Snowvember News

 

Snow news is always good news and we have bucket loads to report on to get Winter 2016/17 off to a cracking start…



Some of our first overseas staff are out in resort training but have managed to find the time to send some envy inducing snaps, and the resorts are looking more than all white!


There has been a flurry of activity on social media from most of the European ski resorts, all fighting to show off their first good dumping off snow. Courchevel and Alpe d’Huez were amongst several resorts to opened their doors early- always a good sign. This makes it even more tempting to be one of the first on the mountain this season…

 

Sensational St Anton

 

Very Tempting Val Thorens

 

 

Magnificent Meribel

 

 

 

 

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Reasons to be cheerful not fearful

 

Everybody wants to enjoy the festive period but as everyone knows, it can but just as much hard work as it is it fun. This however shouldn’t be the case when you are on holiday. A Christmas or New Year ski holiday has all the potential to give you an amazing experience, creating that memorable occasion and this year we’ve gone even further to ensure everyone has a great time during the festive period.

 

 

One of the first things we looked at for this season is the travel date. Most travel companies, including us, typically depart on a Saturday… however this year the Saturday falls on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and as a result we decided to move the departure date to make it more convenient for you.

 

Now no one wants to be travelling on Christmas Eve, least of all if you are travelling with children. We believe that it is a time for relaxing, some mild indulgence and a drop of merriment… and there’s no place for travelling in that equation! Equally New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration and being tired from a long journey simply isn’t an option.

So our altered travel dates this year for Christmas is Tuesday 20th December 2016, rather than the Saturday 24th, and for New Year it is Tuesday 27th December 2016 instead of Saturday 31st.

 

 

This way you can be in resort rather than grappling with the dreaded festive period congestion. Being one step ahead of the crowd comes with its own rewards; you can relax in the comfort of your own chalet – feet up, mince pie in one hand, glass of vin chaud in the other

 

Also as a bonus for skiers travelling on Christmas and New Year’s, both ski breaks have additional bank holidays so you won’t have to take as much time off work. Christmas gets the luxury of the 24th – 27th December 2016 off whilst New Year’s has the 31st December 2016 – 2nd January 2017 off.

 

 

Spending Christmas, or New Year, away from home doesn’t mean you’ll lose any of the magic of the festive period. Far from it, imagine having Christmas, with all the trimmings, without any of the effort and hassle that comes with it – no cooking or washing up! Add that to the fact that you are in a bona fide winter wonderland and you’ve got a Christmas to remember.

And as for New Year Eve, well there can be few locations which are better to see in the New Year than in the heart of the Alps… especially when many resorts put on special events.

 

The festive season is a wonderful time of year and we look to make it as special as possible with a couple of well-placed festive treats.

 

With Christmas and New Year ski trips you’ll be greeted on arrival with a festive tipple; mulled wine for Christmas and sparkling wine for New Year. The chalet will already have been decorated, Christmas tree and all, so that you don’t have to perch perilously on the edges of chairs putting up lights. For the duration of your stay you can have afternoon tea with mince pies and mulled wine.

 

 

Food and general gluttony is for me a huge part of this time of year, and don’t worry we have you covered on that front, on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day there will be a breakfast of smoked salmon and Bucks Fizz, followed by canapés and aperitifs before the main Christmas or New Year meal. The Christmas meal is a festive three course Christmas meal finished with a traditional Christmas pud. There is also free flowing wine on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day… and the usual Christmas Day chef should take full advantage of this!

 

As for the children, don’t worry, they’ll get the festive treatment too as there will be sweets and chocolates available for them, dished out at the parents’ discretion of course and on Christmas Day there will be presents from Santa waiting for them under the tree (for children 2-11 years old).

 

 

With a festive bundle like this its hard to think of reasons not to getaway for Christmas or New Year. Also we’ve barely touched on one of the main reasons to go to the Alps over this period… the skiing! Traditionally it has been a good time for snow and this year there has already been a great foundation of snow. This year could see the best conditions in years. Taking Tignes as a decent barometer for ski resorts in the Alps it already had 50 centimetres on the upper piste according to Skiclub (which was last recorded on 3rd November 2016 – before the weekend snowfall).

 

Tignes (image taken over the weekend)

 

 

Looking at the long term forecast, accuweather is predicting more than 120 centimetres additional snowfall by the end of the month, and with an average temperature of -2.6 degrees Celsius. With this low temperature the snow should settle and lay a really great foundation ready for the start of the season, including Christmas and New Year.

