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European Holiday Info Needed ASAP

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I tried this in the Eurozone thread but no one responded...HELP please!

 

EPIC skiers,
Looks like I will be leaving for ? in Europe with adult son for a week (Sat - Sat)in early January. Will meet up with daughter's family (2 adult and 3 small skiers) for a week of sking. Question is where...Austria, Switzerland, Germany, even France or Italy. Real problem is where?
Need advice. Where is snow in early Jan least iffy?
Not looking for the toughest skiing, just pleasant family skiing in real Alps. Kitzbuel? St Anton? Interlaken region? Kids will spend a lot of time in ski school, ages 5, 5 and 6. All have skied several times. Looking for experience, fun, sightseeing, etc. As any family who have traveled to Europe with kids knows...hard to find a room with two large beds. Apartment? HELP!!!
Looking for info and on-line places to get honest info! Willing to fair pay for trip, but only two arms and one leg...I can hop on the other to get around!
I need to be booking planes and daughter is having trouble getting info in this her first and only winter in Germany!
The Colonel smile
 

post #2 of 21

We always stay at Haus Pepi Eiter in St. Anton, close to the Galzig lift, and is also very reasonable for St. Anton during Christmas/New Years.  They have apartments and family rooms available.  Check them out at http://www.pepi-eiter.at/html/english/preise.php

 

 

 

 

post #3 of 21

For most flexibility, I'd book into Zurich. In January you might not need to do much more than that ahead of time. 

St Anton usually has good cover that time of year, but not a guarantee. Andermatt is a very snowsure resort, though it's on the small side. Zermatt is very high and pretty snowsure too, at least for preservation. 

The 3 Vals in France is such a big area that it's bound to have cover, particularly given how high Val Thorens is. The Espace Killy is a pretty good bet for cover as well, given the height of Tignes.

In Italy Cervinia is the best bet for early snow among the major resorts; it's also linked to Zermatt (in my book, Cervinia has better snow). 

 

I've skied a fair amount at St Anton in January and had good cover every time but one (and that time I missed a big dump by one day). I'd go there, but I'm biased.  

 

Hope this is helpful. Don't panic. January is low season (assuming you're not coming New Years week). It's a buyer's market for sure. 

post #4 of 21

Yeah, Zurich is probably the most convenient airport for you given that your daughter is in Germany. If the snow cover is good, Arosa is a quiet, decent sized resort that is family friendly. If you decide to go to France, Espace Killy is good because it has a number of greens and blues for the kids (especially in Val d'Isere) and reds and blacks for the better skiers.

 

For accomodation, the official resort sites are usually quite good. Just Google the resort name to find their site; most have an accommodation finder. Also, there are some UK companies that offer decent accommodation deals, especially for France. I'll see if I can find some links.

post #5 of 21

CV, you want to say it, me?? OK, "get yourself a copy of Where to Ski and Snowboard"...

post #6 of 21

Herr Colonel - I suggest you look at Oberlech. I think with the little kids you are really going to like the car-free village. Walking distance to ski school and all of that.

 

www.lech.at

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

CV, you want to say it, me?? OK, "get yourself a copy of Where to Ski and Snowboard"...



I thought we were playing the game of who could hold out the longest without mentioning that book/website.

 

 

Also, the Ski Club of GB site has a good resort search. Most of the basic info is free; only stuff like historical snow data is restricted to members.

 

post #8 of 21

That first hand tip from Soup1 on Haus Pepi Eiter in St. Anton sounds like a good place to start some lodging research, maybe their apartments with kitchen and rooms without kitchen or combination thereof might work for your large group.

 

General stuff repeating much of other posters inputs:

Because you are going relatively early in the season you may want to consider higher elevation resorts that are "snowsure". Here are two articles from British press on snowsure ski areas:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/6345237/Ski-holidays-the-most-snow-sure-resorts.html

 

http://www.snowkings.co.uk/resorts/top/top_snowsure.htm

 

 

Looking at those lists some of the common top choices would be:

-St. Anton region of Austria which includes nearby Lech and Zurs.

-Val thorens in France part of three valleys and includes Meribel and Courchevel

-Val d'Isire and Tignes (this is "espace killy", home of Jean-Claude)

-Ischgl, not too far from St. Anton area along Austrian/Swiss border. 

 

All these can be pricey, conventional wisdom is that you're dollar goes a little farther in Austria than Switz or France. High elevation in the Alps means base of slopes is 6000', a lot easier to handle than 9500' at some Colorado resorts.  "Self catering" condo type apartment accommodations at many ski areas would give you an American-like condo accommodation with cost savings to make meals with your own groceries.

