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Top 10 Resorts for Spring Skiing

clock 19th March 2014 | comment0 Comments
With Springtime fast approaching and bluebird days becoming more and more frequent, we’ve put together a list of our top resorts for Spring skiing. At this time of year, the higher altitude resorts and those with glaciers are the best to visit, as snow conditions stay preserved for longer - many even offer all year round glacier skiing. Val Thorens, France Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 31cm Opening dates: November - May Val Thorens is Europe’s highest resort, standing at an altitude of 2230m, with 99% of the runs situated above 2000m. The high-altitude works in its favour to preserve snow conditions for longer, meaning that the resort promises optimal snow cover throughout the season. If you can find another European ski area with more ski runs open than Val Thorens on any of the days that you are there, they’ll give you a free day of skiing as part of their Snow Guarantee. Zermatt, Switzerland Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 54cm Opening dates: All Year Round Zermatt’s high-altitude provides consistent all year round skiing, with its glaciers staying open during the Summer months. The resort is situated just across from Cervinia, which you can access by lift. There are some great heliskiing opportunities on offer in Zermatt – expect stunning views and more challenging runs with this experience. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 46cm Opening dates: November - July Enjoy spectacular views and a huge selection of runs across both the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The resort has excellent snow cannon facilities, meaning that the pistes are kept in good condition year round. If freestyle’s your thing you’ll find the award winning Nintendo Parks. The parks feature a special difficulty rating system so there’s something for every ability. The Blackcomb glacier provides skiing through June and July. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria Opening dates: November - May The high-altitude Obergurgl is linked by cable car to Hochgurgl, which is even higher up the mountain. There are good snow making systems in Hochgurgl to keep pistes in tip-top condition. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl are situated close to the resort of Solden where you can hit up some glacier skiing. Lake Louise, Canada Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 36cm Opening dates: November - April Lake Louise is situated in the stunning Rocky Mountains and is part of the Big 3 (along with Banff and Sunshine Village). The resort won Canada’s Best Ski Resort last year at the World Ski Awards. Snowmaking facilities help to keep the runs in good shape when snow is looking a bit thin. Tignes, France Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 37cm Opening dates: December - May Tignes is another of the French resorts which can guarantee good snow cover well into Spring. There are snow making facilities on those pistes that are more prone to harsh sunlight. The Grande Motte glacier offers skiing and boarding throughout the Summer. Hintertux, Austria Opening dates: All Year Round Hintertux is a glacier resort, which is well renowned for its year-round freestyle park, Betterpark Hintertux. Powder days combined with bluebird conditions can be expected throughout the Spring. Hintertux is home to Snowbombing Festival which runs from the 7-12th April 2014. Cervinia, Italy Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 42cm Opening dates: October - May Cervinia is located just across the border from Zermatt. The glacier, Plateau Rosà offers year-round skiing. Cervinia is home to one of the longest runs in Europe running down to Valtournenche and standing at 13km long. Mammoth, California, USA Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 8cm Opening dates: November - May Mammoth Mountain is home to Springfest, a festival packed full of competitions, après ski, family events and the annual pond skim. Visitors benefit from the California sunshine, whilst experiencing one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Occasionally, the resort opens for Independence Day skiing on the 4th July. Passo Tonale, Italy Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 31cm Opening dates: October - April Passo Tonale is one of Italy’s highest resorts. It offers glacier skiing plus Red and Black runs right through to Summer. There are some great off-piste opportunities, as well as a designated snowpark for freestyle enthusiasts.


