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With our first 2 après ski guides now out of date AJ Johnson, Iglu's Director of Sales, and resident après ski Black-Belt, has updated our best après ski destinations for 2014/15. Après ski is now as important as the skiing for UK skiers and riders. Those hectic (or chilled) hours between 3.30pm and 6.00pm when you celebrate a day of great skiing with your mates while still in your ski gear and often still up on the slopes can make or break your trip. The level of après ski is the most common question we get about resorts and I happen to agree that it is an essential part of my ski experience. I may not want to party every afternoon, but when I do, I want very good music, cold beers and cheap shooters, plenty of room to dance, and the option of a sunny terrace. If it’s inclement weather then an indoor area with strong tables for dancing on with ski-boots and lots of alpine memorabilia and style will do. The resort Councils also realise the importance of après ski to the UK market and last year Alpe d’Huez warmly welcomed Folie Douce with their 4th Franchise to great success and the brand keeps going from strength to strength.
The highest party town in the Alps
For a long time VT has been considered the poor cousin of its neighbours in upmarket Méribel and super expensive Courchevel but recent years have seen a transformation into a more mid-range resort. There are still the cheap and tiny apartments available but now there is a 5 star Hotel, some top quality chalets, upmarket self-catered apartments and this year sees Club Med launch their newest village right in the centre of town. We’ll be there for an early season ski in December. It’s a great resort for early or late snow due to its height. The Folie Douce here is just above the town so everyone gets to do a short ski back down on wobbly legs. It’s smaller than the rest of the Folies as it was not built to purpose but a restaurant taken over. I think it has a charm which puts it among the finest après bars in the Tarentaise Vallée.
Down in town there are more bars than you can visit in a night and the après starts early. The Frog and Roast Beef is the highest pub in Europe and draws a UK crowd. The Saloon bar is the Seasonaires favourite and is the rowdiest and most fun bar on the strip if you can take the crowds. VT is also home to the largest nightclub in the Alps in Malaysia, it may be cavernous but it fills up late and rocks all night. The place to stay – The New Val Thorens Club Med Sensations is going to be brilliant.
24/7 Ibiza (budget) Party Town
This big resort in the Grand Rouses mountain range has long been a favourite with the young hip crowd and offers an amazingly long season due to the huge glacier. It has a direct link access to the legendary La Grave free-ride resort, the best Terrain Park in Europe, and summer skiing. There are 45 bars along the main drag and 8 night-clubs. That’s not much less than the entire Trois Vallées and more than Val d’Isére and Tignes added together. On the slopes there is the amazing and huge PANO BAR that gives the 4 Folie Douces a run for their money. The beats are a bit dancier and recognisable and the crowd a little less reserved. After your Pano après session there are a series of bars at the foot of the slopes worth visiting. Just a little warning, the last run in to the resort called the Valentin is a serious run. Download on the Jandri Gondola if you’ve over-cooked it on Jaeger-Bombs. This direct Gondola access means injured or non-skiing friends can join you for lunch and après every day. At the foot of the slopes I like the Umbrella bar. The giant Umbrella can be closed for really cold days and opened for the sunny ones.
Ski Hard, Party Harder
St Anton is still the best of Austria but it is perhaps too popular and the famous piste-side bars are uncomfortably jammed to overflowing with plastered Brits, Dutch and Germans. It has fantastic off-piste routes like the Valluga and brings a lot of the best skiers in the world to party. It also claims to have the oldest ski school in the world and this brings a constant flow of new skiers and boarders to the noisiest après ski bars in Austria. I love the place and I’ve had some of my best après ski moments in The Krazy Kangaruh. Directly across the piste from the KK the Mooserwirt starts the party with ‘The Final Countdown’ at 3pm and then cranks out loud Austro/German pop and gets the crowd into a table dancing frenzy. They probably make the strongest tables in the World in the Arlberg region! Just seeing the beer servers who carry up to 30 full size drinks on doubled up trays is worth the trip. Those guys are seriously strong. This is a bit off subject but for Lunch on the mountain you must visit the Hospiz Alm down in St Christoph. It is easily the best on-mountain restaurant in the Arlberg region and has well-priced daily specials. You are served by staff in traditional lederhosen and there’s a great slide down to the loos inside. I can also highly recommend the Heustadl for live music on the slopes. It’s in a perfect suntrap just before you get to the KK on the skiers left. Recommended Hotel in St. Anton: The Nassereinerhof Every Austrian resort provides good après ski bars and special mentions go out to the resorts of Saalbach, Sölden, and Soll. They all deserve a visit that you’ll never forget.
