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So far this week has proven to be an interesting one, the skiing romance that is Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement and Pope Benedict XVI blessed our favourite sport.
The Pope has been quoted saying "Skiing makes us feel small and returns us to our true dimension as creatures... It makes us capable of asking ourselves about the meaning of creation, of looking above, of opening ourselves to the Creator. By contemplating creation, man recognizes the greatness of God". However the real news is all about Prince William and Kate Middleton. Rumour has it the royal couple's relationship blossomed in the romantic, luxury resort of Klosters in Switzerland.
With this in mind that sent me to thinking where would be the best ski resorts to head to for a honeymoon. From the über-resorts of Klosters, Lech and Courchevel 1850 (popular with the rich & famous and the Royal Family), to the intimate resorts of Kitzbuhel, St. Martin & Wengen.
Skiing has played its part with the Royal Family over the years with Diana Spencer, Sarah Ferguson and now Kate Middleton invited on the family ski trips before their respective weddings. Prince Charles remains a keen skier and William and Harry are known to be fans of both Klosters and Verbier. So with a possible spring wedding where would William and Kate go if they were to head for a skiing honeymoon?
Klosters - You would have to say that the Swiss Resort of Klosters would be their most likely destination. A luxury resort, superb skiing and the location of many a picture of the pair skiing together. They have stayed in 5* hotels and in private chalets in the resorts. With accommodation on offer for the über-rich and years of Royal connections the resort definitely has a head start.
Verbier - Not as romantic a resort as Klosters but again a luxury resort with world class skiing and world class private chalets on offer. Home to The Lodge, Richard Branson's über-luxury property, as well as a host of other high end accommodation, they would be well looked after.
Courchevel 1850 - France & Russia's favourite exclusive resort, Courchevel 1850, would also be an ideal location. Already a firm favourite among the Royals and a regular haunt of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. The combination of exclusive hotels, chalets, clubs and restaurants, coupled with one of the world's premier ski areas make Courchevel an attractive destination.
Lech - Lech is often seen as the Courchevel 1850 of Austria. Lech is renowned for über luxury 5* hotels, exclusive bars, restaurants and night clubs and are among the 'it' resorts during New Year. With many an F1 team owner and the truly super-rich heading to Lech you would have to say it is Austria's most likely option. Throw in the awesome Arlberg ski area, linked with St. Anton and St. Christoph and you have a perfect location.
Now where as we may all aspire to staying in £1000 per night accommodation, while rubbing our shoulders with industrial powerhouses and film stars, most of us have more modest budgets and desires for a romantic skiing trip with the other half. Whether on a honeymoon or a romantic week on the slopes there are some fantastic resorts with stunning views, intimate alpine restaurants and affordable bubbly on offer. For those who are looking for a special escape without the celebrity spotting and the prices it brings here are some great resorts.
Kitzbuhel - The quaint resort of Kitzbuhel is often described as the prettiest town in the Alps. The skiing is picturesgue and the hotels range from 5* luxury to family run affairs. Throw in a great mix of night-life from the Michelin star Neuwirt restaurant in the Hotel Schwarzer Adler to the typically entertaining & beef-fuelled Austrian apres-ski.
St. Martin - The hidden gem of the Three Valleys in France, St. Martin de Belleville is a small village at the bottom of the Belleville valley. Offering attractive Savoyard charm, intimate little bars and restaurants and 'the world's largest ski area', on a romantic week for two, do you need anymore?
Grindelwald - The Swiss resort of Grindelwald is one of the country's stunning and stereotypical chocolate box resorts. Set in a picturesque alpine location offering romantic hotels and the superb skiing of the Jungfrau region, with the beautiful resorts of Wengen and Murren included in the lift pass. Grindelwald offers a perfect romantic escape from the hustle and bustle of Europe's major resorts.
These are my thoughts, but where would you go? Comment below or drop us a message on our Twitter or Facebook pages.
Now this may no be everyone's cup of tea, but there isn't much that compares to spending a day flying off a kicker into fresh powder with your friends. Though this is a past time I enjoy I am far from an expert and don't profess to be one.
Cue Ryan Davis, the former Brits winner is renowned for finding killer spots, and styling out the huge kickers he builds. If anyone is qualified to offer up a few resorts it's him.
Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are both growing faster than ever. Gone are the days of purely schussing down the Hahnenkamm or the Face for our thrills, these days winter sports are taking adrenaline levels higher than ever. Though it's easier to head to the snowpark or slalom run, you can't beat a short hike to a secluded spot and hitting natural lines or building your own kicker. Us mere mortals will try and cram as much as possible into our few days on the slopes each year, but there are those who somehow get to do this for a living.
