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Resorts in Italy

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ok, I have to admit that I never paid much attention to the actual towns I was going to for skiing on my solo trips; they just never figured into the equation (I focused more on the snow conditions, lift systems, etc.).

Now, I'll be doing a group trip around the second or third week in January, and some in the group are interested in the town itself more than or as much as the skiing. Here is a summary of the group that my brother put together. Let me know your suggestions (other countries are ok, but Italy is the top preferrence).

Jake - Off Piste
Sean - Off Piste
April - Tennis (indoor is a must), skiing up to red level, as long as it doesn't interfere with tennis.  Way into dining
Lane - High Blue, low red.  He's a little scared of heights, but is not afraid to crash...  weird..
Rachel - Blue.  She's definitely intimidated by steep slopes and expressed a strong desire to go to Italy.  Likes shopping and tennis.
Di - Won't ski or play tennis.  She will probably be into dining and bargain shopping.  We might be able to get her on a sled or something.
Magnus - Snow.  He loves it.  I may try to get him out to Whitetail before we head to Europe, but being only 3, he may be too young to start skiing.  As long as he can throw snow at Papa and eat snow, he'll be happy...  Also, any place with an indoor swim complex may work too...
Baby Grace - Food.

That indoor tennis requirement is a killer. My sister-in-law loves to bash the tennis ball around, but I've never thought about it during a ski trip.

I think I might be able to teach Rachel how to get over her fear of steep slopes (I think I might know what's causing the problem), so I think she could get up to the red level to ski with her dad and aunt if she just gets over the fear factor. So, we shouldn't need a resort packed full of blues (greens in France), but we don't want a place with nothing for beginners.

I don't think my nephew will be big enough for ski school (turning 3 just a month or so before the trip), so he'll either be with his aunt (the non-skier) or in daycare, as would the baby as well.

Like I said, Austria, Switzerland, and France are ok, but Italy is the preference. Any ideas?
post #2 of 27
Ouch.
post #3 of 27
OK, I'm ready to actually respond to this. First, January is a lousy time to come to the Alps if you have to plan ahead. It could be great, but it might well not be. The light could be shitty for your whole week. Lower-altitude resorts -- and some of the bigger names in Italy and Austria fall into that category -- could be particularly dicey that time of year.

In Italy, hands down the best early snow at a major resort is going to be Cervinia. A quick web search comes up with "tennis coperti" in a couple Cervinia links, so perhaps they have indoor tennis courts there. I know they have indoor tennis at Courmayeur, and that's not a bad bet either; probably less good for early season snow, better village than Cervinia, so-so logistics. I wouldn't be surprised if Cortina or the Val Gardena complex offered tennis, but those are not great bets for early season snow (at least not natural snow).

Sestriere might fit the bill for you, though, again, only guessing as to presence of indoor tennis. The village there is uninspiring, in my view.

You could also think about using the town of Aosta as a base. There could well be indoor courts there, the town has some pluses, and there's a gondola directly from town to the ski resort of Pila. You'd also be within striking distance of a lot of other resorts, including Cervinia. (Or you could stay up at Pila and send tennishead down to play in Aosta. Who's she gonna play with, BTW?)

Sounds to me like you want to go somewhere in France, though you don't know it yet. They're way better organized for this kind of thing than the Italians are. Look into resorts that have Club Med's too, they might have courts as part of their facilities. In the 3 Valles, or Serre Chevalier or Les Deux Alpes, they might well have tennis courts, and the requisite organization to hook players up with each other. No offense to my longtime hosts here, but Italians are hopeless in this regard.

Also, in general terms. Offpiste in January, who knows. Last year was epic. Other years, not so much. For my money, the best time of year to ski in the Alps is March.
Edited by prickly - 9/3/09 at 7:47am
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

Ouch.

Tell me about it. It's that tennis bit that gets me (I play quite a lot too, but who thinks of other things when there's skiing to be done?).

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I forgot to mention that St. Anton and Verbier are way down on the list, since my brother and I have already gone there the last couple of years. I'll start looking into Sestriere and Cervinia.

The timing of the trip is because half of the group are in Germany (Air Force crazies), and the other half comes to visit for the holidays, which are followed by a ski trip. This is the first year the rest of the group will be joining my brother and me for the skiing part.

To be honest, he and I can probably entertain ourselves just hopping from piste to piste in the side stashes the whole week, so the off-piste side of things isn't quite as important. (I'll be doing a couple of off-piste weeks in France and Switzerland this winter anyways, and my brother usually does a couple of weeks in Colorado or Vermont each winter, so we'll both have a chance to get our kicks off the map.)
Edited by CerebralVortex - 9/4/09 at 2:26am
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ding ding ding ding ding! I think we have a winner! It looks like Courmayeur might work for everyone (at least, it works for me and I think I can talk the others into going there, which is all I care about ).

