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With our first 2 après ski guides now out of date AJ Johnson, Iglu's Director of Sales, and resident après ski Black-Belt, has updated our best après ski destinations for 2014/15. Après ski is now as important as the skiing for UK skiers and riders. Those hectic (or chilled) hours between 3.30pm and 6.00pm when you celebrate a day of great skiing with your mates while still in your ski gear and often still up on the slopes can make or break your trip. The level of après ski is the most common question we get about resorts and I happen to agree that it is an essential part of my ski experience. I may not want to party every afternoon, but when I do, I want very good music, cold beers and cheap shooters, plenty of room to dance, and the option of a sunny terrace. If it’s inclement weather then an indoor area with strong tables for dancing on with ski-boots and lots of alpine memorabilia and style will do. The resort Councils also realise the importance of après ski to the UK market and last year Alpe d’Huez warmly welcomed Folie Douce with their 4th Franchise to great success and the brand keeps going from strength to strength.
The highest party town in the Alps
For a long time VT has been considered the poor cousin of its neighbours in upmarket Méribel and super expensive Courchevel but recent years have seen a transformation into a more mid-range resort. There are still the cheap and tiny apartments available but now there is a 5 star Hotel, some top quality chalets, upmarket self-catered apartments and this year sees Club Med launch their newest village right in the centre of town. We’ll be there for an early season ski in December. It’s a great resort for early or late snow due to its height. The Folie Douce here is just above the town so everyone gets to do a short ski back down on wobbly legs. It’s smaller than the rest of the Folies as it was not built to purpose but a restaurant taken over. I think it has a charm which puts it among the finest après bars in the Tarentaise Vallée.
Down in town there are more bars than you can visit in a night and the après starts early. The Frog and Roast Beef is the highest pub in Europe and draws a UK crowd. The Saloon bar is the Seasonaires favourite and is the rowdiest and most fun bar on the strip if you can take the crowds. VT is also home to the largest nightclub in the Alps in Malaysia, it may be cavernous but it fills up late and rocks all night. The place to stay – The New Val Thorens Club Med Sensations is going to be brilliant.
24/7 Ibiza (budget) Party Town
This big resort in the Grand Rouses mountain range has long been a favourite with the young hip crowd and offers an amazingly long season due to the huge glacier. It has a direct link access to the legendary La Grave free-ride resort, the best Terrain Park in Europe, and summer skiing. There are 45 bars along the main drag and 8 night-clubs. That’s not much less than the entire Trois Vallées and more than Val d’Isére and Tignes added together. On the slopes there is the amazing and huge PANO BAR that gives the 4 Folie Douces a run for their money. The beats are a bit dancier and recognisable and the crowd a little less reserved. After your Pano après session there are a series of bars at the foot of the slopes worth visiting. Just a little warning, the last run in to the resort called the Valentin is a serious run. Download on the Jandri Gondola if you’ve over-cooked it on Jaeger-Bombs. This direct Gondola access means injured or non-skiing friends can join you for lunch and après every day. At the foot of the slopes I like the Umbrella bar. The giant Umbrella can be closed for really cold days and opened for the sunny ones.
Ski Hard, Party Harder
St Anton is still the best of Austria but it is perhaps too popular and the famous piste-side bars are uncomfortably jammed to overflowing with plastered Brits, Dutch and Germans. It has fantastic off-piste routes like the Valluga and brings a lot of the best skiers in the world to party. It also claims to have the oldest ski school in the world and this brings a constant flow of new skiers and boarders to the noisiest après ski bars in Austria. I love the place and I’ve had some of my best après ski moments in The Krazy Kangaruh. Directly across the piste from the KK the Mooserwirt starts the party with ‘The Final Countdown’ at 3pm and then cranks out loud Austro/German pop and gets the crowd into a table dancing frenzy. They probably make the strongest tables in the World in the Arlberg region! Just seeing the beer servers who carry up to 30 full size drinks on doubled up trays is worth the trip. Those guys are seriously strong. This is a bit off subject but for Lunch on the mountain you must visit the Hospiz Alm down in St Christoph. It is easily the best on-mountain restaurant in the Arlberg region and has well-priced daily specials. You are served by staff in traditional lederhosen and there’s a great slide down to the loos inside. I can also highly recommend the Heustadl for live music on the slopes. It’s in a perfect suntrap just before you get to the KK on the skiers left. Recommended Hotel in St. Anton: The Nassereinerhof Every Austrian resort provides good après ski bars and special mentions go out to the resorts of Saalbach, Sölden, and Soll. They all deserve a visit that you’ll never forget.
Posh But Fun
Let’s get the hard bit out of the way first, it’s expensive. The Swiss Franc is on a roll right now and until it gets back to reasonable levels against the £ your après sessions are going bite like a Nile crocodile. Do as seasonaires do and follow the happy hours around the village. No visit to Verbier is complete without a session or two in the Pub Mont Fort, but my favourite is the Farinet Bar — with its sliding roof that opens to let the steam out when the party gets too hot. It’s an experience to remember when they open the roof when it’s snowing and you’re dancing to a Swedish cover band that is leading the shot taking between songs. Why is it that the Swedes seem to have an impossibly good looking cover band in every decent resort in Europe? I suspect it’s because the band members are chasing the best snow, just like you and me. Recommended chalet hotel in Verbier: Chalet Hotel De Verbier.
