Skiing in Andorra

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

For holidaymakers with a sporting inclination and perhaps more specifically, skiing and snowboarding, the tiny Kingdom of Andorra, on most maps a mere spot on the border between France and Spain, in the Pyrenees, offers great possibilities. High altitude skiing and tax-free shopping provides a heady mix in this bargain winter getaway location.

Skiing from December – April and great deals

This is a great ski area, at altitudes ranging between 1,500 and 2,640 m, with good hotels, great family environment and the availability of last-minute deals. If you do not have your own equipment or simply do not want to carry it with you, there are some great deals to be had on ski and snowboard rental.

Choice of value for money areas

The great resorts in the area include Arinsal, a perfect family resort, with great hotels; Pas de la Casa, which offers real value for money; it is part of the Grand Valira ski area and Soldeu and El Tarter.

Ski instruction

Ski instruction is available on the lower nursery slopes, while more advanced winter sports fans have a selection of intermediate and difficult runs to test their skills. “In-resort” teams help to make any stay more enjoyable, in terms of both skiing and après ski activities.

Family care

At most resorts, evening baby-sitting and all-day kid’s clubs facilities are also available.

Getting there

There are flights to Toulouse, a mere three hours away, from 17 regional UK airports. A selection of all-inclusive holidays is also available.

About Aspen

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

Aspen, Colorado, is located deep in the heart of the USA’s Rocky Mountains. It is well known, all around the world, for being a great ski resort. The climate is warm during the summer months and cold during the winter.

What to do in Aspen

Aspen is known for its outdoor activities. In the summer the region offers, hiking, cycling, white-water rafting and fishing. In the winter, there are miles of immaculately prepared ski and snowboard runs, snowmobiling and sledging. Music festivals are held regularly and there are several golf courses.

Skiing is what Aspen is best known for. Many different ski resorts are available to choose from and equipment rentals are readily available. Most resorts offer skiing, snowboarding and sledging all year round. During the summer, John Denver Park is a favourite place to enjoy the beauty of Colorado. The heavily wooded area offers some of the best outdoor experiences around. Film festivals are also held during the summer months, the Sundance Festival being the best known; they offer the perfect chance to mingle with celebrities and view the latest films. Shopping ranges from high end stores to more modest boutiques. 

Travel details

Aspen is accessible by plane and road. The closest airport is Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, but many prefer to fly into the larger airport at Denver. Hotel accommodation is plentiful and ranges from high end to more modest guesthouses. Most hotels are within a very short distance of the ski lifts and lodgings, in the form of ski chalets are to be found dotted around the area. Local taxi and bus services are also available throughout the town.

Ski helmets made mandatory by travel insurer

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Insurance

The skiing season is nearly upon us and bookings at popular ski resorts in Europe and North America are being made at travel agencies and online web sites. Insurance when skiing is essential; now a leading travel insurance company is refusing to offer cover for skiers who do not wear a helmet on the slopes. This is thought to be the first time that a British insurer has adopted tis sort of condition but, Essential Travel said customers who have an accident and are proven to have been skiing without head protection face having their policy invalidated. This is all part of a campaign called “Use Your Head” which was launched in 2010 following the death of Natasha Richardson a year earlier.

Not everyone is happy about wearing a helmet, but the latest figure show that around 77 per cent of British skiers now claim to wear a helmet on the slopes, up from 62 per cent in 2010. Helmets will not stop serious injuries, but they do lower the risk of fatalities and that is thought to be reason enough to impose the compulsory wearing of helmets’. Of course it cannot be proved that a person was wearing a helmet in the case of an accident, but medical records and doctors’ notes could reveal this. The travel industry believes that many other insurers will follow the lead of Essential and it may become a condition of taking out skiing insurance.

Enjoying a first skiing holiday

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Guides, Travel Tips

Taking a skiing holiday is great fun; snow, beautiful surroundings and exercise that can be enjoyed by everyone.  There are lots of choices to suit every budget and skiing ability.