Here's a fine website (as mentioned by Prickly) for studying more about the european ski areas:

http://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/features/european-school-holidays-2010-11/

One more thing, if anyone in your group speaks French or German well that might be a consideration for your choice, but not critical since you'll encounter a lot of English in the Alps.

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Appreciate all the info...ANYBODY skied at Zell Am See in Austria?  In early season, mid Jan?  What are chances for good snow cover?

Thanks,

ColonelB

post #10 of 21

I skied Zell am See in Feb 2003.  I didn't mention it before because it's not in the upper tier of Alpine resorts as far as acreage and challenge, but now that you mention it, it's a very nice place for a family trip.  The good-size resort town of Zell has  a pretty lakeside setting surrounded by stunning big mtns over 10,000' high.  You might call it the Heavenly of Austria.  Zell ski slopes are relatively low, the summit is Schmittenhohe Peak (6560ft/2000m), nonetheless, it has long, 4k foot vertical runs down to the town by the lake.  Pretty mellow skiing.  Toughest stuff I saw there in just a one day visit were single black diamond in difficulty, with the trail layout consisting of mostly easy intermediate runs.

Of importance for your early Jan timeframe is that Kaprun is only about four miles away and has high elevation skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, which guarantees you won't be shut out for at least some skiing.  Believe it has about 2-3K' of vertical on wide open intermediate slope up on the glacier at around 9-10k feet elevation.  Because the town is at about 2500' above sea level you'll have little altitude adjustment issues. A bit more info in this old trip report.  Zell could be good for your group and if you happen to pass through Salzburg during your ski trip it's an amazing place to spend an off day or two.

http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=446&mode=search

 

Also, I put a few pictures of Zell in the Kaprun resort guide here on epicski { http://www.epicski.com/products/kaprun }, I guess I should give it a short review.  The first pic shows summit of Schmitenhohe in foreground and in background, dead center, hard to see, is the Kitz Glacier open ski field high up on the far mtn ridge.  Both places have gondolas and modern infrastructure.

 

BTW, welcome to epicski Colonel. 

post #11 of 21

I've only skied Kaprun once, in summer. Nice place.

I don't have any family skiing experience, but will chime in with the others here and state that St. Anton is my destination of choice in the alps. I see the others recommend flying into Zürich - I've flown into Vienna when going there. All the culture you could possibly want, and more, you can find there. Then again, I fly in from Oslo and don't know whether Züric is easier accessible than Vienna when flying in from the US.

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColonelB View Post

Appreciate all the info...ANYBODY skied at Zell Am See in Austria?  In early season, mid Jan?  What are chances for good snow cover?

Thanks,

ColonelB



I've never skied at Zell Am See, but my boyfriend went there with a group for a week in January a few years ago.  The condition was fine and they didn't have any problem with snow.  While Zell Am See is not an upper tier resorts in Austria by any means, it is a very charming town.  If you like a "town" like skiing experience and are not looking for a very big place, you will probably enjoy Zell Am See.

 

In contrast, most Swiss ski resorts are not as "town" like.  In January, you sholdn't have problems anywhere in Switzerland or Austria in terms of snow.  If you're interested in Switzerland, I could perhaps share some of my thoughts.  cool.gif

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

SkiPrincess,

Yes, Switzerland is a good alternative for the family Jan ski trip.  What are your thoughts?

ColonelB

post #14 of 21

Switzerland tends to be the most expensive of the major euro ski countries, not that any of them are inexpensive.  Last year was a terrible snow year in the Alps.  I skied at Flims-Laax-Falera in late December. Snow coverage was adequate down low, good up high.  The resort has about 6,000 ft vertical, so you can find good coverage even in a bad year.  There are a good many easy (blue) runs off of Flims.  Can't comment on ski schools.

 

I also skied Zermatt early season.  Good snow for late November, but very expensive and not an easy place to get around with a group.  Very spread out.

 

I would second those who have recommended the Arlberg region of Austria.  I skied Lech early Dec and we had 2 ft of fresh snow.  Also skied there late January when conditions were going bad around the Alps and had a great day with excellent conditions.  Lech has plenty of easy runs, as well as more challenging ones for stronger skiers.  Better skiers can try Der WeissRing, where you ski from Lech to Zurs and back.  That will give you that "you're in Europe" feel.  Lech is not cheap, but is regarded well as a family ski area and the town of Lech has the euro-ski-town feel.  I believe the ski pass for the Arlberg region is good at all six ski areas, and there is good bus service back and forth.  You can also ski from one to another of many of the ski towns.

