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Today marks the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and many of the countries fighting it out to be the winner of the World Cup are also some of the finest countries in the world to ski in, so in true Iglu Ski style we have been pondering which countries would win in a battle of the best ski resorts. First up is Group B teams Chile VS Australia with a clash to find the best of the southern hemisphere resorts. We will look at the 3 top factors of a leading ski resort (the slopes, the après and the cuisine) in an endeavour to crown the winner of Chile VS Australia. Perisher, Australia
Chile Skiing in Chile is often regarded as a once in a lifetime opportunity due to its location in South America and the legendary off piste. The country offers 20 ski resorts which are located in the south with ski lifts peaking at 3500m. The Andes provide the perfect playground for adrenaline seekers and adventurers wanting to heli-ski with its 1 million acres of untouched powder. The Andes is the second highest mountain range in the world with the summit of Aconcagua sitting at 6950m. One of the best reasons to visit Chile is for guaranteed snow due to the high altitude. The resort of Portillo averages 24ft of snow as well as plenty of sunshine similar to spring skiing in the Alps. Resorts in Chile are smaller than its European counterparts and lifts can be quite dated but slopes are quiet and Portillo even limits tickets sold so there is never a busy day on the mountain. Valle Nevado is situated in the heart of the largest ski area in the southern hemisphere and snow is guaranteed by the height and the considerable size of the terrain. This season, Valle Nevado opened 2 weeks early, on Friday 13th June, due to fantastic early snowfall. Ski Pucon is situated on a volcano and is popular with freestylers due to the natural half pipes formed by lava. Chile famously featured in the Art of Flight with Travis Rice and Scotty Lago sending it off a 12ft kicker in the pristine South American backcountry. This put Chile on the map for many snowboard enthusiasts, including myself! AustraliaWith winter kicking off down under this month, many ski resorts in the Southern hemisphere are starting to open… with or without snow! Unfortunately it hasn’t been the best start of the season in Australia and many resorts are still looking green on opening weekends. Resorts have to rely on snow guns to get some snow on the slopes, but with temperatures gradually dropping, it is expected to dump very soon. Australia is famously known for its sun, sea and surf, but it is also a ski lovers paradise. Most ski resorts are found in the two states of New South Wales and Victoria. Perisher is the largest ski area in Australia, located in the picturesque Kosciuszko National Park neighbouring Thredbo just up the road. Mt Perisher peaks at 2054m, with the highest chair lift reaching 2034m. One of the most visited Australian resorts is Thredbo, the resort has the steepest terrain in Australia and also the longest runs including the 5.9km Super Trail. Further South sits Mt. Hotham and Falls Creek which are linked by a helicopter ride. Falls Creek freestyle park and pipe consistently wins awards as well as playing host to many high profile snowboard events throughout the winter. Cross country skiing is available in most resorts where visitors can take advantage of the long groomed trails through the forest. Winner: Chile
Chile Due to the small villages nightlife is limited in many resorts. Valle Nevado has the largest concentration of restaurants and bars and Portillo offers live music in a local bar and an all-night disco Australia Most of the resorts in Australia are well developed with large villages. Some tourists even come mainly to party with may be some skiing thrown in on the odd day. With 4 villages, Perisher is known for bars and restaurants becoming very active in the evening once the lifts have closed. Falls Creek has 28 bars and restaurants but if you are looking for a quiet evening there are spa options or places to sit in front of an open fire. Winner: Austalia
Mt. Buller, Australia
Chile Traditional Chilen food may be hard to find in ski resorts. In large hotels you will probably encounter high quality international food and in budget accommodation you will find simple foods. Chile produces a bounty of fine fruit and vegetables which are easily found around resorts. Typical Chilan food is normally meat heavy with plenty of slabs of meat and fish in restaurants, where breakfast is more of a sweet affair with biscuits, cakes and tarts. Australia As Australian resorts aren’t very high and villages are easily accessible the food is general to what you find all over Australia. Many villages have a range of restaurants from fine dining to better value options. A traditional lunch on the mountain would be a burger/hot dog and chips but many resorts are starting to extend their ranges to include healthier options. If you are able to travel just outside the ski area to sub-alpine villages in Victoria, you can treat yourself to a feast of flavours including local beers and fresh produce Winner: Chile
We love snow and the more snow the better. The Australian ski season can be variable with bad years having barely any snowfall. Australia does have many great resorts and features to make a fantastic week on the slopes, but Chile has it in the ‘back of the net’ with its epic backcountry and snow sure resorts.
