Ski weekends close to Geneva

Alpine Answers’ top three resorts for ski weekends close to Geneva, the main international gateway to the Alps. These resorts are all within one hour’s drive of the airport making them very practical choices for a ski weekend. With such a short transfer time it is possible to take a late afternoon flight out from the UK allowing you to complete the best part of a full day’s work in the office. On the return trip it is possible to ski all the last day, finishing at 4pm, before heading back to Geneva (leaving resort at 5pm) to catch an 8pm flight back to the UK. Booking just 4 night’s away (Wednesday to Sunday) gives you 4 whole day’s skiing whilst using up just two days from your annual holiday entitlement at work (Thursday and Friday).

Ski Weekends Close to Geneva – La Clusaz

La Clusaz is a very popular resort for a weekend ski break. With a charming centre, good restaurants both on and off the slopes and skiing that is very undervalued in our opinion it makes a great choice. Little wonder that it is one of the more popular ski weekend destinations.

Ski weekends close to Geneva - La Clusaz ski resort

The beautiful ski resort of La Clusaz

The La Clusaz ski domain has some of the best snow conditions in France, with the Aravis Massif forming the first ‘natural barrier’ to the weather approaching the Alps from the SW and therefore capturing more than its fair share of precipitation. La Clusaz regularly opens earlier in November at the same time as the highest resorts in France. The exceptional annual snow fall depths mean a full 5 months of skiing is possible at La Clusaz.

Ski weekends close to Geneva - La Cluzaz piste map

La Clusaz piste map

There are some surprisingly good hotels in La Clusaz which represent excellent value for money when compared to hotels in the larger French resorts. If you are looking for a luxury hotel  look no further than the Hotel Au Coeur de Village which boasts a ski in ski out location with a fantastic restaurant and beautiful spa facilities. Alternatively if you are looking for something a little less swanky, the Hotel Beauregard is conveniently located right on the slopes and offers very comfortable accommodation with good quality food in the hotel’s restaurant.

Ski Weekends Close to Geneva – St Gervais

St Gervais lies at the heart of the Evasion Mont- Blanc ski area offering 445 kilometres of slopes towards Megève, Combloux, Les Contamines Hauteluce and La Gietaz.  The resort is again only an hour away from Geneva thereby allowing you to maximise your ski time.

Ski weekends close to Geneva - skiing in the resort of Saint Gervais

skiing in the resort of Saint Gervais

This lovely, traditional resort boosts much alpine charm with fantastic restaurants and lively après. It is a resort not to be missed. In terms of its ski area, it is perfect for people wanting a ski weekend break with plenty of wide open easy runs through the trees with spectacular views. This resort offers a chance to have a wonderful, good value, ski weekend – it’s much cheaper in St Gervais than in the neighbouring resort of Megeve.  For those not looking to ski all day, why not try out the famous thermal baths at ‘Les Bains de Mont Blanc’ to really relax those tired legs after a long day’s skiing.

Ski weekends close to Geneva - Saint Gervais skiing off-piste

Skiing in St Gervais – Where is everyone?

 

Ski Weekends close to Geneva – Les Contamines

Les Contamines is a high altitude resort great for ski weekends close to Geneva throughout the season and not many people know that! We have been trying to keep this fact a little under wraps so that we can keep the slopes of Les Contamines quiet – just the way we like them.

Situated on the Tour du Mont-Blanc, Les Contamines hides a surprising amount of challenging ski terrain behind a relatively small and traditional village. The majority of visitors come from nearby resorts, so you tend to find a lot of French locals on the slopes rather than the holidaying British.

Ski weekends close to Geneva - The ski resort Les Contamines

Skier-Cross In Les Contamines

Les Contamines has a bit of everything  to suit all standards of skiers and boarders on its wonderful mountains. From challenging off piste terrain, to half pipes, and to the Nordic Cross Zone (see image above). This resort is a secret heaven for very good skiers looking to avoid the crowds of Chamonix and Morzine. After a fresh fall of snow you can ski in powder all day in Les Contamines without it getting tracked out.

For ideas on accommodation in all the above resorts please call us. We would be delighted to offer advice and book you one of the best ski weekends close to Geneva that money can buy. T: +44 (0)20 7801 1080.

 

Posted in Ski Weekends | Leave a comment

New Chalets in Tignes

Tignes has always been a popular resort for British managed chalets and we currently have almost 60 chalets in Tignes in our current portfolio for this fantastic Espace Killy resort. For some winter seasons not much changes regards our product offering in a certain resort. However, opening for December 2014 there are 4 new chalets in Tignes that deserve a closer look. Two of these fall in to the luxury chalet bracket and two are classed as larger ‘chalet hotels’ (one in Tignes Le Lac and the other in Tignes Val Claret).

Chalet Quezac (sleeps 12 – 16 guests) Tignes Les Brevieres

New chalets in Tignes - Chalet Quezac (Les Brevieres)

The Uber swanky luxury Chalet Quezac in Tignes Les Brevieres

The luxury Chalet Quezac, on the way to Val d’Isere, was only completed in 2014 and is one of the new chalets in Tignes opening this December. It is owned and largely designed by local hero, Guerlain Chicherit, who is the 4 times World Champion Free Rider Skier and extreme rally driver (Paris Dakar etc). The chalet is unique in its design and has fabulous outside space and stunning mountain views. This chalet is massive and offers over 600 square metres of living space. Situated in Tignes Les Brevieres it offers unbelievable value for money.

Chalet Opal (sleeps 10 guests) Tignes Le Lac

New chalets in Tignes - Chalet Opal (Le Lac)

Chalet Opal above Tignes Le Lac

Chalet Opal in Tignes is part of a luxury chalet development completed in summer 2014. Situated very close to the Almes piste this luxury property offers the latest in chalet comfort and facilities. It is possible to ski very close to the chalet at the end of the day and in the morning there is a shared driver service to take guests down to the main lifts.

Chalet Hotel Alpaka (sleeps up to 32 guests) Tignes Le Lac

New chalets in Tignes - Chalet Hotel Alpaka (Le Lac)

Chalet Hotel Alpaka – Tignes Le Lac

The Alpaka Lodge is in the centre of Tignes Le Lac. The new Toviere gondola lift is just one minute walk away (100 metres) or you can ski from the back of the hotel down to the Paquis and Chaudanne chairlifts. The chalet hotel is rather unassuming from the exterior. However, when you enter the Alpaka Lodge you actually enter into a traditional Savoyard mountain atmosphere with low beams, old wooden walls and a blazing log fire. Highly recommended for a great value place to stay.

Chalet Hotel Ecrin (sleeps up to 112 guests) Tignes Val Claret

New chalets in Tignes - Chalet Hotel Ecrin (Val Claret)

Chalet Hotel Ecrin – Tignes Val Claret

The Chalet Hotel Ecrin in Tignes Val Claret was until summer 2014 a luxury CGH property (part of the MGM Group). However, for December 2014 and beyond it will open its doors as a British managed and staffed jumbo chalet, or ‘chalet hotel’. The Chalet Hotel Ecrin takes the quality of this type of property in the French Alps to a new height and offers fabulous value for money.

For many years Tignes has slightly lived under the shadow of Val d’Isere, its smarter neighbour. Being split into several different resorts has not helped it form its own identity. However, with the increasing number of new chalets in Tignes, such as those above, we feel that Tignes is beginning to really find its feet, now offering luxury chalet accommodation for the first time. To find our more about these properties (and others) please do not hesitate to give our team a call (T:+44 (0)20 7801 1080).

Posted in Ski Chalets, Tignes | Leave a comment

Val d’Isere Events Calendar 2014

Val d’Isere in France is our biggest selling individual resort and each winter we send over 1,000 clients on a ski holiday to this fantastic Espace Killy ski station. Many of those clients return year after year because for them it is simply the best ski resort in the world. The skiing, shared with Tignes, is about as good as you can find anywhere (snow sure, varied and with terrain to suit beginners right through to expert off-piste level). However, there is just as much going on off the slopes as there is on. Below you will find the Val d’Isere Events Calendar for the winter season starting at the end of November 2014 and lasting through to May 2015 – it is packed with fun stuff to do for all ages.

If you would like help booking up a holiday to one of the chalets in Val d’Isere or one of the Val d’Isere hotels to co-incide with one of the events below please do not hesitate to get in touch.

View of Val d'Isere

View of Val d’Isere old town from Chalet Marco Polo

Val d’Isere Events Calendar for 2014 / 2015

NOVEMBER

29th & 30th – Resort opening date plus 2014 ski and snowboard equipment tests.

