Archive for April, 2010
Après ski announcements don’t come much more euphoric than ‘you are on top of the world!’ and this is certainly how we felt during our sun-drenched week in Val Thorens this season (13th-20th March).
I was pleasantly surprised by the vast array terrain and facilities Val Thorens holds. Val Thorens is a purpose built resort sitting at 2300-2400 metres altitude. As our transfer bus dropped us off I realised immediately that Val Thorens was a layout of large concrete buildings of different shapes and sizes depending on their age. The aesthetics are unlikely to entice those looking for a ‘chocolate box’ Savoyard village but, whatever the resort lacks in appearance it makes up with functionality and when, being honest, do you really go to a ski resort to study architecture? Or to ski?
Simply put, Val Thorens is placed at the head of the Belleville valley. The stunning teeth of L’Aiguille de Peclet which look down on the resort village, act as a reminder of the vertical ascent still available at this altitude. Furthermore, the surrounding slopes are as wide as they are high with sweeping pistes rolling across the bowl within which Val Thorens sits.
John Bennett, Chairman of Ski Independence, is currently out in Les Arcs staying at Le Village with his family. Here is a short report from his stay so far…
This trip was all about taking one of the grandchildren with us and so school holidays dictated dates. Now ,I’m not a fan of late season skiing but this trip – so far – has changed my view.
Arcs 1950 was developed by Intrawest, the Canadian company that operates Whistler and a number of other resorts in North America. They have created a great village atmosphere high up in the Tarantaise with quality accommodation. The snow covered main street means everything is ski-in and ski-out – brilliant with kids involved and lined with a sufficiency of shops, bars and restaurants.
It’s hard to believe that these are Easter conditions!
Check out the snow conditions in Chamonix, thanks to Seb Montaz at Chamonix Guiding.
Whistler Blackcomb has announced the decision to extend skiing and riding on Whistler Mountain by one week. Whistler Mountain’s last day of operations will be Sunday, April 25 while Blackcomb Mountain’s last day of operations will be Monday, May 24.
“With over 1,353 centimetres (533 inches) of snow so far this season and a current snow base of 363 centimetres (143 inches), this incredible season is far from over,” says Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “The great snow was a key factor in deciding to keep Whistler Mountain open an additional week, but guest feedback about Whistler Mountain closing during the second week of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival played a big role in the decision as well. We listened to the feedback, then reviewed and revised the required lift maintenance schedule, allowing us to extend Whistler Mountain’s winter operations by one week.”
The last day of operations for the Creekside Gondola and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will remain as scheduled on Sunday, April 18 when regular lift maintenance must begin. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park will open May 15 via Fitzsimmons Express (weather permitting). Whistler Mountain, along with the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, will reopen for summer sightseeing for the Memorial Day long weekend, starting Saturday, May 29.
It can often be a habit for us winter sports fanatics to veer towards going on holiday to a well known and well advertised resort.
These big resorts, with the examples of Val d’Isère, Courchevel, St.Anton, Zermatt and Vail, are top places with excellent ski areas but some of their smaller neighboring resorts can also reveal very much hidden gems in both terrain and atmosphere. Small resorts doesn’t necessarily mean small ski area; take Les Coches or Peisey Vallandry in the Paradiski area, or St Martin de Belleville within Les 3 Vallées. Smaller resorts which do have a smaller ski area, such as Les Saisies or Chinaillon, tend to be less busy over peak times, which means less time in queues, more time on the slopes! It is also worth saying these lesser known destinations can be much friendlier on your wallet in terms of buying an après ski drink or going out for a meal and if it is quieter slopes during the peak periods you want, these may fit the bill.
Here’re a few examples of this type of resort and their main benefits along with some ideas for accommodation: