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With thrilling ski runs and grub to die for, it's no surprise Franz Beckenbauer has a home in Obertauern

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Salsburg

Salsburg

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Salzburg Christmas markets

Salzburg Christmas markets

Getty Images

Obertauern horse drawn carriage

Obertauern horse drawn carriage

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Salsburg

Football legend Franz Beckenbauer has a home here and the whole Salzburg soccer team visit once a year with their families for a winter break.

And, hey, if it's good enough for Der Kaiser, twice the European Footballer of the Year and one of the sport's all-time greats, it's good enough for me.

If you're interested in a late ski holiday, you should take a look at the Austrian resort of Obertauern, which sits at the bottom of a stunning downhill area.

With a population of just 280 people, it's more a village than a town, but it has 9,500 rooms for winter sports fans, which shows how popular its 105km of pistes are.

Obertauern is just over an hour's drive from the beautiful city of Salzburg - voted top city destination for this year by travel bible Lonely Planet - which means it's easy to combine a city break with a few days on the slopes.

We went just before Christmas when the seasonal markets were in full swing and where the Sound of Music city was lit up like, well, a Christmas tree.

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Salzburg Christmas markets

Salzburg Christmas markets

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Salzburg Christmas markets

We flew directly to Salzburg from Belfast with easyJet. The airport is only 4km from the centre, so just half an hour after landing we were walking the ornate streets once frequented by Mozart.

Visiting gorgeous Salzburg in winter puts you immediately in a holiday mood and it wasn't long before we were enjoying glasses of mulled wine in one of the atmospheric Christmas markets.

We also popped into the beautiful Cafe Tomaselli, with its rosewood walls and fabulous cakes, for a real slice of Austrian hospitality. And we couldn't leave the city without calling into the famed St Peter's Keller, a restaurant inside a monastery dating back to the year 803, where we felt obliged to enjoy even more gluhwein.

Obertauern is only 89km from Salzburg, but we had one more stop-off on the way for a late lunch, in the town of St Johann im Pongau, which turned out to be an unexpected culinary thrill.

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Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Die Rheinbach is a family restaurant, but two of its chefs used to work in what is often regarded as Austria's top two-Michelin star premises, Obauer.

We were treated to a five-course feast, including fried potato dumplings with sauerkraut and basil oil, celery green soup with coconut milk and house-smoked deer, saffron risotto and baby spinach, beef fillet with mashed roasted vegetables and a Bordeaux sauce, and a homemade tiramisu with berries and mango sorbet.

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Obertauern horse drawn carriage

Obertauern horse drawn carriage

Obertauern horse drawn carriage

And all that for just €35 a head - a fraction of what we would pay back home. It's easy to forget how reasonable Austria can be for holidaymakers.

From there it was on to Obertauern, where we booked into the four-star Hotel Alpina right in the middle of the town.

It was dark on arrival, so we did not get the full stunning view of the surrounding mountains until the morning, but when I stepped out on my balcony at 7.30am the first rays of light were lighting up the mountain tops in a golden hue.

One of the advantages of staying in Hotel Alpina is that when you cross the road outside you can ski straight down to a chairlift, so there is no need to lug your heavy skis any distance.

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Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

Obertauern Hotel Alpina

It was a glorious first day on the slopes with a bright blue, cloudless sky and terrific conditions. It had snowed for two days before our arrival, so the white stuff was in abundance.

"Isn't this just fabulous," said one of the members of our group with a smile the size of the mountain as we looked in awe at a spectacular row of peaks from 2,200m up.

That's another plus for Obertauern - it's one of Austria's highest ski resorts, so you are almost guaranteed snow.

We finished a non-stop morning on two sides of the valley with lunch in the Gamsmilchbar restaurant, with spectacular views from its windows.

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 Jim Gallagher in the Austrian resort of Obertauern

Jim Gallagher in the Austrian resort of Obertauern

Jim Gallagher in the Austrian resort of Obertauern

From there you can ski straight down to the town, ending up right opposite the hotel.

That night we enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride around a frozen lake, followed by dinner in the lovely Gnadenalm restaurant next door and a pint or two in the lively Lurzer Alm bar in town.

The next day saw us tackle most of the runs, generally reds and blues, although I managed the lengthy black from the Panoramabahn lift. Once again, conditions were perfect.

A treat was stopping off in a bar owned by Manuela Krings, sister of former world snowboarding champion Doresia Krings, to taste the wonderful Zirbenschnaps made on the premises. The walls were covered in photos of the Beatles, who filmed part of the film Help in Obertauern in 1965, and there are sculptures of the Fab Four in the town and mountains.

Beatles monument

We were blessed with more sunshine on our last day's skiing and finished off our break with dinner in the wonderfully rustic Schrotteralm restaurant in Hotel Almschlossl.

It was my first time in Obertauern, but hopefully it won't be my last.

Travel factfile

We travelled courtesy of Salzburgerland Tourism and the Obertauern Tourist Board: www.salzburgerland.com.

easyJet flies from Belfast International Airport direct to Salzburg every Thursday and Sunday during the ski season: www.easyjet.com.

SkiWorld ski rental is next door to the hotel.

Obertauern is only an hour from Salzburg and private shared transfers are an excellent option at under €100 return: www.obertauern.com.

Hotel Alpina rates start from €70 a day B&B: www.alpina-obertauern.at

Skischule Silvia Grillitsch is the largest ski school: www.skischule.co.at

They also offer off-piste and ski touring, flying fox, helicopter flights, dog-sled rides, biathlon, torch-lit yodel hikes and ice climbing.

Belfast Telegraph