Glamorous and expensive, and worth every penny
VD is IGLU’s number 1 resort for sales and for staff love. We can’t get enough of it. The skiing in the Espace Killy (the area linked with Tignes) offers more easily accessible variety than any other in Europe. It has a very long season because it catches the storms as they hit the end of the Tarentaise Valley at the border with Italy. But what really sets it apart is the number of high quality bars on-piste and off. The original Folie Douce has got its Mojo back after a couple of experimental years and now offers a great afternoon’s entertainment. The price of a large beer has stayed at 7€ which a few years ago seemed expensive but now matches up with most bars in the Alps. Kelly Starlight still leads the entertainment but has toned down the cabaret aspect in favour of more DJ inspired singing and dancing. There are countless bars in town like the Petit Danois (après drink deals and 2 pool tables), The Morris bar, The Underground (very French), Victors (241 cocktails), and Bar La Rosee (nice terrace) in La Daille. The 2 biggest nightclubs are the legendary original Dicks Tea Bar with a mainly UK crowd and Doudoune for a French crowd (and corresponding appalling music). I could name another 20 bars but the names don’t really matter. You will never be more than a few metres from a party in this premier resort of France. Recommended Chalet in Val d’Isére: Chalet Yeti - get in early as it’s sold out by November.
Cheap & Cheerful
Over the last few years the rise and rise of the € against £ has hurt our back pockets during the après ski hours, particularly in the UK customer dominated über-resorts of the Tarentaise Vallée. For this reason a lot of my friends have starting heading to Alpe d’Huez. In this resort the cost of a sérieux will only be around €4.50. You always pay over €6 and probably much higher in Val d’Isére or Méribel. There’s loads of bars here to try, but no pub crawl would be complete without visiting O’Sharkeys, Smithy's, The Crowded House, and of course you must try the slide at Freeride. If you want to stay up until the sun rises then you’ll be at the Igloo bar that gets crazier and crazier all the way until the 6am closing time. This resort is now the most fun in France, it’s just a damned shame it’s a bit ugly. The skiing here is up there with the best and the 16km La Sarenne black run of the back of Pic Blanc down to Vaujany is world class. Personally I prefer the thrills and spills of the un-pisted Itinerary route through the famous tunnel. Not for beginners! Recommended chalet in Alpe d'Huez: Chalet Friandise – a little beauty.
Upmarket 24/7 Party Town
Okay, it’s not cheap compared to other Austrian resorts but it’s still better value than the big resorts of France and Switzerland. The Trofana Alm stakes a claim for the best après ski bar in the world. It encompasses everything you’d expect from that title. Classic Tyrolean décor, cheesy sing-along songs with silly dances that get everyone involved. Fantastic service from immensely strong waiters, carrying trays of beer and shots for you to choose from are never more than a few minutes away from another visit. The Schatzi Bar offers the added bonus of traditional bar top dancing girls and more modern music. I’d also throw in a vote for the Kuhstall, that plays more English music and fills to the brim with the younger crowd, jumping in their boots to the latest hits.
Tax Free Party Haven
Livigno is a shopper's paradise as well as an après ski mecca. It has around 150 bars, which dwarfs any other ski resort in the world — I think Vail is second with 110. Livigno has belonged to numerous countries and empires over the centuries and now has a distinctly Austrian flavour to it. The Kuhstall, Mikey's Pub, Gulliver Pub, the Echo Pub, and for cocktails, Jpioca, are all recommended. This resort has so many bars to offer, that there really isn’t much to say other than I bet you can’t visit them all. Recommended hotel in Livigno: Hotel Valeria. Italian resorts tend to be a bit more sophisticated and calmer during the après ski hours, but there are some pretty good traditionally loud and riotous gems to be found in the resorts of Cervinia and Selva.
We love sports here at Iglu, so we have been glued to the Commonwealth Games over the weekend, and it’s got us thinking how amazing it would be to have a winter sports version. We take a look at the best ski resorts suitable to host the ultimate snow events and let you experience feeling like a true pro.
During the 1992 Albertville Olympics, Meribel had the honour of hosting two sporting disciplines: ice hockey and the women's alpine skiing. Five women’s events were staged: the downhill, Super G, giant slalom, special slalom and combined. The tricky Roc de Fer course was designed like the men’s downhill run at Val d’Isere and is one of the longest in Winter Olympic history and thought to be the most difficult women’s course ever. The Roc De Fer Face is accessible via the Olympic chairlift, although if you are looking for a less extreme way of checking out this Olympic route then there is also a blue piste that runs alongside down to Meribel.
Get a taste of the Olympic experience off the slopes and discover La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh. Enjoy the ultimate adrenaline rush with this once in a lifetime opportunity on one of the world’s most impressive bobsleigh tracks.There are 3 levels of fun from the family friendly Bob Raft reaching up to 80km/h to the Bob Racing for you speed junkies, where you take a seat behind a professional driver for a decent of up to 120 km/h. For this coming winter a new activity will launch: the chance to embark in pairs on the 4 man bobsled driven by Olympic medallist Bruno Mingeon. After reaching speeds of up to 130 km/h down the 19 turn Olympic track you can then enjoy your favourite aperitif with the man himself. Don’t forget your lucky egg!