Posh But Fun
Let’s get the hard bit out of the way first, it’s expensive. The Swiss Franc is on a roll right now and until it gets back to reasonable levels against the £ your après sessions are going bite like a Nile crocodile. Do as seasonaires do and follow the happy hours around the village. No visit to Verbier is complete without a session or two in the Pub Mont Fort, but my favourite is the Farinet Bar — with its sliding roof that opens to let the steam out when the party gets too hot. It’s an experience to remember when they open the roof when it’s snowing and you’re dancing to a Swedish cover band that is leading the shot taking between songs. Why is it that the Swedes seem to have an impossibly good looking cover band in every decent resort in Europe? I suspect it’s because the band members are chasing the best snow, just like you and me. Recommended chalet hotel in Verbier: Chalet Hotel De Verbier.
Glamorous and expensive, and worth every penny
VD is IGLU’s number 1 resort for sales and for staff love. We can’t get enough of it. The skiing in the Espace Killy (the area linked with Tignes) offers more easily accessible variety than any other in Europe. It has a very long season because it catches the storms as they hit the end of the Tarentaise Valley at the border with Italy. But what really sets it apart is the number of high quality bars on-piste and off. The original Folie Douce has got its Mojo back after a couple of experimental years and now offers a great afternoon’s entertainment. The price of a large beer has stayed at 7€ which a few years ago seemed expensive but now matches up with most bars in the Alps. Kelly Starlight still leads the entertainment but has toned down the cabaret aspect in favour of more DJ inspired singing and dancing. There are countless bars in town like the Petit Danois (après drink deals and 2 pool tables), The Morris bar, The Underground (very French), Victors (241 cocktails), and Bar La Rosee (nice terrace) in La Daille. The 2 biggest nightclubs are the legendary original Dicks Tea Bar with a mainly UK crowd and Doudoune for a French crowd (and corresponding appalling music). I could name another 20 bars but the names don’t really matter. You will never be more than a few metres from a party in this premier resort of France. Recommended Chalet in Val d’Isére: Chalet Yeti - get in early as it’s sold out by November.
Cheap & Cheerful
Over the last few years the rise and rise of the € against £ has hurt our back pockets during the après ski hours, particularly in the UK customer dominated über-resorts of the Tarentaise Vallée. For this reason a lot of my friends have starting heading to Alpe d’Huez. In this resort the cost of a sérieux will only be around €4.50. You always pay over €6 and probably much higher in Val d’Isére or Méribel. There’s loads of bars here to try, but no pub crawl would be complete without visiting O’Sharkeys, Smithy's, The Crowded House, and of course you must try the slide at Freeride. If you want to stay up until the sun rises then you’ll be at the Igloo bar that gets crazier and crazier all the way until the 6am closing time. This resort is now the most fun in France, it’s just a damned shame it’s a bit ugly. The skiing here is up there with the best and the 16km La Sarenne black run of the back of Pic Blanc down to Vaujany is world class. Personally I prefer the thrills and spills of the un-pisted Itinerary route through the famous tunnel. Not for beginners! Recommended chalet in Alpe d'Huez: Chalet Friandise – a little beauty.
