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Resorts & Travel

Resorts & Travel

If you've got a question about resorts and travel, or you want to share your opinions and experiences with other skiers and boarders, you can post them here.

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 23 Dec 2018 08:33

    I hope someone finds this useful :)

    I like to be with her because it makes the trip so much nicer and anyway I ski only a few hours each day, starting with the instant the slope opens. It gets us away from the bleak UK winter, too...

    But most ski places are useless for this. We have just got back from Zermatt, which after a lot of digging around seemed to be the best option. Not sure why the font size randomly changes on this forum...

    Other options that came up were Cervinia and Saalbach, with the last one having the most mixed views.

    For my skiing, nothing gets close to Madonna di Campiglio.

    We stayed in a place called Haus Pan which was a really spacious self catering apartment. Properly equipped too for cooking stuff. It was a 5-10 minute walk from the main ski lift, albeit with a pretty steep path which would get icy but there is a rope to hold onto for most of the distance. Boot heaters for only four pairs of boots, so consider bringing your own heater. There is so much to check out in this business...

    For beginner skiing I would say Zermatt is good provided the slopes (the blue ones, 3-4 of them, all starting at Gornegrat) are not full of kids, which tends to start 10am to 11am, so with the lift opening at 8:30 means you get about an hour to two hours. On my last day I got two wonderful runs and soon after I packed it in as people realised other slopes were shut due to wind... The problem, from my POV, is that the slopes go up and down a lot which means that if you just ski down the hill you can't see people until quite late. And the blues do have steep bits, which are ok to ski but not if you are trying to avoid a long snake of kids which is snaking left to right all the way across the width.

    The town is very nice and for a non skiing partner perhaps the best of the 11 places I have been to, with Courchevel 1650 being #2. The museum is definitely worth a visit, as is the Glacier Paradise for the views (not quite Jungfraujoch but close, and Wengen was pretty poor for blue run skiing).

    As usual, especially for Switzerland, everything is heavily overpriced relative to what one can get in the UK, especially main order from say Germany. Example: Kjus jacket, €300 mail order, £600 in a pricey Brighton ski shop (Snow & Rock), CHF 1600 in a shop in Zermatt. The first may have been last year's version but looks exactly the same. Boots are more reasonable at about 1.5x the price.

    It gets a bit ridiculous when you pay CHF 10 for a hot chocolate, but at least buffet food at the Riffelhaus restaurant (at the bottom of the blue runs) was CHF 14 for a plate full of stuff.

    The ski shops seem competent. For the 3 years I have been skiing I had a constant problem with boots, with the skis wobbling sideways, and a flat foot issue causing a sore ankle. At least 5 ski shops at various places (the list includes: Axams, Mutters, Filzmoos, Grand Bornand, Zell am See, Courchevel, Madonna, Wengen, Corvara... ) failed to sort this. The issue was the totally wrong shape insoles, and boots being about 5-10mm too wide. It got sorted at Zermatt... replaced the Salomon X-Pro 100 with Head Nexo LYT 110 (CHF 540) with the wax injection and some CHF 140 custom insoles (of which a completely wrong version was fitted by a ski shop in Wengen for €70).

  • David Horgan
    David Horgan
    Posted: 26 Dec 2018 09:55
    Edited: 26 Dec 2018 09:57

    Did you also consider Chamonix. 

    A lovely quaint, all year round town with 100s of  nice restaurants & eateries, as well as loads top do for a non skier during the day e.g. exhibitions,  railways, museums, cinema, ice rink (skating & watching ice hockey), etc, etc, etc 

    Zermatt is undoubtedly very nice, but I would have thought Chamonix would shade it on the variety and multitude of different things to do, and beat it hands down on overall value for money. Maybe that's just me!?!

  • Kim Wilson
    Kim Wilson
    Posted: 27 Dec 2018 21:28
    think about Mayrhofen. the skiing is extensive and always some snow to be found. plenty for non skiers. bottom of valley setting so easy walking, good train and bus links to nearby villages too.

  • Gerry Aitken
    Gerry Aitken
    Posted: 27 Dec 2018 22:08
    Another vote for Chamonix.

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 09:44

    I looked up Chamonix.

    There seem to be some blue runs if one is staying at Les Houches or Vallorcine. Les Planards also has an interesting piste map.

  • Michael Knott
    Michael Knott
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 19:03
    St. Moritz ? Or maybe Cortina.

