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Freeride World Tour Underway

February 9th, 2010

The Freeride World Tour finally got underway perfect weather conditions at Chamonix on January 31st after heavy snow and strong winds led to the postponement of the first leg, which had been planned for 2014 Olympic venue Sochi in Russia earlier last month, and unsuitable weather also postponed the Chamonix stage by a day.

Against the beautiful backdrop of the Mont-Blanc, the Freeride World Tour 2010 kicked off in on the 500 metre “Pentes de l’Hôtel” face at the Brévent ski area in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The 50 best freeriders on the planet put on an amazing performance, showing the 3000 cheering spectators the top of their game on the difficult face and challenging snow conditions.

The most impressive run of the day was the clean victory of French freestyle legend Candide Thovex, debuting in freeride contests, announcing a promising future. However there was good news for the UK too when Chamonix-based Brit, and only Briton on the line up, James Stentiford, placed third in the snowboarding contest with a very fluid and fast run, with full control down the icy part of the face.

“I was really nervous up top after the fall of Raphy (Gillioz/SUI – 4th rider that landed a cliff jump on a rock and broke his elbow) so I changed my line a bit. The landings where pretty harsh but it worked out really well for me. I am really happy to be on this podium as I live here and it is the third contest I have ever done!” said James.

After the previous few days’ of snowfall the blue skies finally presented a dream like arena for the athletes and spectators.However, the snow conditions where tricky for the competitors. A lot of the fresh powder was taken down by the first riders and parts of the face exposed rock hard snow, and at times ice. Control was decisive. First rider down, skier Julien Lopez of France set the tone with a spectacular line; steep, committing and clearing a massive cliff drop at the end. Many variations and original lines followed.

www.freerideworldtour.com

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Ski and Snowboard News

New Chairlift and More Snowmaking For Châtel

December 7th, 2009

Châtel in the giant French-Swiss Portes dui Soleil ski region has replaced its Linga 2 chairlift ready for the new season, which began in the resort this weekend.

The old Linga 2 chairlift which takes skiers up to Col du Linga at 2050m has been replaced by a new six-searer detachable chairlift, ascending from 1550m, at a departure point next to the Leiche ski lift, and it’s name will be Echo Alpin lift.

The 1580m long lift with a vertical rise 525m can carry 2400 people per hour initially, but this capacity is due to be increased to 2700 people per hour after a trial period.

The new chair is one of the fastest lifts of the Portes du Soleil area as it can carry skiers at a speed of 5.5 metres per second taking them to the top in just five minutes.

Châtel is also increasing the area it can cover with machine made snow thanks to the addition of a new reservoir. For winter 2009-2010 the resort has 180 snow guns and the Combes and Linga 2 runs now have snowmaking.

Finally the resort has launched a new ‘any 4 hours’ hands-free Liberty ski pass.

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General News, Ski and Snowboard News

Top Ten Affordable Ski Resorts in France

October 29th, 2009
Avoriaz

Avoriaz

As the new ski season beckons, it’s time to air out your woolly hats, blow the dust off your skis and grab a great deal to the slopes. In the chilly economic climate, the French Alps are still your best bet both for quality resorts and accessibility.

Just a couple of hours’ flight away from the UK, the French Alps offer a vast choice of resorts catering for absolute beginners, intermediates and pros.

Here’s our guide to the top ten most affordable ski resorts in France

1. Les Corbier
Best for: Families
Located in the Les Sybelles region of France, the resort of Les Corbier is purpose-built, compact and traffic-free. Designed in the 1960s by architect Le Corbusier, the resort has become the fourth largest ski resort in France. Nearly all of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out apartments and with two supermarkets in resort, self-catering ski holidays are a breeze. There are several bars and restaurants.

Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Residence Maeva Les Pistes is located 500 m from the slopes, the ski lifts and shops and offers fully-equipped apartments with mountain-view balconies. A week in a one-bedroom apartment for up to four people, costs from just 199 Euros.

2. Chamonix
Best for: Experienced skiers
Chamonix is a much-loved ski resort due to the variety of outdoor activities you can participate in here. The summit of Mont Blanc is the third most visited natural site in the world and the mountains hosts activities such as ice climbing, alpine mountaineering and extreme skiing. There is all sorts of terrain, but this is the perfect destination for the expert winter sports enthusiast and the adventurous. Chamonix is famous for its cable car up to Aiguille du Midi as well as the panoramic restaurant at the top station of the Brévent cable car, which boasts impressive views of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Hot deal: The Residence Maeva La Riviera is located in the district of Chamonix Sud, 300 m from the Aiguille du Midi cable car and five minutes from the resort centre.

