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Today's blog is bought to you by AJ, Iglu's Head of Sales and keenest après ski participant.
We’re pretty keen on après ski action here at Iglu. So much so that it is one of the main factors that decides where we ski each season. We’ve even rated the best chalets for access to après ski. Some have great locations just a few stumbling steps from the best bars and some offer their own in-house bars that everyone else has to come to.
So, let’s start with the best located chalet in everyone’s favourite French resort, Val d’Isére.
The 5* Chalet Cherrier is slap bang in the middle of the action. I’ve stayed here and counted that it was only 16 paces from the front door to the Petit Danois bar. This is one of our early evening favourite bars with two pool tables and consistently hot Danish and Swedish bar staff. The rooms in the Cherrier are big and don’t suffer from noise after 9 pm.
If your budget is more Carlsberg and KP nuts than Krug Champagne and Beluga caviar then you might want to be above one of the most iconic bars in Val d’Isére, by staying at the Chalet Hotel Morris. This chalet hotel couldn't be more convenient, but if you choose one of the rooms at the front with the sunny balconies, you will hear some noise. At least no one will complain if you're a little noisy yourself.
The most famous après ski resort of them all is St Anton and this next chalet is right amongst the fun.
You can ski directly to this chalet from your après session in the Mooserwirt or the Krazy Kangaruh and you are only a few minutes from the main pedestrian area of central St Anton. The Chalet Alpenheim has a few convenient single rooms and if you have a group of four, than make sure you book the junior suite with two rooms and a kitchenette on the top floor! Here it is really worth paying the extra for a sunny balcony with lovely views.
Italian resorts are usually fairly laid back about après ski but there are exceptions. Cervinia, which links over to Zermatt, has a few lively bars and the liveliest of them all is in the Chalet Dragon right on the slopes as you come down at the end of the day. This place gives Cervinia its aprèsphere.
The rooms in the Chalet Dragon are sectioned off in a separate wing so you don’t get the noise of the bar. The chalet is also very well placed to appreciate all the other bars of Cervinia, being about 100m from the centre. The rooms in this chalet are large and this property was one of our biggest sellers last season, so get in early if you have a group.
The best party in Switzerland is undoubtedly in Verbier, and the Place Central is where it all happens.
Chalet Hotel De Verbier is so popular it’s usually sold out for peak dates long before the season starts. It is directly opposite the best that Verbier has to offer and one the all-time classic après ski bars, the Farinet. Live music, potent shakers, a buzzing dance floor and a sliding roof that opens to let the steam out every couple of hours, come together to provide the ultimate Swiss après ski experience.
Courchevel is the famous name in the world’s biggest ski area, but most people are put off by the prices of the extortionately flashy resort at 1850. To avoid the Ruskies and the €40 fondues, the UK market prefers to head to it's little brother just down the road in Courchevel 1650. The prices are better and the après is more convivial. This part of Les Trois Vallées is the most sun-facing and has the prettiest tree runs. Several of our most popular properties are in this resort like the Chalet Cascades and the Chalet Hotel Les Avals.
The Chalet Hotel Les Avals sleeps 70, so it’s already got a ready-made party on most weeks. The chalet hotel also hosts the best après ski bar in resort, Rocky’s. There is a live band on during après a couple of nights a week and it is well setup with TVs for any UK sport you may want to catch. Handy in February and March for the Six Nations rugby. It also does well priced snacks and lots of daily deals on shooters, shots, bombs and beers — as well as serving the legendary après ski beer, Mützig.
If you are looking for a bargain — with all the ingredients for a riotous week of partying — then look no further than the Club Hotel Les Airelles in Les Deux Alpes.
This property is cheap and cheerful so don’t expect The Ritz. This club hotel has hosted the Iglu April ski trip for the last three years and has never failed to deliver a good time. Our crew are mostly mid-twenties ex-seasonaires that like a party almost as much as deep powder.
Les Deux Alpes attracts a young crowd and is heavily favoured by boarders who appreciate the excellent terrain park. We love the super short transfer from Grenoble, the access to La Grave over the top of the glacier, the cheap bars, the €60 helicopter day trip to Alpe d’Huez, and the reliable snow above 2500m.