 

And if you think that is good December is forecast to have over 160 centimetres for the month, with over 25 centimetres falling on Christmas Day! So it sounds like it’s going to be a proper white Christmas, with all the relevant tunes on the cards. And as with November, the average temperature is really low again (-5.8 degrees Celsius), so if everything goes to plan – there could be some amazing powder conditions by the end of December.

 

Snowfall from across the Alps

 

For the latest snow conditions in images… see our “Snowfall” album on Facebook

 

 

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Ski for less this season…

 

To most people the concept of jetting off for a weekend away on the slopes sounds amazing, I mean who wouldn’t?! It sounds like the sort of thing that James Bond would do when he wasn’t defeating his nemesis (probably with a well-placed judo chop). However whilst a ski break seems like a great idea, there are a number of issues which you come across which makes the whole thing less appealing… not least the expense of it all.

With our weekend ski breaks we can show you that you don’t have to own your own alpine chalet to be able to have a convenient, affordable getaway in the Alps.

 

 

 

As with anything you want to get value for money, however with a short break you usually pay over the odds for weekend accommodation rather than the whole week.

In addition to that, with a trip abroad, your flight time is cutting into your already limited leisure time and with skiing you also have to factor in a transfer time as you get whisked up to the mountain resorts.

 

 

With our ski breaks we have actively looked to remove the negative elements of a short skiing break and leave you with the kind of James Bond ski weekend that everyone wants, all the glamour and none of the worries.

We have two types of ski breaks available this year to suit your needs. The first is our short chalet break and the second is our weekend ski breaks. These breaks offer a great opportunity to go skiing especially if, like James, you can’t afford to be away from the office for too long.

 

The short chalet break is a unique opportunity to stay in one of our chalets for a 4 night break. It is available across France, Switzerland and Austria with just one departure date for the entire season – the 3rd January 2017. It is a great option for those who fancy a short ski break but don’t want to stay in a hotel or apartment. Also as opposed to the usual weekend or short break prices, we have managed to ensure that the cost per day is less than the equivalent week-long ski holiday.

For example you can stay in Maison Rose, Val d’Isere for just £65 per day, including 4 nights’ accommodation, flights, transfers and food (chalet board).

 

The weekend ski breaks have been revised and re-launched for this season, offering a revitalised approach to our short break programme and a fresh list of resorts, hotels and apartments. This year’s weekend ski break destinations have been hand-picked specifically to maximise your skiing time, actively selecting resorts with a short flight and transfer time.

Morzine for example only has a 1 hour 30 minutes flight (London Gatwick to Geneva) with just an hour transfer time. In fact you can get to 80% of our weekend destinations within an hour and a half from Geneva airport.

 

Having negotiated the best deals for the weekend accommodation we can offer a ski break which is also good value. We can also offer shared transfers which reduces the cost of an otherwise expensive private transfer.

The Hotel Pointe Isabelle, Chamonix is £582 per person for 3 nights compared to £994 per person for 7 nights (based on departing on Thursday 2nd March 2017).

 

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Unmissable Alpine Food and Drink

When skiing, no matter what new-fangled diet you are on, you will have to submit to some of the alpine delicacies. In part because they are delicious and you simply won’t be able to resist, especially when the smells from the kitchen hit you, but also because these dishes give you everything your body needs. You’ll need a different kind of diet to usual as you are going to be active all day on a cold, snow-covered mountain.

 

 

So now we’ve given you the premise for a suitable excuse, let’s not waste any time and just dive straight into the best and most decadent dishes… a lot of which appear to have melted cheese!

 

Tartiflette offers utter pleasure in one hand and a food coma in the other, all under the guise of an innocent looking dish.  Tartiflette, as you might have guessed, is not renowned for being overly healthy – there is an obvious lack of granola, kale or avocado for it to be considered in that category. What it does have however is the divine combination of potatoes, melted (Reblochon) cheese, bacon and onions making it a one-stop-shop for complete happiness. It is hugely popular and widely available across the French Alps.

 

 

 

We should give a special mention to Fondue whilst talking of melted cheese; however with our next pick we choose to go with Raclette, which is favoured over Fondue by many. The name comes from the French “racler” which means to scrape, although the dish originates in Switzerland and the Raclette cheese is Swiss too.

Raclette is a half wheel of cheese which is grilled; as it melts and browns, you then scrape (racler) it on to your food, covering it in a blanket of goodness.  Potatoes are a great choice for the “Raclette effect”, however its dealer’s choice.

