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Zermatt, Switzerland – A Great Ski Experience

You must experience Zermatt, Switzerland. Magnificent scenery, loads of ski village charm, great cuisine and more. An exceptional location for an exceptional ski vacation. Don’t miss this opportunity to ski in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Ski connoisseurs like the fact that there are no gasoline-powered cars in the village of Zermatt. Or maybe it’s the tiny village and its traditional Swiss architecture that’s so attractive to vacationing skiers. Twenty-eight mountains, including the famous and spectacular Matterhorn, stretching as high as 4,478 meters (14,687 feet), surround Zermatt.

Family run, Hotel Perren, Zermatt.The three skiing mountains here are above 3,100 meters (10,200 feet) and are accessible not by the average ski lift, but numerous trams and gondolas. Plus, some trails stretch for over seven miles. And it’s hard to find a ski area that has a longer season–you can ski here all year long.

Hotel Perren was built between 1937 and 1939 by Hermann and Alfred Perren. It has been added onto over the years and is now a 115-bed hotel. The “Rothornstube,” the hotel’s rustic a la carte restaurant, was added in 1982 and serves gourmet Swiss cuisine (known especially for its fondue). The hotel is now owned and operated by the Bregy-Biner family.

Find Out More: Zermatt Ski Vacation from $2,060

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Experience Charm and Ski-in/Ski-out Convenience in Megève, France

Megève is beautiful. Megève is rustic and charming. Megève, has delicious French cuisine and Megève has great skiing. Don’t miss this chance to save 20% on a great ski vacation in France.

Book now and save on your ski vacation in rustic, beautiful Megève, France. In Megève, you’ll find delicious French cuisine bathed in Alpine ambiance. Experience the charm and the convenience of a ski-in/ski-out hotel with a great location. And when it snows, it’s one of the best places to ski in the Alps for all but the most expert.

Book by Nov. 15, 2014 and Save 20%!

Hotel Mont Blanc, Megeve, FranceMegève is the essence of rustic chic. It has a medieval heart, but it was, in a way, the original purpose-built French ski resort, conceived in the 1920s as a French alternative to St. Moritz. Megève’s sumptuous hotels and chalets still attract plenty of beautiful people with fur coats and fat wallets.

Hotel Mont Blanc in Megève, France

The Mont Blanc (4-star) is a great ski-in/ski-out hotel in the heart of Megève, close to the ski lifts and to many shops and restaurants. The breakfast is very satisfying (continental and local) and the lounge is cosy and attractive. The hotel also has an indoor pool and massage/treatment rooms.

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Culture, Cuisine and Salsburg. The Amadé Sports Region

This article is a reprint from the “Classic” version of the SkiEurope Report Newsletter. While some of the pricing is no longer accurate. The article gives a great overview of the region’s attractions.

A winter vacation in Salzburg is more than a ski vacation. This picturesque old city offers an extraordinary cultural experience and serves as a fantastic base for skiing more than 100 resorts throughout “Land Salzburg.” Salzburg is located on the site of the Roman town Javavum, once an important crossroad in the empire. The beautiful baroque city that you see today was built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Museums and palaces bear witness to the city’s fascinating history.

Salzburg is a city, not a resort. But the surrounding area offers skiers and snowboarders just about any type of terrain that they could want. There are a number of different ski areas to explore. The Amadé Sports Region includes the scenic resorts of Altenmark-Zauchensee, Wagrain, Filzmoos, and Kleinarl. The Gastein Valley is home to three popular resorts: the spa resort of Bad Gastein, the quieter town of Hofgastein, and the family-oriented Dorfgastein. The Europa Sports Region includes the well-known resorts of Zell am See and Kaprun, and the scenic Hohe Tauern National Park provides many resorts at lower elevations. There are also ski safari programs that make it easier to ski several of the resorts in one trip.