  • Janet Nettleship
    Janet Nettleship
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 21:30

    Peter, as per my suggestion on Snowheads, have a look at Serre Chevalier. There are proper towns and villages to stay in. However, probably more importantly there are several excellent ski instructors that people on here and/or Snowheads can personally recommend, who will help you enjoy your skiing more, by helping you get past your plateau of only being comfortable on empty beginners pistes. I'd really suggest prioritising getting the right tuition on your next holiday, as then you'll be able to enjoy more of the resorts that would suit your girlfriend well. 

  • Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 22:28

    Janet Nettleship: Good posting Janet. Enables me to mention again my friends at  who operate in Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz) and give 2 hour free instruction per day by top BASI coaches. 1850 is only up the same bubble as the skiers use to start the day and must surely offer some amusement for the non-skier.

    I suppose also that one can get by road to each of the 3V resorts either by car or by bus , for the non-skier to explore a little.

    Peter would find, I am sure, enormous benefit in this, or even pick one of their full-on "Performance weeks"where  instruction runs all day  each day. I believe there is much to be gained from majoring on BASI instruction as it saves any confusion on technique as between nationalities. All levels are catered for and I have benefitted enormously. They run their own catered chalets with excellent food and a friendly ambience. The slopes here are ideal.

  • Janet Nettleship
    Janet Nettleship
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 22:43

    Charles Pritchard: over the last few years I've limited my tuition to native English speakers, with BASI qualifications. I've found it makes a huge difference.

    I think part of the problem Peter is having is that the resorts, or groups of resorts, that suit his non skiing girlfriend, aren't compatible with his current skiing level. With some quality tuition (i.e. getting recommendations for suitable instructors and planning in advance) this should be fixable  

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 23:25

    I will look at that, thank you Janet. The piste map looks interesting.

    However I think the ski community has way too many people in it who think that everybody must continually progress to more and more difficult (and risky) skiing. Actually there *are* people who are quite happy with blue runs; they just don't post it on Snowheads because on there they will get beaten up :) And most of the crowd on the Alps has been skiing since the age of 5 and they don't understand it either :)

    Such is the world of forums - in aviation we call some of the posters "sky gods" and in skiing they are "ski gods" :)

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 23:29

    I did Skivo2 in Dec 2017. My GF enjoyed Courchevel but the instruction was at a way too basic level, even for me. I normally get 1:1 tuition.

    Zermatt was OK for both of us but the slopes filled up with long "snakes" of kids getting lessons. You can see one of them here

    That video was shot fairly early in the day.

    We will do Madonna again next, but with a spacious self catering apartment.

  • Janet Nettleship
    Janet Nettleship
    Posted: 31 Dec 2018 03:12
    Edited: 31 Dec 2018 03:26

    Peter Holt: I totally understand that there are people who are very happy on blue runs. My suggestion of lessons is to help you be able to enjoy those when the conditions aren't perfect and /or there are other people on them. Also, you give the impression that you're not comfortable on blue runs in all conditions, which must make exploring a resort tricky. It's not so much a question of progressing to harder pistes but becoming comfortable with the ones you like.

    You would possibly also find that if you can transfer your skills off the beginner slopes, you'll find quieter pistes, in better condition, that are more to your liking. It may also open up some resorts that would suit your girlfriend.

    From what you've posted on Snowheads, you've clearly had some bad experiences with instructors. A good instructor will listen to your aspirations and tailor the lesson to support those. That might mean taking you a bit out of your comfort zone, but that would be to make your comfort zone feel easier. Like you, I like 1-2-1 tuition.

    PS. I've just watched the video you've posted. It looks a big wide piste. Personally I'd prefer to wait until it had the sun on it. If you hadn't put text on the screen to point them out, I probably wouldn't have noticed the small group of children (~5) skiing in a steady and predictable formation behind their instructor. To help us understand, what worries you about them being on the slope with you? Is it that you're not confident about what they'll do next? 

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 31 Dec 2018 12:39

    Very true about the "flat light", early in the day. I ski with prescription sunglasses (made in a Julbo frame which keeps the wind out pretty well) and they are really dark. These are not good for a even  overcast sky and I have just got another Julbo sunglass frame and will get yellow lenses (also much less dark) put in them - hopefully in time for my next trip. I had a quick look at some yellow Oakleys in a ski shop and as far as one can tell they do improve low light vis.