There's plenty to look forward to this coming 2014/15 winter season, whether you’re staying put in the UK or taking a holiday to the mountains. If you’re eager to swap the summer sun for snowy pistes, then start your countdown now and get planning your next adventure.
Here’s a look at what’s to come…
We used to get festival blues when they all finished for the summer, but now we don’t have to. The popular festival Ibiza Rocks heads to the mountains each year bringing a host of DJ’s and live bands with it. Get your party on and enjoy live music, plenty of snow and wild après. We can’t wait!
Spring 2015 will welcome another year of this well-loved comedy festival, which last year saw comedians such as John Bishop and Al Murray perform. From live stand up to musical parodies, you’ll always find plenty to keep you entertained in-between your time spent out on the pistes. Plus, there’ll also be beer. Lots of beer!
This festival, held in Mayrhofen, Austria, showcases a mixture of new emerging talent and well-established artists. There are also ski and snowboard lessons on offer, plus contests and of course – optimum opportunity for après fun times. To give you a taste of what to expect, last year’s line-up featured The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, DJ Yoda and Foxes.
January 2015 will see another year of the X Games in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, with contests in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile. Previous years of the games have seen our very own Jenny Jones claim gold three times (yes Jenny!). With coverage provided by ESPN, you can enjoy the all the action from the comfort of your sofa.
This December, Breckenridge will play host to Dew Tour to celebrate its tenth anniversary. There’ll be athlete meet and greets, live music, plus snowboard and ski contests in superpipe, slopestyle and streetstyle. Expect to see the likes of Torah Bright, Sage Kotsenburg, Rowan Cheshire, Jenny Jones and Aimee Fuller compete.
The Freeride World Tour stops at various resorts across Europe and North America, offering top skiers and snowboarder the chance to compete for the World Champion title. If you’re on holiday at the time, be sure to stop by at one of the events and check it out – some of the resorts visited along the way are Chamonix, Verbier and Mammoth Mountain.
The 2014/15 season will see the opening of a new 4 Trident Club Med hotel in Val Thorens – Val Thorens Sensations. The hotel is all-inclusive (including ski & snowboard lessons) and is due to open in December 2014. With a fantastic ski-in ski-out position and a display of exceptional mountain views through its huge panoramic windows, the hotel also features a new innovation - Wi-Fi on the slopes! If you’re a Club Med fan, we recommend you try this one out.
Read more about Val Thorens Sensations here.
Opening on the 5th July 2014, the ‘For Friends Hotel’ is situated in Mösern, Austria. The hotel offers stunning views across the surrounding mountains and valleys and is situated 20km from Innsbruck. The hotel will feature an infinity pool, a spa which offers sound therapy and the chance to rent the luxurious For Friends Roof Top Suite.
Located in Zell am Zee, Austria the Mountain Lake Resort will offer 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses, each boasting their own mix of traditional Alpine design mixed with a contemporary twist. Keep cosy and warm with comforting underfloor heating plus a steam room and sauna for winding down after a long day. The hotel also features floor to ceiling windows so you can really make the most of the surrounding mountain scenery.
Our featured offer for Mountain Lake Resort.
With over 60 lift constructions under way in Europe and North America, lift systems look to be improved in many resorts next season. Many of these new builds will be effectively upgrading the current lift systems and there will also be a few brand new ones to look forward too as well. In Scheffau, Austria one of the most expensive chairlifts in the world is currently under construction. The chairlift will hold 8 people and will featured cosy heated seats, weather hoods, foot rests and a conveyor belt system for ease of entry.