 

 

Finally, the last cheesy dish which we simply couldn’t omit, the Swiss dish of Älplermagronen is a real crowd pleaser, especially on cold nights. It is essentially macaroni cheese on steroids. Take your classic dish and add potatoes, onions, bacon and a stewed apple… presumably so you get one of your 5-a-day. Whilst the apple may seem like a strange addition it is actually something welcome which cuts through an otherwise heavy dish.

 

 

Moving us away from the cheesy onslaught is the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel. Whilst the schnitzel may have similarities in appearance to the old school Turkey dinosaur; never has there been a clearer case that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The schnitzel is made from quality Veal; it is tenderised into escalopes, covered in a breadcrumb batter and then cooked. It is typically accompanied with a potato salad.

 

 

 

 

If you’re still hungry for more, the Austrians are top dogs in the Alps when it comes to deserts… although the French would probably have something to say about that.

 

Apple Strudel is as synonymous with Austrian cuisine as it could be… however ironically this dish originated in the Hungarian part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Regardless of history what we have is a desert which really warms the heart at the end of the meal. The harmony of apple, cinnamon and sultanas wrapped in warm, buttery pastry is simply unmissable… add to that vanilla custard and you’re on route to 7th heaven.

 

 

The literal translation of the Germknodel is yeast dumpling… however please don’t let that put you off. It is a light, sweet dumpling filled with plum jam. It is steamed in milk then served in a sauce of melted butter or vanilla cream, topped with poppy seeds and sugar.

 

 

 

Kaiserschmarren is a dish of shredded, fluffy pancakes which is often served with fruit, fruit sauce or nuts. The name itself is loosely translated to mean Emperor’s Mess. For those that haven’t had it, it’s not dissimilar to those small Dutch pancakes (Poffertjes) that you see at the Christmas market as the pancakes are light and spongy.

 

 

 

 

 

After all this rich, hearty food, you’ll need something to wash it all down with… or something to jump-start you out of your food-induced comatose state

 

Asking round an office of frequent skiers, it is clear that the Demi Peche is very much the marmite of the drinks world. Demi Peche is the French’s answer to a Lager Top, where instead of lemonade they add peach syrup. The result is quite sweet… which is at the heart of the love/hate comments, maybe it should be thought of as a lager-cocktail? Adding syrup to any alcoholic drink, for me, makes it a cocktail.

 

Whilst the jury is out on Demi Peche, Jager tends to tell a different story.  Jagermeister which literally translated means “Hunting Master” has strong hunting connections… which is interesting because I have never considered playing sport, least of all one with a weapon, after taking some of this stuff.

With 56 ingredients including a variety of herbs, roots and spices; it is probably closer linked to some cough medicines, yet for some reason it has become one of the most popular drinks on the après scene. It has a legion of disciples who will always order a round… in fact there’s probably one in your group of friends and if you can’t think of anyone, it’s probably you.

 

 

Universally known, Gluehwein / Vin Chaud often gets cracked out as a festive favourite. For those unfamiliar, its heated red wine stewed with a mix of spices including cinnamon, cloves, star aniseed, some citrus peel and sugar. It has to be one of the more efficient drinks out there, facilitating getting drunk at the same time as staying warm.

 

 

Let us know you thoughts on these Alpine delicacies and please let us know if you think we’ve missed a trick and omitted a treasured dish.

 

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Paradise on Skis – La Plagne

A Piece of Peace on Piste

 

 

At the heart of the exquisite Tarentaise Valley, La Plagne’s 225 km of masterfully maintained slopes connect three of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region’s most picturesque districts (Aime-La Plagne, La Plagne-Tarentaise and Champagny-en-Vanoise). ‘Most picturesque’, you may be thinking, is a fairly packed statement, but breathtaking uninterrupted views of the Mont Blanc massif from the delicately crafted village of Montchavin aside, we’re confident you won’t find any reason to disagree with our appraisal.

 

There’s a number of reasons the resort’s popularity has steadily increased since its opening in 1961; world class skiing, jaw dropping setting, high altitude, majority ski-in ski-out accommodation, snow-sure, luxurious yet characteristically charming villages and residences, not to mention the erection of the Vanoise Express (one of the fastest double decker cable cars of its kind, travelling at over 40km/h), linking it with Les Arcs resort in just four minutes. Why should that excite you? Well, La Plagne and Les Arcs are part of the Paradiski group’s ski-connected resorts. They have a number of ski pass offers with Les Arcs access options, and that’s another 200 km of archetypal descents to be explored. Bonus.