Val Thorens Sensations | Club Med's Latest Resort

clock 3rd March 2014 | comment0 Comments
What’s this? Club Med is launching a new resort? Yes, Club Med are opening a brand new 4 Trident resort in the popular French ski area in Val Thorens in the 3 Vallées. The resort will be called Val Thorens Sensations and is due to open on the 14th December 2014. They’ve used crowdsourcing to help decide on certain aspects of the new build, starting a Facebook community where followers helped to make key decisions, such as whether there should be an indoor climbing wall (they voted yes!). Sensations is set to operate from November to May, promising optimal snow cover during that time due to the resort’s high altitude. Who is the new resort aimed at? The new resort will be aimed at groups of friends, singles, couples and families with teenage children. The resort is accessible to young children too (from 2 years up), however, there will no kids clubs or kids entertainment programmes running. So what makes this newbie stand out from the other Club Med resorts then? The resort will stand out from the rest due to its contemporary design, which features huge bay windows that will give guests a fantastic view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. There are 3 sun-facing terraces and the majority of rooms promise to have breathtaking mountain views. Each of the rooms will be one of four different categories – there will be 361 Club Rooms, 12 Deluxe Rooms, 5 Junior Suites and 6 Suites. We know that Club Med is all inclusive, so what dining options will this new resort provide me with? There will be 2 onsite restaurants which will stay open from 7.30am till midnight, so whether you’re an early riser or a night owl then there will be something to suit you. One of the restaurants will provide a buffet set up and the other will be a concept restaurant, catering for the more gourmet tastes and offering a menu of local cuisine. For those dying to get out on the slopes, a self-service take-away corner will provide guests with a range of hot drinks and snacks, which can be taken out onto the slopes with them. What about the après ski? If you’re after a drink, then Sensations will have the choice of 2 bars and a packed schedule of evening entertainment. One bar will offer a more cosy and intimate setting, whereas the other will provide a more open and lively atmosphere. From 3.30pm each day, the Wine Cellar and Grocery Store will play host to a range of wine tasting sessions, after which guests can purchase goodies to take home with them. Can I hire equipment direct from the resort? Val Thorens Sensations have struck up a partnership with Rossignol and will also be supplying equipment by Lacroix and Dupraz, meaning that guests will be able to rent top quality boots, boards, skis and more. Once you’ve got your equipment sorted, you’ll also have the option to take ski and snowboard lessons, which are included in the price and aimed at all levels from beginner through to advanced. The resort is also in a ski-in ski-out position, making it super easy to get out on the slopes once you’ve got your equipment. When I’m not on the slopes, what other activities can I do? Sensations will put a special focus on health, fitness and wellbeing, offering a range of additional packages which include fitness training, nutritional advice and spa treatments. If you want a break from the slopes, or you just fancy working on your fitness a bit more, then a range of fitness classes are included in the price of your stay. Zumba, Body-Balance and Pilates are just some of the classes on offer. Alternatively, if you’re a little shy about training in a room full of others, you can choose to join in with a toning workout video, which will be available from the privacy of your room. For all those gym and weight fanatics out there, there is a fully equipped cardio and weight training zone. If you’re on the lookout for a bit more adrenaline then there is also a large 10 metre high climbing wall with 4 routes, mountain biking, sledging, snow mobiling and boardercross. If you fancy a swim, then you can head to a nearby pool, where you’ll receive free entry as a Val Thorens Sensations guest. I’m too tired for more exercise, what can I do to relax here? After a hard day on the slopes, why not relax with a Turkish Bath? All customers will have free access to the onsite Turkish Bath and will have the option to pay extra for spa treatments to wind down after an exhausting day. Spa treatments aren’t really my thing, what else can I do? If you’re still looking for more to do, then the resort will also house a tenpin bowling alley and a shopping boutique. Also on offer is a selection of ‘a la carte’ excursions, which will allow guests to pick and choose outings as they please. These will include a Baroque art guided tour, a traditional themed evening in a yurt and a snowscooter outing. What else can you tell me about Sensations? This new resort promises to be very digitally focused and wi-fi will even be available out on the slopes. High speed internet, ranging from free packages to high speed paid packages will be available in the hotel. The resort even has its own app so that users can look at the daily schedule of events, find ski buddies and share content such as images and music. In most public areas, digital screens will display information relating to daily activities and weather conditions. To top it all off, Sensations promises effective queue management to heighten guests overall experience, making it as stress free, fun and relaxed as possible.   In a nutshell   Open November – May (official opening 14th December 2014) Ski in-ski out 2 restaurants open 7.30am till midnight + take away area in ski room for those in a hurry 2 bars with a full schedule of evening entertainment Wine tasting every day Top quality equipment to rent + ski/snowboard lessons included Health, wellness and fitness packages available Onsite spa, free access to Turkish Bath & free access to nearby swimming pool Ten pin bowling Shopping boutique Excursions available Wi-fi available on the slopes     Val Thorens Facts   Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe at 2230m high 600km’s of piste Longest run: 8km 93 ski lifts, 52 draglifts, 31 chairlifts, 9 cable-cars 5 snowboard parks Easily accessed from Geneva, Lyon and Chambéry airports and Moutiers railway station It is in the 3 Vallèes ski area, which is linked with other resorts (you get access to the whole ski area) 3 Vallèes has 33 black pistes – 119 red pistes – 135 blue pistes – 48 green pistes Val Thorens has 275 runs – 101 beginner, 146 intermediate, 28 advanced  


