Skiing in April

Have you ever considered skiing in April? Are you like me and fancy one last trip to the Alps before the end of the season? With warm temperatures, sunny skies and catered chalets for April skiing at increasingly low prices it really is a fantastic time of year to hit the slopes. This April is even more appealing than ever, with the Easter week falling so late this year it means schools will be breaking up later and early April will be sure to offer temptingly quiet slopes and lower prices in many of the chalets we offer across Europe. So the main question everyone wants to know when looking at chalets for skiing in April is where should I go to get the best chance of having guaranteed snow? Of course, if a serious snowstorm arrives, more or less any resort offers excellent April skiing. But assuming you are booking a couple of weeks ahead, the main thing you are looking for is a decent resort altitude. This ensures that there will still be good snow cover on the ground ensuring that the rocks are not starting to appear from underneath.

When I’m off to the Alps in April I will usually have a leisurely lie in to avoid the hard packed ice on the slopes in the early morning and make the most of being on holiday! Once the sun has risen and has had a chance to warm up and soften the slopes it’s time to go. The slopes will normally be groomed to perfection at this time of year. This is especially true in some of the bigger resorts such as Tignes and Courchevel where the piste bashing team spend all night perfecting the slopes for your enjoyment. In fact these resorts are home to my two favourite runs to ski early morning in April.

Firstly we have Saulire in Courchevel. This is a classic red run which starts at the very top of the Saulire cable car. After a steep pitch at the top near the Vizelle gondola the run opens out into a huge motorway cruiser where you can really let your skis run and settle into some long carving arc turns. Towards the bottom of the run there are some large rollers which are always fun to launch off when the run is quiet. Once you have done this a couple of times a great place to stop is the Panoramique restaurant, although the coffee prices can be sky high, so is the outdoor deck. Located right next to the Saulire cable car you have fantastic views to both Meribel and Courchevel and it’s a great place to soak up the sun, although don’t forget your sunscreen.

Skiing in April - Saulire, Courchevel

Skiing in April – Saulire, Courchevel

Secondly we have the famous ‘Face’ run which links into the ‘Descent’, a steep black at the very top of the glacier in Tignes. When these runs are combined it really is a fantastically long run. Starting at 3,656m altitude and descending to 2,100m it offers over 1,500 vertical metres of thigh burning descent!

Skiing in April - Face and Descent, Tignes

Skiing in April – Face and Descent, Tignes

When looking for your perfect chalets for skiing in April most people want some good après ski to be easily accessible so you can party after skiing late into the afternoon. One place that knows après ski better than most is the Folie Douce. Originally started in Val d’Isere this restaurant / bar / ultimate party venue has received somewhat of a cult following in recent years. This has resulted in the same classic formula of loud house music, reasonable drinks and slope side positions being extended to Meribel, Alp d’Huez and Val Thorens all of which are great ski resorts for skiing in April. Après ski at this time of year is particularly enjoyable not only because the weather is normally beautiful and warm but you can really let loose and party knowing that you don’t have to be up early the next day.

Skiing in April - Folie Douce

Skiing in April – Folie Douce

To give you an idea of some of the options out there below are a number of catered chalets for skiing in April. These all come highly recommended and are located in resorts that hold their snow well late into the season. The prices in the following recommendations for skiing in April are per person and based on two people sharing a double / twin room for seven nights, on a catered basis and include return flights and airport transfers.

Skiing in April – Ischgl, Austria

For skiers aiming to travel to Austria who don’t want to hit the more commercialised ski resorts of the Arlberg area (St Anton, Lech and Zurs) then Ischgl is a great option. The main slopes are high above the village, with the major lift base at 2,250m, peaking at 2,900m. The extensive slopes, shared with Samnaun in Switzerland, offer something for all abilities. The traditional Alpine village centre is car-free and boasts a famously lively après-ski scene.

Package: Chalet-hotel Abendrot from £699 (chalet board). Departs March 30th 2014.