 

 

For the thrill seeking among you it may also be of interested to know that La Plagne boasts 37 black runs and a mammoth off-piste area, including one of the Alps’ most famous descents, Bellecôte’s legendary North Face. It’s also home to its very own Olympic (Albertville, 1992) Bobsleigh run, now a popular tourist attraction offering a number of thrilling bobsleigh experiences, one being the chance to ride with Olympic bronze medalist and World Champion Bruno Mingeon! Fast is a matter of subjectivity, but if the thought of speeds of up to 130km/h makes your feet and hands tingle, this may be the activity for you.

 

Skiing holidays aren’t all about fast paced downhill activities… ok, they basically are, but there’s certainly a number of other factors that contribute to a good one. La Plagne is renowned for being the quintessential family resort, which means it maintains a certain level of peace and tranquility that many resorts simply can’t offer. A combination of that and the overwhelmingly beautiful nature on display here has been known to cause serious side effects in the past; these can/may include; joy, bliss, contentedness, wonderment, serenity and awe. Whilst 86% of pistes are blue and red (great for exploring the mountains and another factor which adds to the attractiveness of the resort as a family destination), stronger skiers need not despair; there’s plenty of challenging skiing including the super speedy Carina Run and epically bumpy Vega. Oh, and don’t forget Les Arcs and all that off-piste mentioned earlier. Anyway, back to the point, skiing holidays aren’t all about skiing…

 

We’ve always loved La Plagne here at Skiworld, so we’re understandably thrilled to announce the addition of seven brand new Superior (4+ and 5*) chalets to our already extensive collection. In keeping with tradition, each has been created in stunning Savoyard style, utilising stone and wood to blend respectfully in with the natural surroundings. The design brief for all seven stressed a combination of both luxury and practicality, ensuring style didn’t compromise comfort, something we truly believe has been successfully achieved. Among numerous other features; every chalet is within striking distance of the piste and under floor heating works tirelessly to provide daily welcome home parties for your feet and toes. As with all Superior chalet bookings, top of the range food and drink make the après portion of your skiing holiday all the more delicious. Sit back and unwind with a large glass of premium quality plonk, next to the warmth and crackle of a tremendous wood fire. It’s no wonder the majority of holidaymakers, particularly those on family trips, have no qualms swapping nights out for nights in here.

 

Those that are looking for nightlife, again, don’t despair! Although a much quieter resort than many others, La Plagne has a number of well established bars to keep you both lubricated and entertained on your trip. Belle Plagne offers the highest concentration of well trodden night spots, including; La Tete Inn – always a warm a jovial atmosphere, and, Saloon – providing the floorfillers for those looking to boogie their way into the early hours. Cosy Bar and Showtime Cafe in Bellecôte also come highly recommended. A free bus service and late night pedestrian chairlifts ferry visitors between the resorts, and interconnected tunnels and walkways between chalets and resort buildings mean the bitter evening chill is thankfully kept at bay.

 

 

We also know ‘going out’ doesn’t necessarily involve bars and nightclubs – so here we welcome La Plagne’s incredible restaurants. Not only does the high altitude of the resort’s villages mean stunning views are basically a given, but the fact that most are ski in/ski out lends itself perfectly to on-mountain dining without the on-mountain price tag. Le Refuge (La Plagne’s oldest restaurant) serves up exemplary French cuisine in Plagne Centre, whilst Le Chaudron and Le Metairie have your favourite French fromage classics down to a T. For those looking for something truly special, La Mine in Plagne 1800 is known for its ‘serious’ food and elegant decor, whilst a jaunt to Le Forperet, a ‘charmingly rustic’ old refuge above Montalbert, is an absolute must (book in advance!).
It’s hopefully becoming clear why so many are not only choosing but returning to La Plagne each year. It’s one of our favourite resorts in France and one that offers something for all the family, both on and off the slopes. Fantastically designed for both group excursions and individual exploration alike, what really sets it apart from the rest is the sheer sense of calm it imbues, a reflection of the powerful silence observed in the formidable surroundings. Need we say more?

 

 

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Inspiration for your Christmas Wish List

 

With Oxford Street putting up their Christmas lights this week, you know the festive rush will follow shortly… Christmas tunes on the radio and the Coca-Cola advert are inevitably just round the corner. Now I’m just as festive as the next person… if not more so, however even for me this is a little premature to be indulging in Christmas antics. Having said that, it is never too early to start thinking of presents and what’s going to be on your wish list this year.

 

So we’ve decided to have a slightly self-indulgent look at what new ski gear has been launched for this season; discovering all the new fads, what’s new, what’s improved and what we can no longer live without (thanks Oxford Street for the cue).

