Top tips for a Chamonix ski holiday

September 29, 2012

The location of Chamonix is ideal mainly because it is within just an hour’s driving distance from Geneva airport, where you can easily get a bus or a train to reach this iconic ski resort. Reaching Chamonix is also very easy via European motorway network. The neighboring countries of Switzerland and Italy are not more than at a 30 minute drive distance from the resort. As for lift passes, they cover the skiing areas of Courmayeur in Italy and Verbier in Switzerland.

As much as 90 per cent of Chamonix’s ski runs are located above 2000 meters, making it a perfect location for ski-lovers arriving here early or in late winter seasons. The highest peaks of of Grands Montets ski area go up to 3300m, providing outstanding snow conditions right from December till May.

No doubt, Chamonix is sometimes referred to as a Mecca for free-riders because it tempts every year some of the best skiers and boarders from all across the globe, allthough alot of Chamonix skiers seldom venture off piste. Every type of skier has something to enjoy here, and for family ski holiday the areas of Les Houches and Balme are really awesome and amazing. These areas offer some beautiful Chamonix chalets to rent at prices a little more reasonable than the main town.

To visit Chamonix, being a sports enthusiast is not an essential requirement. Almost 50% of the guests don’t even bother with skiing or snowboarding, but merely take pleasure in the fascinating atmosphere, the indispensable characteristic of this lively Alpine town. Pedestrians can enjoy shopping at the pedestrianised centre known for a wide variety of shops, cafés, and restaurants including two with Michelin stars. Renting a beautiful alpine chalet or ski apartment in Chamonix attracts all types of winter tourists and not just those on a ski holiday.

It is always great fun to enjoy a trip on the Montenvers Cog Railway that goes up to the Mer de Glace, or tackle the 3842 meters of altitude in the Aiguille du Midi cable car or simply use the free buses available in the valley, and discover the far-off villages and rural communities after spending a tiring day on the snowy slopes. You can make your ski holidays even more exciting by enjoying dog sledding, paragliding or ski touring in the snowy area of Chamonix. There is more than enough activities to tempt you out of your luxury chalet in Chamonix.

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Spectacular open air cable car

September 23, 2012

The use of roof-less ski lift is not a new idea – riding either in old model, open topped or walk-in gondolas that transport skiers from the resorts main car park to the base of slopes has been in vogue for many decades, and the system is often referred to as ‘bucket lift’ on the lighter note.

However, now Doppelmayr Garaventa Group has introduced a superior level roof-less lift and installed one just above Lake Lausanne in Switzerland. The newly launched double-decker cable car, whose cost is 28.1m euros, allows visitors to enjoy the fresh breeze along with scenic landscapes from the open top deck as the lift rises to a height of 1900 meters above Mount Stanserhorn.

Called “CabriO”, the cable car is the first of its kind to have a roofless upper floor. The lower deck features wall-to-wall windows and has a capacity for sixty people. From this deck there is a graceful staircase up to the roofless deck, which can accommodate thirty people.

In the beginning, many lashed out at this new design terming it as a ‘crazy idea’; however, by and by the lift has received significant popularity with innumerable guests so far having opportunity to enjoy the panoramic views and the cool breeze through their hair. The lift travels a vertical 1139 meters in just over of six minutes. “Our objective was to improve the skiing experience during the holidays. We simply looked for providing our guests a completely new aspect of riding,” said JürgBalsiger, the director of the ski lift company.

It should be noted that this roof-less cable car is not the only record for Stanserhorn, the old funicular launched here in 1893 also set a world record for being the longest funicular of the time.

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Val Thorens introduces on piste wifi

September 18, 2012

Val Thorens, one of the most famous ski resorts located in the French Alps, has mapped out a plan to establish Wi-Fi internet connections on the slopes. In a bid to offer skiers 24/7 access to internet services, it has been planned to provide Wi-Fi connections to skiers at different lift stations.

In the past year, the resort's lift company, SETAM established Wi-Fi networks at Caron gondola, the Cairn and the Péclet Funitel. While pursuing its enormous success, the company is now eyeing to set up more such systems across as many points of the ski area as possible. It is expected, in the next season points such as the Plein Sud, Moraine, Bouquetin cable car will be equipped with free WiFi internet connections.

Eric Bonnel, the Sales and Marketing Director of SETAM, said: "We intend to facilitate our visitors with the most excellent services in order to make their journey in the area very comfortable and enjoyable. We are taking into account their modern needs by providing them free Wi-Fi service at various ski lift stations."

