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Things to consider when planning your sking vacation:

If you're thinking about a skiing holiday, whether it's for a family ski vacation, a ski trip for two or just yourself, flying, driving or other means of getting there (even a day or side trip when you're away on business), we'd be happy to help you plan your trips. We specialize in ski vacations.

As a ski writer with more than 50 years of skiing experience, Ed Pollock has personally visited and skied at many, if not most of the major ski areas in the Alps, eastern & western Canada and the U.S. including Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New York, Utah, Vermont, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Ed not only can help you select the ski area with the slopes, accommodation and ambience you are looking for, but can also help you get the best value to enjoy the best experience for your ski holiday dollar.

There are so many things to consider, selecting the right ski package isn't easy.  What makes it even more difficult is trying to find out what the different ski packages include, in order to figure out the total cost of the ski trip , , ,

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ski pass? -- none, 3, 4, 5, or 6 days? -- for one small area or many big areas?

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number of runs? -- novice, intermediate & expert?

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type & number of lifts? -- altitude, verticals & lengths?

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snowmaking? -- night skiing? -- grooming?

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ski equipment rentals?

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hotel?-- 4, 5, 6 or 7 nights? -- 2, 3, 4 or 5 star?

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location? town, village or boondocks? -- character (modern, traditional or blah)?

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single supplement (if alone)?

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escort? -- ski area guide? -- instruction?

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meals -- none, continental breakfasts, buffet breakfasts, dinners?

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times? -- mid-week or week-end travel? -- flight times, both going & returning?

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transfers? -- to and from airport and around ski area or car rental?

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apres-ski? -- for some people, this can be as important or even more as the skiing.

Ask Ed for the answers.  If I can't tell you off-hand, I can find out for you.
Some of the very best places to ski:

In EUROPE, many if not most of the ski areas, hotels, restaurants and shops are owned and staffed by local people. Most of the families have owned the property and lived there for many, many years. They are genuine local people who like and depend on visitors and want them to return again, year after year.  Visitors are treated as guests. (Unlike in North America, where most major ski resorts are owned by corporations with itinerant skier employees.)

Major ski areas in the Alps have longer runs with greater vertical height than North American, with more snowmaking, better grooming and far more aerial trams, cable-cars, and gondola lifts.

ITALY is my first choice for a ski vacation in the Alps. Italians are happy, friendly, polite and laid back and don't make a contest out of the lift lines.  Two of my favorite places to stay and ski in Italy are Moena and Pozza di Fassa in Val di Fassa, in the Dolomites region, which also includes Cortina d'Ampezzo.  The ski pass is good for the entire region and offers more skiing than in all of western Canada.  Ed Pollock may again be personally escorting a small group (mostly seniors) to Val di Fassa in Italy this winter.  On the other end of the Italian Alps is the Aosta valley, which includes Courmayeur under Mont Blanc, where you can ski over to Chamonix France and Cervinia (Breuil) under the Matterhorn, where you can ski over to Zermatt Switzerland and back.  Because it's the highest ski area in the Alps, it's a great destination for early and late season skiing. 
AUSTRIA is my very close second choice for an Alpine ski vacation. The Gastein Valley,  although not as well known as some of the more famous Austrian ski areas, has some of the best skiing and resort hotels in the Alps.  St. Anton, Lech, Zurs and the other nearby resorts are very sociable as well as offering some real skiing challenges.  They not only provide great skiing, but possibly the best apres-ski anywhere.  The "tea dance" (at the "Post" hotel) at some of these resorts is a great place to meet people and the parties all over the towns can go on way past the witching hour. Schruns and the nearby valley resorts are best visited in mid-winter, while one of my favorite Austrian ski areas, Soelden in the Oetztal valley even has skiing on the glacier in the summer.
FRANCE is my next choice for an Alpine ski vacation. Although a great deal of the accommodation in the newer resorts is in rather unattractive high-rise buildings, the good news is that many of the newer areas offer small, relatively inexpensive efficiency units with kitchenettes and other facilities which are ideal for families or small or large groups. Val D'Isere/Tignes is a mixture of both the older and newer types of Alpine village and offers a great variety of challenging on- and off-piste skiing  but is not really the best place for novices.  An area almost unknown outside of France is Risoul in the Haute Alpes. You can ski over to Vars and back on the same lift pass.  The total amount of skiing in the two areas is greater than anywhere in North America. Although most of the skiers and snowboarders there are French families, you'll also find skiers from Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
ONTARIO, NEW YORK & QUEBEC offer the least expensive ski vacations for Ontario residents. Although there are ski hills in Southern Ontario, they are really best for only one-day visits (to get in shape for a real ski vacation).  To spend more than a day of skiing at any of them, even Blue Mountain near Collingwood, can be boring.  A little farther away, is Holiday Valley in Ellicottville New York, a real ski town, about three hours' drive from Toronto. For a longer stay, my favorite is the Quebec City Area, about ten hours' drive from Toronto, staying in the city or near the ski areas and skiing at Mont Ste Anne, Le Massif or StonehamMont Tremblant is also great, but pricey, followed by the less-expensive Quebec Eastern Townships' areas with good skiing, but relatively unimpressive locales.
VERMONT is more expensive, but since you can drive there from eastern Canada, it is still cheaper than having to fly to your ski destination.  In my opinion, the three best ski areas to visit are Stowe, Killington and Sugarbush. Each one has quite a different character, depending on what you are looking for.