The ski season in Land Salzburg generally runs from mid-December to mid-April, with year-round skiing available at the Kaprun glacier. About 60 percent of the resorts in the overall region are best suited for intermediates, with over 80 mountains to ski. Advanced skiers find fun off-trail terrain at Bad Gastein, Leogang, and Saalbach and for an even greater thrill there are off-trail glacier tours at Altenmarkt/Zauchensee, and the Kitzstein Glacier near Zell am See. While most of the resorts in the area are small, skiers will find challenging, varied terrain within a short distance of Salzburg.

The Salzburg Super Ski Card is valid in 22 ski regions in Land Salzburg covering 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) of trails. Passes are available for anywhere between three and 14 days. The Amadé lift pass is valid in 28 ski destinations covering 860 kilometers (538 miles) of trails. Skiers can travel by ski shuttle between different resorts for €13 (US $16).

Saalbach-Hinterglemm is one of the most popular resorts in the area for snowboarders. There are two half-pipes, a boardercross, and a funpark that is lit at night. There are 12 kilometers (eight miles) of terrain dedicated only to snowboarders. There are also funparks at Bad Hofgastein, Flachau, Saalfelden, and Grossarl. There’s plenty of off-trail terrain, but boarders must be aware of avalanche risks. There are lessons available to instruct boarders on survival techniques as well as the finer points of snowboarding.

Cross-country skiing enthusiasts enjoy over 220 kilometers (137 miles) of trails in the Wagrain Region, 76 kilometers (47 miles) of trails at Abtenau, and over 200 kilometers (124 miles) of cross-country trails in the scenic Hohe Tauern National Park. Ice climbing is available for those who prefer to scale the frozen stuff rather than ski down it. Climbers can sign up for tours and receive instruction before heading out. Advanced climbers love the Salzach Gorge and waterfalls located 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Salzburg.

Most resorts in Land Salzburg have toboggan runs. Some of the best in the area are at Bad Hofgastein, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, and Wagrain. Most resorts also offer horse-drawn sleigh rides. Many companies offer sleigh rides in the Grossarl Valley and in Bad Gastein, some of which include a stop for snacks at a mountain inn.

Après-ski is lively throughout Austria and the Salzburg region is no exception. Saalbach has a reputation as the best of the resorts for rowdy nightlife. There are almost 40 bars keeping the night alive. Zell am See is also a good spot for those who like to party. Bad Gastein draws an older, more serene après-ski clientele. In Salzburg itself, there’s a wide range of nightlife opportunities. In the bars that line the left side of the Salzach River, you’ll find everything from Irish music to heavy metal. Along the Steingasse are numerous bistros and bars, among many others in the Old City.

One of the main perks of staying in Salzburg is the abundance of cultural events and activities to experience. Salzburg is known for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the city celebrates his life in many ways. From Mozart Square to Mozart’s birthplace, there are ample opportunities to learn more about the composer. Salzburg’s Old City is listed on UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites and is always popular with sightseers. There are excellent museums in Salzburg including the Museum of Natural Science in the center of the Old City.

With so many Austrian traditions to learn about and enjoy, Salzburg is the perfect choice for vacationers looking for a cultural experience in addition to first-rate skiing.

Méribel, France; Great Intermediate Skiing!

Méribel continues to be one of the most popular European ski destinations and with recent improvements to the resort it just keeps getting better. Méribel provides access to the 144 kilometers (90 miles) of trails that snake down the mountainsides into the Méribel Valley. Add on the terrain of the entire Three Valleys (Trois Vallées) area and you have 600 kilometers (1,104 miles) of trails reached by 198 lifts.

Méribel has recently introduced the “hands-free” lift pass which has been accepted by nearly all lift operators in the Three Valleys ski area. The system automatically detects and validates the ticket at the lift departure point. The new pass lets skiers keep their gloves on and stay a little warmer as well as speed entry into the lift gate. A new half-day (hands-free) pass is available for those who prefer early morning skiing. Another tool added by the resort is the GPRS system that allows skiers with mobile phones to access real-time weather reports, snow conditions, and trail openings and closures.

Méribel is known as an “intermediate’s paradise” but beginners will find 15 percent of the resort’s trails dedicated to them, as well as excellent ski schools including the renowned L’Ecole Du Ski Francais. Seventy-one percent of the trails are designated for intermediates. Strong intermediates also enjoy the challenge of the Three Valleys’ off-trail skiing. The remaining 14 percent of the trails belong to the experts as well as all of the off-trail terrain throughout the larger area.

