It can be difficult choosing a ski holiday, especially if you can only travel at certain times of the year. Skiing at Christmas and New Year can be a risk as it is often one of the first weeks of the season for many ski resorts, and we often get asked what ski resorts would be best for late season skiing in March or April. Choosing a high altitude ski resort gives you the best chance for great snow conditions for your ski holiday whatever time of the ski season. France continues to be our top selling ski country, with 9 out of 10 of our top selling ski resorts being located in France. France is often favoured because of the high ski areas, the variety of slopes, and snow-sure resorts.
We are very lucky in Europe to have a large range of fantastic world-class ski areas that receive large amounts of snow year after year. Here are 5 of our favourite snow sure ski resorts in Europe:
Winter 2014/15 snowfall: 977 cmCervinia has one of the best snow records in Italy, making it the perfect option if you looking for a change from a ski holiday in France or Austria. Located in the Aosta Valley, this high altitude ski area also links to Zermatt in Switzerland giving skiers and snowboarders access to a huge 350 km of piste on just one lift pass.View ski holidays in Cervinia
Winter 2014/15 snowfall: 690 cmThe Portes du Soleil is one of the largest ski areas in the world with over 650km of piste between the 12 ski resorts. Avoriaz has the highest point in this district with a summit of 2466m, allowing the resort to receive the best snow cover in the region.View ski holidays in Avoriaz
Winter 2014/15 snowfall: 695 cmWhen skiing in Sölden you have access to 2 glacier ski areas, Rettenbach & Tiefenbach. Snow is guaranteed in this high altitude ski area where all of the slopes are between 1350m and 3340m. Sölden is Austria’s only ski area that has 3 skiable peaks that are reach heights of over 3000m: Gaislachkogl (3058m), Tiefenbachkogl (3250m) and Schwarze Schneide (3340m).View ski holidays in Sölden
Winter 2014/15 snowfall: 596 cm Val Thorens was purpose built to make use of the fantastic snow conditions in this part of the 3 Valleys. 99% of the ski area is positioned above 2000m which ensures the best quality snow during its long season.
View ski holidays in Val Thorens
Winter 2014/15 snowfall: 1166 cm With a summit reaching up to 3600m, the altitude and aspect of Saas Fee means this is one of the snowiest ski resorts in the Alps. The beautiful, traffic-free village sits at 1800m and is surrounded by magnificent snowy peaks. Snow conditions are so good in this Swiss resort that the ski area is also open during the summer months. View ski holidays in Saas Fee
Other snow-sure favourites include... Tignes / Val d'Isere Les Deux Alpes Zermatt
Imagine sitting with an ice cold drink, on a sun drenched terrace, overlooking the most awe inspiring mountain views after a day on the slopes. Sounds like paradise doesn't it? Whenever the sun comes out in the UK we cannot help but remember our favourites winter days soaking up the sunshine in the snow. Here at Iglu we’ve had our fair share of sunny days on a mountain restaurant terrace (after a hard day skiing of course!) so the competition was tough but we’ve narrowed it down to our favourites.
Here are our top 5 sun terraces on the slopes in Europe:
Perfect for a Swiss fondue This sun soaked restaurant is well priced for Switzerland and dominated by magnificent mountain views from the middle of the 4 Valleys. Combatseline is located at the top of 63 Novelli chairlift from Siviez, right between Nendez, Veysonnaz and Verbier.
Photo credit: myswitzerland.com
Perfect for people watching This large, swanky, sunny terrace overlooks the Courchevel Altiport and is an ideal spotting celebrities and millionaires. It is the perfect place to make the most of the sunshine, just don’t forget a bundle of cash!
Photo Credit: CAP HORN Courchevel
Perfect for a long lunch This large restaurant terrace is perfectly located at the first DMC stop overlooking the stunning Alpe d’Huez ski slopes. Once you sit down and tuck into your substantial Croque Monsieur, burger or salad you’ll find it had to leave this sun trap whilst surrounded by the glorious vista.
Perfect for a quick pit stop A great spot if you have just skied the Harakiri (the steepest slope in Austria) and you need a beer to calm your nerves (exactly how I came across the bar!) Located in the Penken/Horberg bowl by the Vans Snow Park, surrounded by pistes, this huge terrace is a great place for a quick drink, a spot of lunch or a chill out in the beanbags in the sunshine.
Photo credit: grillhofalm.at
Perfect for après Le Rond Point is a popular spot that offers great food, ski in-ski out sun terrace and lively après ski. Asthe ‘Ronnie’ is located on the sunny side of the valley it is in goggle tan heaven and the ultimate location whether you are looking for a quick refresher drink, or an afternoon of live music and toffee vodka! With regular live music you’ll be rocking in your ski boots throughout après before attempting to ski back to the village.
The runners up... Panorama Alm, Kitzbuhel At Panorama you are really sitting in the ‘front row seat in the Alps’ with the incredible 360 degree mountain views. Located on Pass Thurn Mountain there is a huge sun drenched terrace with tasty and reasonable priced food. Las Vegas Lodge in San Cassiano A jewel in the Dolomites, the beauty of this place is remarkable with its wooden décor, bordered by the finest ski slopes and totally immersed in unforgettable panoramic views. Chez Vrony, Zermatt Priceless views and exceptional food. This beautiful terrace has spectacular views of the Matterhorn and the Vrony burger is a must try!
I recently recovered from my first ever ski holiday with the Iglu Ski team in Tignes, France. I had such a great time that I am definitely hooked and can’t wait to go again next year.
I learnt so much along the way, I thought I would share my new-found knowledge, from one non-skier to the next.