Upmarket 24/7 Party Town
Okay, it’s not cheap compared to other Austrian resorts but it’s still better value than the big resorts of France and Switzerland. The Trofana Alm stakes a claim for the best après ski bar in the world. It encompasses everything you’d expect from that title. Classic Tyrolean décor, cheesy sing-along songs with silly dances that get everyone involved. Fantastic service from immensely strong waiters, carrying trays of beer and shots for you to choose from are never more than a few minutes away from another visit. The Schatzi Bar offers the added bonus of traditional bar top dancing girls and more modern music. I’d also throw in a vote for the Kuhstall, that plays more English music and fills to the brim with the younger crowd, jumping in their boots to the latest hits.
Tax Free Party Haven
Livigno is a shopper's paradise as well as an après ski mecca. It has around 150 bars, which dwarfs any other ski resort in the world — I think Vail is second with 110. Livigno has belonged to numerous countries and empires over the centuries and now has a distinctly Austrian flavour to it. The Kuhstall, Mikey's Pub, Gulliver Pub, the Echo Pub, and for cocktails, Jpioca, are all recommended. This resort has so many bars to offer, that there really isn’t much to say other than I bet you can’t visit them all. Recommended hotel in Livigno: Hotel Valeria. Italian resorts tend to be a bit more sophisticated and calmer during the après ski hours, but there are some pretty good traditionally loud and riotous gems to be found in the resorts of Cervinia and Selva.
There’s nothing better than carving up the mountain with the sun beating down on your back. You don’t have to cart around lots of layers, you can sunbathe in between ski runs and you’ll have that special code worn only by fellow skiers and boarders – a cracking goggle tan so that everyone knows you’ve just returned fresh from the slopes!
More sunshine = longer days = lifts are open longer = more time out in the snow! Do we need to say any more?
As the Summer months draw nearer, the slopes become quieter and quieter. Airport transfers become much smoother and faster, there's smaller queues everywhere, you don't have to worry about busy restaurants and you have more time to enjoy the breathtaking mountain views, rather than rushing to be first on the lifts. You'll find that there's much more space on the pistes - plus on a powder day you'll be able to ski more fresh laps. It’s also a great time to bring along the kids and those who are just learning – they can focus more on their riding and less on trying to dodge others!
As the slopes get emptier, the prices get cheaper, meaning that a last minute ski holiday is a great way to save the pennies. You'll have a bigger choice of accommodation too, as Chalets and ski in / ski out accommodation won't sell out quite so fast. If you’re looking to squeeze in your second holiday of the season without using up all of your budget, then now’s the time.
Experience some top après as resort bars aim to drink dry the last of their stock, ready to close down for the Summer. You’ll find plenty of closing celebrations at just about every resort with live music, BBQ’s and of course, snow – a perfect combination! The end of season also brings along a lot of festivals, such as Snowbombing and Zermatt Unplugged (see our events guide to what's on in the mountains this month here).
Take an uphill gondola ride to this traditional Austrian cabin, which boasts spectacular mountain views. Enjoy a delicious fondue or a tasty gourmet dish plus a welcome drink whilst listening to the live music entertainment by the roaring fire. Hut evenings are held every Wednesday from 6.30pm until 10.30pm and must be booked in advance.
See our holidays to Obergurgl & Hochgurgl.
To book a place, visit the Hohe Mut Alm website.
Every Friday, head up the mountain to Hochgurgl for a spot of night time tobogganing and skiing on the 3km-long track. The session runs from 7.30pm until 10.30pm and the run is well lit by floodlights so you can always see where you’re going! To get there, you can catch a free bus from nearby Solden or Obergurgl. From there, you can then catch a lift up to Hochgurgl.
Up and coming snowboarders from all around the world will come together to compete in this junior slopestyle competition. All competitors are under the age of 18 and this is an excellent opportunity for them to break into the industry, getting a taste of the professional skiing and snowboarding lifestyle while showing us their gravity-defying moves.
See our holidays to Ischgl.
This event is the highest downhill glacier race in the world, and it’s not just for the professionals! If you wish to compete then you can register here, choosing from one of four race categories (him &her, solo, team race and a fun team race). For a bit of extra fun, there’s also the chance to estimate your pace before starting – whichever participant comes closest to their estimated pace in the actual race can win a special prize!
