Here's a guide to help you branch out and to find the perfect ski resort (plus accommodations, restaurants and nightlife) to match your ability, your pocketbook and your interests. For American and Canadian skiers, SkiSnowboardEurope.com offers insights to help you locate the region and then the resort that matches your dream of a European ski vacation.
On this page you'll find what's new on SkiSnowboardEurope.com for 2002/03, using the Internet to plan vacations, how we organize the information in our resort reviews, and how we break down types of accommodations.
Besides choosing the right ski resort for yourself and your group, there are additional considerations of traveling abroad. We also attempt on this page to ease the little anxieties that you might have if this is your first European ski vacation and to make it easier to make your own arrangements if you're an Alpine veteran.
Not surprisingly, people take ski vacations for different reasonsfor a romantic getaway, to have quality time with the family, to ski all-out with buddies, to ski a little and maybe shop a lot. And what happens when a hotshot skier travels with a never-ever or beginner? The average ski resort's brochure indicates that their resort is all things to all skiersthis is definitely not the case.
SkiSnowboardEurope.com is as straightforward and honest a guide to Europe's top resorts as you can find. Our goal is to match you with the right vacation spot. Our staff includes experts and intermediates (including some who learned as adults), Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, skiers and snowboarders, eggs-and-bacon breakfast eaters and gourmet-coffee-and-bagel fans. Each skier and snowboarder has various likes and dislikes, and resorts have different personalities. We recognize thisthat's why we include our opinions and personal observations. We detail the personality of each resort: where we found the best skiing and snowboarding, where we liked to eat and where we enjoyed the liveliest off-slope fun. And we give you the facts and current prices, plus hotel and restaurant descriptions, lift ticket and lesson prices, child care programs, nightlife hot spots, and where to call, fax, e-mail or write for more information.
The resorts reviewed on this Web site can support four to seven days of on- and off-slope activity without becoming repetitious, plus we include some nearby regional resorts that are worth a side-visit. Start planning now for your winter fun.
What's new for 2004/05
Of course, prices, programs, lessons and facilities have been updated to provide the most accurate information available about each resort. Some of these resorts have been completely transformed through new developments and new hotels.
Prices are all in Euros rather than in Dmarks, Francs, Lire, Schillings or Pasetas. These prices have been rounded up and should now provide an easier way to compare between vacations in different countries.
Prices for lift tickets, child care or ski school at virtually every resort have been updated . Where new lifts have been installed, descriptions of the skiing have been modified. This year one of the big changes has been added snowmaking at many of the resorts. Snowmaking now insures that vacationers can ski back into the towns and villages even in poor snow years.
Snowboard sections, providing expanded coverage of where to have the best riding experiences, have been added to many resorts and snowboard information about lessonsand halfpipes has been included for almost every resort in the book.
Another significant change, especially for families, is the expansion of Youth or Teenage lift tickets. Now many resorts have created a new ticketing category with prices between those of children and adults. This new pricing category affects youth from 1318 years in most cases.
Where we have been able to get the Internet and e-mail addresses of various resorts, we have included them in the Tourist Information section in the green fact box on the right-hand side of the resort home page.
Using the InternetSkiSnowboardEurope.com
One of the most significant changes in making reservations at and gathering information about ski resorts has been the development of the Internet. Virtually every world-class resort now has a Web site with basic information including statistics, lift tickets, ski school prices, and how to contact them; you can even book online on some of the more savvy sites.
At SkiSnowboardEurope.com, you'll find facts, advice and words of wisdom; often you'll find out more about a resort than at the resort's own site. Indeed, few resorts work to promote the surrounding areas, but SkiSnowboardEurope.com offer details about the surrounding areas as well as much more economical lodging and dining options.
Resort review organization
Each resort review has several linked pages: resort home page, mountain layout, snowboarding, cross-country, lessons, child care, lift tickets, lodging, dining, après-ski/nightlife, other activities, and getting there.