Skiing in April – Obergurgl, Austria

Obergurgl can’t match Ischgl for extent and variety of skiing but its slopes are very high and so it is even better for catching some snow really late on in the season. It even holds the title of Austria’s highest resort and from experience I can tell you the town has some of the friendliest locals that I have ever met in a ski resort. The highest skiing of the resort is over 3,000m and you ski mostly above 2,150m.

Package: Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl * * * * from £857 (half board). Departs March 29th 2014.

Skiing in April – Tignes, France

You cannot ignore the huge Espace Killy ski area, shared by the neighbouring ski resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isère. Tignes has the stronger case as a spring base, being higher (villager height 2,100m) and better situated for the key Grande Motte glacier area, which offers high altitude ski runs (3,455m) and long reds and blues back to the village. Piste conditions are excellent, particularly following early March snowfalls.

Package: Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee from £999 (chalet board). Departs 13th April 2014

Skiing in April - Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee, Tignes

Skiing in April – Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee, Tignes

Skiing in April – Val Thorens, France

Europe’s highest ski resort (with a village altitude of 2,300m) has to be on your shortlist of suitable resorts for skiing in April. If you’re lucky, you may be able to explore large parts of the huge Three Valleys ski domain but there’s plenty to amuse skiers of all levels on the many local slopes that go up to 3,200m in altitude. All runs are currently open and well covered. As far as purpose-built resorts go, Val Thorens is quite stylish and well laid out.

Package: Club Med Val Thorens from £1,092 (full board and includes lift pass). Departs 13th April 2014

Skiing in April – Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt claims some of the highest ski slopes in Europe on its glacier but these are too gentle to be of much interest. The real appeal lies lower down, around Trockener Steg (between 3,300m and 2,400m), and in the slightly lower slopes of the separate Gornergrat ski sector. Conditions are still good now but warm afternoons will lead to heavy snow low-down. If you enjoy leisurely gourmet lunches taken on panoramic mountain view terraces, and a car-free, traditional village, then Zermatt is the place for you.

Package: Chalet Evie from £699 (chalet board). Departs 6th April 2014

Whether you want ultimate luxury, affordability, child friendly slopes or a serious party scene we have chalets for skiing in April to suit every taste. So please do get in contact and one of our expert consultants will be happy to guide you through the process and recommend options that are just right for your group. However, don’t forget the golden rule of skiing in April – use plenty of sunscreen!

Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 1080

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Should you trust Skypark?

Should you trust Skypark? Skypark are one of the various airport car parking firms that operate in the UK and like most they also offer a ‘meet and greet’ service. Simply drive to the airport terminal in your own car and hand it over to a designated Skypark driver who will then take it away to be parked at a cheaper rate in an off-site, secure long term car park. When you return from holiday all you have to do is call Skypark when you land back in the UK and by the time you have cleared customs and picked up luggage your car will be waiting just outside the terminal building ready for you to drive home. On the face of it this seems an excellent service. The cost is reasonable, and your time and hassle are both saved. However, have you stopped to consider what happens to your car once you have handed it over to Skypark’s personnel?

We recently had a client who travelled from Gatwick Airport to go skiing. As the company they normally used for their ‘meet and greet’ service was already full for the week they wished to travel they found an alternative provider of the same service. This alternative provider was Skypark.

Can you spot the differences in the two photos below?

The first allegedly shows the car the day before they left on holiday. The second (again allegedly) shows the car as it was delivered back to them by Skypark’s driver on the day they returned. Their beautifully clean twin turbo BMW X5 came back with an extra 40 miles on the clock and looking like it had been rallied around a wet and muddy field.

Should you trust Skypark? Car before it was given to Skypark

Car before it was given to Skypark

Should you trust Skypark? Car as it was returned

Car as it was delivered back from Skypark

So, the next time you are considering using a ‘meet and greet’ airport car park service please do consider carefully which firm you should use.

 

 

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All Inclusive Ski Holidays

Each winter thousands of British ski enthusiasts head out to the mountains for a week’s stay in the snow. Some like to do it themselves, driving out to the Alps and booking directly into a little known resort and hotel. However, others like travelling out to the Alps in the knowledge that anything and everything has already been organised for them. All inclusive ski holidays are a fantastic way in which to diminish all potential threats of stress that you can incur from your normal ski holiday.

