The invited guests from the cable car and tourism industry were offered an entertaining program. It started with a tour over Lake Wolfgangsee including a breathtaking air show by the Flying Bulls. The coveted crystal awards and quality seals from the International Ski Area Test were then presented in the ErlebnisQuartier, the new valley station of the SchafbergBahn. Skiareatest President Klaus Hönigsberger led the industry gala together with presenters Silvia and Stella Fontanive and was able to welcome over 300 visitors, including the guests of honor: Olympic champion and world champion Fritz Strobl, state councilor Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Josef Schwaiger, National Councilor Bettina Zopf, WK specialist group manager Mag. Oliver Käfer, retired Gstaad Board of Directors President Heinz Brand, Mayor of St. Wolfgang Franz Eisl, Deputy Mayor. von Rattenberg Franz Schwaiger and Managing Director of Wolfgangsee Tourism Patrick De-Bettin.
The best of the 2023 summer season and the 2022/23 winter season were honored at the award ceremony.
KitzSki - Skiareatest winner winter season 2022/23 For the tenth time, the team from the successful cable car company Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel was able to celebrate overall victory. The world-famous ski area is popular with all snow sports enthusiasts, from families and racers to recreational skiers and beginners. The quality of the slopes was also highly rated and was awarded the “TripleGold International Slope Quality Seal”. The special award “Barrier-free” in gold was presented to KitzSki for the first time. The “Platinum Marketing Trophy” and the “Gold Piste Guidance System” award were also awarded to the Tyrolean ski area.
The panoramic cable car in the Kitzbühel Alps was named “Skiarea Test Winner 2023 Gold”. The ski area promises perfectly prepared slopes, which was confirmed by the Skiareatest team and rewarded with the “TripleGold International Slope Quality Seal”. Further awards in individual categories were given for: “Best Slope Team Gold”, “Best Slope Guidance System Gold”, “Friendliest Railway Staff Gold” and “Friendliest Cashier Team”.
Slope guidance systems in the ski areas are intended to provide snow sports enthusiasts with orientation and show the way so that every guest reaches their destination safely according to their skiing ability. The professionals from sitour have renewed the piste guidance system in the Kitzbühel ski area. With a modern look, it shows visitors the way and, thanks to color coding and symbols, it is even language-independent. For this, those responsible at sitour were pleased to receive the “Slope Guidance System Gold” award.
The overall victory for Germany was awarded to Bergbahnen Sudelfeld, one of the largest and most popular ski areas in Bavaria. Snow sports enthusiasts can expect extensive slopes for all skill levels, nestled in the beautiful Wendelstein region. The slopes, including snowmaking and safety precautions, were also awarded the “International Slope Quality Seal”, the “Gold Snowmaking Trophy” and the “Snow Driver Trophy”. The “Fun & Action” award went to the snow park, the Sudelfeld action world delights snowboarders and freestylers with numerous obstacles.
The mountain railway destination Gstaad promises varied dream slopes and enjoyable skiing experiences - this was also rated by the Skiareatest team and so the ski area was able to win the overall double gold for Switzerland. There was also the “Gold Snowmaking Trophy”, the “Gold Piste Driver Trophy” and the “DoppelGold International Piste Seal of Quality”. The friendly cash desk team was happy to receive an award and the Eggli mountain restaurant was named “Most Popular Mountain Restaurant Gold”. For the first time, the Special Award for “Promotion of Young Skiers” was presented by Skiareatest – to Skifuture Saanenland/Stade Slalom Rougemont.
Flachau, Wagrain and St. Johann-Alpendorf, these three ski resorts make up the Snow Space Salzburg and were named “European Test Winner 2023 Double Gold”. The “International Slope Quality Seal” is awarded by the Skiareatest for three years and then all the necessary criteria are checked again; the Salzburg ski area has received this gold for the fourth time. There were further awards for the categories “Best Slope Team” in DoppelGold, “Digital Marketing” in Gold, “Friendliest Cashier Team” in Gold and the “Green Mountain Award DoppelGold”.
