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Advice on European resorts

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Planning a honeymoon to a European resort, we were thinking Verbier or Meribel (I have already been to Val D'Isere, St Anton & Kitzbuhel), and were looking for some advice.

As we are from Australia it might be nice to go to a resort with some history, but this is not as important as the skiing of course!

Is the most reasonable accomodation in lodges or can you get an small apartment with cooking facilities? We are worried about the cost of eating out as the Aussie dollar is worth not much over there.

Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 25
Bec,
A couple of comments...
1. Yes, you can get self-catering apartments in many of the resorts. (remember La Daille?)
2. You want a town with history: Chamonix! You've got Mont Blanc, and its legacy, and the Winter Olympic history for the area. Oh, and the skiing's not too bad either! . Fly into Geneva, and it's only about 1.5hr transfer. Alternatively, but more expensive, try Wengen in Switzerland.

S
post #3 of 25
Particularly in France, most appartments are aimed at people really trying to ski on the cheap. They tend to be tiny and if they claim to sleep 4 that means 1 bedroom + a sofa bed that two people are supposed to sleep on. The 'kitchen' may just be a couple of hot plates and a fridge. Totally different I think to the US where condos are aimed more at the luxury end and will have a TV, dishwasher, microwave, hot tub etc. Lots of hotels offer half board at quite reasonable rates.

To take a random example (from the Ingham's brochure that has prices online)

"Studios 2-3 occ., approx. 35m². Living/dining room with 3 fold-away beds; kitchenette with fridge & 2 hotplates. Bath and wc, TV, & south-facing balcony"

2 people in a studio for 1 week starting 1st Feb accommodation only costs £125 per person less than 1 week half board in the de Verbier (I stayed there a couple of years ago - nice mid-range hotel, excellent food, as described below - there are cheaper places available)

"Bedrooms: All rooms are simply furnished and have bath, wc, cable TV and telephone. Some rooms are under the eaves. Some rooms also have a balcony.
Meals: Buffet breakfast and 4-course dinner with cheese, fruit or salad buffets most evenings, taken in attractive dining room."

The appartment's cheaper if you are prepared to survive on bread and spaghetti all week! Appartments get really cheap if you're prepared to squeeze lots of people into a small space.
post #4 of 25
p.s. I haven't been to Meribel but it has a reputation as being very expensive. Other bits of the 3 valleys are cheaper.

In recent years I've found Switzerland cheaper than France - big contrast to 10 years or so ago when Switzerland was famous for how expensive it was.
post #5 of 25
Frances,
Your advice is true, but I had to laugh at this...

Quote:
Originally posted by Frances:
Appartments get really cheap if you're prepared to squeeze lots of people into a small space.
Bec said she was going on her honeymoon, now I'm not sure about you, but I would have thought that she's only looking for somewhere for 2 people! (although, if her husband is from Utah, they may need room for his other wives )

Thanks for making me smile, though!

S
post #6 of 25
Bec, history (as in ski history, mountaineering history) or
History (as in WWI and WWII)?
If what you look for is the first, then I concur with the Fox,
Chamonix is a good choice (BTW, that's where we spent our skiing honeymoon, back in 1993).
If, otoh, is the latter what you're looking for, or a mixture of both, then the Dolomites, or nearly any of the restort of the eastern Italian Alps, near Austria, will answer your need.
As for apartments, you'll be able to find apartments with
cooking facilities nearly everywhere.
As for prices, see for yourself (this is what I payed for a w/e, one night, in Alta Badia
www.altabadia.org, this past sat/sun, summer prices, no skiing):
Rooms: 2 double rooms incl. breakfast for 4, 88 € (that's Euro)
Lunch 30 € (2 adults+2 children)
Dinner 50 € (again 2 adults+2 children)
Lift tickets prices, see
http://www.dolomitisuperski.com/content.asp?L=1&M=172

Althougt I think that France/Switzerland/Austria are better suited for English speaking people...
Still, it depends which time of the year you're thinking of coming.
As for the advices Frances has given, I agree, and those are valid everywhere.
Again, do you intend to shunt the crowds (while skiing)?
post #7 of 25
If you haven't been to Chamonix yet it is definitely time.

Classic alpine village with the best skiing in Europe. Lodging is relatively cheap and there are lots of nice little romantic restaurants that aren't too expensive.

On the negative side is that you have to take the bus to some of the hills, plus the fact that the place is crowded with bums that will get to the virgin powder before you even got out of bed.

Nevertheless, you have to go there sooner or later.

Verbier is also a very good alternative. Excellent skiing, nice village - not as classic as Cham, though. More expensive than France. "Less" competition about the powder.

