“I recently became a proud father to a boy, Franz Joseph, so on Saturdays I’ll have been up three or four times by early morning. First thing I’ll do is check the snow. I have a direct view onto the Streif, the famous downhill ski run, and can walk to the lift – a childhood dream.
My ritual before skiing is to prepare breakfast. During the week my Brazilian wife Rosana is in charge, but at weekends I’m at the helm. We’ll have mango, papaya, berries and banana, and I’ll bake pão de queijo, potato-based bread rolls that look like muffins. They’re delicious stuffed with local cheese or marmalade.
About 10am I’ll head to the lift station. I don’t own skis – I rent them every day from Intersport near the station; I wouldn’t say I’m a great skier but I’m pretty good and like to have my equipment prepared. I can also have a chat with the boys at the shop to see which slopes they recommend and catch up on mountain gossip.
I’ll ski intensively for four hours until I’m exhausted. If the snow conditions are poor I’ll hike instead for several hours in the Wilder Kaiser. It’s a tricky mountain with climbing trails. I like to lose myself there, be alone and walk at my own pace.
I won’t stop at a mountain hut as I’d rather return home to meet Rosana for lunch. We might eat locally, at Rasmushof Hotel in the foothills of the Streif. I’ll usually stick to Wiener schnitzel and kaiserschmarrn [shredded pancakes], but there’s also wonderful local fish that Rosana loves. Or we’ll go back up the mountain to Rosi’s, a Kitzbühel institution with traditional Austrian food and a lively atmosphere. The view of the Kitzbüheler is fantastic and Rosi is a dear friend who sometimes yodels for her guests.
In the afternoon I might pop to the Stanglwirt hotel; it has one of the best spas in Europe with a three-hour sauna ritual that’s amazingly relaxing, plus one of the world’s greatest indoor tennis courts. After I’ll head home to watch the ski races on television – Austrians really know how to ski and Marcel Hirscher is a legend. Then I’ll get ready to go out.
Kitzbühel always has something going on: Christmas markets, glühwein festivals, street fairs. For dinner we may head to Jochberg, where the Kempinski Hotel has a great Asian-influenced restaurant with wonderfully unusual flavour combinations. I also like the restaurants in the two Schwarzer Adler hotels. The one in Jochberg serves heavy dishes like backhendl [breaded chicken] and käsespätzle [pasta tossed with onions and Emmental], while Neuwirt in the Kitzbühel one is run by two young brothers who cook organic farm-to-table dishes – zander with barley and paprika or goulash with sour cream and dumplings.
Sometimes we’ll go to the disco Take Five. It’s been going since I was a teenager and while it’s changed ownership a few times, it’s still fun and plays great house music, so we’ll dance and party a bit.
Sunday I might get up later but will ski again after breakfast. In the afternoon we’ll meet my sister’s family, my parents and grandparents and all go sledging in Söll. We’ll hike 45 minutes up the mountain and usually have lunch at Stöcklalm – a sprawling Austrian inn where the view in winter is especially stunning – and then sledge back down.
Our apartment has a little spa, so later we may swim and use the Jacuzzi and sauna. Most Sundays we make feijoada, a Brazilian bean stew. We live very healthily – I was in New York for 14 years and I’d be lying if I said I dined at home 20 times in that period. That was big-city life. Now I’m living in Austria and have a family, things are completely different.”