All inclusive ski holidays have come a long way over the last few years. A huge focus on the standard of the accommodation and in particular the quality of the food and service you can receive has lead to more and more people trying out an all inclusive ski holiday, similarly, the percentage of people returning to these style of holidays has risen too. Club Med are the market leaders in this field and offer all inclusive packages like no other.

An all inclusive ski holiday with them includes a delicious and varied breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. You also benefit from unlimited drinks during your stay as well as lift passes, tuition for all levels of skiing proficiency and plenty of evening entertainment. With a normal package ski holiday that includes catering (either chalet or half board in a hotel) you will still need to allow for the following weekly costs: lift pass (£200+), lunches on the mountain (£120+), instruction (£150+) and drinks in the evening (£150+). So at least £600 of extras that are already included with an all inclusive ski holiday with Club Med.

If you consider a Club Med holiday in mid March (2014) currently costs approximately £1,250 per person then to compare prices with other half board or chalet board package operators (holidays with flights) you need to take away the £600 of all inclusive benefits listed above. Taking away these benefits one can quickly work out that the basic Club Med package cost (flights and accommodation) is approximately £650 per person. And that my friends is an absolute bargain!

Below are some examples of prices for all inclusive ski holidays for the Easter holidays departing 06th April 2014.

All inclusive ski holidays – Club Med Aime La Plagne

All inclusive ski holidays - Aime La Plagne

All inclusive ski holidays – Aime La Plagne

All inclusive price = £1,140 pp

Approx. basic holiday cost (flights, transfers and half board accommodation) = £540 pp

This property is an office favourite for a family-friendly village. This ’4 trident’ hotel has fantastic ski in and ski out access, a full programme of childcare and a vast ski area to explore. You can expect extravagant cabaret style evening shows with your children taking to the stage and playing their very own parts. Sports and creative activities are also held across the evening for teenagers that would rather not be seen partying with their parents!

All inclusive ski holidays – Club Med Val Thorens

All inclusive ski holidays - Val Thorens

All inclusive ski holidays – Val Thorens

All inclusive price = £1,224 pp

Approx. basic holiday cost (flights, transfers and half board accommodation) = £625 pp

Set at the foot of the Cairn Gondola, Club Med Val Thorens could not be better located. While some people enjoy the evening shows that Club Med ski holidays offer, the Val Thorens option is a great opportunity for those seeking a little more relaxation. An adult only village in the highest ski resort in Europe. Top up your tan on the terrace overlooking the pristine peaks or take a session with a personal trainer in the weights room if you’re feeling extra fit.

An all-inclusive ski holiday is an experience like no other and certainly should be considered if you’re looking for something slightly different this winter. Club Med can also organise short breaks too.

Call the Alpine Answers team and we will be able to talk you through what all inclusive ski holidays are all about. Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 1080 www.alpineanswers.co.uk

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Morzine Ski Resort

Morzine ski resort is one of the most popular places to ski in France due to its convenience from Geneva (less than one hour’s drive from the airport), links to one of the biggest ski areas in Europe and its alpine charm. It is the best base to explore the Portes du Soleil. Morzine ski resort is a busy, picturesque and vibrant town. It is only an hour transfer from Geneva making it a great resort for short breaks and self drive trips. Morzine rests in the bottom of a mountain valley whereby you can ski either side. The Pleney side offers gentler terrain, with plenty of wide tree runs. The other side of the valley, the Super Morzine area, links to Avoriaz and also to the Swiss section of the Portes du Soleil where there is plenty of skiing for all abilities. There are often concerns that Morzine is too low a ski resort for good snow conditions. However, with direct access to Avoriaz which offers high snow-sure skiing late into the season there will always be snow to ski on. There has been a lot of investment in snow-making over recent years which has also improved snow sure reliability.

Morzine Ski Resort – A short checklist of things to do

1. If you want a real challenge, the ultimate feared run in Europe is ‘The Swiss Wall’. This is a mogul field whereby if you fall – you will fall a long way. The moguls are sometimes huge and often reach the height of an average person!

Morzine Ski resort - the nororious Swiss Wall!

Morzine Ski resort – the nororious Swiss Wall!