Have a good one!
post #8 of 25
Out of all these places, by far the nicest village I've seen is Kitzbuhel so I hope you won't be disappointed. Unfortunately ski resorts - particularly French ones - are not really very romantic. You have to make your own romance.
post #9 of 25
Timing is important. The crowds around Christmas/New Year as well as Easter holidays and carnival are annoying. And your choices are limited. Prices are at an all-time high as well.

If I were to put together a ski honeymoon, I'd pick Dolomiti Superski. IfTwo words for you guys: "Selle Ronda"
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for so many responses! Here are some comments/questions I have to those replies;

Yes, it will only be the two of us (my husband hasn’t told me about his Utah wives yet ) so tiny apartments are fine.
We are going end of Feb, early March
By history I mean really old buildings etc (older than 150 years is ancient to an Aussie and in a ski resort anything older than 50 years is heritage listed). Something like Kitzbuhel (but I’ve already been there), even Val D’Isere had some old churches.
Is Switzerland really cheaper than France now?
As my husband is a chef we would not like to have to eat dinner in the lodge every night, but go and explore some of the local restaurants, so we don’t want to pay for dinner in advance.
Where do I find Inghams online? It is very, very difficult to get much information about accommodation in ski resorts in Europe here, we get loads of info about USA and Canada but only one or two choices of accom for the whole of Europe at the back of every international ski brochure. I would be really grateful for people’s advice on specific places and websites that list accommodation.
We don’t mind skimping on most luxuries except we would like to not have to walk for miles in our ski boots before we get on the lift.
What is La Daille.
What is Selle Rhonda
I would love more specific advice on Chamonix and/or Verbier.

Thankyou all for your help. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #11 of 25
Bec,
Let's see...
La Daille is the area full of big ugly concrete apartment blocks on the outskirts of Val d'Isere.
As for information, this site may help...
The Ski Shop
Click on the Resorts button, or the Holiday Plans button to get some useful information.

S

[ September 18, 2002, 01:55 AM: Message edited by: Wear the fox hat ]
post #12 of 25
La Daille is where the Funitel goes from - the end of one of the bus routes (Le Fornet is the other end).

Inghams (www.inghams.co.uk) and Crystal (www.crystalski.co.uk) are UK package operators. They are only useful to get an idea of relative prices; you wouldn't want to book anything from them. They may also give you some info on what various appartment blocks are like, though of course they are relentlessly upbeat. To find accommodation lists, a good place to try is the resort website e.g. www.verbier.ch - click on the English flag (unless your French is very good) then float over Accommodation and choose Renting. A google search on "Meribel apartment rent" seemed to suggest quite a few options.

There is very little ski-in/ski-out accommodation in Verbier, being close to a bus stop is likely to be the best you manage though it is possible to be close to the lifts.

If you are feeling rich, by far the best restaurant in Verbier is the Rosalp (Michelin-starred). It needs booking in advance and is very expensive. If you haven't been to Switzerland before and you like cheese make sure you have a fondue one evening & a raclette another. It's worth trying out the local - Valais - wines. Not the standard of French classics but quite drinkable and interesting to experiment as they generally aren't exported.

I certainly found mountain restaurants in France more expensive than Switzerland, though of course this varies with exchange rate.
post #13 of 25
For information etc you could try www.skisolutions.co.uk, www.skiclub.co.uk and www snow-zone.co.uk. The first is a travel agency, the second the Ski Club of Great Britain site with a link to iglu (another holiday operation) and the last the website of "wHERE TO SKI AND Snowboard", one of our better (in my view) ski guidebooks. They in turn have links to other sites including local tourist offices
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Nobody:

If, otoh, is the latter what you're looking for, or a mixture of both, then the Dolomites, or nearly any of the restort of the eastern Italian Alps, near Austria, will answer your need.
http://www.dolomitisuperski.com/content.asp?L=1&M=172

Bec,
I would strongly support Matteo's suggestion of the Dolomites for a skiing honeymoon. Try these possibilities:
-One or two nights in Venice enroute to the snow.
-The ambience of Cortina and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.
-Lots of great skiing based somwhere like Campitello.

I have been twice and really find it excellent. Lot's of long cruisy runs, little villages in the valleys, good food, Castles in the snow etc etc. You can also do guided tours with an Australian company out of campitello.

PM me if you are interested and want more information.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well it seems that we will just have to have two weeks skiing, one in the Dolomites (any votes on the best resort there?) and one in either Chamonix or Verbier. Chamonix is a place I have been wanting to go to ever since I first saw "The Blizzard of Ahhhh's" back in the days when stretchy pants were cool. But being a HUGE cheese fan, Verbier sounds pretty good too.

Just one question about the Dolomites, is the snow reliable and how is the quality, is it dry?

