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Top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences

clock 19th August 2014 | comment2 Comments

As summer slowly starts making an exit and the nights start getting colder, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner and we can finally go on our next ski holiday (woop!) When choosing the next skiing trip our mind often wonders to those extraordinary bucket list destinations. Here are our top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences to get your imagination running wild.

5. Heli Skiing in Alaska

For incredible alpine scenery and breath taking untouched landscapes, there is nothing that rivals a heli-ski adventure in Alaska. The Alaska ranges have been made famous by extreme ski and snowboard films – remember those opening scenes in Art of Flight? This was Alaska's Tordrillo mountain range.



Heli skiing and snowboarding in Alaska is the ultimate freeriding adventure; the varied terrain and epic snowfall will guarantee that adrenaline rush you’ve been craving for. The last frontier is so vast you will feel like the first person discovering a new mountain. There are a large amount of heli ski operators across the Alaskan ranges that run singles days as well as multiple day trips.

Alaska Heli ski runs are long, so you will get lots of skiing mileage during your trip, much more than other ranges in North America. Resorts in Alaska receive huge amounts of snow, with the highest parts of the mountains averaging 20-25m per season

4. Ultimate bragging rights in the 3 Valleys

Can you ski the 10 main resorts of the largest ski area in the world in one day? The answer is yes, and it’s an excellent day out that gets you to all the corners of this massive ski area. What better way to brag to your friends, than saying you’ve skied the 600km of the largest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées.

Our Sales Director, Adam Johnson took 3 Iglu team mates on a mission to conquer the French giant. AJ takes us through their epic day...

3. Magical landscapes in Finland

Skiing in Finland is unlike any other Alpine ski holiday. If you want to ski in breath taking, peaceful scenery surrounded by ice-sculpted forests and frozen lakes, coupled with uncrowded pistes and resorts, a ski holiday to Finland offers you a very refreshing alternative.

Skiing in Finland is varied, with a variety of runs suited for all abilities, but the ski areas are smaller than what we are used to in the Alps and ideally suited to beginners and intermediates. One of the fantastic reasons to come to ski in Finland is to experience one of the many unique activities at your fingertips. Enjoy meeting the animals and learning about their way of life on either the Reindeer safaris or the Husky dog sledding trips or for adrenaline junkies, you can get your pulse racing on one of the exhilarating snowmobile adventures and a magical visit to Santa is an absolute must for the whole family.

If you are very lucky you may even catch one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, the Northern Lights. Head away from the town and bright lights and you should be able to see the lights at certain times throughout winter.

2. Epic Luxury in Val d’Isere

Everyone deserves a spot of luxury in their lives, which is why one must experience the ultimate luxury ski holiday in a stunning chocolate box chalet in one of the finest resorts in the world, Val d’Isere.

Well-stocked wine cellars, gourmet cuisine, private cinemas, chauffeurs, outdoor hot-tubs, a roaring log fire... luxury chalets are all about being pampered to the max. Good food is an essential part of a luxury ski holiday. The talented chefs are experienced and creative artists, producing modern and traditional cuisine to tantalize your taste buds. Everything in the luxury ski chalets are designed to make you feel relaxed, pampered and special.

Val d'Isere offers one of the world's best ski areas, the Espace Killy, along with accommodation for everyone and anyone. If you are looking for a luxury private chalet then look no further than Chalet Lafitenia, run by Val d'Isere's most exclusive chalet operator and offering the standards of accommodation, food and service that you would expect from a luxury chalet in a world class resort.

1. Riding powder in Niseko

Japan is home to the powder your dreams are made of. You may find it surprising that ski resorts in Japan get some of the deepest snow in the world. Located in the northern island Hokkaido in the Abuta district, Niseko is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan. With an average of 11m of snow fall a year it is regarded as one of the snowiest ski resorts in the world. Niseko is made up of five interlinked areas, Annapuri, Higashiyama (Village), Hirafu, Hanazono & Moiwa. Hirafu is the main resort where you will find the majority of the town and accommodation.

The terrain at Niseko is varied; the main ski area offers great ‘ski-what-you-can-see’ terrain with easy to access to fun off piste between the main ski runs. The legendary tree runs are in the strawberry fields and Miharashi with steep runs at the super alpen course and under the Kogen gondola.

I was lucky enough to be in Niseko for a few months of the 2013-14 season and can guarantee that nothing will compare after a trip to this ski mecca. The trip does require a 13 hour flight to Tokoyo, followed by a domestic flight to Sapporo and then a 2-3 hour coach transfer straight to the resort, but once you’ve had that first day in fresh, waist deep champagne powder you will forget all about that journey to this dream destination.

