There is a moment in every couples’ holiday when things could go disastrously wrong. It’s the ‘holiday hiatus’ in which the words ‘I hate you’ will be murmured through gritted teeth, as each is obliged to enjoy their partners idea of their perfect holiday.
Unfashionable as it is, there is a holiday gender divide here: women ride, most men don’t. But now help is at hand, thanks to The Riding Company (www.theridingcompany.com), who offer combination winter sporting holidays in Italy and Austria. By catering for every possible whim, where there are activities organised for keen riders as well as the non-riding members of the party in equal measure, such as golf, skiing, wild-life watching or hunting, white-water rafting, mountain biking, hiking or whatever – everyone is happy.
Here are a few of our top breaks this winter; situated in some of the most beautiful resorts in Europe.
Winter ride and ski holidays in Italy
The 4* Post Hotel
Enjoy daily rides out on Haflingers into stunning Alpine scenery throughout winter. The hotel offer lessons on warmbloods from own studs in dressage, jumping and carriage driving. The instructors are suited for every level of rider, and the skiing facilities, part of the huge Dolomiti superski area are excellent. Sleigh rides and ski jeering. Long ski season. When it’s time to relax after a long day on the slopes, there’s an indoor pool, spa and sauna to ease those aching muscles. Free guided snow-shoe treks and ski guiding on certain days.
2* Orthal Riding Centre, Northern Italy
Based at a small Albergo on a sunny plateau overlooking Venetian plains in Italy, the views stretch out as far as the Dolomites. It is at a thousand meters above sea level, with higher mountains all around which extend up to 2000m, making it a perfect location for winter sports’ lovers. A former horse jumper in international competitions, Massimo Rigoni, runs the full or half day hacks through the surrounding upspoilt countryside. During the winter months a family downhill skiing area is available right outside the door of the hotel, which also has its own ski school and ski hire shop. Cross country ski-ing.
Winter ride and ski holidays in Austria
4* Kroller family hotel & western ranch
Perched on a high pass in spectacular landscape in Austria, the Kroller turns into a magical winter wonderland. There are daily rides out into the deep snow on Criollos, Quarter Horses and Paint Horrises equipped with special winter shoes. Children 11+ can join in the treks or they can join the activity club while the adults enjoy a Western saloon with live music as well as a pool and spa. The hotel is connected to the huge Zillertal ski area with a ski school and ski hire. Own ski slope for kids at the hotel.
Riders can enjoy galloping through deep snow on haflinger ponies, midnight rides through forests and relax on sleigh rides along the river. In the evening spoil yourself in the romantic cosy hotel, with a hot Gluhwein or Schnapps by the fireplace in the bar followed by a homecooked meal. Excellent ski resort (Heiligenblut) with good snow record. Ski touring and off piste skiing with resident UAGM mountain guide.
Indoor riding lessons can be combined with skiing at this 600 year old Tyrolean inn. Family ski area with great kids’ ski school. Stunning landscapes can be seen on just a short hack. To add to the experience, romantic sleigh rides are available.
5* Interalpen hotel – Tyrol
Rides out on Haflingers, picnic carriage rides, sleigh rides and other sports are all offered at this magnificent resort. After all that hard work, the luxurious spa is a must. Relax in style in the outdoor or indoor pool, with stunning panoramic views of the mountain scenery. And after a dip in the pool, enjoy a meal cooked by the hotel chef who was awarded two ‘chef’s hats’ by the Gault Millau gourmet guide. Cross country or downhill skiing in international resort (Seefeld, Obergurgl and Solden with hourly shuttle.
Prices start from less than £400 for a short four-night break. Christmas holidays are still available. For more information visit www.theridingcompany.com.