Thanks for the website pointers I will check these out tonight.
post #16 of 25
I agree that the Dolomites are beautiful. BUT ,without offending anyone, i think that the skiing there is not good enough. the snow is unreliable at best, and at resort level there is usually only man made stuff. You can check on the site of the UK ski club the historical snow level for each resort. they are pretty accurate, and you rarely see over 20 cm at resort level. And usually the slopes are too easy. Of course you can go off piste and if you're lucky and there is fresh powder almost no one will try to beat you to it.I didn't get to it but i am told by friends that the Heli ski in Arraba is fantastic, if you decide to go to the Sella Ronda.
to sum it up if you want to ski hard this is not the place, but i guess that for a honey moon it's ok.
Swiss is expensive. I've been to Zermatt last year and when we summed it up it was about 200$ per person more than what we usually spend in France.
And yes, i am not ashamed to say that i just love french skiing. even the ugly buildings that for me symbol the unccompromised pure skiing experience. You can try to go to Courchevel in the 3 valleys. it is expensive but the restaurants are very good, and the resort looks OK. Me? I'd go to Val thorens, being so high up, and reaching such an amazing range of skiing' idon't care about the looks of it/
post #17 of 25
Bec,
Sella Ronda is just one tour around a Mountain Massif (english word, please), the Sella Massif, using the lifts and the runs to move around (Sella Ronda = Around the Sella)
It is part of the Dolomiti Superski coop.
You start in the morning, clockwise or counterclockwise and ski all day. Colfosco, Selva di Valgardena, Canzei, Arabba, Corvara
and then back in Colfosco, that's the tour as we used to ski it.
Another Tour like that is the "Giro della Prima Guerra Mondiale"
WWI ski tour
So called because you ski in places like Marmolada, Col di Nava
and so on, in a round tour. It's a little bit more "primitive"
than the Sella Ronda, since it's been started only a couple of seasons ago (you still have to ride a bus here and there, instead of skiing). Sella Ronda was like that, some 25 years ago.
If you like to walk out of the room in the morning and put on your skis, then places like Colfosco or Corvara in Alta Badia (see Alta Badia, Dolomites ).
Lots of castles which are dated back to the middle age, round there. But visitng season is summer only, I think.
Anyhow, for example in St.Cristina, the run (red run, the alternative to the black run which host the Valgardena downhill race) pass beside such a castle.
Snow in the Dolomites? Well, if the natural stuff lacks, they're more than willing to make it up, it's strange, really strange, the past season al runs were open, "white" with man made snow, and all the surroundings were brown.
This happens, to these extremes, roughly every 10-15 years (it happened once in 87/88 and then the past season).
Since it happened last year, I hope that this season will be more normal.
As for its quality, all runs are usually prepared with a layer of man made snow as soon as it's cold enough. hen the natural stuff comes, the man made freezes and won't let the natural one go away. As for dryness, Dolomites are very close to the mediterranean sea, as the crow flies...
But I never found its snow to be damp and heay. It also depends werther you're a "Pistaiolo" (someone who stays on the groomed terrains) or you're looking for off-piste runs all day.
If you're an extreme skier or a freerider, then, you'll may find
sticking on the groomed runs boring. I did, despite not being an extreme skier nor a freerider, but after 20 years back to back of going there every year for at least one week.
In one week only, you should be able never to ski on the same run twice (unless you choose to).

As for the Best Resorts (this is my preferred list):
Canazei
Corvara

These are mid-size towns (for Italian alpine vllages), where one can still (sort of) exit the door, don the skis, and begin queuing at the chairlift.

A classical one (a real town)
Cortina d'Ampezzo

Smaller villages
Campitello
Colfosco
La Villa
S. Cassiano

Again, I never noticed this, and maybe Gera will tell, I think that English speaking people (I mean the Hotel clerk, the waiter and so on) are scarce. The area is bilingual German-Italian
(that's why you'll see most of the indications in both languages) and spans between two Regions, Trentino-Altoadige (Trentino-SüdTirol)and Veneto
I did not know about the Australian company in Campitelo, that sounds interesting, it would be of help with all the "cultural" barriers.
Also, what Gera proposes! Venice and the Dolomites, that's some package (our Honeymoon was Chamoix AND Venice)
As far as cheese, the Alps are the land of cheese!
Asiago cheese, Taleggio cheese, Toma cheese, just to name three...

Cham, I've been there for our honeymoon, as I've said, and I liked the atmosphere of it. And cheese there was hmmm as good as
anywhere else.
post #18 of 25
Matteo,
I think, given the context that Massif = Range.
Hope this helps.

S

P.S. Your English is excellent!
post #19 of 25
Hi Bec,
I use www.iglu.com for drooling over resorts it seems to have realistic reviews of resort pros and cons and plenty of accommodation info and pictures.
[img]smile.gif[/img]
post #20 of 25
I didn't say Verbier was the place to go for cheese, I just pointed out what to eat in Verbier if you like cheese. If you go to Savoie in France make sure to get some ripe Reblechon de Savoie which is a great local soft cheese.