Mr. P, you sir are a superstar. If you ever get blown off course or otherwise stranded in Luton, you are more than welcome to a drink compliments of me.
post #6 of 27
courmayeur is about your best bet as you need the tennis although the off piste rules in certain regions of italy are interesting to say the least...go to the wrong place and you could and in the cells for a night  a guide is required to go most places more on that in a bit


if you could get away with tennis outdoors (there may be indoors too) then have a look at champoluc it links to gressony and alagna so has some amazing off piste and loads of good mid level piste skiing

in courmayeur there are some great bars in town best is probably the bar roma free nibbles at 5pm and old leather sofas to sit on.... you could stay down in pre saint didier (PSD) if you have a vehicle you can be in courmayeur in 15mins la thuile in 20 mins and aosta to go up to pila in about the same time..... about 1.5 hours max would get you to champoluc definatey orth a day trip if you want the off piste...but again you should probably book a guide for most places
la thuile offers heli skiing which if the conditions are right is well worth it... you are dropped at the top of the ruetor (sp) glacier, and end skiing down into st foy... a quick taxi to la rossier and ski back over to la thuile

Aosta may also work as a base as it is a comercial town, 18min gondola to pila, 30 min drive to courmayeur, or la thuile  1 hour to champoluc

for accomodation  look at ski 2 for champoluc, if you want courmayeur look at interski but check the hotels out as some of them are full of schools (you need the classics collection)  best hotels in courmayeur are the cour maison grand, the eidelweiss (the one in the town not PSD) and there is one other which escapes me.... for champoluc the relais d glaicer is very nice, but there are cheaper 

good luck with the quest
post #7 of 27

Courmayeur is indeed a nicer village than Cervinia, as is Champoluc. Cervinia will likely have better snow in January than the other two, though, and also offers the link to Zermatt. Any of the three would be fun with the right conditions. Standalone, Courmayeur is the smallest of the three, though it does have some intriguing offpiste possibilities, conditions permitting.

 

Charm: Champoluc
Snow: Cervinia
Challenge: Champoluc
Intermediate skiing: Cervinia (best in Italy, for sure, one of the best in Europe)
Scale: None of the three are big standalone

Links: Champoluc, Cervinia (none ideal; a haul Cervinia-Zermatt, ditto Champoluc-Alagna)
Food: Courmayeur
Logistics (eg, convenience): Cervinia
Village ambiance: Champoluc (simple), Courmayeur (chic). Cervinia underrated in this regard.
International link: Cervinia (to Zermatt), Courmayeur (via tunnel, to Chamonix).

Prices: highest in Courmayeur
Nightlife: Courma more Italian (so on sedate side), Cervinia has Brits (bit rowdier)

Best place to avoid Milanese: None of the three, though Courmayeur is like being in Milan.

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Oh, Monterosa is my favorite ski area in Europe so far, and I plan on staying in Champoluc again sometime soon. I thought about trying to talk the others into going there, but with the tennis nut and the non-skier, I think it would be a losing battle. For them, a bigger town is necessary.

Courmayeur will probably be the easiest to get to, because the others will be driving down from western Germany. I could just fly into Geneva on a SleasyJet from Luton and have them pick me up on the way.

Also, I think the proximity of Chamonix will be a plus for the non-skier, who will have the car to drive if she feels like exploring a bit outside of Courmayeur.

My brother and I will each be doing two or three more ski trips this winter, so we won't be too bothered if the snow conditions aren't perfect for going off-piste. Besides, with the others there with us this year, we'll probably end up spending a lot of time on the snow with them (or off in the side stashes not far from them).

I'm not even going to tell the others about Cervinia. I try to stay away from places with too many rowdy Brits. I get plenty of that throughout the rest of the year; I don't need more of it when I'm on vacation.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEM View Post

courmayeur is about your best bet as you need the tennis although the off piste rules in certain regions of italy are interesting to say the least...go to the wrong place and you could and in the cells for a night  a guide is required to go most places more on that in a bit


if you could get away with tennis outdoors (there may be indoors too) then have a look at champoluc it links to gressony and alagna so has some amazing off piste and loads of good mid level piste skiing

in courmayeur there are some great bars in town best is probably the bar roma free nibbles at 5pm and old leather sofas to sit on.... you could stay down in pre saint didier (PSD) if you have a vehicle you can be in courmayeur in 15mins la thuile in 20 mins and aosta to go up to pila in about the same time..... about 1.5 hours max would get you to champoluc definatey orth a day trip if you want the off piste...but again you should probably book a guide for most places
la thuile offers heli skiing which if the conditions are right is well worth it... you are dropped at the top of the ruetor (sp) glacier, and end skiing down into st foy... a quick taxi to la rossier and ski back over to la thuile

