For a country with a lack of snowy mountains the UK has a high proportion of keen skiers and snowboarders that head to ski resorts all across the world, season after season.
As the UK’s largest independent ski travel agency we offer ski holidays to over 200 resorts, giving our customers the widest choice of destinations available.
Earlier this year we published a roundup of our top selling ski resorts for 2013/14, which found Val d’Isere, St Anton and Meribel coming up top. During the build up to the winter season, London comes alive with alpine themed fun and lively ski events to get city goers amped for the season ahead. With a significant proportion of Iglu Ski customers residing in London we have delved into the city’s boroughs to find out how they compare.
This highest percentage of skiers and snowboarders live in the South West, with an average spend of £763.02 pp and Val d’Isere as their resort of choice.
The lowest rate of skiers and snowboarders in London are found in West Central London where La Plagne is the most popular option, with an average spend of £759.46 pp.
The biggest spenders are in SW3, Chelsea, where the average spends is £957.24 pp and residents favour the chic resort of Courchevel.
The ski resorts in the 3 Valleys and Espace Killy in France are the preferred locations by Londoners for their ski holiday and only a handful of boroughs favoured Austria over France.
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We were inspired by this topic after a question on our ski blog. Taking a gondola maybe preferred by groups with beginners, families with young children, anxious skiers or anyone that prefers to keep out of the cold (why are you skiing?) Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the majority of us we just choose whatever gets us up the mountain quick enough. So for a bit of fun we decided to take a look at which ski resorts you can access the most ski area without having to sit on a chairlift. Here are our top 5 ski resorts to avoid chairlifts.
From Val d’Isere you can take the Olympique cable car to the Rocher De Bellevarde peak at 2827m where there is a huge selections of ski runs from the top. There are green, blue and red run options all the way down to 1785m where you then have the benefit of taking the funicular at La Daille back to the top. From here there is the blue Santons and black Face de Bellevarde which you can ski all the way back to Val d’isere. On the otherside of the valley, the Solaise cable car gives you access to another green beginner area, plus the red run Plan that forms the black Rhone-Alpes or red Piste M. In neighbouring Tignes, it is possible to take the Funiculaire Grande Motte and the Grand Motte cable car all the way to the glacier at 3456m before skiing all the way back down to Val Claret on a choice of blue and red runs.
Levi is a fantastic resort for beginners; the small ski area mainly consists of blue and red runs which are great for anyone new to ski, particularly with the quiet slopes and lack of queuing. What is also great for beginners is that there is only one chairlift - you can access the 43 pistes in Levi using the 2 cabin lifts, 1 chair lift, 14 T-bars, 6 drag lifts and 4 rope lifts.
Similar to many of the large resorts, there are many chairlifts in Alpe d’Huez but there is a surprising amount of bubbles, gondolas and telecabins where you can access all over the ADH ski area. From the village in 1860m, the 1st and 2nd Troncon can take you all the way up to 2700m where there is an assortment of green, blue and red runs that take you back to ADH. Otherwise you can carry on and take the Pic Blanc cable car up to the glacier at 3330m. If all lifts and runs are open, from 2700m you can follow the blue runs Couloir and Boulevard des Marmottes to Plat des Marmottes and take the Marmottes 2 and 3 up to the glacier as well. From Oz en Oisans at 1350m there are the Poutran bubbles to get you back over to ADH or there is the L’Alpette bubble that takes you up to 2050m, with green, blue and red runs to ski, or the Alpette Rousses cable car to 2800m at Dome des Petities Rousses with fantastic red runs that came take you all the way back down to Oz en Oisans or ADH.
From Verbier village at 1500m you can get all the way to Mont Fort at 3330m using la Chaux bubble, plus the Gentianes and Mont Fort cable cars. Verbier is home to some of the most challenging skiing in the Alps, including the runs from Mont Fort. There is a fantastic variety of tough reds and exhilarating blacks from intermediates and advanced.
La Plagne has a huge 225km of ski area across the villages; yes there are mainly chairlifts to access the whole expanse but you maybe surprised how much you could access without having to touch a chair. From the Grande Rochette ‘Funitel’ Gondola in Plagne Centre there are a variety of blue, red and black runs to ski down. From the top at 2505m you can head left to pick up the black Rochette or the leisurely blue run Mira back down to Centre, or if you head right at the top you can access the red run Carina which leads into a few blue options plus the Colorado Park. Also from the top you can access the back of this mountain where you can head all the way down to Champagny at 1250m, although to get back to Plagne Centre you will need to take a bubble and 2 chair lifts. At Plagne Bellecotte you can ride the Roche de Mio bubble, which makes a stop in Belle Plagne, to the peak of Roche de Mio at 2700m. From the top you can take the blue run Tunnel back down to Belle Plagne and Bellecote, or you can choose my favourite run in La Plagne, the red Sources which leads in to blue runs back down to Bellecotte at 1930m. Also from the top you can access the back of the mountain on the fantastic blue run Levasset, plus the Bellecotte bubble up to the glacier. Even non skiers can take in the views at 3417m on the glacier as it is completely accessible from Bellecotte with the 2 bubble lifts. If you did want to completely avoid chairlifts, you can take the ski bus between Bellecotte and Centre, otherwise the Colosses and La Bergerie chair lifts can take you between the two ski areas quickly.
If you are looking for somewhere new to ski this season, well look no further. Don't get lost in the crowds and spend all your time queuing at chairlifts, instead explore undiscovered pistes and charming alpine villages.