The Ski Juwel Alpbachtal-Wildschönau team was able to accept the “Adventure & Family Mountain Gold” award. The “Kinderlandtrophy” went to the Zwergenland am Schatzberg and the slopes were also awarded the “TripleGold International Slope Quality Seal” as well as the “Safety Trophy” and “Gold Snowmaking Trophy”. The “Top of Alpbachtal” observation tower with the platform of the mountain station of the new Hornbahn 2000 is a highlight at the highest point in the ski area and was awarded the “Ideas & Implementation Gold” award.
Another “adventure & family mountain” can be found in Salzburg; the Gasteiner Bergbahnen received this gold award. The “Kinderlandtrophy Gold” and the award for “Fun & Action” also went to the great family and action offering. The “International Slope Quality Seal” was awarded in Double Gold and also the “Ski Driver Trophy”. The “Green Mountain Award Gold” was presented to the Gasteiner Bergbahnen team for the photovoltaic system project.
The Swiss mountain railways Sörenberg were pleased to receive the “Family ski area 2023 Switzerland Gold” award - a ski area with a wide range of offerings for young and old. The Sörenberg Freestyle Line offers freestyle fun for all skill levels, for which it received the “Fun & Action Gold” award. The “Most Popular Cashier Team” also received an award and the “International Slope Quality Seal” was awarded for three years. Those responsible for the unique winter festival “Sörenberg Sounds” received the “Event Trophy”. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Theo Schnider, was given a special honor – he received the “Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award”.
Further awards were given to My Leukerbad AG - a business organization of the destination's largest tourism service providers. The “Kinderlandtrophy Gold” was awarded to the Snowpark Sportarena – a unique children’s paradise. The award for the “Friendliest Railway Staff” went to the dedicated team and the quality of the slopes was awarded the “DoppelGold International Slope Quality Seal”. And CEO Urs Zurbriggen was able to celebrate the “Manager of the Year 2023” award.
The Hahnenkamm mountain world in Tyrol was able to score points at the Skiareatest in the 2022/23 winter season and was able to take home the following awards: “Snowmaking Trophy”, “Best Slope Team”, “Safety Trophy” and the team was also awarded the “International Slope Quality Seal” for three years . The Cilli Hut pampers guests with culinary delicacies and fantastic views and can now call itself the “most popular ski hut”. The “Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award” was awarded to Fritz Schweiger for his commitment to the Hahnenkamm - he was delighted to accept the special award. He is co-managing director of the Reutten cable cars and managing director of the Cilli Hütte.
The Direkt Holidays travel agency was able to score points in several categories: “Infrastructure – Innovation Award Gold” for the Königsleitner Infrastructure Building, the award for “Alpine Travel Agency Gold”, the awards for “Chalet of the Year 2023 Gold” for the Pinzgauer Almhütte and the Chalet of Legends . These newly built exclusive chalets are well equipped and guests can enjoy their vacation there to the fullest. Peter Hofer, the owner of Direkt Holidays travel agency, was named “Tourist of the Year 2023”.
The Alpendorf ski school offers a varied course program and can look forward to the “Ski School of the Year 2023 – 4 Snow Crystals Gold” award. A wide selection and competent advice can be found at Intersport Kerschbaumer and the sports expert was awarded the “Sport Shop of the Year 2023” award. The Rougement ski school in Switzerland was also able to win the “Ski School of the Year 2023 – 4 Snow Crystals Gold” award. The professional, family-friendly ski school offers first-class service; in addition to ski and snowboard lessons, many other winter and summer activities are also offered.
Rosi's Sonnbergstuben in Kitzbühel is a very popular meeting place - the alpine hut offers luxurious traditional rooms that leave nothing to be desired, for which the award for the “Most Popular Alpine Hotel DoppelGold” was awarded. The dedicated Sonnbergstuben team was delighted to receive the “Friendliest Staff Gold” award. And Rosi Schipflinger, the singing landlady, was presented with a special award: “Art & Music Platinum”.