Ryan may not be gracing the front pages of Document Snowboard or Whitelines as often as he used to, but he's happy to share with us his top five resorts for powder kickers. Hey, we might not all be able to float through the air pulling tricks but most of us can still enjoy an afternoon riding white fluffy snow and enjoying the view!
So it's over to Davo.
Ok, so Davo's top powder kicker resorts. Basically a good powder kicker resort consists of two main ingredients. 1 - consistent powder, and 2 - good knowledge of the terrain.
I had to say Morzine is my all time top pow kicker resort because I know it better than any other resort and there are loads of great spots.
So here they are.
Written by Stephen Adam featuring Ryan Davis.
One of the ever present arguments of how to get the Alps is the train vs plane debate. With the demise of the infamous snow-train, its all night party culture and its two extra days on the slopes, can the direct Eurostar service hold its own compared to short haul flights?
There are a variety of arguments over why one mode of transport is preferred to another: the resorts you can access, cost, travel time, luggage allowance, comfort, and access to stations and airports. All of these different aspects have to be considered to give a fair opinion on what works for you.
One of the reasons the old snow-train was so popular was the fact that you could be in the resort by 9am Saturday morning and didn't have to get the return train until after 7pm the following week, giving you eight days on the mountain. Everyone from snow addicts, to the one holiday a year crowd, would happily jump on the train, crawl into their couchette and enjoy those extra two days of skiing.
The second factor was the legendary disco-carriage. Many a hangover and even a few pre-skiing injuries were a result of the all night disco from Paris.
The current ski-train, as it has become known, is a direct daytime Eurostar service. But how does it fare without the extra days' skiing and ability to party the night away? Well there are some definite advantages over flying in my opinion. The train departs London St. Pancras at 10am and arrives in Moutiers around 5pm and Bourg around 6pm (this season's times are yet top be published). So you are looking at around an 8-9 hour journey.
Flying, from London Gatwick for example, to comparable resorts, takes around an hour and a half to Geneva and around two hours to Chambery. Chambery transfers range from an hour and a half to two and a half hours, whereas from Geneva you are looking at between three and four hours to the Tarantaise resorts. Add into the mix travelling to the airport two hours before the flight, and the fact that a vast amount of ski holiday flights depart between 6am and 8am and you are looking at a very early start. Once you combine this with a flight to Geneva, collecting your bags and sitting on a four hour transfer to Val d'Isere, you can easily be looking at a 8/9 hour day.
Cost is a funny one, if you are looking at your standard package holiday the price includes flights, usually from a London airport, therefore to go by train often adds a premium. Flights tend to be cheaper than the train, but for someone who can jump on the tube to St. Pancras, getting to the Eurostar is much cheaper than using the Gatwick Express, and much quicker. Therefore depending on the cost of the supplement, and where you live, the price can balance out.
Luggage allowance, on most charter flights you are looking at 20kg and if you're taking your skis an additional £30. If you are travelling by train as long as it fits in your suitcase, and you can carry it, then your baggage is fine, also your ski carriage has been included in previous years. The last time I travelled by train I had a 32kg suitcase and a huge boardbag with two snowboards, boots, bindings, helmet and all my snowboard clothing, the extra charge? Nothing. Lets hope this remains the same for this season.
Resorts; this is where the train does fall down. You can get to three of the five largest ski areas in France, including the largest linked ski area in the world, the Three Valleys. Other resorts include the Espace Killy, Paradiski, La Rosiere and St. Foy. Offering you a fantastic choice of skiing that will suit every ability and preference. By flying you have access to every resort in the world, from Klosters to Borovets and from Whistler to Niseko The choice is incomparable.
For my yearly trip out to Morzine I'll be jumping on a plane to Geneva as it's only an hour transfer, and if I decide go to Austria or Italy this year, the only choice is to fly. Though I have to say if my planned trip to Tignes or Meribel goes ahead I will take the Eurostar. For me its 20 minutes to the station, I don't have to worry about my girlfriend overloading her suitcase and then filling half of mine and I can take one boardbag with all our kit in it. Add in an M&S picnic on the train, a couple of bottles of wine and maybe a film on the lap top and you've got a relaxing journey to the Alps.
The great thing about travel is that there an option that suits everyone.
Written by Stephen Adam.
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