Best Après ski 2009/10
Après ski is a term that usually describes the crazy hours between when you finish skiing to when you head back to your chalet or hotel for dinner. In some resorts you can start the Après ski at lunch time, whilst in others the partying doesn't start until the night clubs open after 11pm.
Ask anyone who's been on a snowsports holiday what makes a good trip, and most of them will tell you that the activities off the piste are almost as important as what happens during the day! Everyone enjoys a warm gluwein, vin chaud or demi-pression after a hard day on the mountain, but some of us love nothing more than a few rounds of Toffee Vodkas or Jaeger Bombs while dancing on the tables to Oompah bands and Euro Pop.
Just how hard the group wants to party may play an important part in the resort you choose to visit. Here are Iglu's top 10 Après ski destinations.
The big French resorts have seen how much their British, Dutch, and Scandanavian guests like a tipple after a hard day skiing and now have some seriously cool Aprés ski bars. Just make sure you are equally seriously cashed up until the exchange rate comes back in our favour!
Val d'Isere: Home of the infamous Folie Douce Après ski bar on the piste, where you can jump around on tables in your ski boots to live funk, soul and dance from early afternoon until lifts close! We highly recommend taking the Gondola down rather than attempting the difficult Olympic run down to la Daille. The carnage on the piste after 3 hours of drinking in the sun is best witnessed from the safety of the Gondola that goes above the run all the way down. The entire resorts ski patrol are on hand and kept busy for this 20 minutes of mayhem. Ask the staff there what happened to one of our own top sellers on the way down last season!
There are plenty of great bars in the resort for Après ski dinner. We like heading to Cafe Face (cool music), Petit Danois (happy hours and pool) or the Underground (young cool Euro crowd) before inevitably finding ourselves at Dick's Tea Bar until dawn.
Meribel: There is one great on-piste Après ski bar in Meribel called the Rondpoint. This sunny terrace bar at 1600m is not be missed. Offering fantastic live music daily, and the world's greatest toffee vodka - not for the fainthearted! You can ski down from here to the Chaudanne but there's no shame in taking the bus!
There's also a Dick's Tea Bar here and a whole host of bars in town - the resort has a very British feel to its nightlife (there's even a Pizza Express!).
Morzine: Each of the big resorts of the Portes du Soleil area has at least one great bar but Morzine is spoilt for choice with several gems. Order a Giraffe at the iconic Buddha Bar (now called The Tibeten Cafe) and you won't be disappointed. For watching sport and catching up with the seasonaire crowd get yourself down to Dixies or for a crazy afternoon on the tables with the large Dutch contingent here, then squeeze into Crepescule Indian Bar (now called Le Crepu) early.
All the bars in Morzine close at 2 am but coincidentally that's just when the notorious Le Paradis Night Club wakes up and doesn't close until the wee hours. We love the bar, but the security has something of a low tolerance reputation so keep your cool and don't let the shock show when you get the bill for your round.
No one does Après ski with quite as much enthusiasm - or beer - as the Austrians. We have picked 3 of their wildest.
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St Anton: The Moosewirt (shown above) and Krazy Kangaruh bars are firm favourites of AJ, our Sales Manager! The Mooserwirt has a lovely big deck for sunny days, while the KK encourages all the girls in the bar to get on the tables from as early as possible. These bars are on either side of the home run and you need to somehow ski the unlit last 500m at the end of the session with some hilarious results. For a 'slightly' less hedonistic afternoon with a more authentic Austrian flavour (think piano accordion), head to the Rodelhutte above Nasserein and then take a sled (sitting on your skis) down the path to the bottom. This one is tricky to find and you may need to ask an instructor.
After dinner the lively crowd heads to several bars in the pedestrianised area until the die hards pile into Kandahar to dance until dawn. Scotty's bar tends to attract the British crowd (it is part of the Mark Warner Rosanna complex), Funky Chicken and Platzl gets the young and mostly snowboarding crowd, while Bar Cuba and Bobo's attract the seasonaires and ski instructors.
Saalbach: This greatly underrated ski area has a well deserved reputation as the number 1 Après ski destination in Europe. The action at Bauers Schi-Alm, across from the Church, starts early and it should only be attempted if you are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with Austrians doing flying leg kicks to classic rock songs while carrying a friend on their shoulders and throwing back a Flugel. If that's not enough for you then turn up the volume and craziness at the Hinterhagalm Tea Bar.