At the end of July 2014, the 1456m high Jakobskreuz viewing platform will open in plenty of time for the winter season. It will feature five viewing areas which offer displays of the beautiful surrounding mountain landscapes and will be the setting for various lectures, seminars and workshops.
The world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians will open in Reutte, Austria later this year. The Highline 179 will rise 110m from ground level and is certainly not for the faint of heart! If you’re looking to take a little break from the day’s skiing or boarding, then certainly give this a try.
You don’t have to go to the mountains to enjoy snow-related events. From the 30th October – 2rd November 2014 the Ski and Snowboard Show will take place in Earls Court, London. Here you’ll find a huge range of activities and stalls; ski and snowboard taster lessons, an ice rink, curling, tubing, après activities, an Austrian themed stand and much, much more.
London will play host to another Freeze Festival this year (dates TBC), with live music, mountain drinks, comforting cuisine and snow-themed fun in Clapham Common. Last year saw live performances from DJ Fresh and Idris Elba as well as international ski and snowboard rail jams, film screenings and even a Christmas jumper world record attempt.
With the UK still feeling the hype from this year’s successful Winter Olympics, our engagement in snowsports has never been better. After Jenny Jones’ bronze medal win, snowdomes and dry slopes were full to the brim, regularly finding themselves fully booked and even running out of rental equipment. The Go Ski Go Board campaign was launched alongside the Olympics to encourage more people to give snowsports a try. The campaign is set to run for the next four years, meaning that there are plenty of ongoing opportunities on offer for pre-holiday lessons, taster sessions and improvers courses at reduced prices. This is an exciting time to get involved with UK snowsports – you can even start your season early and get some practice in before the first resorts open their doors.
What’s more, if you’re serious about skiing or boarding, there are more and more opportunities cropping up to apply for sponsored positions at your local snowdome. Olympian, Rowan Cheshire, started off as a member of the Chill Factore freestyle club in Manchester and fellow Olympians Aimee Fuller, Ed Drake and Jamie Nicholls are all members of The Snow Centre’s pro club in Hemel Hempstead.
One of our favourite things about the winter is the festive season and what better way to get that festive feeling than spending it in a ski resort surrounded by heaps of snow. With the disappointing lack of snow in the UK this year, at least we know we’ll get our snow fix out in the mountains. With local parades, activities for kids, sleigh rides, Carol concerts and festive food and drink, you’ll be feeling Christmassy in no time. New Year ’s Eve also plays host to some spectacular firework displays at most resorts, as well as some fantastic parties to see in the New Year.
Visit the Canadian resort of Whistler for the chance to experience a range of exciting festive activities for both families and adults alike. Watch athletes perform tricks through hoops of fire, sip a hot chocolate (or something a little stronger) around the bonfire or don your fancy dress for the Dress Like Santa Day.
See 2015 in with a bang at the Tignes annual Fire Mix Party featuring live music, DJ’s and lots of outdoor partying. Grab your friends, wrap up warm and start 2015 off right. What’s more, there’s nothing more refreshing than a day out on the mountain to settle that sore head…
Drink mulled wine, listen to carols, browse the Christmas markets and get yourself in the Christmas mood this year. With guaranteed snow (unlike here in the UK!) and plenty of beautiful seasonal lights, we couldn’t really think of a more magical way to spend the festive period.
We’ve taken three of the most popular resorts from Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and the USA to give you a glimpse at which ones have had the most snow over the past three years’ worth of seasons.
We've pulled together our booking data from the 2013/14 season to bring you a selection of the most popular places to go and the most popular months to visit the mountains.
Val d’Isere has been voted one of the top places for winter sports holidays in Europe. With plenty of piste to explore, as well as three glaciers, Val d’Isere is a consistently popular resort amongst skiers and snowboarders. It’s also the home to one of the popular Folie Douce bars, offering great après to complete a long day out on the mountain.
