Snow has finally arrived in the Alps. Here’s where you should ski this season.
While snow was late in coming to the European Alps this winter (many ski resorts struggled to make snow for disappointed holiday visitors), the weather has finally cooperated and started dumping the usual meters of white stuff.
Every year the choices in ski resorts, hotels and fast new lifts gets better and better in Europe. Here’s a sampling of some of the new hotels and inns catering the skiers and snowboarders, as well as a listing of the ski resorts that have added new lift capacity.
PLACES TO STAY
In St. Johann near Kitzbuhel in the Austrian Tyrol, is a new skier’s hotel owned by former Austrian downhill champion Hermann Maier. It’s perhaps not the fanciest place in Europe, but Maier should know what hard-core downhillers want, and that’s what you find in this warm, wood-accented hotel: lockable skiers’ lockers, comfortable rooms with rain-shower shower stalls, good food in the hotel restaurant, and plenty of nightspots just down the road. Without loads of luxury options, the prices are reasonable, starting at €78 per night, B&B.
In the Rosset area of Tignes le Lac, right on the Lavachet piste, is a fascinating new 54-room hotel decorated in the earth tones of the American Southwest: tribal blankets on the beds and couches, sandstone tones everywhere. The hotel includes a wellness center with saunas and indoor pool and a restaurant that features more steaks and French cuisine than tacos. Prices from €129 B&B, two-night minimum during ski season.
CHALET DU FRIOLIN
Sits high in the French Alps, 1,800 meters in altitude, perched next to the Montchavin-Les Coches slopes in the Paradiski ski area near La Plagne. It originally was (and still is) a well-known mountain restaurant which required guests to make their way five kilometers uphill by snow shoes, snow mobile or horse-drawn sledge to enjoy the Savoyard fondues and fine wines. This season, the Chalet offers five guest rooms offering half-board for €109 per person, with a seven-night minimum during the season. For those who want rustic luxury with ski-in and -out convenience, it’s hard to beat.
Looking for a low-cost alternative to ski resorts? Try the “camping” options from the website pitchup.com. They recommend the Villagio Gofree in the Italian resort town of Pragelato, with skiing at Sestriere and Sauze d’Oulx. They offer comfortable, if small, wooden cabins that can sleep up to six for prices of about $515 per week. The cabins are fully equipped and have full kitchens, while the village has its own low-price restaurant, plus a wellness center with hot tubs.
Across the rugged Alpine terrain, construction crews were busy all summer adding new lift capacity to European ski resorts. Here are some of the latest additions.
A new high-speed gondola has opened to bring skiers to the Presena Glacier at Passo Tonale, and a new quad chair replaces an older lift at Pontedilegno further down the same mountain. … A new six-pack chair at Piz Sella should help a bottleneck at Selva Gardena near the Austrian border. … A new 100-person cable car has been opened at the Ciampac and Belvedere areas at Canazei in the Val di Fassa. … New lifts in the Dolomite region includes chairs added at Alpe Luisa, east of Bolzano and the Kronplatz area.
Les Arcs, the resort area northwest of Val d’Isere, has completed a massive construction renovation project with the addition of a new gondola and high-speed six-seat chair. The new lifts provide fast access to the Arcs 2000 bowl atop the Col de Frettes … A new high-speed six-pack chair at Brochaux in the Avoriaz resort in the Portes du Soleil … There are two new high-speed lifts in the Chamonix Valley, at Les Houches and Brevent-Fiegere.
With the addition of a new, €20 million, 10-person high-speed gondola, the Saalbach-Hinterglemm area has been linked with neighbor Fieberbrunn to create Austria’s second-largest linked ski area, known as the Skicircus, southeast of Kitzbuhel. The newly linked area covers 240km of slopes and runs serviced by 67 lifts.
An Egyptian investor is spending nearly 2 million Swiss francs in Andermatt, in the shadow of the Matterhorn, and this year opened a new six-pack chair at Gurschenalp on Gemsstock Mountain. Eventually, the plan is to link Andermatt with the nearby area at Sedrun. …Adelboden has added a new four-man chair linking Chunisbargli to Silleren at mid mountain. … A new 8-person, high-speed gondola has been added in the Churwalden-Heidbeul area of Lenzerheide, south of Chur. The first-of-its-kind gondola was designed by the automaker Porsche. … A new six-pack chair at Zermatt has replaced a T-Bar that serviced skiers for the last 50 years.