Obviously you can camp if you want to. It's Scotland, everyone is tough as nails and actually the year-round campsite at Glencoe Mountain Centre is pretty good with fine showers and toilet block. But we're not tough as nails, so stayed in one of the microlodges on site which look kind of like modern day gypsy caravans. We packed three of us into one which was very cosy but at least we weren't cold. You still need to bring your camping stove as there's no kitchen or anything. I guess essentially it's a big wooden tent. But you'll be thankful of it when your ski kit is wet and you don't want to battle with a damp tent.
A ski in ski out chalet it is not. But this YHA is the highest in the UK and it is pretty close to Yad Moss ski area so if you're looking for a budget ski weekend it's perfect. When there's snow obviously. We opted for breakfast which was hearty and came with surprisingly nice coffee and then we spent the day riding at Yad Moss before heading back for beers. Yad Moss itself has a drag lift and a fair few runs. If the snow is good you can even ride back to the road. NB no food or drink sold there so although there's a hut for shelter and a bit of warmth, you'll need to bring your own lunch.
Bit retro but still, when there's snow - and when I went in 2011 there was lots - this is a really fun place to go and ski. It has a tow lift and some very unexpectedly good off piste terrain as well as pistes. I had to join the club to ride there but it really was worth it. There is a club lodge and restroom on site so when the notorious winter conditions set in you've got a place to hunker down in.
A lot of services packed into a lovely little place. Hire your skis here if skiing at the Lecht ski area in the Cairngorm National Park, just up the road. Then warm yourself up with some tasty home made soup when you return them. You can even buy a tasteful gift for those back home. (Lovely smelly soap and hand cream in the toilets as well!)
All three of my children have learned to ski in the Cairngorms. It's a good place to start with them young as the funicular railway takes them to the beginners slopes at the top of the mountain which usually has some snow and there is a cafe/restaurant for hot chocolate and food when they get cold. If the snow is poor or wind up the mountain prevents the lifts operating then there are lots of other things to do in or near Aviemore such as walking (Roithemurchas estate), mountain biking (Bothy Bikes), dog sledging, seeing the reindeer herd, visiting the Scottish wildlife park, swimming (at the Holiday Inn) or going for a tree top walk through an elevated pathway, so it's not all full on skiing. My son broke his arm snowboarding there and he was treated at the GP's surgery as they have X-ray scanning facilities on site rather than having to trek to Inverness to discover if anything is broken. The children got a taste for skiing there and now want to venture elsewhere and can ski/board all day but it's a great place to start with kids who may not want to ski all day everyday and want a range of other things to do as well.
Cairngorm Mountain Railway: www.cairngormmoutain.org
Highland Wildlife Park:
Google map: bit.ly/Q7chkp
Montgenevre is a great resort if you want to mix and match different types of skiing. The resort has won an award for its cross-country skiing and has about 25kms of trails on its doorstep with bus access to another 40kms. For downhillers it offers a wide range of slopes, a constantly improving lift system, access to the massive Milky Way system and also lift pass which allows a day in other resorts including Alp D'Huez where you could ski the Sarene run which has been claimed to be the longest black run in the Alps.
Bar "Posaune" offers a different and innovative touch to pub food in Austria. You have freedom of creating your own meal for as little as €3, and the basic choices are pizza, pasta or traditional "kartofel". You can choose from a wide range of toppings and make a great combination of food and flavours for the same money or adding just €1. In this way, one adds a personal touch to it and transforms the art of eating into indulging without concern of spending too much money. The pub atmoshpere also contributes to a relaxing meal out! Enjoy!
Zinzendorfgasse 34, 8010 Graz, Austria
Google map: bit.ly/YoTUHG
Mt Norquay is a 15-minute drive from the town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Unlike the other two closest hills, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, Norquay offers very affordable day passes and discount packages. There are plenty of mid-range runs, which makes it perfect for intermediate-level skiers and snowboarders. With views of the town and the surrounding mountains, it is a spectacular place to spend an adrenalin-packed day. Tubing is also available.
2 Mt Norquay Road, Banff, AB, ABT1L1B4, Canada
+1 403 762 4421
Rondablikk is a quiet and beautifully situated hotel in the stunning Rondane National park (about 300 kms north of Oslo). Get your cross country ski's or snow shoes on for fabulous loyper trails through the breathtaking park, woodland and mountains, stopping to snack in the occasional Sami shelters. If you fancy a bit of dog sledding for light relief, they do that too. Great for beginners in the above sports and Rondablikk is a lovely little find if you want a swim, sauna, a smorgasbord of tasty food and a bit of peace in front of the fire after the day's exertions. Wouldn't hesitate to rebook a third time....if only to re visit the lady in the log hut that makes the best hot chocolate in the world!
It's the largest ski resort in the French Pyrenees, where the French and Spanish ski but few Brits. Great range of runs and backs on to the beautiful Neouvielle reserve, for stunning off-piste, ski-touring and snow-shoeing. You'll need a bit of French to get by but you'll be rewarded by friendly locals, lamb chops the size of your head, and quality dining in traditional restaurants. Everything is reasonably priced (ie cheaper than the Alps and Andorra) and good value. What keeps us coming back is the combination of great skiing and food, based in a traditional mountain village (Bareges) rather than a purpose-built resort town.