 

Our Top 3 New Ski Gear Products This Season

 

  1. Atomic Hawx Ultra 130

Approx. £370

It seems everyone is talking about Atomic’s latest ski boot in the lead up to this ski season but what’s so great about them? Well there are a few key features which seem to have created a buzz. Number one is its “progressive shell”; basically this new outer case means that it is lighter whilst at the same time giving the user greater agility in the boot.

This off-the-shelf boot has so many customisable adjustments that allow you to tailor the boot to you in a way that only a boot fitter would normally be able to achieve. Elements include flex and forward lean and even canting.

 

 

 

  1. Uvex Snowstrike Variotronic Goggles

Approx. £300

Although transition lenses have been around for a little while, Uvex appear to have taken the next step with these goggles. Arguably the main difference is that they offer you 4 different lens-types in one goggle, without actually changing the lens…

The lens holds a special liquid crystal technology which affects the tint and light transition levels which the user experiences. The user can choose between automatic and manual… the goggles have an in-built system which assesses the light conditions you are in and switches to the ideal lens; although there is also a function which allows the user to manually change the lens to their personal preference.

The various lens options allows the user to pick the optimum lens a variety of different conditions, from overcast to bright sunshine. If all that wasn’t impressive enough, the lens takes just 0.1 second to change.

 

 

 

  1. Warmthru Luxury Heated Socks

Approx. £130

These always appear on my Christmas wish list; however at around £150 for a pair I kind of understand why they aren’t considered your standard Xmas socks stocking filler.

Heated socks have to be the ultimate luxury and would just make the whole skiing experience that much better.

These particular socks are compression socks too which means that they improve circulation and therefore increase the amount of oxygen getting to your muscles, decreasing muscle fatigue and the chance of cramp due to reduced lactic acid build up.

 

 

 

As an overview, the focus for this season is weight. A lot of the manufacturers are keen to make their products lighter whilst maintaining or even improving their performance levels. This has been managed largely through the materials they are using as well as being more efficient with the materials they currently use. You can see this practice across wide range of new skis but also with ski boots.

 

 

Think we’ve missed something out? Let us know what’s on your wish list this year.

 

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Non-Ski Activities

 

Bobsleigh

Unique in France and one of only 7 tracks of its kind in Europe, the bobsleigh/luge track in La Plagne is available for members of the public to use during the winter at the end of each afternoon. Built for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games, the course allows you to achieve speeds of up to 120 km per hour if you sign up for a Bob Racing package which sees you accompanied by a pro driver (€122). Alternatively try a Bob Raft, self-steering and breaking but at lower speeds (still around 80 km per hour), great fun for 4 people (€45). Speed Luge is also available, one person half-sitting half-lying feet first. A great way to get some downhill thrills in the mountains if skiing isn’t your thing (€109).

 

 

Spa Days

The main purpose of any holiday to the mountains should always be just that, to have a holiday. Relaxation is a key part of that, and what better way to relax than to be pampered and massaged in a high end spa. Many resorts have top hotels with spa facilities which are often accessible for a reasonable daily fee to non-residents. As well as the usual saunas, steam rooms and outdoor pools, why not try some more left field treatments which are gaining popularity in many resorts such as infra-red rooms, hot stone massages, body wraps and colour therapy. Where: Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermatt, Switzerland – 50 minute full body massage: CHF 145, 80 minute hot stone massage: CHF 240.

 

 

Après-ski

For some people the main event of any day on the slopes, it is more than possible to make it through a ski week merely by flittering between various après-ski hotspots; it may not actually be technically accurate to call them après-ski hotspots if you haven’t done any skiing, but to let you in on a secret, these places are just as fun if you have spent the day watching everyone else ski from the safety of a slope side deckchair. An itinerary for a day of “après-ski” may run thus: 08:30 breakfast in chalet, back to bed until 10:00, followed by long bath. 11:00 lift up to a café for mid-morning hot chocolate. Recline until 12:30, at which point the skiers in your party may be starting to think about a lunch break. Find restaurant, bag table by 13:00, await skiers. After leisurely meal enjoy sight of skiers faffing with helmets and goggles before they leave, remain sunbathing on restaurant terrace until afternoon après bars warm up at 15:00. Lift/stroll to après bar of choice, buy a round for skiing members of the group who arrive shortly after, cold beer awaiting them on the table, and you are everyone’s favourite. Enjoy outdoor live music and dancing, nod along attentively to your friends’ daily ski anecdotes, back to the chalet in time for dinner, back to a bar, back to the chalet, sleep, repeat. You will never know how anyone finds time to fit in skiing around such a busy schedule.