The 2006 Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy and Sauze d’Oulx was the chosen site of the Freestyle Skiing events which included aerials and moguls. The new freestyle slope built for the Olympics just below the main part of the town, plus the resort benefited from an extensive investment in the lift system. With access to the 400km of the Milky Way and spectacular views to France this Italian ski resort is always considered a favourite. Famed for its nightlife and sense of fun, Sauze d’Oulx is not just a fantastic ski area, but also a perfect resort for an after party!
Situated between Saint Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens in the 3 Valleys, Les Menuires hosted the men's slalom alpine skiing event at the 1992 Winter Olympics. The rest of the men’s speed events were held in Val d’Isere, while the Women’s events were in Meribel. Giant Slalom competitions are often held here, including FIS events and professional training.
The men's Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom were held on the Face de Bellevarde in Val d’Isere for the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games. This piste is often regarded as one of the most thrilling black runs in the world with its long length and icy conditions. In December 2013 the Face de Bellevarde hosted the Men’s Giant Slalom in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, proving conditions were as difficult and icy as the rumours say they are. Over the hill, neighbouring resort Tignes played host to the Winter X Games Europe from 2010-2013. The highlight of the winter extreme sports calendar drew in the biggest names in freestyle ski and snowboard including Shaun White, Sage Kotsenburg, Candide Thovex, Torah Bright plus our very own Jenny Jones and James Woods. If you are looking to improve your freestyle, why not test your skills in the very park and half pipe where the X Games took place?
With so many new chalets and hotels popping up in various European resorts just in time for the coming season, we decided to give you a low down on our top 5 new places to stay on your next ski holiday. Whether it’s all inclusive, catered chalets or half-board you’re after, there are plenty of new accommodations that are bound to catch your eye.
The location of the Sunstar Alpine Hotel offers you access to a large linked ski area, with plenty of runs available for all abilities. The hotel boasts one-hundred and six bedrooms and is half-board, providing delicious buffet breakfasts, a five course evening meal and regular themed evenings, complete with a themed menu to match. The hotel lies in a quiet area of the resort, overlooking the forest and Untersee Lake, with the main village area just a few minutes walk away. Ski lifts are located an eight minute walk away and there is a free hotel shuttle bus and a free resort bus on hand to shorten your journey. Guests at the hotel will benefit from free wi-fi, ski storage with boot heating, a bar and a smokers lounge. After a long hard day out on the slopes, relax at the wellness centre with the indoor pool, steam room, sauna and fitness activities, plus massage, spa and beauty treatments. There is also table tennis, badminton, tennis and bowling available onsite. For those who are bringing children who are too young to ski, there is a non-ski kindergarten open six days a week.
The much loved and snowsure resort of Ischgl now welcomes Chalet Belmonte to the family - a large catered chalet, which sleeps up to forty-three guests. All rooms are ensuite and offer their own balcony or terrace area. The chalet is ideal for couples and groups, although cots can be set up in a number of the rooms if requested. The main lift is situated just a five minute walk away and the bars and restaurants just three minutes on foot. At breakfast, guests will be offered a choice of continental and cooked options and will also be provided with afternoon tea, a five course evening meal and a selection of complimentary wines. The onsite bar is a great place to wind down before your evening meal, with much deserved pre-dinner aperitifs and canapés on offer. As well as on-site ski boot storage, guests will also find a steam room, sauna and an infra-red cabin to soothe tired muscles after a hard day out on the mountain.
With a huge skiing area and a fantastic snow record, Tignes provides the backdrop to this brand new catered chalet, which sleeps up to nine people across four ensuite bedrooms. The chalet is ideal for families and groups and features a spacious living area with stunning views across the Grade Motte Glacier. The chalet also offers wi-fi access and handy ski lockers for storing your gear overnight. Located just twenty-five metres away from the lively bars and restaurants of Tignes Le Lac, this new chalet offers an ideal location for a ski holiday, with everything you need right on the doorstep. The Rossett lift is situated fifty metres from the front door and the Toviere lift just one-hundred metres, putting you in prime position to be one of the first up the mountain.
The well-known and popular Club Med resort has opened up a new luxurious hotel, this time located in the wonderful Val Thorens. The hotel features a contemporary design which uses spacious and light interiors, complete with floor to ceiling windows to offer guests stunning mountain views throughout. The hotel is all inclusive with a variety of flexible dining options available, including takeaway packed lunches and snacks so that you can make the most of your time on the slopes. You’ll also find bars serving complimentary drinks and a host of evening entertainment, including a nightclub. Also included in the package are free ski and snowboard lessons, access to snowsports such as tobogganing, plus a climbing wall, a fitness centre and a spa. All rooms in Val Thorens Sensations are ensuite and you can choose from a club room, deluxe room or suite. On top of this, ninety-percent of the rooms offer picturesque mountain views.
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