When you’re up in the mountains, you’re at a very high altitude and much closer to the sun. This means whether the sky is blue or grey, you are still being exposed to high intensity UV rays; so whilst you think you may not be affected, there might just be an unsuspected goggle tan creeping up on you.
Try to wear Factor 50+ on whatever skin is exposed. It might also be a good idea to get a lip balm with an SPF. Bring moisturiser and after sun too – just in case you only realise before it’s too late!
When you face such weather and temperature extremes, it’s difficult to know what to pack. I would recommend anything and everything, here, we have a breakdown of essentials; but what people don’t tell you is – the wackier the better.
To those that plan to snowboard – this is irrelevant, but to the skiers amongst you – snow ploughing will become a way of life. For some, parallel skiing may come naturally, but once you’ve got this move down, the rest of your week is set.
Ski boots are not the most comfortable footwear. Non-skiers might be familiar with the cramp feeling you get from ice-skating boots – imagine this, and then imagine wearing and dancing it out in these all day. Take plenty of comfortable ski-socks with you – they’re worth the investment!
Allow yourself at least 3 half days for ski lessons. This is enough time to learn the basics and build your confidence; private lessons and group lessons both have their benefits – it depends what sort of holiday you are looking for.
This means you have been working hard, plus, an element of fearlessness goes a long way. Falling over is all part of a beginner skier’s day’s fun so don’t let it knock your confidence.
Helmets, goggles, sunglasses, heavy jacket, light jacket, ski socks, sun-cream, gloves, salopettes (not trousers) – they all offer protection. Stay safe. Do as Jonah says.
When considering your holiday costs, don’t forget to account for your lift pass hire. Once you arrive in resort you still need to get up the mountain to learn how to ski down. For beginners, you may not need a full 6 day hire; 3-5 may suffice.
Beginners lifts are available in most resorts and these are often free – reference your local piste map or resort representative. If you are taking lessons, your instructor will take you through the basics.
If not included in your holiday package, you can often buy a pass by day or half day – depending on your mood. Pre-holiday, your travel agent can help you arrange this. You can also purchase this anywhere in resort or from your chalet representative. Recommended ski resorts for beginners.
Gently rest your bottom on the button lift as it gently pulls you along; sit down too comfortably and it might take you back into the air!
In your first few days, you might not want to go for a full day’s skiing. Why not take a pedestrian pass and enjoy the piste on foot?
Once lessons are over, it’s down to you to navigate your way around the slopes. I spent the first half of my week thinking everywhere looked the same, a piste map will help keep you on the right track. Normally, the difficulty of the slopes is signposted very clearly.
Remember: Green, Blue, Red, Black
It’s not all about skiing or boarding, it’s about creating memories with your friends and family…or potentially losing them due to excess apres. There are hundreds of bars on the slopes and in resort for you to enjoy. With DJs, live music, dancing and great food to suit all tastes. Best ski resorts for apres ski.
More often than not and depending on which chalet or hotel you are staying in, you will be spending a lot of time with the same chalet staff throughout your stay. They will be with you at breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea. Look after them and they’ll look after you – a sure guarantee that there won’t be an empty wine glass in sight at dinner.
During a week’s stay in the average chalet, there will be one day of rest for the kitchen and chalet staff. You will still get your usual continental breakfast but this means no cooked meals. Take advantage of this day to go out and experience some traditional local food – think fondue, tartiflette, steak amongst anything else you might not expect to see on the menu.
Snowboxx took over Alpe d’Huez for a week of vibrant festivities. When I mean takeover, you couldn't look anywhere without being reminded that Snowboxx was in town. From colourful onsies on the slopes, to gondola cabins kitted out with karaoke systems, to parties spread between nearly 10 venues every day throughout the week. After 2 years of successful festivals in Vallnord, Andorra, Snowboxx moved on to larger pastures to Alpe d’Huez in France. This fine resort hosts 250 km of pistes and is already renowned for its lively nightlife, making this resort the perfect place to ski hard all day and party even harder by night. Read more about Alpe d’Huez here: 10 reasons Alpe d'Huez is a must-ski destination
Horse Meat Disco at Folie Douce. Photo: Gregory Ke
The Ibiza style, grand terrace après parties at the Folie Douce was definitely one of the highlights of the week for me. Even after 4 ski seasons and countless après shindigs, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. As 3 pm strikes, skiers and snowboarders flock to the 2500m high mountainside venue for a 2 hour session of dancing in your ski boots. Eton Messy and Horse Meat Disco headlined the 2 Snowboxx après sessions at the Folie Douce, with these huge DJ acts, the theatrical fun and stunning panoramic views blazed in sunshine, nothing else quite compares to this extraordinary party atmosphere. As it hits 5pm the mountain is evacuated as everyone takes the last run home to carry on the party in town.
Jungle headlining the main stage Other parties included a tropical tea party at L’Etalon Rum Bar, Sticky Banit at Zoo bar, Tom Misch at Smithys, pool party, Retro Rentals Disco at Taburle, plus so much more. With packages starting from just £229 pp it is a great budget choice for a week in the mountains, as well as the access to an outstanding week of partying and experiencing top music acts in the snow. This was such an epic week, the music was amazing, the town was buzzing and the crowds were smiling all week as everyone was having such a fantastic time. The festival sold out again in 2015, and I’m very excited to see what they have in store for 2016. The Snowboxx line up included Jungle, 2manydjs, Blonde, TCTS, Eton Messy, Horse Meat Disco, Tieks, Anushka and more.
Photo: Sam Neil
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