Verbier had a dreadful season last year - we were there at Easter and while you could ski up high there was nothing at resort level, and a lot of the s-facing mountain (Savoleyres - mainly blue runs) was shut.

The French certainly take eating and drinking more seriously.
post #21 of 25
[img]redface.gif[/img]
Thank you Fox.
It has better to be so, after 30 years...

Psy, I agree that most runs are not difficult, but you can still find challenging terrain.
As far as snow levels, what is more important, mm reported or
how many runs are open to ski?
As I said, there have been good years, and bad years.
People could ski in the Dolomites in years when almost no snow
had fallen in Austria, and viceversa.
I can only wish lots of snow for the honeymooners.
Wherever they will choose to go to spend it. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #22 of 25
first off, i don't want to antagonise anybody, but , M@teo if there isn't any snow off the slopes, and the slopes are not the most challenging...
i've been to the Dolomites in the summer and it was fantastic, but i like a "proper" winter landscape when i ski. but i degress. all i was tring to say was that if they are looking for some real hard skiing France is the best place, in my opinion.
post #23 of 25
[quote]Originally posted by Matteo:
[QB]Bec,
As for the Best Resorts (this is my preferred list):
Canazei
Corvara

These are mid-size towns (for Italian alpine vllages), where one can still (sort of) exit the door, don the skis, and begin queuing at the chairlift.

A classical one (a real town)
Cortina d'Ampezzo

Smaller villages
Campitello
Colfosco
La Villa
S. Cassiano

Again, I never noticed this, and maybe Gera will tell, I think that English speaking people (I mean the Hotel clerk, the waiter and so on) are scarce. The area is bilingual German-Italian
(that's why you'll see most of the indications in both languages) and spans between two Regions, Trentino-Altoadige (Trentino-SüdTirol)and Veneto. [QB][quote]

Matteo,
I agree with your selection of towns. I suggested Cortina becuase of the ambience rather than the skiing as it is better further west. Campitello was by suggestion in the Val di Fassa because Dolomite Ski Tours from Sydney run guided tours from there.

You are correct that there is not a lot of English spoken, and German is the first choice of most people (or Ladin in Campitello) My partner looks teutonic and people would start a conversation in German, she would reply and then her high school German would fail her and we'd be back to English. With me they would be confused with the Italian colouring but pale blue eyes and pretty poor Italian adding to the confusion.

Rgarding comments about the snow quality, I think like any resort it depends on the season. The last time I was there most resorts had extensive snow making (and very modern lifts and gondolas)so it really wasn't an issue. For sure there are steeper resorts in France, Switzerland or Austria, so it really depends on what Bec is seeking.
post #24 of 25
[quote]Originally posted by Matteo:
[QB]Bec,
As for the Best Resorts (this is my preferred list):
Canazei
Corvara

These are mid-size towns (for Italian alpine vllages), where one can still (sort of) exit the door, don the skis, and begin queuing at the chairlift.

A classical one (a real town)
Cortina d'Ampezzo

Smaller villages
Campitello
Colfosco
La Villa
S. Cassiano

Again, I never noticed this, and maybe Gera will tell, I think that English speaking people (I mean the Hotel clerk, the waiter and so on) are scarce. The area is bilingual German-Italian
(that's why you'll see most of the indications in both languages) and spans between two Regions, Trentino-Altoadige (Trentino-SüdTirol)and Veneto. [QB][quote]

Matteo,
I agree with your selection of towns. I suggested Cortina becuase of the ambience rather than the skiing as it is better further west. Campitello was by suggestion in the Val di Fassa because Dolomite Ski Tours from Sydney run guided tours from there.

You are correct that there is not a lot of English spoken, and German is the first choice of most people (or Ladin in Campitello) My partner looks teutonic and people would start a conversation in German, she would reply and then her high school German would fail her and we'd be back to English. With me they would be confused with the Italian colouring but pale blue eyes and pretty poor Italian adding to the confusion.

Rgarding comments about the snow quality, I think like any resort it depends on the season. The last time I was there most resorts had extensive snow making (and very modern lifts and gondolas)so it really wasn't an issue. For sure there are steeper resorts in France, Switzerland or Austria, so it really depends on what Bec is seeking.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well the skiing is pretty primary.

I am an ex-instructor of 5 seasons Australia and a 1 season Japan with a season spent in Canada and lots of other trips including 6 weeks in European resorts, so we still want good snow and challengiing terrain.

There just seems so much to choose from. I have never skied in Switzerland so I thought that would be good. But I've had a look at the prices now and it seems Canada is a good deal cheaper.

Then it all just got too confusing so we considered the Cook Islands for a bit but I think our heart lies with the mountains of France or Switzerland.
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