Fun for first timers

Historically, the first skiing holiday for most people was taken with parents.  Ski school gave children the basic skills and it was rare for those who had never skied before to start as adults, especially those who lived in the UK with no easy access to ski slopes.  Now, skiing has become more accessible to all, so groups of friends and families who have never skied before are heading to the slopes to learn.  Taking lessons is definitely the best way to start as heading up a mountain with no previous experience is not safe and, with ski schools in most resorts, the safest and quickest way to learn is to have lessons.

Learn together

A skiing holiday makes a great alternative to a classic beach break with a group of friends.  Join a class together.  Booking in advance can make lessons cheaper and will often include ski passes for the entire holiday, which means groups of learners can try out easy runs after morning ski classes – If they have the energy!  Enjoying a hot chocolate or something a little stronger and reliving the thrills and spills of a day’s skiing, in the bar by a roaring fire, is an experience that is likely to make any new skier return to the slopes year after year.

Skiing holiday advice

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Tips

Although many are just returning from a summer break, now is the time to start thinking about looking forward to a ski holiday. With operators telling us that beds for the peak season are already in short supply, moving quickly if you are looking for these dates is a must. For example the specialist chalet company Le Ski is reported as saying the for the period over Christmas and the New Year, at Christmas it has only 32 beds available and 50 over the New Year out of a total of 300, which it offers in the resorts of Courcheval and popular Val d’Isère, if you plan to go on these dates booking now is essential.  However, tour operators are offering some very good incentives for dates that avoid the peak season.

The season opens in the first week of December in most Alpine resorts and some excellent deals are on offer for this early period, also keep watching for November when it is possible to have good snow and if you are flexible on your dates, bargains are to be found. Late booker should look at the early January period as big discounts are on offer, but lovers of Courcheval should avoid the new Russian playground because their Christmas runs from January 12 to 19. This year the French schools are having their half term break  from February 23 to March 2nd which neatly avoids the British weeks of between February 9 and 23rd, good news for families, unlikely to mean cheaper prices but less crowded slopes.

Ski Holidays 2012 in New Zealand

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Destinations

Generally, the ski season in New Zealand begins in June and continues until late October; so now is a good time to plan and book ski holidays 2012. When snow conditions are right, the larger ski areas start to open in early June, and the smaller ones start to open either in late June or early in July.

Powder skiing on light, dry, newly fallen snow is good during June and July, which are colder months, although the weather remains relatively mild. The top month for skiing is August, and the following months, September and October, can offer a range of conditions, depending on the weather. This means it is possible to experience spring skiing conditions at one point, and then winter powder the next.

If looking for an opportunity later in the year, ski holidays 2012 can include a trip to New Zealand in December. Often when the season is good New Zealand’s largest higher-altitude ski area, Whakapapa, will be opened up at Christmas for summer skiing. Situated on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, to the northwest, it offers an area of 1050 hectares with over 65 trails.

A useful tip when booking a ski holiday in New Zealand is to avoid the period when the schools are on holiday. In 2012 this is approximately the last three weeks of April, the first two weeks of July, the first two weeks of October and six weeks from 20th December onwards.

Being in Skis for the First Time

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Tips

Attaching yourself to skis for the first time is going to be scary. This is a natural reaction as you begin to realise that you are limiting your ability to run and get yourself out of trouble as you normally would. Most people will feel constrained, and some may feel unable to enjoy their very well planned ski holidays. Therefore, you will need to work past this feeling of helplessness in order to take control of your situation.

Take your time with this. Getting used to the idea of a new way of getting around is like learning how to walk all over again. Think how daunting it was when you first got on a bicycle and you should expect the same levels of anxiety when you first learn how to ski. Once you become comfortable with the idea of skiing, the mechanics of it will start to become intuitive.