We begin on the resort home page by sketching the personality of the placeis it old and quaint, or modern and high-rise? Clustered at the base of the slopes, or a few miles down the road? Remote and isolated, or freeway-close? Family-oriented or catering to singles? Filled with friendly faces or an aloof herd of "beautiful" skiers?
Here's an explanation of what's included in the green fact box on the right-hand side of the resort home page.
Links at the top of each resort page lead you to detailed descriptions of the mountain's various features. Mountain layout describes various sections of the mountain best for skiers at each of five ability levels. You'll also find a trail map here.
Snowboarding tells riders where to go, where the flats are and whether the terrain parks and features are any fun. Mountain rating (found on both the mountain layout and snowboarding pages) is a summary of the mountain's best and worst features, such as whether slopes may be too tough for the beginner or too mild for the expert.
Cross-country details Nordic trails and services at the resort, as well as significant cross-country and backcountry skiing opportunities nearby, and rental and tour information.
The Lessons section outlines the major ski school programs together with prices for group and private lessons as well as some of the special programs.
Child care covers non-skiing nursery and day-care programs, either at the resort or nearby, as well as the skiing and snowboarding lesson programs available for children. Details on resort child care facilities are given with prices, times and ages of children accepted.
Lift tickets are listed for adults, children, teens and seniors. Be aware that resorts have various terms for children's lift tickets"junior," "youth" and "young adult" are common. The price lists in most cases include single-day passes, as well as multiday tickets. We are currently in the process of updating our 2001/02 prices for the current season; where no date is noted, assume the prices are from the 2000/01 season.
Under Lodging we list the most luxurious places to stay as well as many of the ski area bargains. In the Apartments section we include accommodations which would be considered condominiums in the U.S. We include phone numbers and in most cases fax numbers so that you can contact the hotel and make reservations. Plus, you can leave contact numbers for friends at home. On this page, we also list Ski chalets if any are convenient to the resort.
Dining always includes the best gourmet restaurants in town, where money is no object. As our personal interest in dining seems to increase, IWhave learned that the best restaurants require reservationsSometimes the top places are booked weeks and months in advance. We have provided phone numbers and some fax numbers for every Michelin-star restaurant mentioned as well as for the Gault Millau rated eateries. Call or fax ahead to guarantee your reservation.
We dont leave out affordable places where a hungry family can chow down, eat heartily and relax. There are also plenty of in-between restaurants suggested as well as recommendations for on-mountain dining. These have been compiled from interviews
with locals and tourists, then combined with our own experiences.
Après-ski/nightlife describes places to go once the lifts begin to close, and whereto find entertainment later in the evening. We discuss, for example, which bars are packed with celebrants for immediate après-ski, likewise where to find an inviting, cozy spot in front of a fireplace. Well help you find pulsing disco on a packed dance floor, or soft music and quiet after-dinner talk.
Other activities covers off-slope activitiessuch as tennis and squash, fitness clubs, skating, sleigh rides, hot-air ballooning, curling and festivals, are included under other activities.
Getting there tells you how to get to the resort either by plane, car or train and finish with the most important phone numbers and addresses for tourist information.
Types of accommodations
A hotel is relatively large, with 25 rooms or more, and comes without meals. If hotel rates include any meals, that is noted.
A bed & breakfast (B&B) or Garni tends to be even smaller, with just a few rooms. Breakfast is included. Normally lunch and dinner are not included.
Apartments and Ski Chalets are economical alternatives to staying in a hotel, pension or B&B . They are often scattered through the town and offer reasonably priced accommodations. Its exactly the same as renting a condominium at a U.S. ski resort.
When you call the resort's central reservations number, ask for suggestions. Most of the staff have been on lodging tours and can make honest recommendations based on your needs.
Photos courtesy of Park City Vistors Bureau: Town and skier photographs by Lori Adamski-Peek;
snowboarder, cross-country skiers and lodging photographs by Dan Campbell