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So far this week has proven to be an interesting one, the skiing romance that is Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement and Pope Benedict XVI blessed our favourite sport.
The Pope has been quoted saying "Skiing makes us feel small and returns us to our true dimension as creatures... It makes us capable of asking ourselves about the meaning of creation, of looking above, of opening ourselves to the Creator. By contemplating creation, man recognizes the greatness of God". However the real news is all about Prince William and Kate Middleton. Rumour has it the royal couple's relationship blossomed in the romantic, luxury resort of Klosters in Switzerland.
With this in mind that sent me to thinking where would be the best ski resorts to head to for a honeymoon. From the über-resorts of Klosters, Lech and Courchevel 1850 (popular with the rich & famous and the Royal Family), to the intimate resorts of Kitzbuhel, St. Martin & Wengen.
Skiing has played its part with the Royal Family over the years with Diana Spencer, Sarah Ferguson and now Kate Middleton invited on the family ski trips before their respective weddings. Prince Charles remains a keen skier and William and Harry are known to be fans of both Klosters and Verbier. So with a possible spring wedding where would William and Kate go if they were to head for a skiing honeymoon?
Klosters - You would have to say that the Swiss Resort of Klosters would be their most likely destination. A luxury resort, superb skiing and the location of many a picture of the pair skiing together. They have stayed in 5* hotels and in private chalets in the resorts. With accommodation on offer for the über-rich and years of Royal connections the resort definitely has a head start.
Verbier - Not as romantic a resort as Klosters but again a luxury resort with world class skiing and world class private chalets on offer. Home to The Lodge, Richard Branson's über-luxury property, as well as a host of other high end accommodation, they would be well looked after.
Courchevel 1850 - France & Russia's favourite exclusive resort, Courchevel 1850, would also be an ideal location. Already a firm favourite among the Royals and a regular haunt of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. The combination of exclusive hotels, chalets, clubs and restaurants, coupled with one of the world's premier ski areas make Courchevel an attractive destination.
Lech - Lech is often seen as the Courchevel 1850 of Austria. Lech is renowned for über luxury 5* hotels, exclusive bars, restaurants and night clubs and are among the 'it' resorts during New Year. With many an F1 team owner and the truly super-rich heading to Lech you would have to say it is Austria's most likely option. Throw in the awesome Arlberg ski area, linked with St. Anton and St. Christoph and you have a perfect location.
Now where as we may all aspire to staying in £1000 per night accommodation, while rubbing our shoulders with industrial powerhouses and film stars, most of us have more modest budgets and desires for a romantic skiing trip with the other half. Whether on a honeymoon or a romantic week on the slopes there are some fantastic resorts with stunning views, intimate alpine restaurants and affordable bubbly on offer. For those who are looking for a special escape without the celebrity spotting and the prices it brings here are some great resorts.
Kitzbuhel - The quaint resort of Kitzbuhel is often described as the prettiest town in the Alps. The skiing is picturesgue and the hotels range from 5* luxury to family run affairs. Throw in a great mix of night-life from the Michelin star Neuwirt restaurant in the Hotel Schwarzer Adler to the typically entertaining & beef-fuelled Austrian apres-ski.
St. Martin - The hidden gem of the Three Valleys in France, St. Martin de Belleville is a small village at the bottom of the Belleville valley. Offering attractive Savoyard charm, intimate little bars and restaurants and 'the world's largest ski area', on a romantic week for two, do you need anymore?
Grindelwald - The Swiss resort of Grindelwald is one of the country's stunning and stereotypical chocolate box resorts. Set in a picturesque alpine location offering romantic hotels and the superb skiing of the Jungfrau region, with the beautiful resorts of Wengen and Murren included in the lift pass. Grindelwald offers a perfect romantic escape from the hustle and bustle of Europe's major resorts.
These are my thoughts, but where would you go? Comment below or drop us a message on our Twitter or Facebook pages.
For those of us who are feeling the pinch this winter but can’t do without our annual snow fix here are some hot tips for skiing on a shoe string, with prices (including flights) from just £223 per person!
Self-catered apartments are a good value option if you have the discipline to plan and prepare your meals in advance – if you end up eating out every meal time it is a false economy and you would be better off in a chalet:
La Plagne 22nd January 2011, £223 per person for 7 sharing or £335 for 4 sharing. Includes: flights, transfers, self catering accommodation
2. Try something new
Skiing in the Three Valleys is great but it does come at a premium and there are many other great ski areas out there that are not so hard on the wallet:
Arinsal 16th January 2011, £386 per person Aparthotel Crest. Includes: flights, transfers, hotel accommodation, breakfast and dinner.
3. Get away for Christmas
Christmas is an expensive time of year; pre-Christmas drinks and parties, presents, Christmas day itself – whether you are driving hundreds of miles to visit family or hosting lunch yourself – it all adds up. Escape from it all and enjoy a white Christmas:
Soldeu 19th December 2010, £426 per person Xalet Casale. Includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
4. Short breaks
This year due to the fact the Christmas Day is on a Saturday the departure dates around Christmas and New Year have been altered and there are a lot of great value short breaks in the first week of January – not only is your holiday cheaper but your lift pass/ski hire costs will also be reduced. You will just need to make sure you make the most of your available time on the mountain (or a least give yourself an extra day to recover when you get home):
Les Deux Alpes 3rd January 2011, £441 per person + 2 for 1 lift passes. Chalet Chartreuse, 5 nights, includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
5. Catered Chalets
A chalet holiday offers fantastic value as your meals and wine are included, if you speak to the right people (such as Igluski.com who work with all the ski operators and therefore have a great overview of the market and current deals) you can find yourself a bargain. This season there is already some great early snow, so you can be the envy of your mates with a cheeky pre-Christmas trip:
Alpe d'Huez 12th December 2010, £425 per person Chalet Hotel L'Escapade. Includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
Full index of the cheapest ski holidays available.
While discussing skiing in the UK we can’t ignore the fantastic season enjoyed by the Scottish resorts last winter, particularly Glenshee.
Glenshee enjoyed it’s most successful season since 2001, welcoming 116,000 skiers up from 45,000 in previous winters. The snow cover allowed the resort to remain open continuously from 22nd December through to 11th April, something that is not always possible due to snow levels.
The success of the winter season has enabled the ski centre to carry out much needed maintenance work and they have some exciting potential enhancements in the pipeline.
If the Snow Gods are good to us again this winter and you fancy some Scottish ski action Glenshee is easily accessible and perfect for a few days to satisfy your snow cravings.
There is plenty to keep you busy with 36 runs (8 green, 13 blue, 13 red and 2 black) served by 21 lifts (2 chairlifts, 16 pomas and 3 t-bars), which give you a respectable 40 kms of piste. The runs are spread across 3 valleys and 4 mountains providing an extensive and enjoyable variety of skiing and snowboarding.
A full day pass is just £27 for an adult and £17 for a child and the ski centre offers lessons, equipment hire and even ski suit hire if you don’t have your own gear.
Before looking into this I had underestimated the size and scale of Glenshee, now I know what it has to offer I will be keeping an eye on the weather and keeping a few winter weekends free just in case.
Written by Charlie Hamilton-Beaufort
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