KITZBÜHEL KIRCHBERG, AUSTRIA - Wonderful town and extensive slopes, but unreliable snow.

Kitzbühel is an impressive name to drop in the pub. Every Ski Sunday viewer knows that the Hahnenkamm racecourse is the most challenging on the World Cup circuit, helping the resort to cultivate a reputation as a rather special place. But the racecourse is untypical of Kitzbühel's slopes - and there is nothing very special about coping with icy, slushy or bare slopes. We have visited Kitz countless times, and rarely found decent snow on the lower slopes. It does of course get good snow at times and has invested serious money in snowmaking. But Kitzbühel's low altitude means that its problems won't go away.

The resort is very far from exclusive. It has its expensive, elegant hotels, but it also has a huge amount of hotel and guest-house accommodation that is quite inexpensive - and not surprisingly attracts quite a few low-budget visitors, many of whom are young and intent on a good time.

We have received fewer reports on Kitzbühel lately, but enthusiasts enjoy its unique combination of historic town and extensive slopes.

What's Great
What's Not-So-Great

+ Large, attractive, varied slopes offering a sensation of travel both on- and off-slope

+ Beautiful medieval town center (but see minus points)

+ Vibrant nightlife

+ Plenty of off-slope amenities, both for the sporty and the not-so-sporty

+ A surprisingly large amount of cheap and cheerful accommodation

+ Jolly mountain restaurants

? Unreliable snow (though increasing amount of snowmaking)

? Surprisingly little expert terrain- Disjointed slopes, with quite a lot of bussing to get around them

? Town's charm spoilt by heavy traffic- Disappointing nursery area

? Crowded slopes