Interview with Team GB Snowboard Star, Billy Morgan

clock 5th February 2014 | comment0 Comments
As far as the UK goes for competitive snowboarding, they don’t get much bigger than Team GB favourite Billy Morgan. He picked up his first snowboard at the age of 14 in Southampton’s Alpine centre , and shot to fame in 2011 after performing a world’s first triple rodeo flip (to you and me, a triple backflip). It’s been 2 years, 6 world cups and some costly injuries, but the young slopestyle hopeful achieved his goal of qualifying for Sochi 2014 by being in the top 30 in the world whilst meeting the UK’s quota. With favourites such as Shaun White (US) and Torstein Horgmo (Norway) out of the competition, it leaves Morgan tipped to bring back the gold for Great Britain, in an event filled with tricks and huge air. Igluski caught up with him. What kind of training is involved for freestyle snowboarding? For most of the year it’s all about getting the hours in on your board, working on different tricks, filming and having fun etc. But when the days are good it’s time to get to work. I’ll try and treat the day like a competition day, get to big tricks as fast as possible, repeat them and then the time for progression presents itself. It's then that you can start to work on putting extra things on your big tricks. Do you have a favourite ski resort? I like Breckenridge to ride and Morzine or Mayrhoffen to Party. Bucket list riding location? Alaska, Japan, Park city and Jackson Hole. You were recently injured in training, how has your training changed to get back on the board? I did have a bad fall in September at a snow dome in the UK. I fully ruptured my ACL and MCL which I thought ended my route to Sochi. But I spent two months with a good team of specialists in rehab working hard every day. I got back snowboarding in December. You recently posted back to back triples on a practice at the X-games, how did the knee feel? Ahh that was a mental day, I didn't make finals but was training in case someone dropped out as I had the reserve spot. I got my run down and my coach urged me to try it. I knew I needed to at some point so gave it a wang. The knee was absolutely fine. It’s been pretty good since Christmas, just takes a run or two to warm it up haha. What do you do to relax before competition? Straight after I’m stoked to just get down the hill and jam with my friends, it all depends on where I am. I love a bit of table tennis. What are you most looking forward to at Sochi 2014? Any other events you’re keen to watch? I’m not sure what to make of it all, I’m stoked to watch the other guys on the team compete and really want to see the figure skating down in Sochi. Mad respect for that lot. Any tricks up your sleeve you’re saving for Sochi? Sadly no, I haven't saved anything crazy. Maybe I should have. Check Out Billy Morgan's Triple Rodeo, here (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by Billy Morgan.


