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Ten Expert Insights into the Future of Skiing

clock 19th April 2013 | comment1 Comments

Recently the adventure sports magazine Outside asked some of the most influential people in the US Snow Sports industry how they envisage the Future of Skiing. They ranged from freeskiers and free thinkers like Glen Plake and Mike Douglas (film director), to big businessmen like the VP of Aspen Resorts, Auden Schendler and ex-President of Vail Resorts, Roger McCarthy.

Earlier in April we saw the US snowsports industry gather at the Mountain Travel Symposium in Snowmass, Colarado, for a forum on what is next for the snow-sports sector.

Iglu Sales Director Adam Johnson gives us a synopsis of what these legends think will happen to the snow business in the coming decades, along with some predictions of his own about the future of skiing.

Skiing has developed enormously in the last 25 years with so much improved technology and resort expansion. What stands in the way?

  1. The number one issue raised by all the experts was about sustainability. Resorts need to look at being energy self-sufficient within 10 years or be crippled by costs. This is already the main issue being addressed by all the major resorts as they look to reduce their energy costs and take advantage of their local circumstances such as high winds at altitude, strong sunshine, and hydro-electricity from all that water.

  2. Costs need to be controlled in other ways and the future of terrain parks looks troubled. Terrain parks are very expensive and the current trend for bigger and bigger jumps, rails and pipes has to end. It is becoming dangerous and only accessible to very few hard-core park rats. Better use of natural terrain that is cheaper to maintain make more sense.

  3. We need fewer, larger and more efficient lifts that go higher to offer more terrain possibilities, on and off piste, from one uplift.

  4. Summer seasons need to exploited more. With global warming, summers will become unpleasantly hot in many lower places and the cooler air of the resorts will be very attractive. Summer attractions like amusement parks, white waters sports, mountain biking, music festivals and hiking can add 20 to 30% new income to underutilised resorts, as resorts like Morzine and Chamonix are already doing.

  5. Snowmaking is expensive and uses up valuable water resources in some areas that can’t spare it. While it is helpful to keep home runs open I don’t think we can rely on this to keep the industry going. Let's just go skiing when and where it snows says Glen Plake.

  6. The future is off-piste and backcountry freeriding. The explosion of new technology for skis, boots, clothing, and safety gear has made the backcountry more accessible to anyone moving up from intermediate level. Resorts need to look at opening up sideways to allow access to more backcountry terrain. This is something the USA and Canadians have embraced far more than the Europeans. Twenty-five years ago hardly anyone ventured out of sight of the pistes. The proliferation of big back country style skis and snowboards means that many skiers and riders have little interest in the pistes. They want the thrills of steep off-piste skiing and the fresh snow that can be found off the beaten track. The European obsession with Kilometres of piste is going to backfire if they don’t embrace backcountry. I personally couldn’t care less how much KM of piste a resort has as long as it can get me high enough to find good quality snow as far from the crowds as possible. To me it’s all about metres of vertical and hectares of steep skiable terrain. It’s about time Europeans started measuring their resorts properly and talking about terrain rather than piste.

  7. The industry needs to attract new skiers and snowboarders. This means more indoor ski centres in the cities to get customers hooked and then larger free beginner ski areas in every resort. The cost of taking up the sport has to drop or we’ll never get this generation taking up snow-sports in sufficient numbers to sustain the industry.

  8. The technology of safety equipment and location devices is going to make big gains. Carrying airbags will become the standard and they will be smaller, lighter, larger when inflated, and much cheaper. Avalanche beacons and Ski Apps will become much cheaper and more accurate, probably mobile phone connected to heads-up display helmet based. This tech has to keep up with the enormous demand for backcountry skiing.

  9. There will always be snow but we will search further afield from the traditional ski countries to find the best of it. Russia, Nepal, Georgia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Alaska and China (Tibet) will feature high and snow-sure resorts that will dominate skiing in 20 to 30 years time. Even Greenland and the South Pole will become potential destinations. Much of this skiing might be Heli or Snowcat based but this will become more mainstream.

  10. Mike Douglas thinks that ski films will get much better at telling stories rather just film gung-ho maniacs jumping off ever more improbable cliffs. I totally agree with him. I’m a bit tired of the standard shots of super-skiers who drop lines that are not accessible to those of us without personal helicopters. Why are there no real films that include skiers anymore? Even the new James Bond doesn’t ski. Until Daniel Craig gets on skis he won’t be a proper Bond for me.

By Adam Johnson, Sales Director at

Customer Review: Club Med Peisey Vallandry — An Addict's View

clock 27th March 2013 | comment0 Comments

Following on from Dave Moisley's guest post earlier in the week, we have another post from an Iglu customer. Andy Cuthbert is a self-confessed Club Med addict and a long standing Iglu customer. Here are Andy's thought's on his favourite Club Med resort, Peisey-Vallandry.

We have just returned from our fourth stay at Club Med Peisey Vallandry, and once again I have been reminded why this is the jewel in Club Med's crown.

For those of you who have not tried a Club Med holiday before, the whole package is all inclusive — including flights, transfers, ski carriage (if you have your own gear) on some airlines and more food than you can shake a stick at.

Given they are a French company, the food is always of a high standard, if not exceptional at times. The quantity of food and drink lends to our saying: "Club Med - where food is never more than two hours away!" Whether it be the huge breakfasts catering for every taste under the sun, or the fantastic evening spreads — which have a theme each evening. There are always staples such as meat, fish, pasta, endless salads and vegetable dishes on offer too. This year I put on 8lbs! That will be due to the patisserie chefs, who go out of their way to tempt you...