Studio apartments for up to four cost from just 244 Euros for seven nights.

3. Valloire
Best for: Intermediates
Valloire offers the combination of an old mountain village mixed with modern architecture. Valloire is the best known of the Maurienne valley resorts and its narrow streets, bustling shops and various restaurants makes it a charming location for your winter holiday. The slopes spread widely across three sunny sectors and are particularly good for intermediates. 70% of the Valloire/Valmeinier ski area is above 2000m and it offers 150 km of slopes.

Hot deal: The Pierre & Vacances Chalets Valoria at Valloire is located on the heights, overlooking the valley and the resort. A high standard residence built in a style typical of the region, these spacious apartments are located 300m away from the ski lifts.

Studios for up to four cost from only 279 Euros per week.

4. La Clusaz
Best for: Intermediates
The French ski resort of La Clusaz is one of its kind as it is still, essentially, a genuine mountain ski village. This ski resort exudes rustic charm and an infectious Gallic atmosphere. La Clusaz offers 200km of largely intermediate slopes, above and below the treeline, and makes a fantastic base for an enjoyable, relaxed week.

Hot deal: Residence Maeva La Perriere overlooks the resort on the southern slope and is available at 320 euros per week for a 4 person studio apartment.

5. Serre Chevalier
Best for: Snowboarders
Serre Chevalier is one of the major ski resorts in France. Located in the Haute-Alpes region, Serre Chevalier is a large valley between the Lautaret and Briançon passes. Its 13 villages and hamlets, which blend tradition and modernity, are scattered across the valley with its large skiing areas covering 250km. The resort also offers a wide range of activities for the whole family, and with its large natural terrain is also considered one of the best snowboarding destinations in France. Serre Chevalier lies at the foot of the most beautiful peaks of the Ecrins National Park and boasts approximately 300 days of sunshine a year.

Hot deal: Résidence Pierre & Vacances L’Alpaga , situated in the mountain village of Villeneuve, has comfortable, spacious apartments close to the shops and ski lifts.

Studio apartments for up to four people costs from 378 Euros for a week’s ski holiday.

6. Isola 2000
Best for: Skiers of all abilities
The little known Isola 2000 is a ski resort in the southern region of the French Alps that offers great skiing for all levels. This modern resort’s altitude is at 2000 metres and pisted runs reach the height of 2610 metres on the summit of Sistron where, on a clear day, it is possible to see the Mediterranean sea.
Isola 2000 has an excellent snow record too. Snowboarding is popular in Isola and there are plenty of ‘board-friendly’ lifts and a dedicated snowboard park. There are lots of shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and supermarkets adjacent to the slopes and there are numerous cafes and restaurants should you wish to take a break and bask in the Mediterranean sun.

Hot deal: The Pierre & Vacances Les Terrasses d’Azur residence in Isola 200 is in perfect keeping with the resort’s natural environment of pines and larches. It overlooks the resort and is close to the ski runs and shops. The apartments are very comfortable and have a panoramic view over the skiing area and the Chastillon valley.

Studio apartments that sleep up to four people, cost from just 441 Euros per week

7.  Les Carroz d’Araches
Best for: Families
Les Carroz d’Araches is an expansive, sunny and traditional resort with plenty of terrain to suit everyone. It has the lived-in feel of a real French village and its array of pavement cafes and restaurants around the main square offers a homely and lively atmosphere. 
The resort caters particularly well for families, offering excellent facilities for children so is perfect for a family ski holiday. There are good woodland runs immediately above the village for bad-weather days, with a scenic setting to enjoy when the sun shines.

Hot deal: Pierre &Vacances Residences MGM Les Fermes du Soleil is a luxury 4-star residence, just a stone’s throw from the centre. Each apartment is designed to offer you maximum comfort with large bay windows giving exceptional views over the village, the valley or the skating rink. The closest ski lifts, 800m from the residence, are accessible via a free shuttle bus.

One-bedroom apartments for 3-4 people cost from 630 Euros per week.

8. Flaine
Best for: Intermediates and families
Flaine is a high-altitude resort sharing a big, broad area of varied slopes with more rustic alternatives.  Flaine is a resort proud of its Modernist and artistic design, which is a dramatic contrast to the natural landscape of the French Alps. As well as the architecture, several large public art works adorn the base of the resort, including a Picasso.
Loved by many, due to the extent of its ski area and range of runs, this is a resort ideal for intermediate skiers as well as being one of the most family-orientated ski resorts in Europe.

Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Terrasses d’Eos residence is a brand new addition to our ski residences for the 2009/10 ski season. Built in 2008 by Intrawest, this top-of-range residence is located in a new, entirely car-free hamlet of Flaine Montsoleil and features 145 comfortable apartments.

The two buildings that make up the residence have direct access to the pistes and chairlifts, providing you with a direct link to the Flaine and Grand Massif ski areas.

One-bedroom apartments cost from just 572 Euros for seven nights and sleep up to four people.

9. Valmorel
A great choice for first-timers and families, Valmorel is a purpose-built French ski resort comprising several small satellite villages in the Grande Domaine. Valmorel and St Francois Longchamps together offer 165km of marked pistes.
Valmorel’s resort centre is car-free and it also scores top marks for families as most of its pistes cater for beginners and intermediates, and there are plenty of designated practice areas.  The ski area is on your doorstep which means you can literally ski to your door – another big plus if you’re skiing with kids. While it is great for families, those who also want lively après-ski should go elsewhere as there are only a handful of restaurants and bars.

Hot deal: P&V is offering seven nights in a studio apartment at Résidence Maeva Planchamp et Mottet in Valmorel from just 405 Euro.

10.   Alpe-d’Huez
Best for: thrill seekers and skiers of all levels.
Home to La Sarenne, which at 16km is Europe’s longest ski run, Alpe d’Huez is often thought to be the sole preserve of ski pros and adrenalin junkies. While the infamous ‘Tunnel’ run remains a must do ride for experienced skiers, the resort also has a good choice of gentler runs for beginners. The best of the less challenging slopes are found on the outskirts of the resort and there are plenty of blues and reds for intermediates.
Situated in a large sunny bowl, Alpe d’Huez is known as the ‘l’Isle au Soleil’ (‘The Sunny Island’) thanks to its high levels of sunshine throughout the year.
This resort is a great choice if you’re travelling in a group which has mixed abilities – leave the pros to La Sarenne while the novices play it safe.

Hot deal: Situated in Les Bergers district of Alpe d’Huez, the Pierre & Vacances Bergers residence has comfortable apartments and a heated outdoor swimming pool.

Seven nights in a studio that sleep 3-4 costs just 405 Euros.

All P&V residences featured are ski in/ ski out and are self-catering apartments with fully equipped kitchens and cooking facilities. 
To make your Euro go even further, P&V has extended its hugely popular ‘Eurobuster’ offer to include the winter ski season – giving at least 15 percent off all properties on all dates over the winter period, including the school holidays, Christmas and New Year.

The Eurobuster deal can also be combined with any other P&V deal currently on offer, including the 20% early booking discount, leading to savings of up to 35% on your winter ski holiday.

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Articles, Ski Advice, Ski and Snowboard News, ski holidays

New beginners ski area for Val Thorens

October 12th, 2009

Val Thorens, the highest resort in one of the world’s largest ski area, France’s 3 Valleys, has invested more than 1.5 million euros to create a new 40 hectares area for beginners, equipped with no less than four new roof-covered magic carpets.

The new area has been designed not only to provide first-class facilities for first timers, but also improved access to the Cascades chairlift, getting progressing beginner skiers on to more green and blue slopes.

The two twin magic carpets that have been installed and named “Castor & Pollux” represent a triple innovation say Val Thorens.

In both cases a single roof structure covers both magic carpets for more comfort. The carpets are also the fastest so far installed in France, meaning more snow time, and travelling at up to 1.2 metres per second, increasing capacity to 3,000 people per hour.

The carpet lifts also run in two directions, providing a ride down when needed, as well as up over the 240m length.

There are two successive magic carpets, Musaraigne (the shrew) and Campagnols (the vole) which are more than 200 m long in the heart of the “grenouillère de Péclet” area.

To discover a larger area at your own pace, a special pass for beginners is available to access an  area including nine ski lifts serving the easiest slopes at a reduced price of 50% off the full daily pass rate.

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Ski and Snowboard News

Luxury ski chalet company Descent International goes into liquidation

August 21st, 2009

The news which has shocked the ski holiday industry today is that Descent International has gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving a number of high profile clients out of pocket, including the Duke of York.

Because the company was just a accommodation provider, they had none of the financial protection in place required by tour operators, so it is unlikely that any of the clients will see their money.

Descent International are the latest in a line of luxury chalet operators to go under this year, including Indigo Lodges and Ski All America. Other luxury chalet companies are reporting bookings to be down 17% on this time last year.

Conversely, smaller ski companies such as White-Peak Holidays who offer luxury self catered chalets in the Portes du Soleil are well up on bookings compared to this time last year, and even this time the year before. This suggests that perhaps the recession is hitting the more high brow resorts (such as Verbier at Courcheval) to the benefit of other ski areas such as the Portes du Soleil.

