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Okay so it might only be mid-March but the big tour operators are already preparing for next winter. For those who know exactly what they want there's never been a better time to book early.
Last winter my friends and I realised that after three trips in a row to Morzine it was time for a change of scenery. We knew that we wanted to go to Meribel and that we would go early March 2011, so we booked our holiday by the end of May 2010. On arriving to the chalet three weeks ago we discovered the late bookers had paid the same price as us, but we had our lift passes (including a 3 Valley upgrade) and ski carriage included in the deal.
If you are happy to follow the deals and take the lowest prices around, then last minute bookings have their place, but by booking an early deal we proved to get much better value than the guests who left it until the last minute. With this is mind I've started having a look into my New Year and March 2012 holidays and I've already to discovered that the offers are as good, if not better than last winter.
I must admit we usually go for the chalet holidays, but having had a couple of fantastic summer Club Med holidays, the French all-inclusive hotel chain are looking very appealing for next winter. For those unfamiliar with Club Med they offer all-inclusive ski holidays, mostly in Europe, where the price includes your transport, lift passes (3* local, 4* and above full area), group ski lessons and all the great food you can eat. Plus the bar is free as long as you stay away from the Champagne and luxury brandies and single malts.
Now, we bagged a cracking deal this winter with our lift passes and ski carriage included, but after a week of lunches on the mountain, chalet staff night off and a few après ski drinks, we ended up spending the same as we would in a 4* Club Med. Whereas the initial outlay of around £1000+ may seem a lot, if you are on a catered holiday to the big French resorts you can easily eclipse that by time you come home.
Our French friends are also offering us up to £180 per person discount based on the early booking prices, plus the brochure prices are as low as they will go for the whole season. Throw in the fact that resorts such as Val d'Isere and Tignes have enjoyed a bit of a facelift over recent years and the addition of a new property in a stunning, yet unobvious resort, Club Med Valmorel and the choice is incredible — there's even a Club Med in China these days.
Having taken a cheeky look at Val d'Isere for my 30th during Easter — the prices are still great value. £1149 per person for a 4* Club Med in one of the world's top resorts during a peak week (now tell me that's not great value). With ski carriage, lift pass, all your food and drink included and the option of lunching in Club Med in Tignes, it's the perfect holiday for a romantic week on the slopes.
For the same week a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) can book to go to the 3* Club Med Les Deux Alpes, with everything minus ski hire, staying in interconnecting rooms for only £3080. They could even head to the 4* resort of Club Med Tignes Val Claret for only £4548, again in interconnecting rooms. For all-inclusive, glacier resorts during the Easter holidays that is fantastic value.
With the prices due to go up in July and again in October, these great properties are worth a look. Whether you are looking for a family, group or romantic holiday there is a Club Med for everyone, from the luxurious Club Med Peisey-Vallandry and Club Med Meribel Le Chalet, to the great value of Club Med Arcs Extreme and Club Med Aime La Plagne.
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
In these highly political times, when I'm asked my opinion about the the two party system, my answer is always the same. It's the after party you should attend.
In ski resorts around the world the French term for after party has been adopted as the standard. You and I know it as aprés ski.
So where is the best aprés ski bar in the world? I could fill ten pages on this topic and whatever my conclusions, they would be hotly contested by seasonaires from virtually every resort, who have had the time of their lives in their local.
It's generally conceded that the Austrians are the loudest and least inhibited when it comes to dancing on tables in your ski boots. They probably make the toughest tables in the world. However, when I polled the ski experts here in Iglu.com, there was wide spread of countries, and somewhat surprisingly, good number of French bars made the list. So what makes a good bar?
The Scandinavian resorts lay claim to having the best looking and best English speaking bar staff; the Italians, the most stylish and charming to the Ladies; the Canadians, the most laid back; the Americans, the least likely to have heard of your quaint country; the Austrians, the most likely to be drinking shots on the tables with you and; the French, where you are more likely to be served by Brits, Aussies and Scandis if the party's going off.
No matter where you are in the world, live music makes all the difference. Sweden seems to dominate the market in producing good aprés ski bands that get the crowd rocking in resorts right across Europe. They'll usually be leading the shot drinking games from the stage. It also helps to be in a bar that attracts the women of the resort with free drink offers. As anyone who's ever been to resorts that only offer extreme skiing, like Jackson Hole, can testify, the lack of women can be party deflating.
If you really want to make it as a legendary aprés ski bar then you absolutely must have a range of vodka shots and plenty of Jagermeister. Preferably dispensed by an attractive Australian girl offering laybacks at your table. You only have two to three hours to really get involved in an aprés ski session so there's no time for sedate drinking. The bars are crowded so shots and the largest beers you can buy are the order of the day.
With all this in mind I have opened the floor to the Iglu team and will bring you the results by the end of the week. Feel free to tweet us your suggestions.
If you'd like to see what the Iglu team thought check out The best Aprés Ski bar in the World? Part 2.
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