 

 

Snowshoeing 

Ever popular with non-skiers, this is the best way to get around on snow and see the mountains up close without the aid of skis or snowboard. The whole mountain is open to you; snowshoe users can catch the same lifts as everyone else, meaning access to the same amazing scenery. Some resorts have specially allocated walking trails, so you can even visit places which are off limits to the skiing and snowboarding community. Snowshoeing is a practise which has been around for thousands of years (you will probably see some of the vintage tennis racquet style snowshoes of yesteryear adorning the walls of a traditional restaurant in resort) but designs have developed to make them lighter, more manageable, and a super easy way to get the most out of your trip to the mountains. Where: Snowshoe rental with Skimium, Val d’Isere (mid-season): 1 day €8.20, 6 days €44.20.

 

 

Ice driving 

If you aren’t looking to ski or snowboard, but still want to go in search of adrenaline on your holiday, you may like to consider one of the ice driving courses available in various resorts. Val Thorens, for example, has the highest ice driving circuit in Europe at 2200 metres where you can either take lessons in ice driving techniques, or just hurtle round a smaller ice carting track for fun. One school even gives the option to ride along with a professional at full speed and see how it is really done. Where: Val Thorens Ice Driving Academy, prices from €99 for 15 minutes, €180 for 30 minutes, and €300 for 60 minutes.

 

 

Dog Sledding

Experience the all-natural pulling power of a pack of huskies on your holiday this winter. For many, just being in the company beautiful and friendly animals would be entertainment enough, but factor in that you get to be outside enjoying breath-taking scenery and accessing secluded parts of the mountain landscape, and this really could be the activity of a lifetime. The speed is steady and can be just a little more than walking pace, so dog sledding is just as much for nature lovers as it is for those after the thrill of the ride, truly something for all the family. Where: La Rosiere, Evolution 2 offer multiple options perfect for children accompanied by an adult: 2 person 20 minute excursion €90, 3 person 20 minute excursion €120.

 

 

Paragliding 

If you are looking for the thrill of skiing without any of the effort or strain on the legs, you may enjoy allowing an instructor to steer you down through the clouds, above the pistes and along valleys. It is a unique way to experience the mountains to be hovering high amongst the peaks and be able to see the already awe-inspiring landscape in an even more breath-taking way, without any obstructions and no windows or walls to separate you from the elements. Where: Alpe d’Huez, beginner’s tandem paraglide from €170.

 

 

Ice Skating 

The vast majority of resorts will have an ice rink for people to use, skates can usually be rented there or at one of the many ski rental shops in town. Many people may have been ice skating back at home, however indoor rinks are no substitute for being surrounded by serene mountain landscape, in the open air, with the potential for a few snowflakes to fall around you as well. Many rinks also host ice hockey matches in the evenings during the winter season, if you don’t fancy getting out on the ice yourself you can always take a flask of something warming, sit in the stands and enjoy the game. Where: Outdoor ice rink, Les Arcs 1800, open every day from December 14th to March 20th, skate hire: adults €7, children €6.

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The High Life – Vail

 

Vail is unlike anywhere else in the world. Think Aspen meets Courchevel then add a dash of Verbier for good measure. Starting to build up a picture? Well, it’s unlikely to even come close to the reality of what is widely considered the world’s ultimate ski resort. With over 5,000 acres of perfectly manicured slopes, it’s the largest of its kind in the US, and is home to seven truly legendary back bowls, revered across the planet.

 

Attracting over one and a half million visitors a year, a large part of Vail’s popularity has to be down to its ability to effortlessly accommodate skiers of all abilities, meaning families, individuals and groups are all generously catered for. Advanced skiers find paradise in the endless steeps and bowls that make up over fifty percent of the skiable resort, whilst Blue Sky Basin contains some of the most shrewdly conceived and exciting intermediate runs in the US. Top that off with an internationally acclaimed ski school, superb entry level off-piste, liberally wide runs, a skipark and super-pipe, and it soon becomes clear that not only have every level of skiers’ wants and needs been considered, but snowboarders have similarly had their deepest desires unsparingly indulged.

 

 

Vail’s seduction, however, lies not only in its incredible skiing. By design its chic streets, infamous nightclubs, eminent restaurants and vast boutiques lure society’s unabashed elite in their masses. It’s what you might call an ‘adults playground’, where Budgets and Restraint drop off the kids and take a long uninterrupted vacation. Obviously not everyone who visits Vail has pockets deeper than the Atlantic Ocean, but the sheer size of the resort allows for a number of reasonably priced accommodation options in the Lionshead area. Vail Village is where you’ll find the most opulent and exclusive hotels and condos, with everything in between in both East and West Vail. Even though it’s huge, the size of the resort need not deter even the most impatient, for high-speed lift systems and a highly efficient shuttle service mean navigating the resort and slopes is satisfyingly simple.

