This winter, ski resort bosses are looking for ways to combat the energy crisis.
In Selva Val Gardena in the Italian Dolomites, for example, the resort managers are considering optimizing the opening hours of the lifts to save energy. Val Gardena.it
At Serre Chevalier Briancon near Grenoble in France, elevators could be slightly slowed down to save energy, a spokesman says. This measure would add an almost imperceptible moment to a 10-minute gondola ride. www.serre-chevalier.com
Meanwhile, skiers can use their energies to explore the region’s hot springs and the beautiful old town of Briancon, which is linked to the ski slopes by lift.
Skiing with a clear conscience
From taking the train to resorts (or at least shared airport shuttles) to renting ski equipment and choosing resorts that are committed to environmental best practices, there are ways to go green skiing.
New British company ecoski.co.uk recommends repairing ski wear or using used gear rather than buying new every few seasons. The site is a leader in ski gear rentals at affordable prices and says if you need to buy new stuff, try to buy “kit with a clear conscience” from companies like Patagonia, Picture, Icebreaker or Woolpower.
Another way to support the ski circular economy is to buy used clothing from thrift stores. They’re a common sight at US resorts like Aspen in Colorado and popping up at European resorts like Morzine in the Portes du Soleil.
The changing face of skiing in Europe
Influential US ski company Vail Resorts has made its first foray into Europe by investing in the Swiss resort of Andermatt – known for its off-piste skiing, ancient trading history and five-star Chedi hotel.
With Vail Resorts owning some of America’s most well-known resorts, all eyes are on what’s next in Central Switzerland and how the move could impact skiing at European resorts in the future. vailresorts.com; Snow. com
The European ski companies are not resting on their laurels either. In France, hotel group Les Etincelles started buying property in Tignes during the Covid lockdown and is busy converting old properties into four and five star hotels. The company is focused on six high mountain resorts in France and has recently bought hotels in Val Thorens and Les Arcs. etincelles.com
The fun side
Festivals are back in the Alps this winter – from a double ski and rock festival in Soll, Austria in January and March 2023 to pure comedy in Les Gets, France. For the first time ever, the Montreux Comedy Festival will co-produce an event in Les Gets between 14th and 21st January 2023 with French and English speaking comedians. skiwelt.at; lesgets.com
Snowbombing Festival is also back in Mayrhofen, Austria, while Snowboxx returns to Avoriaz and Tomorrowland returns to Alpe d’Huez. snowbombing.com; snowboxx.com; tomorrowland.com
Karaoke is also returning to the Alps. Whether you’re staying at Richard Branson’s The Lodge in Verbier or the new Hotel VoulezVous in Tignes, unashamed singing is the order of the day. virginlimitededition.com; voulezvous-hotel.com
New on-piste activities include ice-floating and moonbiking, which involves riding electric skibikes around circuits or through powder snow.
Rest those tired ski bones
If luxury accommodation is your style, some of the following hotels might appeal…
The five-star Hotel Alpin Garden in Ortisei in the Italian Dolomites is for adults only and has an indoor pool open 24 hours a day. alpengarten.com
The five-star Jiva Hill Hotel in Pays de Gex is just 15 minutes drive from Geneva (on the French side) and offers year-round golf and access to family-friendly ski slopes. jivahill.com
In Saanen, near the Swiss resort of Gstaad, the Huus Hotel offers excellent conference facilities and a lounge-style foyer and bar. It’s just a stone’s throw away from celebrity watching and chilling in Gstaad. huusgstaad.com
If affordability is your obsession, the hotel-hostel Base Camp Lodge in Bourg-Saint-Maurice offers a creative range of budget room options (from €30 for a dorm bed) with cable car access to Les Arcs and access to a range of other French spas . hotel-basecamplodge.com
In Les Menuires, Hostel Ho36 offers modern and affordable accommodation, as does the Mont-Fort Swiss Lodge in Le Chable, which is connected to Verbier by gondola. ho36.com; www.montfortswisslodge.ch
Your Austrian solution
Austria remains the number one destination for Irish skiers and snowboarders. New this season is a 10-person gondola lift in Schladming-Dachstein, which has been in the spotlight since last winter. toplight.ie
The chic new Hotel Comodo will open in Bad Gastein at the end of January 2023 and the long-awaited Silvretta Spa will open in Ischgl in December. In the Arlberg region, which also includes St. Anton, skiers can now also buy their ski pass online and thus save time on site. thecomodo.com; silvrettatherme.at
If you’re looking for transport or planning a multi-centre trip, there’s also a new Ski Express train service from Amsterdam to the Austrian Alps.
Brave New Worlds
One change Covid has brought to ski resorts is the concept of “contactless chalets” being offered by companies like Ski France.
With 50 contactless chalets in French resorts, their concept means that all food – breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner – is prepared by chefs or local delis, ready to be put in the oven or on the hob.
Guests come to refrigerators stocked with cold beer and wine, made beds and firewood ready by the fireplace for cozy chalet nights. The menus are of a high quality and stocks are replenished mid-week. Prices are around €500 per person per week and keep an eye out for flash sales. skifrance.co.uk
Top offers for Ireland
Crystal Ski introduces a new Slope Starters concept this season. Beginning March 11, the company is taking beginner skiers and snowboarders on a trip to Flaine, France that includes virtually everything from flights to transfers, hotel accommodation with half board, lessons, lift passes, equipment rental and a packed week of activities — from €1,299 pp Crystal is also offering a €150 discount on all destinations until October 17th. crystalski.ie
Meanwhile, Topflight is offering a late-season departure date of April 1, coinciding with the first week of the Easter holidays — a bonus for families looking for a spring ski break. They’re also offering a five-night Andorra option from January 3rd, a great choice if you’re short on vacation time. toplight.ie
working on it…
Post-Brexit, UK ski operators are clamoring for Irish staff as there are far fewer bureaucratic hurdles to hiring than UK workers. Tour operators such as Inghams and Ski Famille are actively trying to recruit Irish people to work at the resort, with a range of vacancies. If you’re thinking of a gap-year escape, keep an eye on Facebook’s resort jobs page or contact tour operators direct – recruiters say you’ll be inundated with offers!
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/skiing-apres-covid-everything-you-need-to-know-to-get-back-on-the-slopes-this-year-42042824.html Skiing Après-Covid: everything you need to know to get back on the slopes this year