Archive for July, 2009

Ski Holiday Bookings – what is REALLY going to happen this winter?

July 15th, 2009

There has been a lot of talk around the internet about an impending supply disaster when it comes to booking your 2010 ski holiday. We reported on this on a earlier thread (read: Ski Holidays 2010 - Book Early To Get The Best Deals).

On the face of it, these stories have been pitched as “useful advice for consumers”. However, dig around a bit behind the scenes, and cynics might claim that these stories are just “spin”, generated by the ski industry to try and encourage early bookings for an uncertain winter season.

We spoke to an independent tour operator in Chatel, France, who claims that the theory of reduced supply is incorrect.

“Just because large tour operators have reduced the number of chalets that they offer, doesn’t mean that there will be less chalets to rent. On the contrary, there are now a large number of chalets available which were previously tied in to expensive contracts with tour operators.

In our resort, a catered chalet operator decided not to continue for the following season. On the face of it, this meant that there are now less catered chalet holidays available. However, the ski chalets which were rented by this company are now available with a number of different booking agents, in many cases at a lower price.”

So yes, book early to guarantee the right chalet in the right resort for the right week. But if you can’t commit to a ski holiday now, don’t worry. Chances are there are going to be a lot of independent chalets available at reasonable prices throughout the Alps.

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Articles, General News, Ski & snow news, Ski Advice

Best ski holiday destinations for groups of beginners

July 2nd, 2009

When booking a ski holiday, it is important to choose the right destination to suit the level of your group. This is especially true for beginners.

Nothing can put a beginner off skiing quicker than a week spent trying to ski down unsuitable steep terrain, or have to travel for miles to get to the beginner ski slopes.

We have therefore compiled our “Top Ten Ski Resorts For Beginners” list:

1. Les Arcs, France

Why is it good?

  • Excellent nursery slopes directly above each of the resort’s main villages.
  • Free beginner’s lift.
  • Good range of early intermediate slopes as you progress.

2. Bansko, Bulgaria

Why is it good? 

  • Beautiful World Heritage Site.
  • Modern lift system.
  • Good range of nursery slopes.
  • Great value – skiing here won’t break the bank.
  • As you progress there is an excellent 16km intermediate run from the top to the bottom of the mountain (2560 m to 935 m).

3. Cortina, Italy

Why is it good? 

  • Breathtaking views over the Dolomites.
  • Widely regarded as being one of the world’s most beautiful ski resorts.
  • Superbly groomed beginner slopes in the Socrapes area.
  • Instructors who are especially good with kids.

4. Killington, US

Why is it good?

  • No language barriers.
  • Ski schools are excellent.
  • Large nursery slope areas.
  • “Discovery Centre” for complete beginners showing how your equipment works before you start to ski.

5. Lech, Austria

Why is it good?

  • A classic alpine resort.
  • Picturesque village with fine hotels.
  • Very well regarded ski schools with good English speaking instructors.
  • Plenty of runs for intermediate and advanced as well, so a good option for mixed ability groups.

6. Poiana Brasov, Romania

Why is it good?

  • An excellent place to try skiing without breaking the bank.
  • Two nursery areas.
  • Helpful and enthusiastic instructors.
  • Excellent nearby excursions (such as Dracula’s castle).
  • Cheap and cheerful food, wine and entertainment.

7. Soldeu, Andorra

Why is it good?

  • Widely regarded as being one of Europe’s best beginner resorts.
  • Two extensive nursery areas.
  • Excellent ski instructors who are native English speakers.
  • Good range of runs to progress to.
  • Usually good weather (Soldeu means “Sun God”).
  • Excellent nightlife.
  • Duty-free zone, so can be cheap.

8. Tignes, France

Why is it good?

  • High and very “snowsure”.
  • Good range of easy to access nursery slopes.
  • Good range of intermediate/expert slopes so a good destination for mixed ability groups.
  • Lots of accommodation to choose from.
  • Lots of non-skiing activities and great après-ski.

9 Wengen, Switzerland

Why is it good?

  • Spectacular location under the north face of the Eiger.
  • A great destination for families, with a well renowned ski school.
  • Lots of non-skiing activities.

10. Chatel, France

Why is it good?

  • Easy resort to reach either by flying into Geneva, or driving from Calais.
  • Great range of beginners slopes, and good English speaking instructors.
  • Part of the world’s biggest ski area (the Portes du Soleil) so plenty of runs for all abilities.
  • Regularly receives on average the most snowfall in the alps, so one of the most snowsure non glacier resorts.
  • Beautiful village with bags of charm and plenty to do off the slopes.

We also have some tips for beginner skiers, which should help make your first time all the more enjoyable:

  1. Try and get some lessons in the UK before you leave, preferably in one of the real snow domes. This means that once you get to your resort, you already have an idea of the basics (how to put your skis on etc.).
  2. When booking ask if there are any ‘Learn to Ski or Snowboard Packages’. This may include lessons, gear rental and a lift pass if needed. 
  3. Check to see if beginners can get away with buying a cheaper “local area” of “beginner” lift pass. There is no need to buy a pass for a huge area if you are only going to ski on beginner and early intermediate slopes.  
  4. If you want to learn snowboarding, check if the schools in your resort offer beginner courses for boarders.   
  5. Check that the accommodation is close to the pistes, the lifts and general amenities. 
  6. Rent gear to start with – it’s a lot cheaper.

Above all, remember that skiing is meant to be fun!

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