 

All of this combined makes Vail magnificently subsuming, with every aspect of the resort harmonised to symphonic perfection. It’s certainly no mistake either; multi-ski-resort giants, Vail Resorts (who own Vail), are the world’s second largest ski resort operator. Expanding exponentially, the American powerhouse (on top of owning more than ten ski areas in the US) have recently purchased Perisher (Australia’s largest ski area), the iconic Whistler, and have Japanese territory locked firmly in their sights. Whatever the formula is, it’s working, and, of course, it doesn’t end there. Vail Resorts have recently introduced the ‘Epic Pass’. Sounds dull right? Wrong. Season ticket holders used to gain unlimited access to all of their resorts, but they decided that wasn’t enough. In a game changing manoeuvre, a significant number of Europe’s best loved resorts have been added to what was already the world’s most popular ski pass. Let us break that down a little:

 

Starting at just £623 per person (until 9th October 2016), Epic Pass holders unearth unrestricted access to not only all eleven of Vail Resort’s US division (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, Heavenly etc.), but also all of Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val d’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria. Marinade in that for a moment. Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val d’Isere alone provides access to five glaciers, 391 ski lifts and over 1200 km of marked runs within a 50 km radius. Verbier, part of the 4 Vallees in Switzerland, is widely regarded one of the top ‘off-piste’ resorts in the world, and its highly celebrated nightlife is no less legendary. La Plagne, part of Paradiski, is one of France’s most popular family resorts and home to Bellecôte’s infamous North Face. Everyone and everything has been covered by the Epic Pass. Literally. It. Is. EPIC. It’s not even the main focus of this piece, and yet it deserves all the attention it gets and unquestionably cements Vail Resorts position as one of the industry’s biggest and most innovative players.

 

 

Back in Vail, activities such as ice-skating, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, tubing and ski-biking make for a great alternative use of (on average) 348 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine a year. Of course, no expense has been spared when it comes to the children’s play areas either. Set up around the mountains, these include a formidable fort and stellar tepee village, providing hours of endless entertainment to tens of thousands of children each year.

 

As has been previously touched upon, Vail is also home to more than a hundred shops and boutiques, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The quality of hospitality is absolutely unrivaled, and when it comes to fine dining, La Tour’s exquisite food, atmosphere and attentive service ensure it’s ever the topic of Vail goers culinary conversations. Whilst the village is lavish, its sympathetic design maintains an elegant Alpine charm, and the pubs offer good, hearty, reasonably priced food in a traditionally rustic atmosphere. On top of that, weekly street concerts are a welcome addition to the already extensive nightlife, with numerous exclusive clubs, relaxed lounges and live music venues dotted around the resort.

 

To end on an analogy, one might say people both takeoff and land in Vail’s tree lined runs and streets, mimicking jets on commercial runways. A sensational ski paradise that has become a literal interpretation of what is commonly known as ‘The High Life’. Whoever, whatever, wherever you are, you’re not living until you’ve taken flight in the phenomenon that is Vail.

 

 

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Why Take a Short Chalet Break?

 

For the First Time Ever…
This year Skiworld are offering an alternative to the week-long chalet ski holiday and giving skiers the opportunity to experience a short chalet ski break. Historically the weekend break has been predominantly facilitated by hotels and apartments; however for this season, our catered chalets are being made available for a unique 4 night duration! So, in 2017 with Skiworld, you can enjoy the age-old tradition and firm favourite of the British skier, the chalet ski holiday, but at a fraction of the price.

 

What is the Short Chalet Break?
The short chalet break is a four night ski holiday, departing on the 3rd January. Included in the package price are the flights, transfers and 4 nights’ accommodation (chalet board). You can choose any chalet from across our European programme within France, Switzerland and Austria.

 

 

What are the advantages?
Contrary to the usual weekend or short break, we have managed to ensure the cost per day is less than the equivalent week-long ski holiday. Plus, it’s great for anyone who is keen to go skiing after the festive period, or indeed add the 4 nights onto the end of a Christmas week trip! You can of course also add to the first full week of January too, creating an 11 night break.