Guide to Cheap Skiing 2.0

clock 16th January 2014 | comment0 Comments
January can be a financially tight month but offers some of the best skiing of the season. With this in mind, and in our ongoing efforts to help more people hit the slopes, we've refreshed our Guide to Cheap Skiing. And if you're looking for a cheap last minute holiday be sure to check out our Top Tips for Last Minute Skiing. Cheap ski deals are a bit of a misdemeanour as skiing is never cheap. By the time you have added your travel, accommodation, lift pass, ski hire/carriage, lessons (if needed) and food & drinks in resort, you are often lucky to get away with spending less than £1000. That's not to say that with good planning, realistic expectations and a bit of luck you can of course get a great deal, saving a small fortune. People often flock toward the likes of Bulgaria and Andorra for a cheap ski break, but the realism is they are catching up with the rest of Europe year-on-year for price, yet the ski areas are not always as snow-sure or as challenging as the more renowned resorts. Andorra's lift pass prices are catching those of France, at £180, and the airfares to Bulgaria mean it often costs more than a cheeky week to a more renowned resort with a shorter flight. Having taken into consideration the resort costs, including lift pass & ski hire, the holiday costs and the ski areas, I have put together an indication of where the best value cheap ski deals currently lie. There are a couple of self catered apartments, some value chalets and an all inclusive package, to give you a good indication of what to expect and where to look. Bargain hunting for cheap ski holidays starts as soon as the winter is over, so you now don't need to hold on in hope of getting a last minute deal. To keep things fair and comparable I have looked at mid January, traditionally the cheapest time of the season where the resorts are fully open and for arguments sake have kept to London(ish) airports. Cheap Self Catered Ski Holidays Self catered holidays can be a false economy due to the cost of food in resort, though sneaking some dry foods and packet mixes into your suitcase can help with this — student-style skiing! But if you are there for the skiing and/or the nightlife, accommodation is often at the bottom of the list, therefore squeezing into a 20m2 apartment with three friends won't bother you in the slightest.  Having kept to the dates mentioned before, you might be surprised to hear that the resorts of Avoriaz, La Plagne and Alpe d'Huez topped the list for accommodation costs and reasonable lift pass prices. Okay so €5 or so a pint may be the main downfall here, but there are some great value places to eat in both these ski areas. Pizza Roll in Alpe d'Huez is well used buy the underpaid resort staff and at €3 a pizza who can blame them. In Avoriaz ski down the Les Marmottes restaurant in the Lindarets valley for some great value mountain food — which will be much appreciated if a diet of pasta and sauce is on the menu in the evenings! Alpe d'Huez offers 260km of great skiing, a glacier, Europe's longest black run — the 16km La Sarenne — the infamous Le Tunnel's moguls and the great value Quartier des Bergers Apartments apartments. The lift pass is £165, but includes use of the both the heated outdoor pool (budgie smugglers required), the indoor pool & sports centre and the resort bus, the ski & boot hire is from £75, ski carriage is £17.50. The cheapest ski deal here is again on the 18th January on a flight from Gatwick airport at £276 per person, based on four people sharing — the cheapest deal, but slightly higher resort costs. Accommodation, flights & transfers: £266 Lift pass: £165 Ski carriage: £17.50 Ski hire: £75 Total (inc ski hire): £506 The Cassiopee apartments in Belle Plagne often offer great value, whether getting an early summer deal or a last minute cheap trip you can find prices here for sub £270 per person (based on 4 sharing). The lift pass is around £235 for the Paradiski Unlimited pass and ski hire is around £85 for skis & boots and ski carriage is £35. The best price at the moment from Gatwick airport on the 7th January for as little as £285 per person, based on four sharing a four person studio apartment — offering cosy but low cost accommodation. Accommodation, flights & transfers: £285 Lift pass: £235 Ski carriage: £35 Ski hire: £85 Total (inc ski hire): £605 Cheap Chalet Ski Deals Chalet holidays can actually offer better value than staying in an apartment, due to the fact most of your catering is covered (the staff have one night off during your stay). You are usually given a hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and a three course evening meal with wine. If you have good chalet hosts you can usually have a large breakfast with cereals, a cooked option and some fruit, then make yourself a cheese, ham or jam sandwich for lunch (though do this quietly as you are not supposed to) and ski back for tea, coffee and cake at 4pm and still have time for an aprés ski beer. Based on out-and-out price, the Chalet Alice in Les Deux Alpes offers fantastic value. Again using a Gatwick flight the price for two people in a twin room is only £354 per person on the 25th January. So the difference in cost to have two full meals and afternoon tea, with only one evening not catered, is just £103 pp. Les Deux Alpes is a student favourite, offering good nightlife, glacier skiing and reasonable resort prices — the lift pass is only £190 and ski & hire is again around £85 and ski carriage is £35. Accommodation, chalet board, flights & transfers: £354 Lift pass: £190 Ski carriage: £35 Ski hire: £65 Total (inc ski hire): £609 For a great overall deal, great value on the mountain and the chance to ski two countries in one holiday, then the Chalet Quatre Saisons in La Rosiere offers fantastic value. The ski area sits toward the end of the Tarantaise Valley, opposite Les Arcs and bordering Italy. Skiing down to La Thuile you can enjoy fantastic mountain food at great, Italian prices, giving great savings throughout the week. This time based on a flight into Gatwick and with two people sharing a twin room the price stands at £295 per person — at £180 for your lift pass with ski hire from as little as £55 (or ski carriage for £39) you are looking at £530 for a week with everything bar lunch and one evening meal paid for! Accommodation, chalet board, flights & transfers: £295 Lift pass: £180 Ski carriage: £39 Ski hire: £55 Total (inc ski hire): £530 pp All-Inclusive Cheap Ski Deals Over in Les Deux Alpes, there are some ridiculously good value all inclusive deals with the Club Med Les Deux Alpes, though if you fancy a different resort the Club Med Arcs Extreme often has comparable prices. Club Med offer something different to the typical British ski holiday, first of all they are French run, owned and styled hotels, though they have English speaking staff. If you are here for the skiing and not the resort nightlife the hotels have everything you need. The price include accommodation, transport, all inclusive meals and drinks (apart from champagne etc), lift pass, ski school and on charter flights ski carriage. You can ski back to the hotel for lunch, a beer or a snack, the bar is open until early until the early hours and there is entertainment for all ages. If you head out on the 26nd January you are only paying £1084 per person, based on two sharing — this means if you have your own skis you don't have to spend another penny (apart from travel insurance) and if you don't ski hire starts at £104 pp. All-inclisive accommodation, flights & transfers: £1084 Lift pass: £0 Ski carriage: £0 Ski hire: £104 Total (inc ski hire, lessons and all drinks): £1188 Whilst this deals is great last minute value, Club Med also offer terrific Early bird savings of up to £200 pp so booking early is highly recommended. In a quick round-up, here are the overall price comparisons for the best value self catered, chalet and all inclusive for seven nights: Quartier des Bergers Apartments including lift pass and ski carriage is £431 pp and with ski hire is £506 pp. The Chalet Alice including, chalet meals, lift pass and ski carriage is £544 pp and with ski hire is £628 pp. The Club Med Arcs Extreme including ski carriage and all-inclusive is £1084 pp and with ski hire is £1188 pp. So depending on how much you expect to spend on meals both in your accommodation and on the mountain, whether you are heading out into resort to party, fancy a glass of wine over dinner, or want the freedom to enjoy a drink whenever you fancy, depends on what works out best for you. Self catered are cosy, but low cost, chalets are comfortable, yet good value and Club Med include everything you need for a great price. * The prices in this article were correct at time of publish, though are subject to change at anytime.


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