Meribel lies at the centre of the Three Valleys ski area, where it is linked by lift to both Courchevel and Val Thorens. Meribel is known for its efficient lift systems, which virtually eliminates the need to queue. The resort offers plenty of great runs, as well as the opportunity for some great off-piste skiing too.
Tignes is part of the large Espace Killy ski area, which is known for its consistent snowfall. The resort provides excellent skiing and boarding for the absolute beginner right through to expert due to its varied terrain. Tignes is also well known for its après ski and party atmosphere.
The resort of St Anton is popular due to its reliable snow coverage and brilliant piste conditions. It’s also well in reach of other ski areas, opening up your choice of pistes. St Anton also has a particularly good reputation for its lively nightlife.
Solden has an excellent lift system, with little to no queues. It is situated at a high altitude, bringing reliable snow conditions and some brilliant off piste skiing opportunities. It is also home to two glaciers, extending the resorts season and making for some great springtime skiing.
Obergurgl is located at a very high altitude, resulting in guaranteed snowfall throughout the season. The runs are never crowded and you’ll never find yourself queuing for a lift. The ski area is very easy to access, with the lift running straight out of the main village where most of the resort accommodation is situated.
Sauze d’Oulx is part of the popular Milky Way ski area. It offers long skiing hours, some excellent runs and great snow conditions. The resort has a traditional Italian village feel to it, complete with some fantastic bars and restaurants, serving up delicious Italian cuisine.
Cervinia is a high altitude resort, bringing great snow conditions across the season. Its runs are particularly suited to beginners and intermediates. For those wanting to experience more advanced runs, the resort is linked to the nearby resort of Zermatt by lift, opening up your choice of ski area.
Cortina is a great resort with a real traditional Italian feel. The town is bustling with lots of shops and the large number of restaurants and bars attract plenty of non-skiers too. The resort has great snowmaking facilities and the pistes are kept in brilliant condition throughout the season.
Soldeau has a relaxed, laid back atmosphere with some great duty free prices and rather large drink measures! The resort is particularly great for beginners and intermediates and it offers fantastic snow due to the majority of pistes being situated above 2000m.
Arinsal has a great ski school with English speaking instructors, making it an ideal resort for first timers. There are some top runs, with many passing through picturesque woodland. The resort is also known for it’s cheap, lively après ski, making it particularly appealing to a young crowd.
Pas de la Casa is one of the highest resorts in Europe, giving it a long season with plenty of good snow. The resort has a French feel to it, as it is situated close to the French border.
Zermatt plays host to the stunning backdrop of the Matterhorn, offering challenging intermediate and advanced runs, heliskiing opportunities and the chance to ski to the nearby resort of Cervinia.
Verbier is part of the vast 4 Valleys ski area, giving guests access to some wonderful intermediate and advanced runs. It offers excellent après ski, but also features plenty of quieter areas, which are well-suited to families.
The resort of Saas Fee boasts three world records – it is home to the highest revolving restaurant, the highest metro train (which runs right up into the mountains) and the largest ice pavilion. It also offers huge amounts of snow, glacier skiing and a large variety of runs.
Whistler offers wonderful skiing across both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and receives a whopping nine metres of snow on average each season. Here, you’ll find the famous PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, offering stunning views across the valley. The resort has something for everyone and is family friendly.
The resort of Tremblant is known for its varied terrain, as well as having the biggest half pipe in Canada. Situated on the East Coast, it is one of the easiest resorts to access for those coming from Europe. One part of the mountain is dedicated specifically to beginners, making it a great choice for a first ski holiday.
Banff is part of the Big 3, along with Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. You can gain access to all three resorts with your lift pass. The resort boasts over 200km of pistes, stunning views and some fantastic après ski and dining opportunities.
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"I was so impressed with the way Laura handled my initial call that as soon as I got home I decided to forget all of the other agents and companies and call her straight back and book the holiday. Thank you again Iglu for being so user friendly and more importantly thank you to Laura for being such an asset to your company and the sales profession."