The Speck-Alm in the Sudelfeld ski area in Germany is a rustic inn on the mountain and was awarded the “Most Popular Ski Hut DoppelGold” award, and the staff was also rewarded with an award for their friendliness.
Also awarded the “Most Popular Ski Hut DoppelGold” award: the Starchenstadl in Wagrain. Delicious food and drinks are served there, most of which come from our own farm. The team also took home the “Friendliest Staff” award.
The 5-star luxury hotel The Alpina Gstaad stands for comfort, privacy, art and tradition in perfect harmony. Executive Chef Martin Göschel, the sporty top chef, was awarded the “Chef of the Year 2023” award.
Tyrol's oldest private brewery, Zillertal Bier, has been associated with the Gauder Fest for over 500 years. The Gauder Bock is the strongest festival beer in Austria and is only served during the Gauder Zeit. For the Gauder Fest, Zillertal Bier was awarded the “Art & Tradition Trophy Gold” as well as the “Event Trophy Gold”. And the hard-working employees were rewarded with an award for their friendliness and commitment.
Special honor for Dr. Klaus Ennemoser and Mr. Ing. Anton Holzer. Both received the special award “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr. Klaus Ennemoser is an independent management consultant for tourism and golf, as well as a generally sworn and court-certified expert for tourism and golf. For 10 years he was federal chairman of the Hotel Industry Association of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and for 22 years chairman of the renowned Villa Blanka tourism schools in Innsbruck. Ing. Anton Holzer is the state rescue commander and operations manager. On October 31, 2023, he will hand over management to his previous deputy Stefan Herbst and move to the state service as special representative for asylum. Over the last 28 years he has been on repeated missions abroad with the Red Cross and, for example, was involved in the construction of the Salzburg fishing village in Sri Lanka, which became an international showcase project.
The International Ski Area Test not only tests participating ski areas in winter, but the anonymous test team is also out and about in the summer season and checks tourism destinations according to certain criteria. And the result was officially announced at the award ceremony:
A home game: the overall victory “Test Winner Summer 2023 Gold” went to Salzburg AG. The “Nostalgia Trophy Gold” was awarded for the anniversaries “130 Years of SchafbergBahn” and “150 Years of WolfgangseeSchifffahrt”. The team was also pleased to receive the award for the “friendliest ship staff”. Mario Mischelin, Managing Director of Salzburg AG Tourismus GmbH, is responsible, among other things, for personnel, budget and organizational matters, but is also happy to act as a train driver or captain if necessary. Mario Mischelin - who also has singing training - is known to many as the singing captain and was honored to receive a special award: the “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
The Reiteralm Bergbahnen in Styria was also named “Test Winner Summer 2023 Gold” – a hiking and excursion area with numerous offers. The children's adventure world, which ensures happy faces for the little ones, was awarded the “Kinderlandtrophy Gold”. The Reiteralm is a bike paradise, which was honored with the “Fun & Action Gold” award and the “International Summer Gold Seal of Approval” for the bike trails.
The Aletsch cable cars, in the middle of the beautiful Valais mountain scenery, are the “Test Winner Switzerland Summer 2023 Gold”. There is a wide range of activities for families and children, including the BaSchweri rope park, which was awarded the “Kinderlandtrophy Gold”. The “International Summer Quality Seal Gold” was awarded for the cart route. A descent with a mountain cart or scooter offers pure action for the whole family. The newly opened Moosfluh geology walkway explains the effects of global warming on the glacier in a playful and easy-to-understand way on a circular route - for which it received the award for “Nature & Environment Gold”. “Ecological construction support” was also recognized.
Pronatour, the specialists for the development and implementation of experience productions, developed the Moosfluh geological bridge and implemented it together with those responsible at Aletsch Bahnen. For this, the Pronatour team was also awarded the “Nature & Environment Gold” award, and DI Stephan Grausam was awarded the award for “Ecological construction support”. Pronatour was also pleased to receive the “Ideas & Implementation Gold” award for the Brunos Bergwelt project on the Dachstein. “Bearish” adventures await families there with many different adventure stations.
