If you start researching the region Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis in the south of Tyrol in Austria, you will inevitably find out that it is a year-round paradise for families with young children. There are regional child-care clubs, family-friendly activities, amusement rides, kids hotels and so on. When I accepted an invitation to visit the area and typed the name into google, I was shocked: what am I going to do there? And why should an adventurous travelette make her way into any of these three villages? But oh – how surprised I was about what I found.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

We followed the highway from Innsbruck first west and then south towards the Austrian-Swiss-Italian border. After an hour we reached Ried im Oberinntal from where the road suddenly led up a steep hill. After a few minutes of battling the hill with our car – it wasn’t actually that bad, just our car wasn’t very strong – we reached Ladis, the first of three villages situated on a plateau high above the upper Inn valley. The road L19 then leads on to Fiss and Serfaus – where it ends facing endless chains of mountain tops. Despite their geographic proximity the villages are quite different and focus on very different summer activities. Only in winter, the three stand united and offer an extensive network of ski slopes, 6 gondolas (some reaching way over 2.000m on top) free-ride parks and fun parks.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

Serfaus is what I called above ‘a paradise for families with young children’. It is the biggest and most touristy of the three villages with an abundance of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, shops and bars. The coolest thing about it is though, that it managed to keep its authentic Alpine charm by remaining basically car-free – except for residential traffic and arriving tourists. Everybody else is required to leave their cars at the big parking lot at the beginning of the village. They can then reach the centre and the gondola’s valley station by boarding the peculiar Dorfbahn – the underground village railway, which is free of charge and operates a single train on a shuttle basis back and forth. Fiss is similarly kids-friendly, but has a strong focus on active holidays. It is particularly well-known for its bike park which is served by gondola ‘Waldbahn’ and offers beginner, intermediate and pro routes for eager mountain and downhill bikers.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

Ladis makes the triplet. It is the furthest away from the hustle and bustle in Serfaus. Both Fiss and Serfaus can be reached by a road leading around Ladis, so there is hardly any through traffic. We stayed here at Hotel Goies, a wellness & spa hotel which totally works for a girlfriend getaway just as well as a romantic weekend with your special someone. Like most of the rooms ours was facing east. Every morning the sun kissed our faces and invited us gently to admire the beautiful alpine panorama we could see from our balcony. Never have I ever wanted to get up for sunrise so badly.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

Our suite was generous in size and clearly designed for a couple romancing it up: a cuddly blanket on the bed, an open bathroom with plenty of daylight and a cozy couch by a traditional internal chimney. Once we settled on bathroom rules and explored the spacious balcony/terrace we made our way to the spa and wellness area. There are several saunas and steam baths, an indoor swimming pool and a sunbathing area outside. My highlights however were the outdoor whirlpool and the outdoor sauna with glass walls. I’m not a big fan of saunas, especially if they are dark internal chambers, but this one was completely different. Seeing the daylight and greens of the garden I felt much more relaxed and could have stayed in there forever. Then it was time for a relaxing massage and a reactivating body wrap. It was my first wrapping treatment ever and I can highly recommend it. I felt soooo good afterwards and relaxed. If you can book an appointment with Sonja, she’s really sweet and reassuring!

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Pampered and treated it was time for dinner – for even more pampering and treats. If you book the half-board deal with your room you will be treated to a delightful multiple course menu each night. The starters are set, but you can choose between 3-4 main courses and 2-3 desserts. The cuisine served has an interesting Austrian fusion style, so you can be sure to get some traditional dishes to try as well. All in all Hotel Goies is a place I would not have expected in this family-friendly area. We hardly wanted to leave, but of course there were mountains to be explored!

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitnerwinding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

My absolute favourite thing about the region Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis was that we could simply leave our car at the hotel and explore the mountains without it. Trails and gondolas are not always that easily accessible, so that would be a great plus for someone travelling without a car (or a bad car like ours). The gondola station in Ladis is situated a five-minute walk from Hotel Goies. When staying in one of the three villages guests will automatically receive the Super. Sommer. Card. – a pass granting them free transportation with the gondolas and discounts at certain local shops and activities. We left Ladis with the ‘sun gondola’ Sonnenbahn and continued upwards with Schönjochbahn to Fisser Joch on 2.432m.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

After short uphill stroll we reached the top of Zwölferkopf (2.596m) where we found a spectacular platform. The metal construction reaches out beyond the hill so that you can see the abyss between your feet – quite scary. Yet the panoramic views you get of the surrounding mountains is incredible! Right next to the platform you will find a glass cubicle that looks weirdly out-of-place on top of the hill. Crystal Cube is a tiny exclusive restaurant with reflecting glass walls, allowing you to look outside, but none to peek inside while you are having your dinner. There is space for up to 8 people. But even if that is not in your budget, Crystal Cube makes for a perfect #reflelfie opportunity.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

There are plenty of hiking trails connecting the numerous gondola stations and villages of the region. We decided to walk along the Panorama Genussweg – how does ‘panoramic pleasure path’ sound to you? That’s what it is anyways. It’s an easy trail connecting the middle stations of the gondolas. Along the way you will encounter several creative spots for breaks, like massive  picnic chairs or  beach chairs from up north. There are of course also several more challenging routes. If you are on your own, think about joining one of the offered guided hikes – most of them are also free of charge for Super. Sommer. Card. pass holders.

But if you are as exhausted from enjoying the panorama like us, we can only recommend the easy trail leading down from Fisser Joch and over to Serfaus. On the way make sure you stop for a lunch break at Wonne Alm, a hut serving traditional Austrian food like Brettljause (a selection of cold cuts) or Kaiserschmarrn (cut-up pancakes). The views from here are beautiful and there are loads of farm animals around to entertain – we made friends with a pony, donkeys and adorable kittens over our meal. The best thing about Wonne Alm is that it’s not directly next to a gondola station. Most of the restaurants situated at one of those are quite big, fitted to serve the masses in winter and lack quite some of the authenticity that the hut has to offer.

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All in all I have to admit that my scepticism was completely unnecessary. The region might be great for families, but the relaxing atmosphere in Ladis and the easy car-free navigation make this a perfect spot for solo travellers too. Here you can wind down from busy city-hopping and stressful adventures, and just let the mountains sink in.

winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner winding down in ladies / kathi kamleitner

Many thanks to Maro und Partner and the tourism board TVB Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis for their support in exploring the region!
All photos by Kathi Kamleitner and Hotel Goies