And finally, here’s a property that is the best placed in the Ibiza of the Pyrenees, Pas de la Casa.
Llac Negre is right in the centre of the main drag of Pas de la Casa. The town rocks all night and has plenty of great bars including the one in this hotel. The prices are great due to Andorra being a tax free principality. The resort is also at 2000m making it one of the highest in Europe. There has been lots of investment in the lift system of the Granvalira ski area and it now compares favourably with the big French resorts of the Tarantaise Vallée.
This is only a short list of some of our favourites but we have loads more to recommend for après ski action.
As there are now only eight weeks until the first lifts open in Val Thorens, Europe's highest resort, I thought I'd take a look at which resorts we are getting excited about for 2012. Of course, virtually every member of our team will list trips to Val d'Isere, Meribel, Les Arcs, St. Anton or Whistler as their highlight of the winter, but where are people planning to go this year for something new?
Every year we are gaining access to new properties in resorts that have either been forgotten by the Brits or are lesser known, hidden gems. There is a huge amount of world class skiing, great après scenes, exclusive villages and friendly-family resorts that are out there to be enjoyed, that you may never have considered.
Yes the Tarantaise resorts in France are among the world's best and Britain's favourites but sometimes escaping the anglicised bars and busy slopes can make for as good a, if not better, ski holiday experience.
Austria is quickly cementing itself as Britain's second favourite ski destination, and with comparable, if not better value, in-resort costs to France and fantastic resorts on offer, you can see why. So, here are a few resorts we'll be heading to this winter, from hedonistic party towns to the quaint, traditional resorts.
Ischgl ski holidays
Ischgl is one of the biggest party towns in the Alps and the resort that the Austrians themselves rate as their best, yet for some reason it remains largely undiscovered by British skiers. Ischgl offers some superb skiing and loads or cruisy, well groomed pistes. There is the renowned 'Duty-Free Run', which winds its way back from Samnaun in Switzerland via a back-country unmarked route, so the locals can avoid Customs at the top of the pistes. If you're not a back-country standard skier yet, there is a double-decker cable car coming back up to Austria — just don't overfill your duty-free stash.
As well as great skiing, Ischgl is one of the après ski resorts to visit. Such is the nightlife's reputation, rumour has it the slopes never get busy before 11am. So, if you're an early starter you can enjoy a quiet mountain, if you a party goer, you won't be alone with your hangover at the lift station.
Ischgl also boasts a couple of renowned festivals, the imaginatively named opening party and closing party, which are, unsurprisingly, held on the opening and closing weekends in resort. Over the last couple of seasons Ischgl's festivals have boasted the likes of Katy Perry and The Killers.
Solden ski holidays
Solden in one of Austria's infamous, après ski resorts, where the party kicks off at 4pm and can go on until 8am the following morning! Again Solden has somehow been forgotten by mainstream Brits and has more of an Austrian, German and Scandinavian crowd in town — think trays of beer, Jägermeister and packed out bars, oh and don't forget the famous Austrian um-par-par music and barmaids in lederhosen. Marcos and the Schrim umbrella bar, at the Giggijochbahn end of tow, are where to be straight from the slopes.
The skiing is made up from "The Big 3" mountains, Gaislachkogl (3.058 m), Tiefenbach (3.250 m) and Schwarze Schneide (3.340 m). The area is serviced by high-speed lifts and includes two glaciers, in turn offering Austria's largest glacial ski area, with 147 km of piste. The slopes in the nearby resort of Obergurgl are an intermediate skiers dream, so if you fancy a day skiing in a different resort, it's well worth the 20 minute drive and lift pass extension and the perfect remedy following the night before's party.
St. Christoph ski holidays
St. Christoph, and our newly converted chalet hotel the Chalet Hotel St. Christoph, offers a very different Austrian ski holiday, a more relaxed, elegant, family-friendly experience. The resort offers a more quaint and exclusive feel and is home to the Austrian ski team's base camp. You are more likely to see people enjoying a vin chaud or glass of fizz then falling off tables while knocking back Stroh. That said, the hedonistic resort of St. Anton is a mere 15 minutes bus ride away, with the last bus running until 4am in peak season!