 

For reservations, I have used www.booking.com, which is associated with www.J2ski.com, a Brit ski travel website.  Another good euro ski website is www.welove2ski.com, also UK-based. Both provide useful information on snow reliability, ski schools, nightlife, etc.     

post #15 of 21

Hi, I live in the middle of the Alps in Lenzerheide which is in Switzerland. So, I have to promote Switzerland a bit :-) I definitely wouldn't go to France - people don't speak English and (it depends on the resort) sometimes the lifts are very old. In Austria the general prices are quite low (restaurants, hotels) but as I know, the lift tickets are more expensive than in Switzerland. In general, the cheapest possibility is renting a holiday home (e.g. rocksresort in Laax). My secret spot is Engadin Scuol Samnaun. The villages close to St. Moritz are very beautiful and the prices are ok (www.scuol.ch). From Scuol you can either ski in Scuol or go to Samnaun-Ischgl (duty-free resort) which is veery big or you can ski the several resorts in St. Moritz or even Davos.

 

So, all I have to say...

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColonelB View Post

SkiPrincess,

Yes, Switzerland is a good alternative for the family Jan ski trip.  What are your thoughts?

ColonelB

 

There are so many different regions within Switzerland that you can choose from, some include options for non-skier and some don't.  I'll just include some that I'm more familiar with smile.gif

 

In the Berner Oberland regions, I would recommend Grindelwald/Jungfrau region.  Grindelwald is probably what you would imagine Switzerland to look like - surrounded by mountains and you will be able to see the famous Eiger and Jungfrau.  There are a few ski areas there (Kleine Scheidegg, Mannlichen, First) offering runs for different levels of skiers.  The famous Lauberhorn run is also here if you are interested.  There is also a black run from the Eiger glacier down to Kleine Scheidegg which can be a fun experience for visitors if you are comfortable on blacks.  For non-skiers or if you ever want a non-skiing day, you can always go to the top of Jungfrau Joch - your ski pass will cover the majority of the transport already, so you will only need to buy the last part of the mountain rail which, unfortunately, is still quite expensive.  There is also a 360 revolving restaurant at Schilthorn which can be fun as well.

 

In Graubuden, you've got Davos/Klosters, St. Moritz, Lezerheide, Flims/Laax, Arosa and many more.  Davos/Klosters is probably associated with the British royal.  Lift tickets are however quite reasonable here.  Some people like this place a lot and others not as much.  There are several ski ares here and you can access the different areas by the ski bus (included with hotel stay in the region).  The place is big enough for a week long stay skiing the different areas.  Personally, I don't like Davos/Klosters that much as it seems like a "wide open highway" for most of the areas here.  Most of the ski areas here are above the tree line (though, to be honest, most of Swiss resorts are above the tree line compared to the US) which lead to some very wide open pistes.  If this is something you prefer, then you might enjoy the area.  There are lots of restaurants/bars/clubs in the valley for apero ski as well.  The one cool thing is that if you are interested and experienced enough, you can hire a guide and ski off piste from Davos all the way to Arosa.  It's a full day trip and you'll need to get a ski pass for the Arosa region as well.

 

Lezerheide and Flims/Laax are both smaller and probably not exactly suited for a week long stay.  Flims/Laax also attracts a lot more snowborders rather than skiers.

 

St. Moritz is probably the most expensive ski resort in Switzerland, but it's a very very beautiful.  It is possible if you want to experience St. Moritz but don't want to pay the price for a whole week here that you stay elsewhere in Graubuden and take the train for a day trip to St. Moritz. 

 

In Wallis, you've got the world famous Zermatt to ski at which I personally do not like.  The lifts are not set up so nicely in Zermatt and it takes a long long time to get from one side of the mountain to the other.  Although with a whole week there, you might find this acceptable.  The pistes in Zermatt is quite varied, so should be suited for a mixed level family group.  There are also lots of off piste actions here - which is what usually attracts the skiers.  Despite the fact that I don't like the ski setup here, it's still one of "THE" place that you should ski at least once in Switzerland. 

 

 

 

What you should keep in mind is that Switzerland is a very small country, especially for the Americas wink.gif...  As a result, you can pretty much stay anywhere and ski anywhere else on a day-trip basis.  For example, from Zurich, you can take a 6am train which will get you to Zermatt by 9:30am.  On the way back, you can easily take a 6pm train and returns back in Zurich by 9:30pm.  This could be tiring for a family trip, but what this means is that you do not have to limit your skiing to just one resort. 