The ski website welove2ski documents the demise of Descent in detail here.

Here at AllMountainHolidays, we are keeping our fingers crossed that other independent ski companies can ride out these hard times and come out of the recession stronger and wiser!

Keep the faith…things will get better.

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Ski and Snowboard News, ski holidays

Shakeups in the Ski Chalet Industry

September 8th, 2008

Catered Ski Chalet Operators in Verbier face toughest challenges and possible closure this season.
 
Skiers and Wintersports enthusiasts considering a Ski Holiday in Verbier this coming 08/09 season will be confronted by a number of changes in the way their favourite catered ski chalet is operated, if it has not fallen victim to the new and strenuous set of restrictions imposed by the Swiss Authorities on foreign operators, who were responsible for the phenomenal growth of “catered” ski chalets in the Alps and consequently the massive popularity of certain ski resorts; Verbier being the mother and father of them all.
 
The decision by the local government insists that foreign operators comply with a number of onerous conditions that include….
 
1. The requirement that a member of management of each recognised and authorised chalet operator in Verbier has an officially recognised ‘Patent’ (Hotel/Restaurant license) in order to open their doors this winter. This requires months of study and a very difficult exam until now only available in French and Swiss German. This restriction alone will cause the closure of over 50% of the existing ski chalet operators this coming winter.
 
2. The requirement that the actual Chalets and their facilities used to accommodate clients, and kitchens where food is prepared, are now for the first time having to comply with a  strict code of Hygiene and Safety Laws  that is required of  commercial establishments. Suddenly the private kitchens designed for regular family requirements are no longer acceptable, and the hygiene safety and fire escape requirements are being strongly enforced.
 
3. Great lengths are being taken to ensure that staffing of foreign companies are fully in compliance with local labour laws and staff are assured of minimum wage and maximum weekly work requirements.
 
All Verbier Chalet Operators have been contacted recently by the Verbier Tourist Office and their attention drawn to the fact that -” if they don’t have the authorization from the Police to operate for the 2008/2009 season then no work permits will be provided to the offending companies.”
 
This is the most blatant warning to date and evidence that the Swiss authorities are sincere in their efforts to clean up the act and ensure the greatest amount of protection, both financial and health-wise to the clients of the many “foreign ski operators” operating in the resort . What is more the authorities have the fullest support of the more established and experienced operators. Too long has the opportunity been available to abuse the system and over time there have been a number of fly-by-nights that have all too easily put the reputation of those more serious and competent chalet operators at risk.
Whilst there has been a scramble the past few months to achieve compliance, the Tourist Office by its recent communications is warning many of those operators who have not yet received authorisation, that the authorities are serious and that they will not be able to open their chalets to guests unless full compliance with the regulations can be proved and authorisation provided.

Anyone with an advanced booking or considering a ski holiday in a catered chalet in Verbier this 08/09 season would do well to ensure that the particular operators providing the accommodation and related services have the necessary authorisation, to avoid disappointment and inconvenience. 

This press release was supplied by Chalet Mont aux Sources.

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Australian Ski Area Extends Season

September 6th, 2008

Mt Baw Baw in Victoria, Australia has increased its snow depth over the past few days with the top of the Summit now buried 125cm (Four feet, two inches) deep. This snow is proving to be the best that Mt Baw Baw has seen in years and due to the current depth of snow [...]

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Ski and Snowboard News

Bluestone opens and promises snow at Christmas

September 5th, 2008

The long awaited bluestone leisure park has opened in Wales, the facility is due to add the country’s first indoor snow centre, although the timetable for that remains vague. However the park has announced that it will offer tubing on snow this Christmas.

Currently Bluestone contains over 180 hundred log cabins (the figure will eventually [...]

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Ski and Snowboard News

First Choice Put Onus on Families

September 5th, 2008

First Choice, one of the UK’s five biggest tour operators and now owned by the same company that owns Crystal and Thomson, has launching its biggest ever family programme and will introduce 11 new childcare facilities this winter, offering 13 crèches and nine Kids’ Clubs in total in the Alps.
The new crèches are in key [...]

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Ski and Snowboard News

SnOasis decision expected by Sept. 17

September 4th, 2008

The final go-ahead, or not, for the SnOasis indoor snow centre in Suffolk is expected to be delivered by Hazel Blears, the British government minister for communities and local government on September 17th. Ms Blears has already said she was minded to approve SnOasis, following a lengthy and acrimonious public enquiry, as long as [...]

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