Within the hotel is a team of GO's — Club Med's staff who are there to mingle with the guests as well as performing various roles within the hotel. Vincent was the English speaking GO and Gold Member GO, he provided an outstanding holiday for us. In fact the whole team this year was pretty fantastic, making it one of the best Club Med trips we have had to date.

The hotel is laid out in a series of large chalet-style buildings all linked together — which is very much in keeping with the local village — and is set in one of the prettier French resorts. Despite the fact the complex is quite large, there are many nooks and crannies to stow yourself away in, to unwind after a day out on the slopes. The log fire in the bar area is always a favourite haunt of ours and we seem to be very lucky, as there is always space for us to relax with hot chocolate (a drop of Baileys in it and it's heavenly!).

There is a gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room and though you can swim outside too. There is also a spa for those who want pampering and kids clubs for those with children. It's all covered.

The hotel is positioned right next to the Vanoise Express cable car and it's ski in/out. The ski service is in house and can provide all your requirements, but book in advance as the prices in resort are often higher! The boot rooms have individual lockers with boot driers and a toilet which is always useful if, like me, you always find that once you have your boots on nature calls!

They stagger the departures of the inclusive ski school and ski hosting, so it never becomes too much. Yes... the ski school & hosting, along with your full area ski pass are included in the package [Ed - full area lift passes are included in 4* resort, local area passes are included in 3*]. Club Med always have an English speaking guide or instructor too.

We skied from La Plagne over to Les Arcs, though this time whilst we had loads of snow (5 days in total), the visibility was poor so we tended to stay in the Peisey area and I am glad we did as we found some great blues and reds. The slopes around Peisey Vallandry were virtually deserted during the day, as most people had gone along the valley to Les Arcs or over the Vanoise to La Plagne. There really is a huge ares to ski and in four visits we still find new runs we have never skied before.

The only problem with CLub Med Peisey Vallandry, is some of the other resorts don't seem quite as nice, as it really is that good.!

Would we go again? We are already talking with Nick at Iglu about booking next year, as he does such a great job sorting everything out for us. I would suggest you use Iglu rather than go to Club Med direct as Iglu provide better information than Club Med and can tailor your regional flights better than Club Med do.

I cannot recommend Club Med Peisey Vallandry enough and hope to meet other Iglu customers there in the years to come, as we will be going again and again...

Customer Review: Formigal — Quiet Mountain, Charming Locals & Great Food

clock 26th March 2013 | comment0 Comments

One of our recent customers wrote to us and asked if he could post a review on our blog. We said yes, of course, so here is Dave Moisley's take on the Spanish resort of Formigal and our very own Boyd.

Fancy skiing away from the crowds with no lift queues and polite and cheerful piste staff? Then forget the Alps and America and head for the Pyrenees, and no it’s not Andorra, but Formigal in the Spanish Pyrenees!

We have skied here three times in last six years and every time it has been a great skiing experience. This little known resort has had huge amounts of investment over the last few years and boasts modern facilities and a good snow record, spread over four linked valleys. It has over 130km of pistes, mostly blue and red runs, with a good smattering of blacks, the latter being mainly off piste.

It’s not a pretty alpine resort but a functional ski village with a backdrop of the Pyrenees. You can walk around the entire village in less than an hour. There are plenty of bars and a couple of restaurants, but most of the bars do food as well. The nearest airport, Huesca, is about an hour away and Zaragoza is two hours away.

The main area, Sextas, is a sub five minute ride from the village and all hotels provide their own minibuses to and from this area, as well as the free resort buses from the village centre. Nearly all of the eight and four man chairlifts have magic carpet pick up systems, so are efficient and the staff are friendly. On one day when a member of our party decided that they didn’t like the very windy and cold conditions, the staff calmly and cheerfully stopped the chair and placed them on it for the return trip!

Skiing is generally on wide open pistes, which are well groomed every night. There are blue runs from the top of every chair along with reds, so all levels are catered for. Many of the pistes are marked as family areas, with warnings against speed.

Aramon is the local ski company who manage the resort including the lifts and mountain café’s, the latter all have the same price and menus so you don’t get surprised by higher prices higher up the mountain! Prices are generally around €5-6 for a tasty bacon or cheese baguettes and €2 for a Coke or bottle of water.

We also hired our ski gear from Aramon, who have an excellent purpose built ski hire facility at Sextas lift station. which is very efficient with good well maintained equipment. The shop is adjacent to the chairlift, meaning that you don’t need to return to the village in the unlikely event of an equipment problem. You can rent small lockers here for your shoes on the first day if required, we rented one for the entire week and used it to stash nibbles and drinks for the post ski school break.

The ski school staff are excellent, this year we had private lessons which are pricey but they work you hard. The young, tanned Spanish instructor with basic English was a particular hit with our daughter! We had a number of lessons at 9am and really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the pistes and lifts as the Spanish generally don’t start early!

We have only ever stayed in the Hotel Formigal, which is warm and comfortable. The hotel has a top notch buffet breakfast, including as many chocolate and normal doughnuts as you can eat... got that kids? The evening meal is a little late, at 8pm, but is always three courses of Spanish food — which means it is heavily biased towards protein rather than veg... you have been warned! The hotel also sorted out, with no fuss or charge, our return transport to the airport which had arrived a day early... serves us right for booking an extra day and confusing everyone!

We would also recommend the Soul Café which does tapas and a Guinness if that takes your fancy!

Other facilities on offer are tobogganing, husky sledging and flood lit night time skiing.

Formigal is a small, friendly resort with plenty of skiing and a good range of bars, but if you are looking for more lively nightlife then stick with the big alpine resorts. The holiday was made easier by the expert services of Iglu, especially Boyd who had the patience of a saint in dealing with us and the Spanish! Yes this last bit is a well deserved plug for Iglu!

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