DECEMBER

12th to 14th – Critérium de la 1ère neige – FIS Men’s World Cup racing
19th to 21st – Critérium de la 1ère neige – FIS Women’s World Cup racing

22nd to 28th – Christmas Enchantment – Giant ice sculptures and light show

23th – French National Ski School Annual Christmas Bonanza and firework display.

24th – Father Christmas arrives in the resort centre

25th – Christmas Magic show

26th -Dynastar Trophy – Alpine ski racing for all

30th – Gospel concert in the church

31st   New Year’s Eve – Airstar night: light show, street entertainment and DJs.

JANUARY

01st – Snow-Show – Freestyle show, torchlight descent and firework display

02nd – Dynastar Trophy – Alpine ski racing for all

06th – Russian Christmas show – Freestyle show, torchlight descent and firework display

14th & 28th – Cross country ski racing

14th at 17th – Les Napoléons – Innovative Communications Summit

08th, 15th & 29th – Airstar night: light show, street entertainment and DJs.

19th to 25th – FIS Europa Cup Men’s alpine ski racing

20th to 22nd – Classicaval – 22nd Classical Music Festival (Opus 1)

FEBRUARY

04th – Cross country ski racing

5th, 12th & 26th -Airstar night: light show, street entertainment and DJs.

10th to 12th – Frost Gun invitational – Int. freestyle Big Air competition (Qualifying)

13th –  The Alternative St Valentine’s Day – a lovers’ evening in the Olympique cable car

11th, 18th & 25th – Family show in the Conference Centre auditorium

13rd 20th & 24th – Dynastar Trophy – Alpine ski racing for all

17th & 28th – French National Ski School February Bonanza and firework display

17th – Carnival (Mardi Gras) on the slopes

19th – Carnival Parade (Mardi Gras) – entertainment and children’s party in the streets

MARCH

03rd – La Daille Fiesta – Torchlight descent and firework display in La Daille

04th – Children’s Show in the Conference Centre auditorium

05th – Airstar night: light show, street entertainment and DJs.

06th – Dynastar Trophy – Alpine ski racing for all

10th to 12th – Classicaval – 22nd Classical Music Festival (Opus 2)

19th – Festive Thursdays – Concerts, music and street entertainment

21st to 28th – Altigliss Challenge – Student event with concerts and freestyle show

25th to 29th – Winter Golf – Golf on snow tournament in the Manchet valley.

APRIL

02nd & 16th – Festive Thursdays – Concerts, music and street entertainment

05th – Easter Egg hunt on the slopes – Easter entertainment for children

07th to 10th – La Scara – 34th International Junior ski race

15th – Show for all the family in the Conference Centre auditorium

20th to 23th – Adventure & Discovery – 19th International Film Festival

21st – Skidebrief FPS

23th – Pro-Montagne ski race

25th and 26th – Race night ski hiking

ALL SEASON

“Fun on the snow” from 22nd Dec onwards (Snake-gliss, Airboard, Yooner, ski race)
“Behind the scenes in Val d’Isère” from 25th Dec onwards (Guided tour of the resort’s facilities)

Every Tuesday:

Village tour with a local heritage guide from 23rd Dec onwards

Posted in Ski Resorts, Val d'Isere | Leave a comment

Family Summer holiday in Les Gets

I have often considered taking a family summer holiday in Les Gets but for the last few years have been swayed to book a villa in Portugal or Corfu instead. This summer I had the opportunity to take my 13 year old daughter away for a short break and so it didn’t take much time to decide on taking her to the French Alps for some ‘alpine adventure’.

The first thing to consider was the weather. Of course this is a little hit of miss in the mountains but I had been to the Alps on a golfing trip some summers before and remembered that it was hot and sunny most of the time. This most recent trip was no different with a little light drizzle on one afternoon but 3 days of blazing sunshine for the rest of the trip. Sun screen and sun glasses are two definite essentials for the summer in the Alps suitcase!

The second thing to consider was where to stay; and thirdly, what activities to do whilst there.

Family summer holiday in Les Gets

Family summer holiday in Les Gets

We chose Les Gets in the French Alps. It’s a charming, traditional village with real alpine charm and being only one hour’s drive from Geneva international airport meant it was an easy journey. The resort really comes alive in July and August and is a mecca for both road and mountain bikers. There is also a decent golf course, wonderful hiking trails and some of the best via ferrata this side of the Dolomites. Once we had decided on Les Gets we then set about looking for a suitable ‘family friendly’ hotel. In the end it was a simple decision to book a room at the two star Hotel Christiania. This is a fantastic British owned, managed and staffed hotel that is centrally located and also situated right at the foot of the ‘home’ bike trails. The main lift accessing the Chavannes mountain is literally less than 50 metres from the front door – its location could hardly be bettered.