The first few things your instructor will take you through on the snow will be:
•    Warming up: you will be shown a few techniques. Remember them. Warming up is very important in order to help avoid injury.
•    Walking: this is done by sliding first one ski forward, and then the other.
•    Side stepping: this is done by shifting one ski up the hill followed by the other and making sure your skis are at right angles to the direction of the slope. This is tricky and will be awkward at first, so have fun with the situation and remember to laugh!

This is a lot of work to do before you even start to ski, so make an allowance for the time this will take when planning your ski holidays.

Skiing in New Zealand

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Destinations, Travel Tips

Mount Hutt

New Zealand contains a number of excellent skiing facilities, and they don’t come much better than the free-riding terrain around Canterbury on the South Island.  Mount Hutt offers the largest skiable area on the South Island, and attracts skiers of all levels from all over the world.  Many top-level skiers train here, and the snow season usually runs from June to October.

The Mackenzie Basin

The Mackenzie Basin, which is located between Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island, should be a must-ski stop on any New Zealand ski tour.  Mount Dobson offers slopes particularly suited to family excursions, and there is a team of international instructors ready to tutor beginner and intermediate level skiers.  Expert level trails are also available.

North Island

The prime location for downhill skiing north of the Cook Strait is undoubtedly Mount Ruapehu, even though this is actually an active volcano!  The slopes here are far less crowded than what you will find on the South Island, although the terrain is just as exciting and varied.

Austrian Skiing Holidays

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides, Travel Tips

Winter sports, particularly skiing, have never been so popular.  One of the best places to enjoy skiing is Austria.  There are flights out to Austria from airports throughout the United Kingdom.  Additionally, there are some great deals available for those wanting to spend a holiday at a great ski resort.

Austria has some fabulous ski resorts.  Among them is Alpbach with its exciting pistes, Axamer Lizum, a traditional ski village, and Bad Hofgastein, famed for its spas and relaxation opportunities as well as its skiing.

Glacier skiing has also become very popular, with visitors able to take to the slopes during late spring and summer.  The Stubai Glacier in Tyrol enables skiing between October and June and is close enough to Innsbruck to allow holidaymakers to use this major city’s amenities.

Accommodation for skiers in Austria is excellent, with a range of hotels and chalets available.  An example is the Chalet St Martin in St Anton.  It sleeps 23 people, and is just over a mile from the town, and easily accessible by bus.

Entertainment after a day of skiing is great for visitors, and Austria offers some of the best après-ski in Europe.  There are bars, restaurants and clubs all geared towards helping winter holidaymakers enjoy themselves in a relaxing and fun atmosphere.

There are many skiing holiday packages to Austria on offer from the UK.  The range allows skiing enthusiasts and beginners to seek out the best value holidays at a time they prefer.

Look Mum, I’m Skiing!

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Skiing, Travel Guides, Travel Tips

Perhaps you have spent months thinking about your ski holiday. You have spent weeks trawling the internet for ski deals. You have spent days preparing your wardrobe. You have spent hours getting used to the feel of skis on your feet, while your Austrian ski instructor has been yelling “bend zee knees!” over and over again.  None of that matters now. It all comes down to this single moment.

You are standing at the top of your chosen resort’s nursery slope, which will be no more than ten metres of gentle gradient. You see little children in the distance, moving downhill with an agility and confidence of which you can only dream. You are focusing on your stance. Your ankles, knees and pelvis are all slightly flexed and at the ready. You are an athlete. A finely tuned machine.

You push off with your poles, remembering to keep your eyes in the direction you are travelling. Then, swoosh. You are now at the bottom of the hill and have come to a stop as you have met up with the gentle uphill gradient, placed there to bring you to a standstill. You’ve done it!

Next you will learn how to control your speed and direction and to stop at a place of your choosing. Once you master that, you will be ready to hit the beginner trails by yourself, and so your skiing life begins. You will soon learn why people return year after year, and will find yourself looking for more cheap ski deals as soon as you return to office. Welcome to the world of skiing!