate in Lech:
See Work a Winter Season in Austria for further information on converting your foreign instructing certificate to an Austrian-recognised certificate
New Zealand citizens have access to a working holiday visa program with Austria which means you can apply for local business jobs in Lech. See Work a Winter Season in Austria for further information.
If you are not European or a New Zealand, it is very difficult to find work in Lech. Many tour operators won't even look at your application if you don't have an EU passport or you can’t get a working holiday visa. It is now harder than before to find cash jobs where employers skirt the Austrian job and visa laws.
Cash jobs can sometimes be found with some tour operators who see staff leave mid-season and desperately try to fill the positions, but to do so requires an element of luck. If you choose to do this, make sure you have enough money to last you as long as it takes to find work.
Tour operators are a good choice for those who don't speak German. They provide full-package holidays for tourists, often from Britain, and jobs might include hosts, chalet workers, chefs, guides and drivers. As they are British based, they often require you to hold a British passport. The following tour companies operate in Lech:
See Jobs Available at Ski Resorts for a description of ski resort jobs.
Staff accommodation is usually included as part of your job. These tend to be quite basic in Lech. Finding accommodation on your own is very difficult, especially if you don't speak German so you are best to take the staff accommodation or seek the assistance of the tourist office.
There are nine bars in Lech and seven in Zürs. The nightlife is much, much quieter than in St Anton, with a focus on cocktail bars and chat after a day on the slopes rather than raucous après-ski. Bars and restaurants are also relatively expensive at Lech, likely to leave a seasonal worker’s wage looking quite paltry in comparison.
The vibe is generally relaxed and there is still some après-ski, however, with the Eis Bar at the Tannbergerhof Hotel hosting a lively crowd and the most well-known après scene in Lech.
At Zürs, head to Hotel Mathies for the best après-ski scene Back in Lech, the best late night dancing is found at the Tannbergerhof or Hotel Krone.
There are good cocktails and electronic music at Archiv Bar, while sophisticates can check out Fux Jazz Bar for a combination of lounge music, log fires and an excellent choice of whiskies.