Hotel Christiania in Les Gets

The lounge and bar area of the Hotel Christiania – Les Gets

 

Apart from having absolutely loads of fun activities to try a family summer holiday in Les Gets has the added bonus of being incredibly good value when compared to a villa holiday in the Med. Our family room which could comfortably sleep four (a double bedroom connecting to a separate bunk room and bathroom) worked out at a little over £100 per night! With cheap flights and reasonably priced car hire (essential to explore the area) our basic holiday cost (travel from Gatwick and 4 nights half board) came to under £800 for the two of us.

Day One – Getting to Les Gets

We got up at a very civilised hour, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at home in London and then drove to Gatwick airport to catch a lunchtime flight to Geneva. A little over 4 hours later we were sitting in the lounge of the Hotel Christiana enjoying a cup of tea and chatting to John, the owner. Later that afternoon we strolled through the village centre to the Air Aqua Mountain Adventure (2AMA) office to sort out our activities for the next few days. There are various places through which to book a guide but we found the 2AMA staff to be very helpful and accommodating.

Day Two – Via Ferrata

We drove to Samoens (about 30 minutes away) to meet our via ferrata guide. For those that don’t know via ferrata (iron way) is proper rock climbing made easy. Wearing a harness and a hard hat you simply clip onto the safety line and then follow the route of metal rungs that are fixed to the rock face. Although the harness will stop you falling hundreds of feet to your death you still don’t want to have to rely on it – even harnessed to the safety line you will fall 6 to 10 feet and get a few nasty bruises on the way. The Samoens via ferrata is 800 metres in lateral length and 400 metres vertical offering a real mix of thrills including a suspended rope bridge, vertical ladder, steep rock climbs and horizontal cliff traverses. I don’t have the best head for heights but as long as I didn’t look down was OK. The only snag was that the Samoens via ferrata route is basically a loop that takes you up, and then back down again. The down element had its moments!

The via ferrata above Samoens, France

The via ferrata above Samoens, France

In the afternoon we drove back to Les Gets and took out our mountain bikes and put them on the gondola to the top of the Mont Chery. As complete beginners to off road riding we elected for a relatively simple horizontal ride along the ridge to Mont Caly, a journey of about 4km. Here we found a delightful mountain restaurant and ate a very hearty plate of local charcuterie before descending on the tarmac road back down to Les Gets (approx 8km).

Day Three – Canyoning

We drove back to Samoens to meet our 2AMA guide and then drove on to the Canyon Balme near Cluses. There we met up with a French man and his 14 year old son. We hiked up along the trail following the side of the gorge for about 400 vertical metres. Wearing thick wetsuits on a hot day in July this climb was fairly arduous so it was a cooling relief to finally jump into the ice cold water of the mountain stream. There were two abseils (20 metres and 35 metres) down waterfalls and then a series of chutes that had been carved into the rock by rushing water over the millenia. These were a bit like a toboggan run and could be taken feet or head first. It was a fantastic day enjoyed by adults and children equally. I would thoroughly recommend. Here is a You tube clip of the gorge descent taken by another party.

Canyoning near Cluses

Canyoning near Cluses

Day Four – A rest day

This was a drizzly day so we got up late, enjoyed a leisurely pizza lunch in Les Gets and then read our books back at the hotel.

Day Five – more via ferrata and return to the UK

In the morning we drove to St Jean de Sixt (20 minutes away) to tackle the toughest via ferrata in the region. In all there are 6 grades of via ferrata which range from Grade 1: ‘tame – yup this is easy’ to Grade 6: ‘yikes – I don’t like this at all!’. The via ferrata Rocher de la Chaux has two routes, one which is a grade 5 ‘difficile’ and the other which is a grade 6.  From the bottom of the cliff I took one look at the latter and backed out. My daughter, who unlike me has a very good head for heights, couldn’t wait to get going. Here is some You Tube video from the less difficult route.

After her amazing ascent we then drove back to Geneva and caught a late afternoon flight back to Gatwick Airport.