WESTERN CANADA has some great skiing.  Whistler is the only real ski town, with some of the best skiing in North America, depending on the weather, which is very unpredictable and changeable. I once skied in sunshine, rain, snow and white-out fog all on one run on the top half of Whistler.  

If you're planning to visit Whistler to ski but you're not much of a party animal, avoid Whistler during the  World Ski & Snowboard Festival April 12 to 21, 2013 when the place will be overcrowded by an event that will have little or no interest for most adults who go there to ski. The waiting times and line-ups that Whistler is notorious for will be even longer than you would expect at the end of the ski season, both for the lifts and especially in the restaurants. And one of the biggest gay ski week events in the world is at at Whistler February 3-10 2013.
B.C. interior ski areas usually have the best snow conditions in Western Canada. Each has at least a few good runs but you are stuck out in the boonies with generally uninspired nearby towns. A lot of the ski areas and facilities are a long way from being fully developed, so they stress the "untracked" nature of the skiing which appeals mainly to the more adventurous (and usually younger) skiers.   
Even though ski areas in the B.C. interior are less expensive than Whistler, for about the same total out-of-pocket cost (including meals) for a full 6 days of skiing from Toronto to B.C. or Alberta, you can ski the Alps in Europe, including air fare, since most of the European packages include 7 days accommodation with breakfast and dinner.
Banff, Alberta's Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise ski areas can be less expensive than B.C. and provide a variety of ski terrain, but little else.
WESTERN U.S.A. has some great skiing, (but if you add up the total cost including the most expensive lift tickets in the world, Western Canada or Europe is usually cheaper).  One of the best in the west is Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe, California.  There are eight other ski areas around Lake Tahoe.  When I was last there in April, the problem was too much snow, which made driving difficult even in a 4x4, but the skiing was great.  
For more information on skiing anywhere in the world - send me an e-mail at info@sailski.com or give me a call at (905) 330-2251.

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Moved to 386 Park Road North, Grimsby Beach Ontario, Canada L3M 2P6 ~ e-mail: info@sailski.com
  ( On Lake Ontario, between Hamilton and Niagara, about an hour or less drive from Toronto,  Mississauga, Burlington, Brampton or Milton)
Cel Phone: (905) 330-2251 (Ed Pollock may answer, not a voice mail box).
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Last modified:10/27/12.