There may be a ton of snowfall in Niseko but bad weather doesn’t have to mean bad visibility with the bounty of tree runs and off piste forests to ski through. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day on the hill then you can marvel at the stunning view of Mount Yotei and views of the ocean if you get high enough. If you live for powder days and fanaticise about white snowscapes that your favourite skiers and snowboarders go year after year, then start planning your trip to the land of the rising sun and make your ski dreams to come true.


By Krystelle

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Chalet Hotels To Get The Affordable Luxury Treatment

clock 22nd June 2012 | comment2 Comments

Chalet hotels have once again grown in popularity in the past couple of years, the idea of chalet-style board, with food & wine provided, but on a larger — often more socialable — scale.

Last season we saw a twist on the chalet hotel, with the introduction of two new ski lodge concepts. One concept offering an exclusive feel, including concierge services and elegant, but large properties, the other concept aiming at the boisterous, low-budget freestyle scene.

This summer's addition to the chalet hotel scene sees a couple of our favourite affordable-luxury suppliers bringing us a more traditional chalet hotel experience.

Chalet Hotel Les Chardons

Les Chardons is a interesting addition to our website, the chalet is run by a Val d'Isere specialist who prefer to offer traditional mountain charm, great food and blond chalet girls, as opposed to flat-screen TVs and high-end, modern furnishings. They are running a hotel sized property for the first time in a decade, though there's nothing these guys don't know about Val d'Isere and good quality chalet food.

Chalet hotel Les Chardons is based right in the middle of Val d'Isere, a mere stone's throw from the church, in one of the quieter corners of the resort centre. The slopes are closer to walk to than it takes a snowboarder to strap in, and the nightlife is a simple stumble away. The new owners had expected to need to renovate the place when they took it over earlier this month, but have discovered its charm and quality have meant the only work needing doing, is to add their own personal touches, such as creating a self serving bar and bringing in their simple, but cosy bedding.

The description of the place gives the impression of a family run hotel that has been converted into a chalet hotel and given a new lease of life. The brochure description is fab and shows why we love them so much: "actually, some of them are baths, but those wonderfully short baths only an Oompaloompa could stretch out in, so most people treat them as showers"

Chalet Hotel Montjola

Chalet Hotel Montjola is altogether another beast. Run by another top quality chalet company who specialise in the top, top resorts, the Chalet Hotel Montjola is their largest property — by some margin — and their first in St. Anton.

The chalet hotel Montjola, was formally a family run favourite in St. Anton, but over the summer will be given a complete makeover which will no doubt make the property one on the top chalet hotels in the Alps. The property will be filled with plush furnishings, and will boast flat-screen TVs in each room, plus the usual such as Wi-Fi, outdoor hot tubs, sauna, steam room and a massage room. The Montjola will keep its bar, though it will only be open to guests and will most likely run from late afternoon until around midnight, offering beers, wine and coffee for a small charge.

Though the property isn't being run by one of the typically large family specialists, the Montjola will have two on-site nannies and allow children on all dates, whether the property is filled or not. There will also be a chauffeur shuttle service from 8am-8pm from the ski lifts and resort centre. The Montjola is a good ten minute walk from St. Anton's slopes and nightlife — so the chauffeur service is a touch — but offers stunning views across the valley taking in the Tyrolean region from the sun terrace, as well as several of the rooms.

So, when you start to put plans into place for next winter, if looking for lively, charming properties with great staff, even better food and fantastic wine, make sure you give the Les Chardons and Montjola a look, as neither will let you down. The chalet hotels will be perfect for families, groups and couples alike and I have no doubt they will be among our most popular properties. My biggest problem is deciding whether I want to head to St. Anton or Val d'Isere and convincing the boss to give me a week off!



A Change of Scenery — Skiing in Luxury: Europe

clock 7th October 2011 | comment0 Comments

Having taken a look at alternative resorts in the last couple of weeks, with Austria and Italy, I thought I'd take a look at where to enjoy a luxury ski holiday next.

Luxury ski holidays can mean something different to all of us, for some it's sitting in one of Chardon Mountain Lodges chalets in Val d'Isere, enjoying fabulous food and Perrier Jouët on tap, for others it's about staying in one of Courchevel 1850's exclusive hotels, or enjoying the champagne ice-bars that accompany the après ski scene in Lech.