 

TIME TO TRY
With the added value, you could get more for you money. Our selection of Superior Chalets offers an enhanced skiing experience adding that touch of luxury to your ski holiday. The chalets are more comfortable and have more facilities as well as a superior menu.
The short break is also a great opportunity for beginners to try a skiing holiday for the first time without having to commit to a full week off work.
Equally this break is a great opportunity for accomplished skiers to try something new. For those who have always opted for a hotel or apartment, or consistently venture to the same resort, why not use this as an opening to try something new?

 

SNOW
Looking to the slopes, the beginning of January is typically a good time for snow in the Alps with large snowfalls historically falling in New Year’s week and through January. Plus being out of school holidays, the lifts are also quieter.

 

Our Short Chalet Breaks start from £311pp – click here for our full range of chalet offers.

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Why take a Christmas holiday with Skiworld this year?

 

The Most Wonderful Times to Travel

 

This year, we at Skiworld are adjusting our usual travel dates to get you up the mountain first, and make Christmas as perfect for you and your loved ones as can be.

 

Rather than our usual Saturday to Saturday holidays, we are running Christmas holidays in 2016 from Tuesday 20th December until Tuesday 27th December. We believe there are several benefits to this change. If we were to run our Christmas week as we would normally, from Saturday to Saturday, it would mean flying out on Saturday 24th December, yes… Christmas Eve. We believe that one of the most magical days of the year should not be spent in motorway traffic or queuing up at a check-in. A 7 night holiday departing on a Saturday would also mean returning on Saturday 1st January, again yes… New Year’s Day. No one wants to spend the New Year’s hangover zigzagging along mountain roads on a transfer coach.

 

The benefit of these altered travel dates is further complemented by the fact that other Tour Operators are sticking to the Saturday to Saturday programme, meaning all their guests will be rushing around at the airport in each other’s way on Christmas Eve, whilst you are already snug in your chalet or out enjoying…

 

Emptier slopes! The peak week traffic not arriving until Saturday 24th means that for 4 ski days you will have less busy pistes and shorter lift queue times than you could usually expect during Christmas week in resort, which you will know is a real bonus if you have skied at this time of year before.

 

Skiworld’s Christmas week dates have another great benefit, which is that Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th are both bank holidays; even though you beat the crowds and get up the mountain days before other festive holidaymakers, you are still travelling over the public holiday, so do not need to take time off work for those two days. 6 days of leave for the price of 4, no brainer!

 

 

 

You Won’t Miss Out on a Traditional Family Christmas

 

Many people who have reservations about going away for Christmas feel like they will miss out on a traditional family Christmas, when really this is not the case. Rather than just spending the one big day together, you get 7 days uninterrupted quality time with your nearest and dearest. Also, gone is the argument over who is hosting this year, or the hassle of travelling to the other side of the country and back in the Christmas weekend traffic.

 

For some, leaving the comfort of one’s own home is the biggest wrench, at one of the times of the year when people traditionally seek the comforts of home more than any other. Well, the whole point of a ski chalet is to be your home from home, and they never come into their own in this regard more than over the Christmas period. Your group can take a whole chalet to yourselves to get that true family Christmas feeling. Did you know, over Christmas we put up a Christmas tree and full Christmas decorations in all our chalets? So, far from missing out on these homely comforts, you get the surprise of walking into your own Christmassy grotto, where all the work has been done for you. We even leave a little gift under the tree for all our Christmas guests aged 2-11 years.

 

 

 

Speaking of all the work being done for you…

 

One of the many highlights of the festive period is all the food and drink. However the biggest downside to the festivity can be the cooking and washing up which comes with putting on that kind of spread. Well we have the perfect solution, if you stay in one of our catered chalets over the festive period we provide a Christmas menu of seasonal fine dining, and clear up all the gravy stained pots and pans, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying the feast.

 

During Christmas week you can expect the following added bonuses in our chalets, which you wouldn’t necessarily get during other weeks of the season:

  • A welcome drink of mulled wine on the day you arrive
  • Midnight celebration of mince pies and sparkling wine on Christmas Eve
  • On the big day, enjoy smoked salmon and Buck’s Fizz for breakfast, and vin chaud and mince pies for afternoon tea
  • Rather than just in the evenings as is usual in chalets, indulge in free flowing wine all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • Traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, including canapés, aperitifs and Christmas crackers
  • All our chalets come with the option of wine upgrades, but this week more than any other you may wish to sample the very finest; Silver, Gold, and Platinum wine packages available to add another layer of decadence to the merriment

 

 

One final reason to let Skiworld take care of you this Christmas is the amazing value of a week away. Take a look at the deals we currently have on offer for 20th December departures. Treat Yourself.
 
www.skiworld.co.uk/ski-holidays/christmas

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