Aosta may also work as a base as it is a comercial town, 18min gondola to pila, 30 min drive to courmayeur, or la thuile  1 hour to champoluc

for accomodation  look at ski 2 for champoluc, if you want courmayeur look at interski but check the hotels out as some of them are full of schools (you need the classics collection)  best hotels in courmayeur are the cour maison grand, the eidelweiss (the one in the town not PSD) and there is one other which escapes me.... for champoluc the relais d glaicer is very nice, but there are cheaper 

good luck with the quest

Thanks for the recomendations for accomodation. I think my brother will try to book through some American sites. But, if he can't find any with good deals, I can always book through the UK sites.

BTW, for those interested in Champoluc, there are a few good hotels that can be booked through regular hotel sites like www.venere.com. I booked a room at the Castor through there back in March, which worked out nicely. I'm hoping to put together another trip there for myself this winter.
post #10 of 27
A vote for Courmayeur here.

Very nice resort, excellent food options, apres-ski bars and tennis. Unfortunately though, as previously mentioned, it is quite a pricey resort. It's as snow-sure as most other places are in mid-January. Indeed, mid-January is my favourite time of the year to ski in Europe - usually good snow, cold days and quiet slopes! There's some easily accessed 'off-piste' from the top lift (not exactly off-piste, but 'itinerary' runs). There is other off-piste available if you look, tonnes if you hire a guide and you can do some ski touring on Mont Blanc if you really want to go for it. You're also just a short journey from the joys of Chamonix if you want to change it up a gear one day of the week. Just don't expect much 'bargain shopping' (though I did pick up a cheap bottle of genepi during my last visit ).

Another option - if there are people travelling down from Germany, would be the Dolimiti Superski area as it's part of the South Tyrol (used to be Austria). My advice would be to choose Selva val Gardena out of the Dolimiti resorts. It's another very nice resort, excellent scenery, great non-skiing facilities (99.9% sure they have an indoor tennis centre somewhere), excellent variation in terrain, huge linked area, great (but slightly different food), and good accommodation.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skisimon View Post

A vote for Courmayeur here.

Very nice resort, excellent food options, apres-ski bars and tennis. Unfortunately though, as previously mentioned, it is quite a pricey resort. It's as snow-sure as most other places are in mid-January. Indeed, mid-January is my favourite time of the year to ski in Europe - usually good snow, cold days and quiet slopes! There's some easily accessed 'off-piste' from the top lift (not exactly off-piste, but 'itinerary' runs). There is other off-piste available if you look, tonnes if you hire a guide and you can do some ski touring on Mont Blanc if you really want to go for it. You're also just a short journey from the joys of Chamonix if you want to change it up a gear one day of the week. Just don't expect much 'bargain shopping' (though I did pick up a cheap bottle of genepi during my last visit ).

Another option - if there are people travelling down from Germany, would be the Dolimiti Superski area as it's part of the South Tyrol (used to be Austria). My advice would be to choose Selva val Gardena out of the Dolimiti resorts. It's another very nice resort, excellent scenery, great non-skiing facilities (99.9% sure they have an indoor tennis centre somewhere), excellent variation in terrain, huge linked area, great (but slightly different food), and good accommodation.
Thanks for the suggestions.

I think the price should be ok for them. They were looking at going to Zermatt before asking me for advice, so I think anything that's in Italy and not more expensive than Zermatt should be just fine.

They seemed to like the idea of Courmayeur, but I'll also mention Val Gardena if they want some more ideas or can't find any good deals for accomodation in Courmayeur.
post #12 of 27
Courmayeur would be a better bet for early snow, I think. Coming from Britain, you might want to keep flights to Turin in mind as an option. Courma is about two hours from Milan, closer to Turin.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

Courmayeur would be a better bet for early snow, I think. Coming from Britain, you might want to keep flights to Turin in mind as an option. Courma is about two hours from Milan, closer to Turin.

There is a real possibility that the others won't have enough space in the cars to fit me in, so I might very well end up flying to Turin and travelling up there myself. If there is enough space in one of the cars, I'll probably fly to Zurich or Geneva (depending on which route the others want to drive) and get them to pick me up on their way.
post #14 of 27
Bring your gear, and stop off at Verbier or Andermatt or something!

 

 

Better yet, go light, take the train to Zermatt, ski there, ski down to Cervinia, and have them pick you up there.

post #15 of 27
Re. off-piste. Be warned that in Piedmont (and Valle d'Aosta, but i'm not 100% sure of this) it's now regional law the requirement for anyone skiing offpiste to carry the avy gear, the APS threesome that is : Beacon, probe and shovel.
It's for sure regional law in Piedmont, but I've read (unconfirmed) that in Valle d'Aosta is the same.
Check always first with the local guides office, eventually, to hire one, it'll be a lot "safer".
If you go to Val Gardena, or Alta Badia, Guides there offer Sella massif off piste packages, with chutes and the likes...
 