It's an online ski (and snowboard) hire calculator that shows how much you could save by renting in the UK and then picking up skis in France. It compares rental costs versus ever increasing airline baggage fees.
10,000 metres of altitude in one day. Nothing makes a day of skiing quite like frantic racing around a resort, skiing no run or lift twice, completing the last run of the route at 4.55pm in the dusk, finishing by downing shots from a ski. A-mazing.
Imagine an apres ski bar that gets so hot from the superb bands and throngs of punters dancing on reinforced tables and chairs that they have to open the roof every half an hour to let the steam out! That's Apres, the simple name for the Apres Ski bar attached to Hotel Farinet in Verbier. Forget your cliché resorts like Val d'Isere, St Anton or Meribel, this is the single best apres ski you'll find anywhere in the Alps. Open from 4-8pm, it's always heaving and sitting down is simply not an option for the last two hours as the live bands churn out classics that drive the crowds bonkers. If they didn't open the roof the atmosphere would probably lift it off anyway! Apres is the best night out you'll ever have that ends at 8pm. After staggering back to the chalet for dinner you'll be forgiven for getting an early night, perfect for making the most of the ski day!
It's a small but very down to earth ski resort just south of Munich. Has a few famous Olympic stars such as Michi Gerg who incidentally runs a fantastic ski school for kids. My kids learned there and now ski black runs.
Grizzly's is a bar in Val Claret. The whole bar is made out of wood hand crafted by Grizzly himself. The designs are amazing and have an almost Native American vibe to it. It is cosy and beautiful and there are wood carvings of animals to look at with seats in different nooks and crannies always close to a roaring fire.
Not only that Grizzly (the owner) is a sight. Everyday he will shovel snow topless wearing a large turqoise pendant and is incredibly welcoming. It is the most unusual bar I have ever been to in the Alps and its decor and vibe is not something you expect to find on the snowy mountain.
Place des Curlings, 73320 Tignes, France
+33 (0) 479 06 3417
Becoming something of an institution, Mama's is the place to go on chalet staff day off when you're left pondering how to feed yourself. Pasta, noodles, great pizza, fish & chips. It's more take out than eat in although there are tables. The lads who work there are really cool, lots of banter, lively atmosphere and above all really good food - the Singapore chicken comes recommended.
Rue du Bourg, Morzine
+33(0)4 50 74 31 62
A little way out of Whistler - about five minutes in the car if that - is a complex of accommodation called Whiskey Jack. It's pretty quiet and wooded so great for people wanting a bit more of a chilled time or with families. We were a couple and the apartment we had was massive. It was like flat sitting for a mate. Set over two floors, balcony, two double bedrooms, huge lounge with TV and a great kitchen and all for so much cheaper than we were being quoted for Whistler Village itself. The one downside is the drive to the slopes (although there's loads of parking in Whistler) and home from a night out which can limit your hedonism somewhat but for the money you save you can easily treat yourself to the odd cab.
Head office (where you need to go to pick up your keys: 4314 Main Street Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, Canada
+1 (604) 932 6599
Actual apartment complex: 2400 Cavendish Way
+1 (604) 932 6500
Google map: bit.ly/SixGn5
A-Basin (as it is known locally) rocks the rockies for so many reasons. It has one of the longest ski seasons in the USA (already open for winter 2012/13) and has some of the highest terrain in North America so gets dumped with snow when other resorts miss out. It has a new high speed quad, but also has some old school lifts that give the resort a more local and relaxed feel. And the terrain at the end of the lifts is some of the best around. At the end of the day when your legs are too tired to take anymore, head to 'the beach' for some beers, bbq and afternoon sun. And with all of this it still doesn't have the crowds that other Colorado resorts have. You can head there from Denver just for the day or use your Vail resorts ski pass (and free shuttle service) to get some turns in at one of the coolest resorts stateside.
Before deciding where to ski, ask the ski companies or use the web to check if the six or more day ski pass you are probably going to be buying gives you a day’s access to the lifts at a neighbouring resort for free or a reduced price and whether the ski company lays on transport to get you there and back. Many do though you will have to pay for this. If staying in a smaller resort this can really add to the variety and mileage you can get under your. Check out St Foy’s pass for free or reduced access to one of the huge five star areas of Val D’Isere, Tignes or Les Arcs. Passo Tonale’s pass gives a free day in either Madonna di Campagilo or the Brenta Dolomites and if in French Serre Chevalier you can get a taste of Italian skiing in Sestriere or other Italian resorts of the big Milky Way system.
Not exactly the world's classiest pizza place, it's more like where the kids and seasonaires go but the pizzas are great value and they do jugs of beer. The tables are all like bar tables so you stand up in your ski gear to eat your pizza which is actually quite a good idea for a post ride munch.
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