My little girl climbs out of the bathtub temperature water, runs giggling over to the snow, and grabs a handful, before jumping back into the swimming pool with a splash.
Floating about, we watch the steam rise, taking in the view of the imposing white-tipped Leogang mountains surrounding us. It’s an exceptional place for an active winter holiday.
We’re staying in the oasis-like five-star eco-friendly Forsthofgut Hotel in Austria, which is designed like a resort for grown-ups, but has being child friendly firmly at its heart.
Carol and her family luxuriate in the steamy outdoor pools at Forsthofgut Hotel (pictured)
Summit special: Forsthofgut, pictured, is a ‘luxurious family-run hotel with traditional chalet-style decor throughout’, writes Carol
When Carol and her family arrive at Forsthofgut they’re ‘greeted by a large roaring fire surrounded by comfy seats and a bar serving apres-ski drinks and mugs of hot chocolate’
It’s a 90-minute drive from Salzburg, and a two-minute walk from Leo’s Kinderland children’s area, where my three-year-old will be trying her hand at skiing for the first time.
The luxurious family-run hotel has a traditional chalet-style decor throughout. And with beautiful bright pink flowers at every turn and snow glistening, it’s as pretty as a postcard picture.
We are greeted by a large roaring fire surrounded by comfy seats and a bar serving apres-ski drinks and mugs of hot chocolate when we arrive for our four-night stay.
Our modern Alpine family suite is the ideal size – with a spacious double bedroom with oakwood flooring, and a stylish lounge area that opens up onto a balcony affording us breathtaking views.
The hotel is in one of the largest ski areas in Austria – with 170 miles of slopes, 140 blue, 112 red and 18 black runs
There’s a separate kids’ room with a double bunkbed, as well as a bright bathroom with a walk-in shower and a bath, and a separate toilet (perfect for families).
And there’s even a pillow menu to help guests to achieve an optimal night’s sleep.
The hotel – which started life 400 years ago as a forestry business – couldn’t be better placed for making the most of the slopes.
The kids’ ski school and play area are just 150 metres away as is the Asitz gondola, which can take grown-ups directly to the Skicircus Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang-Fieberbrunn ski area in just minutes.
It’s one of the largest ski areas in Austria. With 170 miles of slopes, 140 blue, 112 red and 18 black runs, there’s snow for every ability, including parks, funcross (a cross between a ski run and a snowpark), tubing and trails to explore – not to mention state-of-the-art lifts.
This image shows the main restaurant – ‘1617’. Here, explains Carol, ‘there’s a choice of three different, exquisite five-course menus’
Hiring equipment is straightforward too, and there’s a ski room in the hotel where we store everything overnight.
My husband and I take it in turns to enjoy the slopes, while the other watches our little girl enjoy her time at the ski kindergarten.
The scenery is sensational – and the vast expanse of the slopes gives the impression of being moderately quiet – there’s plenty of room for everybody.
There are plenty of brilliant beginner (blue) runs, and I build my confidence to try a few exhilarating, but comfortable, reds.
Beginner skiers can hire an instructor or join a ski school, or for those who are more advanced, there are lots of suggested routes taking in a mix of run abilities.
Double rooms cost from £191 based on a minimum five-night half-board stay
The snow is soft and powdery, while the sun is shining – perfect conditions.
I ski back to my husband to switch, and watch my daughter while he tries out some of the trickier black runs.
With a smile on her face, she whizzes down magic carpets, plays on the carousel, and makes snow angels, while being encouraged by the friendly ski instructors.
There are also nearby toboggan routes, horse-drawn sleigh rides and a sledding slope in this snowy wonderland.
Exhausted after a day of fun in the soft powdery snow, we head back to the hotel for a delicious afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes and tea, before jumping into the heated pool.
Peak of perfection: The top rooms at the hotel feature a lounge area, balcony and vaulted ceilings
I book into the forest-style Waldwirbel Spa for some much-needed pampering.
It’s a family area, so children are welcome, but there’s also an adults-only section if you really want to get away from it all, with saunas, relaxation rooms, steam baths and an organic bathing lake with sensational views.
It’s an incredible place to recharge the batteries. Heaven!
After my massage, I head back to the room to freshen up, in time for pre-dinner drinks in the stylish Botanist Bar.
My husband and I sip on herb-infused pre-dinner cocktails, while admiring the 20th-century pharmacy-inspired setting. The staff make a fuss of our daughter, who is given her own, fancy-looking drink too.
Carol enjoys herb-infused pre-dinner cocktails at the Botanist bar while admiring the 20th-century pharmacy-inspired setting
Dining is another innovative, eco-friendly concept at the hotel, which prides itself on using local and sustainable ingredients, in line with its eco ethos.
We settle into the luxe 1617 restaurant – a tribute to the hotel’s history – where there’s a choice of three different, exquisite five-course menus.
Delicious dishes include monkfish, traditional Kasnock and meat dishes as well as plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
The food offering is taken very seriously at Naturhotel Forsthofgut. This image shows the multiple cheeses available
Meat-eaters are well catered for at the hotel – but so, says Carol, are vegetarians and vegans
The hotel’s impressive wine cellar. There is an expert sommelier on hand to guide guests through the varietals
For children, there’s an impressive buffet, or they can choose to dine from the menu too (it’s a French fry-free zone).
All the food tastes divine – and we tuck in heartily thanks to our post-ski appetites.
It feels like a proper grown-up meal, in a beautiful setting with waitress service, serving delicious course after course, accompanied by a few glasses of local wines.
The breathtaking Leogang mountains form an idyllic backdrop to life at the hotel
Location, location, location: Naturhotel Forsthofgut is just a 90-minute drive from Salzburg
Feeling tipsy, we head back to our room to put our daughter to bed, then sit on the balcony with a digestif, taking in the view of the breathtaking Leogang mountains – an idyllic backdrop.
It’s not too long before we call it a night as well, exhausted from a day on the slopes and all that crisp mountain air.
But the best part is that we get to do it all again the following day.
Carol Driver was hosted by the five-star Naturhotel Forsthofgut (www.forsthofgut.at/en) in Leogang. Double rooms from £191 based on a minimum five-night half-board stay.
For information about Leogang and lift passes visit www.saalfelden-leogang.com.
For information about the SalzburgerLand region visit www.salzburgerland.com.
Note: At the time of writing Austria has implemented a national lockdown that it’s thought will run to December 13 – the beginning of the ski season. See the FCDO’s advice here.