There are 5 nightclubs in Saalbach and they are all pretty wild at some time during the night. The smart set head to the Arena Disco but we think the Sporthotel Disco is a better spot to party.
Mayrhofen: The afternoon partying starts up the mountain at one of the many beautiful Huttes here. It then revs up for three crazy hours at the Ice bar right next to the Penken Gondola and the Brucke Bar near the Ahorn Cable Car from 5pm to 8pm. Watch out for the Wolf Girl in the Ice Bar. She took us quite by surprise when she leapt on our back in the middle of photo pose with some Dutchies.
There are loads of bars to visit in Mayrhofen but the coolest has got to be the White Lounge up on Ahorn. This monster Igloo nightclub is a unique way to spend a evening and has Ice Hotel Rooms to rent if you want to stay up there for the whole night.
Andorra has the advantage of being very cheap to buy alcohol due to it's Tax status.
Pas de la Casa: Think Costa Brava meets snow... cheap and cheerful with a young and lively crowd. Just follow the music down the main street into one of the many friendly bars. The Kamikaze Surf Bar and the Underground are our two favourites for live music and themed parties.
Swiss resorts may look very chocolate boxy and traditional but dig a little deeper and you'll find some very lively Apres ski action.
Verbier: There are loads of Après ski options in Verbier but for live performances, usually by a Swedish house band, you can't beat Farinet. Make sure you have one of their shakers with your 1st round of beers. The best known of all the bars is Le Pub Mont Fort. It kicks off around 4.30 and builds up the atmosphere until it's all a little blurry well after midnight. They claim to sell the most beer in Switzerland! Our favourite, and the place to meet the ski instructors and the Chalet girls' favourite local, James Blunt, is Fer a Cheval. It's quirky, it's cool, and it gets really busy, so get in straight off the slopes.
Aprés ski dinner is particularly well catered for here. The nightclubs are world famous. If your budget is more Kronenbourg than Krug then head to Marshalls when the bars close. However, if you are looking for a club to be SEEN in then you are spoilt for choice. Taratas is a great place to buy a bottle of spirits and then find your own area to dance to mainly Britsh tunes. The Farm has been one of the premier Clubs of the Alps for over 20 years and still attracts the models and beautiful set to dance all night long. Recently an even more exclusive club has opened for the uber-elite; Coco's has finally arrived to fill that gaping hole between just mere millionaires and the real money of the titled, the dotcom billionaires and the occasional oligarch. Try the 10,000 CHF house specialty cocktail that includes a diamond key fob set into the ice.
Most Canadian resorts are fairly quiet places at night but there are good times to be had straight off the slopes.
Whistler: The biggest and best Canadian resort also rules the Après ski action for North America. Most visitors to Whistler won't get past the Longhorn Bar at the bottom of the main Whistler gondola and for good reason. It starts loud and fast at around 4pm and then accelerates. We think the best bar is away from the main strip over at the bottom of the Blackcomb area. Merlins has the best buffalo wings in Canada that are uniquely flavoured to go perfectly with pitchers of Kokanee. If you are lucky enough to catch Guitar Doug perform during one of his regular visits then you are in for a rare treat. He is our favourite Aprés ski performer in the world. The other great Après ski bar is Dusty's that caters for those who have to stay in Creekside. Not worth going all the way there, unless Guitar Doug is doing a guest set.
There are several great clubs around the pedestrianised area of town but the pick of them is Friday nights at Mojos. It's where all the instructors and the locals 'in the know' will be after 10 pm. Tommy Africas is classy and the place to seen on Saturday nights.
In a lot of USA resorts the accommodation is down off the mountain so the Apres ski effect is not so strong, but we know where to find the best.
Jackson Hole: The home of extreme skiing is also the home of the best Après ski bar in the USA. The Mangy Moose has live music every afternoon just near the legendary Red Tram in Teton Village. If you are really lucky you might even catch sometimes house band Steam Powered Airplane. If you do, then request Doreen to get the crowd rocking. The locals love it. While you are there, order the Nachos just to marvel at the scale and engineering of the thing. You will only need one for your group!
Later on, the more sophisticated bars in Jackson Hole itself (20 mins away by Taxi) get busy. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar famed as a set in the Clint Eastwood movie, 'Any Which Way You Can', and for having saddles for bar seats, attracts large crowds to play pool and look at the memoribilia that adorns the walls. You can't really go to Jackson without visiting it.
By AJ Johnson - Head of Sales and Ski Guru
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