Providing Wi-Fi internet services free of cost on the snowy slopes will benefit skiers a great deal; people can instantly download digital maps of pistes and update photos right away on the beautiful white slopes while reducing to a great extent the dependence upon costly data roaming. Those who are ready to take a trip to this thrilling ski area will now be able to contact their Facebook and Skype friends to know their whereabouts, or to share their exciting moments with friends and family members back at home.

Some reports, though unproven as yet, are also claiming that the resort is planning to expand the network of Wi-Fi services to Orelle - nicknamed as the Hidden Valley - in the upcoming season to facilitate even more visitors with internet services at their stations. Introducing this modern facility at skiing resorts is an ingenious idea that will certainly attract a lot more people making plans for their 2012-13 ski holidays.

With the completion of the new lift station at Funitel along with a few luxury Val Thorens apartments, a new hotel and several chalets in the upcoming season, the Val Thorens resort is taking steps to ensure it remains a ski resort having many attractions for skiers and snowboarders who want to enjoy ski holidays in the Alps.

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New village names for Courchevel ski resorts

September 14, 2012

A number of Courchevel villages are undergoing name changes for the upcoming season in a move that seems to have annoyed a few locals.

While aiming at giving each village a separate identity, the renaming bid has approved to change the present names of Courchevel 1850, Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1550 and Courchevel 1300. Courchevel 1850 will be replaced by Courchevel, Courchevel 1650 will get Courchevel Moriond as a new name, Courchevel 1550 will be called Courchevel Village and Courchevel 1300 will be changed into Courchevel Le Praz. However, La Tania will not be affected by the move, thereby retaining its current name.

A few locals seem displeased over the renaming issue after having shown their resentment to the bid by vandalizing new signage. Nobody here seems to approve the change.

The renaming of Courchevel villages will go a long way to assisting each village get its identity as a separate resort, in the same fashion as most of the property owners and skiers as well as snowboarders consider different Courchevel resorts as distinct places in their own right. Each village provides a subtly different type of ski accommodation with the options varying from luxury chalets in Courchevel to ski apartments in Le Praz and catered chalets in La Tania.

It should be mentioned that Courchevel is not just embarked upon renaming its villages but it is also looking forward to installing on its ski lifts some innovative and protective devices.

The Magnestick is a newly invented device that has been approved to be installed on every ski lift in Courchevel in order to significantly put a stop to small children falling out of ski lifts. The plan includes the installation of electro magnets to all of the ski lifts, in addition to equipping young skiers with small-sized, lightweight vests having a unique plate on their back. As soon as the children get into the lift and sit down on their seats, a series of specially designed sensors will instantly stick them to the lift. On reaching their destination at the summit of the mountain, these sensors will get connected with a number of brushes to reverse with magnets’ polarity, and let the children get up and get out of the lift in a quite easy and hassle-free manner.

The installation of electro magnets to ski lifts has been increasingly gaining popularity in a number of ski resorts across Europe and America. Courchevel is one of the French ski resorts that have most recently installed these devices, but one can also find them in Megeve, Meribel-Mottaret, La Tania, Valfrejus and other resorts. Many ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland have already introduced Magnestick in different ski lifts to improve the safety of all ski holidays. The main advantage is to reduce the risk of young skiers getting tangled in the lifts.

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Europe's ski resorts welcome snow again

September 10, 2012
With winter still four months away, the autumn snow has already hit the Alps amidst forecasts predicting some 10 cm to 20 cm snowfall in different higher altitude resorts during the weekend. 

Well, for the most part any snow that arrives between now and the end of October does not remain long unless it finds its falls on a glacier. However, summers that take a surprising start with snow often foreshadow winters filled with heavy white stuff. This proved true last winter which was marked by epic proportions of snowfall that continued through September till mid December. The relentless snowfall took a short break and returned once again in full swing during the mid-season at the end of February and kept on falling until April. 

Can we expect another epic winter season this year? Though the Pacific has recently been forecast to experience neither La Ninas nor El Ninos, but these weather conditions may fall upon Europe because both of them have got a tendency to affect Europe and North America. Will we have to welcome another consecutive season of heavy snowfall? Whistler has just featured two successive seasons of extremely heavy snow, so now the likelihood is for St. Anton, Verbier and Val d'Isere to enjoy blessings from the powder gods. 