    Regarding the kids on the slope (and snowboarders) it is the unprectability of where they will go next. Snowboarders are another risk, since they tend to hold a conference in the middle and often right behind a hump. Of the breakages I know about, all were done while avoiding another skier. In that clip I posted you can see there was a small gap left at the RH side, so that's ok, but one would not have been sure of it until the last few seconds. So my next job is to practice fast stopping. I can already do it sort-of but a lot better in one direction than the other. Obviously the best thing is no kids at all (doing this kind of stuff). In Madonna the slope is perhaps 3x wider anyway.

    Re instructors, I have had maybe 10 of them, of whom 8-9 were young lads, and I picked up a little bit from each of them. Only one, a man of about 50, was really good; that was at Madonna.

    I am happy with these sorts of blue runs, and some easy reds. One can go so fast downhill on these that if one lost it one would quite likely break something. So that is a sufficient challenge for me. This is my favourite Madonna run, from the very top

    Another thing is that I always ski on my own. I know many people who ski (two of whom got me into skiing) but like every other skier I have ever known they are way above my level so they go off to the black runs etc. So I don't stay out there all day; it gets boring, and it gets chewed-up, and crowded. So I make a lot of effort to get up there when it opens and ski for maybe 3hrs. Sure; I am risk-averse but I am not 21 anymore :)

  • Janet Nettleship
    Janet Nettleship
    Posted: 31 Dec 2018 14:04

    The run in your video reminded me of the runs in Grindelwald First, particularly down from the Oberjoch. Some of the runs in the Grindelwald Wengen area may also suit. The Jungfrau region is great for non skiers. 

    In terms of instructors, have a look at Darren Turner, Gavin Crosby or Ski Connections in Serre Chevalier. 

    Another good alternative would be Masterclass in Alpe d'Huez (where the instructors can't be mistaken for young lads).

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 31 Dec 2018 14:56

    I did Wengen a year ago. The blues were really narrow and with some very flat bits. Jungfraujoch was great, of course...

    Marcia Nash
    Marcia Nash
    Posted: 04 Jan 2019 18:51
    Anywhere you can swap her for one that skis

  • Richard Beeson
    Richard Beeson
    Posted: 04 Jan 2019 19:53

    If you don’t take Marcia’s advice I’d agree with those who recommended Chamonix. It is great for non skiers and excellent for more adventurous skiers. Be warned though, it is not your standard ski-in, ski-out resort. I see you can run to individual ski lessons. I can recommend a very god (British) French qualified instructor if you are looking

    Alternatively, I’d recommend Kitzbuhl. It is great for non skiers and intermediate skiers.

  • Peter Holt
    Peter Holt
    Posted: 05 Jan 2019 21:07
    Edited: 05 Jan 2019 22:05

    " it is not your standard ski-in, ski-out resort."

    Could you please elaborate, Richard?

    I don't think I would swap my GF for one who skis... Skiing takes up a very small number of the hours in a year :)

  • Richard Beeson
    Richard Beeson
    Posted: 06 Jan 2019 22:46

    Chamonix is something of a marmite resort. More timid skiers will probably not enjoy the skiing. More adventurous skiers will love the challenge. It is particularly popular with off-piste skiers. You are more likely to share a cable car with very fat skis, ropes, ice axes and crampons than the latest fashions. The skiing is spread across five main areas both sides of a steep valley and all but two are not interconnected. That means you either need a car - and parking can be challenging - or you have to use the ‘adequate’ free public transport up and down the valley. Those that love the place rate it as some of the best skiing in the world. On the other hand many don’t appreciate the inconvenience accessing the slopes.

    Be warned, a fire last September knocked out one of the main lift systems for the best (challenging) ski areas. It won’t reopen this winter.

    For non-skiers there is loads to do as Chamonix is a sizeable working town (all year round), not just a ski resort. It is also very easy to access from Geneva airport, or driving from the U.K.

    If you are looking for challenging off-piste skiing and very long non-pisted (Black) slopes wait until next year when, hopefully, the fire destroyed two stage cable car will have been replaced.  If you are happy with challenging black and red pistes book now! And the GF will probably enjoy what Chamonix has to offer whilst you are perfecting your technique. The scenery is some of the best you will find in any ski resort.

  • Richard Beeson
    Richard Beeson
    Posted: 06 Jan 2019 23:04
    Peter, I’ve just reread your earlier posts. I think you will find Chamonix a little too challenging at this time. You may spend more time fighting the slopes than improving. Keep it as an ambition for the future. Every competent skier must go to Chamonix at least once - many never leave (there are a lot of 40somithings who arrived in their early 20s and haven’t left).