 

By the way, there are various Igloo available for a one-night overnight stay at a few resorts in Switzerland which can also be a fun activity for the children and adults.  We spent a night in one last season and it was a great experience - can provide more info if you are interested.

 

 

post #17 of 21

Flying into Zurich is your best bet.  You can take a bus from the Zurich airport to the Arlberg areas (google Arlberg Express Bus).  That would be good for kids, no hopping on and off trains and schlepping gear.  Any of the Arlberg areas will do.  Stuben is a good bet and could be a bit less expensive.  Kind of dark there in January.  Austria should be a bit less spendy than Switzerland.  Highly recommend the Ober Engadine (St. Mortiz valley).  Very snow sure, not crowded and miles of great lifts, pistes, and easy off piste access.  Avoid St. Moritz chaos and prices.  Stay in one of the smaller villages in the valley.  There's a free bus that comes with the hotel.  Everyone ends up on a bus to get o the lifts.  Very little ski in-out other than at the base of Corvatsch.  Pontresina, Sils Maria and Sameden are good bets among the outlying towns.  Engadine accessible by train from Zurich airport, but you do have to deal with a few changes to get there.  Web sites for all of these places are quite good and will steer you towards hotels of all levels as well as apartments.  With a family, I'd go for a modest hotel with breakfast and dinner included.  It's the most economical option unless your kids are non-eaters and then, just go with the B&B option. PM if you want details.  I've done a lot of family ski trips to Switzerland.

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zimel View Post

Hi, I live in the middle of the Alps in Lenzerheide which is in Switzerland. So, I have to promote Switzerland a bit :-) I definitely wouldn't go to France - people don't speak English and (it depends on the resort) sometimes the lifts are very old. In Austria the general prices are quite low (restaurants, hotels) but as I know, the lift tickets are more expensive than in Switzerland. In general, the cheapest possibility is renting a holiday home (e.g. rocksresort in Laax). My secret spot is Engadin Scuol Samnaun. The villages close to St. Moritz are very beautiful and the prices are ok (www.scuol.ch). From Scuol you can either ski in Scuol or go to Samnaun-Ischgl (duty-free resort) which is veery big or you can ski the several resorts in St. Moritz or even Davos.

 

So, all I have to say...


Not true at all......we are English and live in Courchevel in the Three Valleys area, France. Most of the people working around here are English. Pretty much everyone in the resort speaks English. France has some of the most modern lift systems there are.

 

post #19 of 21

I don’t think that skiing in Europe is boring. On the contrary, I think that in Europe there are the best ski resorts. The ski terrains are really huge, the accommodation is good and the food is really delicious. I personally prefer to go skiing with a large group of friends and to rent a self catering ski accommodation.For more info on skiing in Europe check: http://www.ski-accommodation-finder.co.uk/self-catering-ski-accommodation-advice.php.

post #20 of 21

Just warning regarding Pepi Eiter apartment in St. Anton:

 

Unfriendly owners. My car that was parked on the yard of this house was scratched, probably when the owner was getting rid of the snow from his yard. When I asked him to reimburse the cost of repair he told me that I should leave his apartment next day, although it was the middle of my winter vacation in St. Anton. I left this apartment with my family, because I didn't want to deal with such a rude person anymore. I found another apartment in St. Anton, owned by friendly and nice people. On the other hand I wasted almost the whole day to arrange new apartment and to move there instead of skiing which was the main purpose of visiting St. Anton.

post #21 of 21

 We loved Maria Alm, Austria, 1 end of the ski amade with linked areas through to Muhlbach 4 villages away, went early January this year approx 2 metres of snow, pretty village, easy to navigate ski bus to various areas. Approx 125km on your doorstep, with a car another 600km or so opens up for you, resort approx 1+1/4 hours from Salzburg. We stayed at a small guesthouse, they have a small flat at the top of the building with a couple of adjoining rooms with balcony, bathroom/loo maybe suitable for your family, we booked b+b but I believe there was a kitchen on that floor available to rent too. www.sbg.at/aberger.rosina    Lovely couple running the place, very very clean, 2 mins to bus stop, 15 mins walk to nearest ski area, 15 bus to far area which as mentioned is linked to other areas too. Cheap in comparison to a lot of areas. 2 sharing, flight, ski carriage, b+b, transfers, lift pass and 3 days ski school just under £700 a head.

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