So, where to expect snowfalls this weekend? At this stage of the year, Switzerland has experienced excessive snow fall over the weekend. While Zermatt is waiting for around 46 cm of snow to fall within next 48 hours, Saas Fee is bragging an impressive snowfall amounting to 37cm – both resorts are all set to welcome immense number of autumn skiers. Engelberg is foreseeing about 16cm of snow on its very own glacier, while another 14cm of snow is hitting Verbier to delight skiers, but disappoint the hikers who have been enjoying the resort. 

France is anticipating a reasonable amount of snow this weekend; and thus everyone who is already enjoying some summer skiing on the Tignes glacier will have real entertainment by the 12-15cm of snow falling on the long range forecast. Chamonix is also eyeing over 20cm of fresh snow on Saturday and Sunday – not good news for summer mountaineers. Alpe d'Huez can typically boast 300 days of sunshine a year, but 12cm snow should also be expected there, with Les Arcs and Val Thorens looking for around 15cm. 

Italy has also been forecast to receive some mild blizzards over the coming weekend and the similar amount of snow is going to fall in Austria on next Monday. 

No doubt long range and summer forecasts can sometimes be bit unpredictable, but this is a well timed prediction that another winter accompanied by white stuff in not too far away. Now I am looking forward to having a trip to the Alps in December in order to convince my boss that the snow is really back.

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Discounts on group lift passes in the Three Valleys

September 06, 2012

The lift company for the Three Valleys and its related resorts is pleased to offer an attractive discount on various types of lift-passes to skiers/snowboarders intending to travel together in groups of at least three people.

The world’s largest and most reputed ski area, Three Valleys has announced increases of up to six per cent for the prices of lift passes, jacking them up from 244 to 260 for the next season. With 260 as the cost of a six day-pass, Les Trois Valleys is bound to become one of the costliest lift passes in Europe. However, this is not a matter of great surprise keeping in view the recently added two gondola lifts in Meribel Valley, a few chairlifts in Courchevel and the new Funival in the Val Thorens.

In an attempt to help tourists to endure this price hike and invite more groups to visit the world’s largest skiing area, the lift company has decided to offer attractive discounts to groups of minimum three people. Now, a group made up three people minimum will be eligible to get the newly announced Tribu Pass – equivalent to three passes for six valleys - for only 735, which is no more than 245 per person. In addition, extra passes will also be obtainable for only 245 per person. This works out as exactly the same price, not the increased one, being charged in the current season.

Of course, you may be worried about the costly lift tickets but stay assured that you are going to enjoy skiing in the world’s largest ski area, which consists of such scenic valleys as St. Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel, all assessable by purchasing only a single pass and enjoying your journey with a world’s first-class lift system. Over the last two years, the upgrading of new and faster gondolas and the addition of Funival lifts and new cable-cars in Val Thorens in addition to the proposed improvement of some chairlifts in Courchevel, clearly prove how these skiing resorts are spending this money to facilitate the skiers.

It is worth mentioning that currently the Euro is at its best rate, when compared with that of the past years (presently over 1.26 to 1). This shows the discounted lift passes for groups are still a bit economical than those of the last season; therefore, it’s a really beneficial opportunity for groups made up of minimum three people each looking forward to skiing in the Three Valleys in the upcoming season. The excellent euro rate will also help keep your ski accommodation costs down so why not book a chalet in Meribel, Courchevel or any of the other 3 Valleys resorts and enjoy a luxury ski holiday in the Alps.

In addition to the full Three valleys pass, the Tribu Pass will be offered to those who would rather purchase a pass for only a single valley— an ideal opportunity for beginners who are relatively novice at skiing. A single-pass ticket, for instance for the Belleville Valley, will be available for 564 to a group of three, which costs only 188 each! Spending as little as 57 on a local lift ticket, rather than on the pass for the whole area of Three valleys is a great deal for a small scale area which still provides first-rate skiing. While considering the current exchange rate, you are supposed to paying 150 per ticket, which is surely a win-win situation for you.

The Three Valleys is determined to compete with world's top resorts and as a result has to continuously expand and improve the ski resort. The 3 Valleys offers some of the most luxurious ski accommodation in the world with Courchevel chalets being especially popular. Therefore, the increase in the prices of lift-pass has been mapped out but at the same time this new 6% discount with the Tribu pass, will surely work out to retain skiers' interest in the area, and attract even more new skiers.

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