See our holidays to Saas Fee.
Visit the website to register.
Party with Krowd Clothing at this fun event and get priority lift access for the weekend. Your ticket also entitles you to discounts on selected hotels. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, continue the party with the big post-ski Saturday night event, featuring DJ’s Revolvr, Robbie C, Michelle C and more.
See our holidays to Lake Louise.
Head to this unique event for a chance to witness some of Ischgl’s most prominent Chef’s competing not just for a culinary title, but also for a chance to be crowned the winner of a downhill ski race. After the race, the chef’s will run over to a special cooking area, where they are given a basket full of miscellaneous ingredients. They must then whistle something up as quickly as possible with what they are given, serving it up to a panel of judges who must pick one winner. There will also be an appearance from World Cup footballer Andreas Brehme at this event.
Celebrate a week of kids going free, with complimentary ski hire, lift passes, lessons, plus a free kid’s meal and childcare, all for those who were born on or after 2008. Kids Week is great for parents who want to take their little ones on a ski holiday for the first time, as well as for those who are looking to help their kids to improve on the slopes.
Enjoy live music in the mountains with Snowbombing Festival, featuring artists such as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Chase and Status, Rudimental, Tom Odell, Foxes and more! Spend your days skiing and boarding down the mountains, then get your après on for some cracking partying to top your day off.
See our holidays to Mayrhofen.
This acoustic festival features big names such as Aloe Blacc, Katie Melua, Tom Odell and Mick Hucknall performing unplugged renditions of their songs. As well as live acts, you’ll also find an After Show Party, a stage for kids to show off their musical talents and a host of great bars and restaurants to unwind in.
See our holidays to Zermatt.
This event, hosted by Ischgl and Laurent-Perrier Champagne, sees chefs, waiters and other staff from the hotel and hospitality sector come together to compete in two days of fun races. The will be coached by former World Cup skiers and divided up into 2 teams, with bar staff, waiting staff, sommeliers and suppliers in one category, hotel staff and chefs in the other. This unique event is not one to be missed!
Enjoy a combination of live music, skiing, snowboarding and extreme sport film screenings at this mountain festival. There’ll even be a silent disco and the chance to test run the up and coming equipment for next season.
See our holidays to Whistler.
If you fancy a break from your day of skiing or boarding, then take some time out to watch this Belgian ski and snowboard freestyle competition. Head up to the Toura or Lac Noir seats to get the best view.
See our holidays to Les Deux Alpes.
In the aftermath of the recent Winter Olympics, freestyle skiing and snowboarding disciplines are gaining more and more popularity. Head to Val Thorens to watch some of the top freestyle skiers defy gravity and battle it out to win the European Slopestyle Cup. The competition runs between 10am and 3pm.
See our holidays to Val Thorens.
Make the most of longer skiing hours and beautiful Springtime sunshine in the picturesque resort of Whistler-Blackcomb. Between these dates, you’ll find a range of family friendly activities to celebrate the Easter holiday. This event also runs in conjunction with the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
A fun and exciting children’s festival to welcome the arrival of Springtime. Enjoy arts, crafts, outdoor activities, circus performances and much more. The festival runs between 2pm and 6pm and is aimed at kids between 6 and 12 years old.
Try out next season’s equipment prototypes, get freestyle coaching or even take part in a specialist nature photography workshop. On top of all this you can even get access to early bird skiing, the chance to drive a Pistenbully, avalanche training courses and a technical resort tour, where you’ll see the workings behind the lift systems plus the artificial snow making plant.
See our holidays to Zell am Ziller which is in easy reach of the Hintertux glacier.
See out the season with a bang - with 8 bars, live music, well-known DJ’s, yummy food and even a dance competition, this end of season party is set to be a good one. In the dance competition you can win prizes for displaying the best dance move, or for wearing the best outfit. A great opportunity to get your last taste of après before the resort closes for the Summer!
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