Do you remember that feeling when you first discovered your favourite ski resort? Say yes to new adventures and try out these lesser known ski paradises.
Perfect for families Montgenevre is a pretty alpine village that sits on the French-Italian border. It has a fantastic ski area with varied runs and access to the 400km of the massive Milky Way ski circuit. It is particularly good for beginners and intermediates making it the perfect family resort. The traditional style town may be quiet but this is reflected on the slopes with minimal queues across the mountain. During a week in January, I often felt we were the only ones on the entire chairlift. With ultimate mountain time you can guarantee a memorable week on the slopes in Montgenevre.
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Perfect for snowboarders Saalbach is a superb ski resort and is renowned for its excellent range of pistes and efficient list system linking over 200km to Hinterglemm and Leogang. Snowboarders will relish in the varied terrain and 3 snow parks while on powder days you can enjoy pockets of powder and making fresh tracks through trees off piste. The fun doesn’t stop once the lifts are closed, after sunset the party sets in. Saalbach has one of Austria’s liveliest party circuits with 40 bars and discos to experience the famous Austrian après.
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Perfect for intermediates and experts Ideal for intermediates and experts, this beautiful ski area offers long wide red runs and amazing off piste skiing. Snowboarders will like the wide slopes and freeriders will find plenty to do with little jumps and bumps and challenging runs further afield. Champoluc is a hidden treasure in Italy; the charming, unspoilt village creates a magical feel for your ski holiday. It is inexpensive with great food across the resort.
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Perfect for off piste Klosters has acquired international status from the presence of the Royal Family and film stars. This beautiful resort oozes Swiss charm with its picturesque chalets and horse drawn sleighs. The Klosters/Davos Rega ski pass gives access to a fantastic 310km of runs that are serviced by an extensive lift system. The glittering powdered snow stretching far as you can see makes Klosters an incredible place for off piste skiing and snowboarding. As it is relatively unknown, there are many opportunities for first tracks.
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Perfect for a ski holiday you’ll never forget Arosa is an alpine fairy-tale resort nestled in the Swiss Alps. With spectacular mountain views and a village-life atmosphere, you will fall in love with this beautiful resort. This gem is part of one of the largest linked ski areas in Switzerland now there is a new lift link built from Lenzerheide to Arosa, creating 225kms runs. With enough skiing to keep all abilities happy and minimal queues, you couldn’t choose a better ski resort for a ski holiday. If you have any non-skiers in your group or you seek a more relaxed afternoon after a morning on the slopes, there are walking and sledging routes in the town and it is easy to meet up for lunch in one of the numerous mountain restaurants and sample a delicious Swiss fondue.
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Getting away and hitting the slopes on a big group ski holiday is a fantastic way for family and friends to get together. Here are our top 5 resorts that will keep any group of friends or family happy throughout their ski holiday.
If you love the choice of skiing and attractions of large French resorts, but seek for a more cost-effective alternative then look no further than Soldeu. The attractive Pyreneean resorts sits at the centre of the Grandvalira ski area with access to a fantastic 210 km of pistes, so there is enough variety to satisfy the most demanding skier. With large properties, numerous restaurants, shopping and bustling night life there is plenty to do off the slopes as well. Andorra is well known for its duty free status and drinks are not served in uniform measures but by the amount that you want. This all helps to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere on ski holidays in Soldeu.
Les Deux Alpes has an extensive ski terrain and is snowboard friendly, with one of the best freestyle parks in Europe. With an impressive snow record, the ski area peaks at a huge 3600m so is guaranteed snow throughout the season. This mixed ability ski domain lends itself to all levels of skiers and snowboarders alike with endless fun to be had both piste side as well as village side in the bars, restaurants and other sports facilities that this fun filled town has to offer.
Set in the beautiful Ziller Valley, Mayrhofen has long earned its place as one of the world's top ski and snowboard resorts. The ski area is large, varied and high. The terrain offers a good mix of cruisers and steeps and is well laid out for beginner skiers around the mid station of the Finkenberg. For advanced skiers there is the Harakiri piste, as well as some impressive off piste ski terrain. There are good quality and affordable accommodation options which makes Mayrhofen a top resort choice for families and large groups . Mayrhofen is famous for the legendary end of season blowout, Snowbombing and has some of the finest Austrian après bars to keep you entertained throughout your holiday.
Skiing in Tignes in so vast, it is great for all abilities. Joint with the just-as-amazing resort Val d’Isere, the 300km Espace Killy ski area is one of the most loved circuits in the world. Tignes is perfect for adult groups with the large selection of accommodations and après across the resort, and families will love this ski area with the fantastic beginner areas and excellent ski and snowboards schools. Children will love the activities in Tignes, with ice skating, bowling, swimming pool and Husky rides on offer. I have had amazing ski holidays in Tignes with both family and friends groups, and still consider it to be one of my favourite ski resorts.
There is no surprise that Sauze d’Oulx is a firm favourite amongst British skiers, with over 400km of pistes over the extensive Milky Way ski area there is excellent skiing available for all skiers. From the stunning tree lined runs of Sportina to the black runs of Mount Motta and Mount Sises. With long hours of sunshine you can ski all day long then party all night long in the lively town. Down in resort, Sauze d'Oulx's original village has retained its old world charm, while the newer part provides all you need for a fun-filled holiday. The transfers are short, the accommodation is good value and the food is delicious.
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