The resort's skiing is quite compact, but thanks to the Arlberg's micro-climate, it's pretty snow-sure, hence the Austrian ski teams presence. It only takes about 10 minutes to ski over to St. Anton where you can access world class skiing and the world renowned Valluga — where you are only allowed if you are with a ski guide. For more mellow skiing and champagne bars you can get the bus over the Lech from St. Anton, where a vast array cruisy blues are included on your lift pass.
Kuhtai is another resort that was once popular with British skiers and thanks to another new chalet hotel, the Chalet Hotel Elisabeth, it could be once again. Though it is a smaller, more compact resort it is a fantastic place for intermediate skiing families. It lacks beginner runs, but once you are all ready to hit the blues and reds there is more than enough for a week's holiday, especially if you are the ones keeping up with your kids as opposed to the other way round. You can also jump on the bus to the nearby resort of Oetz, for something a little different on one of the days.
Kuhtai is more about stunning scenery, high altitude skiing and a family friendly atmosphere, than après ski parties and late nights out. This is a great resort to escape to for a week in the mountains and is ideal for families who will do more than once trip this winter.
Austrian skiing was once the mainstay of British ski holidays, both my own mum, my mother-in-law and my boss learnt to ski there. With the prices in France a little higher due to the current rate of the Euro, Austria is an attractive destination right now, though saying that the in resort prices in Ischgl, St. Anton and Lech won't be much different, due to their status as the country's top resorts.
Other resorts worth a look are Saalbach for Scandinavian-fuelled après ski, Zell am See for a stunning traditional ski town and Lech for exclusive hotels and outdoor champagne ice bars.
First of all to follow on from The best Aprés Ski bar in the World? Part 1 I have to make a decision about my own preference and it's far tougher than I thought it would be. I keep remembering great times at so many bars. In Austria, the Ice Bar in Mayrhofen and the Krazy Kanguruh in St Anton are standouts. In Canada, Merlins on Blackcomb (Whistler) with Guitar Doug rocks. In France, the Rond Pointe of Méribel and in Switzerland the Aprés Ski bar in the Farinet in Verbier are greatly enhanced by the proliferation of uninhibited British customers 'on the lash'.
For the quality of music, the smoke flares, the flame throwing, the champagne splashing, the waffles, the DJ - David Dupenloup, and the incredible energy of Kely Starlight, the singing and dancing bar top host, it has to be La Folie Douce. This Val d'Isére bar, that is literally the French for sweet madness, just edges out the Krazy Kanguruh.
Secondly, after much deliberation and discussion here's what the Iglu team of experts came up with:
Bauer’s Skialm - Saalbach.
Indoor and outdoor bar areas, but inside is the place to be for the weirdest and wildest music and dancing. A real international crowd making the most of well-priced beers and shots for a torrid three hours: 4-7pm. - Boyd
Umbrella Bar - Santa Christina, Val Gardena
Euro pop, free shots, a fire-breathing bar tender and semi-naked dancing on the tables in ski boots combine to make some of the wildest après ski parties I've seen. It's only open from 4-8 but there aren't many people still able to stand up after that anyway... - James
Le Jump Bar - Courchevel 1850
If you feel that the combination of toffee and vodka is the best thing since sliced bread then this is where you need to be. If it wasn't for a slight uphill and small road you could ski into the front door. - Wade
Le Grotte du Yeti - Tignes
This is a
The Mooserwirt, St Anton
It's for those who want to express themselves by showing off their moves, grooving on the table with a drink in one hand, and an audience that appreciates the extrovert (Without the threat of a burly bouncer taking you out). - Nigel
Scotty's Bar - Tignes
Roaring fire and live music overlooking the heated pool outside. With some tasty bar snacks served if you get peckish. Low ceilings and wooden decor make this a traditional après experience! - Tom
MBC - Chamonix
Perfect place for massive portions of food after a day of skiing or whatever activity you are in Chamonix for. Well worth the walk out of town for one of their big tasty burgers and the fantastic beers brewed on the premises. Perfect for a good night out with a group of friends. - Jay (Cham Fanatic)
Smithy's Tavern - Les Deux Alpes
It's great fun, and serves the best hangover breakfast! - Esther
The infamous Dusty's in Whistler
It has everything you can ask for in an aprés ski bar. Ski to the door location, massive sun deck with BBQ's going in the afternoon. Pool tables inside and the whole bar is so spacious it can take a big crowd. The music, the food and the atmosphere are second to none. - Linda
Bar Le Monde in Val Thorens
Because... 'I love the barmaid'! - Nick J
Red Lion, Vail.