Luxury skiing is also about the resort you stay in, the mountain you ski and, of course, where to eat, drink and shop. As mentioned everyone want's something different on their ski holiday, so here are a few of our favourite European destinations to burn a hole in your wallet with.

Courchevel 1850

Courchevel 1850 has been synonymous with luxury skiing holidays for longer than I've been alive and will no doubt out live me too. The resort offers the world's largest linked ski area in the Three Valleys, some fantastically flattering pistes around the resort itself and is stunning.

Courchevel is known for its superb hotels, designer shopping and, of course, the James Bond altiport — okay, so it's not actually called that, but you may recognise it from the opening sequence of Tomorrow Never Dies. Courchevel boasts lavish, exclusive hotels, for those who can afford them and also a handful of chalet hotels, for those who can't, but enjoy watching the Prada clad skiers/shoppers and the fantastic atmosphere.

As mentioned, Courchevel is renowned for great hotels, and though they currently seem to be filled with the Russian nouveau riche, there is still an elegantly Anglo-French atmosphere and plenty of wealthy Brits in town. The Hotel Annapurna has to be the reference point for Courchevel's hotels, it has been well established for 36 years and under the same management for the past 20 years — testament to it's reputation. The Annapurna is also closest to the altiport, important for those looking for helicopter transfers or mere James Bond fans.

The Hotel Les Airelles has been a celebrity favourite for years and it's regulars include Eddie Jordan, Mike Rutherford and Chris Rea, as opposed to reality TV stars. The relaxed atmosphere and lavished surroundings, as well as a great location, also add to it's popularity. Now, Le Chabichou, may only be a four star establishment, but boasts the world renowned, michelin starred, Michel Rochedy as it's restaurants head chef. The restaurant received its first Michelin star in 1979 and its second in 1984 and there aren't too many hotels in the Alps that can boast the same level of cuisine!

Lech

Lech has been referred to as the Courchevel of Austria, and though it's an exclusive resort, filled with luxurious hotels, offers world class skiing and is steeped in history, it is a very different resort to Courchevel. Courchevel is where the rich happily flaunt their money, Lech is the opposite of this.

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays you won't be able to find a room for love nor money, as many of Europe's elite have the hotels wrapped-up, and have done so for decades. You'll find the owners of Mercedes and BMW, along with their families taking over the resort during the festive season, and though there is always an air of wealth, there types of skiers in Lech never feel the need to show it.

With the big, open, motorway pistes of Lech and the more technical skiing of St. Anton to enjoy, along with this gorgeous, relaxed resort you can see why it is a former favourite of the late Princess Diana.

The Gasthof Post opened in 1937, and like the Annapurna in Courchevel, is the reference point for Lech, the family run hotel has stuck to the same recipe for years and remains a favourite of Lech's regular skiers. Other notable hotels in Lech include the Almhof Schneider, based a the foot of the Schlegelkopf mountain and the luxury chalet-styled, boutique hotel, Hotel Aurelio.

St. Moritz

Though Klosters can often take the limelight when it comes to luxury skiing in Switzerland — and when the Royal family are in town there's no surprise to why — St. Moritz is one of the world's most elegant resorts, boasting one of the most iconic hotels in the Alps, Badrutt's Palace.

St. Moritz is the original winter sports resort, if not the first true ski resort. It came to popularity with the Brits at the turn on the 20th century as skiing began to grow as a holiday activity for the wealthy, and has remained a favourite resort for generations since.

Though not as flashy as Courchevel with it's designer shopping, fur jackets & Range Rovers, it is not as understated as Lech. This is a resort that, again offers an air of wealth and chic surroundings. The shopping would be enough the break to average bank account and the skiing is comparable to Val d'Isere — in size at the very least. There are motorway pistes and flattering runs, for the more pedestrian skier and challenging off-piste for the adrenaline junkies out there.

The historic Palace Hotel in St. Moritz opened in 1896 as the successor to the first winter sports hotel, the Krup Hause. The hotel has recently changed it's name to the Badrutt's Palace, but remains one of the most recognisable hotels in skiing. The founder of hotel built the first bobsled run for his guests and the current owners have maintained the reputation of one of the leading hotels in the world.

There are so many great resorts for a luxury skiing holiday, with Val d'Isere, Davos, Klosters and Ischgl to name a few, but Courchevel, Lech and St. Moritz have long been at the top of most people's wish lists and will remain there for years to come. The question is which resort is the right one for you? Whether you are there for the skiing, the lavish hotels or the shopping.



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