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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
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
eastern & western Canada and the U.S. including Austria,
France, Italy, Switzerland,
California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada,
New York, Utah,
British Columbia, Ontario and
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 , , ,
ski pass? -- none, 3, 4, 5, or 6 days? -- for one small area or many big
number of runs? -- novice, intermediate & expert?
type & number of lifts? -- altitude, verticals & lengths?
snowmaking? -- night skiing? -- grooming?
ski equipment rentals?
hotel?-- 4, 5, 6 or 7 nights? -- 2, 3, 4 or 5 star?
town, village or boondocks? -- character (modern, traditional or blah)?
single supplement (if alone)?
ski area guide? -- instruction?
meals -- none, continental breakfasts, buffet breakfasts, dinners?
times? -- mid-week or week-end travel? -- flight times, both going &
transfers? -- to and from airport and around ski area or car rental?
apres-ski? -- for some people, this can be as important or even more as the skiing.
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:
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.)
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.
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
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
AUSTRIA is my very close second choice
for an Alpine ski vacation. The
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.
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
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 Stoneham.
Mont Tremblant is also great, but pricey, followed by the less-expensive Quebec Eastern
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
Killington and Sugarbush. Each one has quite a different character, depending on what you are looking for.
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
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
12 to 21,
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.
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.
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
or give me a call at (905) 330-2251.
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