A perfect place to give it large in front of the soft Americans with their Miller Lights. The high altitude boozing promotes a real sense of euphoria. - Adam Calway
Seppi's bar - Kitzbuhel
Great music, icy cold lager, Jagermeisters and the chance you might run into the legendary party primate; 'Spank' the monkey... - Steve
The 'Après Ski Bar' part of the Farinet - Verbier
Total Carnage! Live bands about sixish every day, a roof that opens up occasionally to get rid of the steam, cheap lager and a raging mosh pit. Not a place for the faint hearted. It's starts early and goes very hard for just a few hours so get in straight off the slopes. - Scotty
Rond Point - Méribel
A great place after a day on the mountain. Whether you finish off when the crowds have gone home with a schuss from the top of the Saulire or emerge from the steeper and bumpier Meribel Couloir, where better than this. The talk is all about the day's exploits, everybody coming off the slopes can find it easily and the Live music means the hills really do come alive. - Thomas
The legendary Après Skihut in Rotterdam - Cynthia (you'd never guess she was Dutch)
Mooserwirt - St Anton
Exactly the same kind of atmosphere as the Folie Douce in Val D'Isere. Rather than playing funky house though, it ramps up at the start of the day with Europe 'the final countdown' and then rolls into a mix of euro pop and disco. Absolutely no posers here and with beautiful Austrian girls behind the bar & a seemingly endless supply of Jager Bombs, you can't go wrong! - Adam Clark (Iglu blading and monoboard specialist)
Bar Alexandra - Val d'Isére
One of the few places in Val that isn't rammed full of Henrys and Tarquins. This bar is underrated and away from the melee. Run by Val legend Kiwi Phil, the Alex is frequented mainly by French locals or those in the know. Rack up some pool, enjoy a Desperado, and listen to whatever hip hop or drum n bass cut of choice is playing that day. You can also grab some food in the adjoining 4 seasons, home to a tasty Thai curry. Done. - Dave
Pub Le Skilodge - La Tania
Après ski in the Skilodge is a pretty raucous affair. With a packed pub fuelled on toffee vodka, chartreuse and Mutzig, mixed with some of the best après ski bands in the alps and entertaining locals, anything can happen. Plus, where else in the 3 Valleys can you get a pint for under €5! - Stephen
Ice Bar - Mayrhofen
For those of you who cant get enough of your Dutch Hard House Umpa Lumpa anthems, start your night with ski boot stomping to those funny little dance routines, then the Ice Bar in Mayrhofen is the place for you. At the bottom of the main Penkenbahn gondola in the heart of the resort, this bar is said to have the largest turn over of Grolsch beer per night than any other place in Europe, and it shows as it gets pretty packed. Cool down by the beer spray....this place goes off! Damian
Krazy Kanguruh aka KK's - St Anton.
From the cute girls dressed in fluffy kangaroo outfits showing off their pouches, to the dirty dancing on the tables, I love it all! It can get quite cramped for space by 3pm but there is an awesome atmosphere in and outside, and whatever the time, it's always Jager bomb o'clock. - Nick HH
Darbelos - Courchevel Le Praz
The combination of 8% mutzig, open fires, savoyarde cheeses and weird local music acts is hard to resist. - Dave Mills
Feel free to send us your suggestions on the best apres ski bars on our twitter page.
Written by Adam Johnson
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