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

 

Better yet, go light, take the train to Zermatt, ski there, ski down to Cervinia, and have them pick you up there.


Hmm, that sounds tempting. I might even have a backpack at home big enough to pull that off. I'll have to look into that.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post

Re. off-piste. Be warned that in Piedmont (and Valle d'Aosta, but i'm not 100% sure of this) it's now regional law the requirement for anyone skiing offpiste to carry the avy gear, the APS threesome that is : Beacon, probe and shovel.
It's for sure regional law in Piedmont, but I've read (unconfirmed) that in Valle d'Aosta is the same.
Check always first with the local guides office, eventually, to hire one, it'll be a lot "safer".
If you go to Val Gardena, or Alta Badia, Guides there offer Sella massif off piste packages, with chutes and the likes...
 
Thanks for the heads-up. I was thinking about buying some gear, so I guess this gives me more of a reason to do so.
post #18 of 27
a lot of places insist on you having a guide ...sure its a way to increase guides revenue
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEM View Post

a lot of places insist on you having a guide ...sure its a way to increase guides revenue

Given the size of the group and their skill levels, I will probably get roped into skiing with them for shepherding/teaching purposes. (I hope they don't expect me to teach them much. I don't know how to teach technique; I can only teach line choice and the psychological side of skiing, since that's all I've ever had to think about.)

Or, if I can break off, I'll be skiing alone on a mountain I've never been to. Either way, I probably won't be able to do more than piste-to-piste jaunts near the others or routes I can fully scope out from below or on the lift. I'll try to get a Vallee Blanche day with my brother, in which case we'll go with a guide. But, that'll probably be it for this particular trip.
Edited by CerebralVortex - 9/14/09 at 7:59am
post #20 of 27
If you go to Cervinia, look up Lino Peron at Lino's Bar, at the foot of the mountain, skier's left. He took a group of us out of bounds for some great skiing. Not many people ski out there and he was always happy to show you the goods. Hope he is still there!

Lino is in the lead, me in the back. As you can see, we aren't far from the resort. We took a bus back to town.



The Mer de Glace is definitely worth it. We left from Courmayeur and bussed back. Kind of wish we'd done the Augille d'Midi. Another trip!

MR
Edited by MastersRacer - 9/14/09 at 8:10am
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
So, after two months of trying to make things work (all sorts of different reasons given against different plans that seem silly to me), the gang decides to just go to the military hotel in Garmisch.

Arrrgh!

I have given up
. Remind me to never again get involved in planning a group trip.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEM View Post

for accomodation  look at ski 2 for champoluc, ... the relais d glaicer is very nice, but there are cheaper 
 

Looks like the boss and I will be taking your advice on this one - as I believe that's exactly where we're going.
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post


 
One tip for the trip to Champoluc if you are going the train + bus route: on the train from Turin to Verres, be sure to get a seat in one of the cars at the front.

Several stations along that route, including Verres, are not well-marked, with a only single sign over the little station house. Of course, if you're at the back of the train, you won't see that sign until you have started on your way to the next station. It's very easy to miss your stop.

I learned that one the hard way.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post

So, after two months of trying to make things work (all sorts of different reasons given against different plans that seem silly to me), the gang decides to just go to the military hotel in Garmisch.

Arrrgh!

I have given up
. Remind me to never again get involved in planning a group trip.

 
Ha Ha Ha!

I'm convinced the only way you can be successful planning this sort of thing is if all participants give their preferences up front and then shut up and accept the decision of the dictator, er, leader.

Anyway, there is more to Garmisch than meets the eye. It's utterly bizzare watching a bunch of 18 year olds from Alabama who have never seen snow before slide around, but there is actually some really good skiing there too if you know where to look for it.
post #25 of 27
Fox, if you land in Milan, by any chance, and end up at the Central Station there, looking for a train to Turin (Torino) pay extra attention not to board the train to Tirano, or you'll end up in the Livigno/Bormio area, hundreds of km away from Champoluc...
post #26 of 27
So, after two months of trying to make things work (all sorts of different reasons given against different plans that seem silly to me), the gang decides to just go to the military hotel in Garmisch.

Arrrgh!

I have given up
. Remind me to never again get involved in planning a group trip.

 
NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!
post #27 of 27
 I think there's a serious question that's needing asked here!

If she takes you on a tennis holiday, would she mind if you limited her choice to places where you can also ski!!!!!!

nuts! 

Garmisch is close to some very good skiing in Austria though, so all is not lost!
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