And the Dachstein West mountain railways, where Bruno's mountains can be discovered, were also honored by the Skiareatest: the “Family Mountain Summer 2023” was awarded the “Kinderlandtrophy Gold” and the award for “Ideas & Implementation Gold”. In addition, the cash desk team was also rewarded with an award for their friendly, dedicated work. And managing director Rupert Schiefer can now call himself “cable car operator of the year 2023”.
The Bike ARGE Kitzbühel-Kirchberg association, an association of the Kitzbühel mountain railway, Kitzbühel Tourism, the Kitzbüheler Alpen-Brixental tourism association, as well as the municipality of Kitzbühel and the municipality of Kirchberg, is investing in the expansion of the bike offering. The aim is to create ecological and sustainable trails; the Sonnenrest trails have already been opened. The great bike offering was awarded the “Fun & Action” award and the “International Summer Seal of Quality” for bike trails. The coveted “Rising Star of the Year 2023” award was also presented.
The Panoramabahn, one of the most beautiful hiking areas with a view of the Hohe Tauern National Park, can also be called “Rising Star of the Year 2023 GOLD”. The Resterkogel summer experience has been expanded and offers an experience for families, with a viewing platform, climbing wall, bobby car race track, trampolines, Kneipp pools and an interesting water trail. For this, the “Kinderlandtrophy DoppelGold” was awarded and the “Most Popular Railway Personnel Gold” was also honored. Gartenbau Kerschdorfer from Stumm in the Zillertal, the experts for the planning and execution of adventure and play facilities, implemented a large part of the “Resterkogel Summer Experience” project and were awarded the “Kinderlandtrophy DoppelGold” for this.
The Pinzgablick mountain restaurant was also involved in the project and received the “Kinderlandtrophy DoppelGold” as well as the award for the “Most Popular Mountain Restaurant Gold”. A magnificent view, culinary delights and a rustic, cozy atmosphere invite you to linger.
Whether hikers, bikers, those looking for relaxation or families – the “Adventure & Family Mountain Summer 2023 Gold” has something to offer for everyone: the Wildkogel Arena. The Kogel-Mogel Adventure Arena is a large adventure area made of wood, with a climbing tower, trampoline, obstacle course and much more. The children can really let off steam - the “Kinderlandtrophy” was awarded for this. The “International Summer Quality Seal Gold” cart route was awarded for the winding mountain cart route, which offers great fun and action. Numerous hiking routes lead through the Wildkogel high-altitude hiking area, as well as educational and themed trails as well as various hiking routes - this has been awarded the “International Summer Seal of Quality” for mountain trails. Due to the good thermals and the wonderful view, paragliding on the Wildkogel is very popular and was awarded the “Fun & Action Gold” award.
The guests were delighted with the double event of the Skiareatest Winter and Summer Awards with a great supporting program in the beautiful ambience of the new ErlebnisQuartier. Those invited were treated to a delicious lunch menu, with musical entertainment from “Schwarzenstoa Koral with friends” from Zillertal and “Edelweiß 3” from St. Wolfgang.
Modernity meets nostalgia
The SchafbergBahn, which has been in operation since 1893, runs from St. Wolfgang to the Schafberg and is the steepest cogwheel railway in Austria. The ErlebnisQuartier is the new valley station of the SchafbergBahn. The imposing building offers a large, light-flooded guest hall with ticket counters, a souvenir shop and a small museum zone as well as an event area and the EQ Restaurant on the upper floor.
About the ski area test
The International Ski Area Test was founded 28 years ago and is an anonymous quality check. Participating ski areas and tourism destinations are visited in winter and summer and checked and evaluated according to comprehensive criteria. Skiareatest President Klaus Hönigsberger is proud that the International Skiareatest has now developed into a premium brand. At the end of the season, the best of the best in a wide variety of categories are presented with beautiful crystal awards.