2. After a long hard day’s ski, right in the centre of town there is a little crepe shack called ‘Chez Martine’ which quite simply makes the best crepes in the alps – I have tried and tested many.

Morzine ski resort - Chez Martine for wonderful crepes

Morzine ski resort – Chez Martine for wonderful crepes

3. Most weeks there is an ice hockey match held in the resort centre and it’s great fun for all the family to go and watch. The Morzine Penguins are a big team in the Haute Savoie region and there is every chance that a local derby match with another local team will degenerate into ‘fireworks’.

Morzine ski resort  - The Penguins ice hockey team

Morzine ski resort – The Penguins ice hockey team

Morzine Ski Resort – Where to stay?

Morzine ski resort is spread along the valley floor so if you don’t have your own car then it’s best to try and stay close to the centre as public transport here is not as efficient as other ski resorts. There are many catered chalets in Morzine as well as self catered chalets and apartments. Catered chalets in Morzine are mostly run by smaller, independent holiday companies offering wonderful food and personal service.

Morzine ski resort - Chalet Ferme du Lac

Morzine ski resort – Chalet Ferme du Lac

Morzine is great resort for families as there are so many things to do. Whether it’s a short break, a trip with your friends, or a family ski holiday, simply call the Alpine Answers team and we will be able to provide the perfect ski holiday to Morzine.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 1080 www.alpineanswers.co.uk

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Catered ski chalets Austria

Catered ski chalets in Austria have traditionally been focused in the world famous Arlberg, primarily in ‘party central’ St Anton and more recently in the swanky Lech and Zurs areas of the region.  At Alpine Answers we work with just under 100 ski chalets throughout Austria and 75% of the catered chalets in Austria are in St Anton – indicative of the general distribution of chalets in Austria. It may come as a surprise to many but the European chalet market has not always been so franco-centric.  During the 1980’s Austria was a dominant force and the place to look for catered chalet holidays, and the market is currently enjoying a resurgent Indian summer; Austria now makes up 28% of the British ski holiday market (compared with France’s 34%).

Catered Ski Chalets Austria – St Anton

St Anton is the home of catered ski chalets in Austria, and as such offers fantastic variety.  The resort is home to some ultra-luxury chalets; theChalet Artemis has its own private cinema and swimming pool and the Chalet Illimani with its luxurious spa facilities.  St Anton also caters for mid-range options, with well located chalets like the Eagles Nest, a short bus ride or walk downhill to the vibrant nightlife or uphill to the world famous après scene. (also one of the few options with a hot tub in St Anton!).

Catered ski chalets Austria - St Anton

Catered ski chalets Austria – St Anton

Catered Ski Chalets Austria – Lech

Lech is slowly breaking into the catered ski chalet Austrian market and now can offer both mid-range options like the Chalet Alpenland or the recently opened Uberhaus, with its outdoor hot-tub, hammam/steam room, gym, and sauna along with a ski in/ski out location.

Lech - a luxury ski resort in Austria

Lech – a luxury ski resort in Austria

Catered Ski Chalet Hotels in Austria

Larger chalet hotels are often the port of call for those looking to enjoy their chalet comforts in outside of the Arlberg and operators run properties for up to 60 guests in resorts such as Hinterglemm, Ischgl, Kuhtai, Mayrhofen and Obergurgl, among others.  Properties like the fantastically located Chalet Hotel Elisabeth in Kuhtai, offer ski in/ski out convenience combined with a snow-sure and family friendly resort, all under an hour’s drive from Innsbruck.

Catered ski chalets Austria - Kuhtai

Catered ski chalets Austria – Kuhtai

A great asset of Austrian alpine charm is that the resorts have all developed organically and can offer the authentic charm of the Tyrolean ski-hut.  These warm and charismatic chalets and chalet hotels bear little resemblance to the purpose built monstrosities that have enveloped French resorts such as La Plagne, Tignes and Avoriaz over the past 25 years.  The catered ski chalet in Austria is slowly taking control of the British ski-holiday market and with friendly locals and ferocious après; there is reason to think that the trend will continue unabated for 25 years to come.

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