For such a great value holiday we both had an amazing time. If you are looking to take a family summer holiday in Les Gets then I would wholeheartedly recommend you do. Please do give me a call – I would be delighted to help you get it booked up. T: +44 (0)20 7801 1080.

 

Posted in Les Gets | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Skiing with young children need not be a nightmare

Having taken my six year old daughter, Amelia, skiing for the past three winter seasons I think I am getting the hang of what works well and what does not. Here are my tails to date which will hopefully give you an insight on what I consider to be a successful holiday if you’re skiing with young children.

Let’s start from Amelia’s first ski holiday. Having taken her for a two week road trip to Bardonecchia and Chamonix when she was 2 ½, I can assure you she did not ski. Often I get asked by clients if it is possible for my child to have lessons… “she/he is not quite 3″. Well my simple answer would be forget it! Of course you can take your toddler to the mountains but they will be happiest in a warm chalet or crèche being looked after by professionals while you hopefully enjoy your skiing. We have used both local and British nannies very successfully.

Skiing with young children

Not a good look after Daddy tried to get Amelia going.

Our next family ski trip was the following season when Amelia was 3 ½ years old. We went with Ski Esprit to Selva Val Gardena. In my opinion this is the perfect age to get your child started on snow. It is not skiing as you and I might know it but it’s a start and provides a good grounding. Basically, she had 2 hours a day in the ski kindergarten. This involves putting on ski boots and skis and walking around the play area. There is also a gentle slope for your little one to get the sensation of going downhill on his or her own. The ski kindergarten is a very safe environment as it is totally secluded from out of control adults learning to ski and is supervised by specialist child friendly instructors. You may quite rightly ask “well what about the other hours in the day”, well if you go with a specialist ski operator like Ski Esprit they have various options regarding childcare. We booked Amelia into the ‘Sprite Beginners’ with supervised lunch and then the Snow Club in the afternoon. This all equates to a lot of money but your child is supervised all day allowing you, the parent, to ski. We were very happy with the overall service of the Ski Esprit staff but don’t expect luxury accommodation or gourmet food. It’s simple but effective.

Skiing with young children

It doesn’t get better than having a smiling child in ski school!

Skiing with young children

Amelia larking about in Chamonix.

Our next trip we went to Chamonix, a resort I love and know well. However, having been told for years that it was not child friendly, I was pleasantly surprised. I would recommend having a car in the resort, unless you stay with Club Med or a chalet operator who have nannies or child minders. What really did it for me and Amelia on this trip was the ski school, Evolution 2 in Argentiere.  Fifteen minutes from Chamonix centre the Panda Club run by Evolution 2 really looked after Amelia well and she was with them all day.  The Panda Club is a secluded area for young children tucked away in a forest underneath the Grand Montets cable car. They have a little pulley system that gets the children used to a lift and helps them to progress to a full-on button lift. By the end of the week I was skiing with my four year old on the La Tour nursery slopes and she was happy to go on the button lift by herself. Tip: if skiing with your little one, always go first on the button lift as if she falls you can bail out easily and pick her/him up. Also my little one struggled to get the button under her bottom, so to speak, when trying to disengage at the end of the line, so being at the top first meant I could help her. Failing that it was usually a face plant and a few tears before she was off again!

Skiing with young children

Amelia looking the part in the bubble in Champoluc, Italy

Skiing with young children

Amelia Getting some air in Champoluc

 

Last season we went on two trips one which was very successful the other not so. For Christmas we went to Champoluc in the Italian Monterosa ski area. This is a delightful place but I was not particularly impressed with the local ski school. The second trip we went on last year was to Courchevel 1650 and Amelia had a fantastic time with New Generation, our ski school of choice. New Gen, as they are affectionately called, are great at looking after children of all ages and the lessons are exciting and fun. The progress Amelia made was amazing.

So what do you need to look out for?:
1. Choose a resort that is suitable, family friendly and not too intimidating.
2. Choose a ski school that has a good reputation for looking after young children.
3. Choose a resort with reliable ski schools.

After all your holiday will be a major success if you have happy children who are progressing and enjoying going to ski school.

All our staff here at ALPINE ANSWERS know the resorts and the ski schools which have been successful for families over the many years we have been organising ski holidays. We consider ourselves to be experts so do tap into our wealth of knowledge and expertise, you won’t be disappointed and neither will your children.

 

 

Posted in Family Ski Holidays, Ski Schools for children | Leave a comment