Snowboarders also flock to Méribel because of its reputation for being one of the best resorts for off-trail ’boarding. Terrain includes miles of open slopes and bowls. The Méribel-Mottaret Plattières Snowboard Park is a favorite for freestylers and offers new features including trail signs and information panels, a welcome chalet, security guidelines, detailed mapping, flags and inflatable structures and gates. The Arpasson Snowboard Park, also known as “Moonpark,” provides a competition-level half-pipe 145 meters (471 feet) long with a vertical drop of 45 meters (146 feet) and a 125-meter (81-foot) half-pipe for novices. It also boasts a boardercross with tables and obstacles.

There’s an abundance of other winter sports activities to enjoy here. Cross-country trails run from Méribel to Courchevel and LaTania and a 13-kilometer (eight-mile) track winds in and around Méribel amidst scenic forests. Ice climbing is popular and best done with assistance from the Bureau de Guides. A special treat is a run down the bobsled track built for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games. In addition, visitors can skate at the Olympic skating rink, or try dog sledding, sleigh riding, and snow hiking in the area.

Méribel’s restaurants and bars fill the après-ski hours. Menus vary from delicious local specialties to Italian and Spanish cuisine, among others. A new restaurant, the Darbollées, opened in the Belvedere district near the Adray chair lift and offers skiers high quality meals. Bars and discos keep the party atmosphere going and often have theme nights. There are quieter spots, though, in wine and piano bars, often found in hotels. Many visitors also enjoy a bit of sightseeing and take mini-bus tours of medieval villages, vineyards, and historic churches in the area. Shoppers find goods ranging from local hand crafts to ski gear.

So, Méribel just keeps getting better and continues to welcome skiers and boarders flocking to its slopes with a combination of local tradition and high-tech innovation.

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Skiing Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina’s aprés-ski activities rank among the best and most varied in all of Europe. After an evening stroll through the quaint pedestrian center, dining, dancing, and drinking keep the fun rolling into the night. With the alpine charm of a Tyrolean village, all the style of Milan, and all the typical art and architecture of Italy, Cortina is not to be missed.

Celebrities, students, and honeymooners alike come from around the globe to take advantage of the resort’s excellent nursery slopes, profusion of intermediate runs, and challenging expert courses. Cross-country skiers enjoy a variety of trails. Snowboarders find the slopes here friendly and off-trail adventurers seek rugged terrain in the pristine backcountry.

Hotel Olimpia in Cortina d’Ampezzo is a stylish and recently renovated bed and breakfast hotel. It is situated in the center of Cortina, yet the hotel is in a quiet area away from traffic. The hotel is within walking distance of the ski lifts. All rooms have a bath or shower, telephone and satellite TV. The hotel has a sauna and jacuzzi to help guests relax after a day on the slopes.

Read More: Cortina, Italy Ski Vacation from $1,698

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Skiing Chamonix, France: History of a Skiers Paradise

The mystique of Chamonix, captured in photographs and vintage ski posters, reflects the ruggedly spectacular scenery and over 200 years of mountaineering history. The legendary Mont Blanc peak draws climbers and sightseers while the picturesque town, complete with babbling river, provides an excellent base for skiing and snowboarding on the surrounding slopes.

The Chamonix Valley was settled by mountain farmers when two Englishmen “discovered” it in 1741. The stories of their travels sparked a new interest among Europeans to experience this scenic paradise in person. The first guest house was opened in 1770 and the first luxury hotel was built in 1816. The village of Chamonix has come a long way since then. While the year-round population is about 10,000, the village opens itself for up to 60,000 guests in the winter and 100,000 during the summer season.

The scenic Chamonix Valley, known as the “Cradle of Mountaineering,” is nestled among some of the highest mountain peaks in the Alps, including the Mont Blanc massif (4,810 meters/15,632 feet). The valley is situated in the crossroads of three countries. It’s just a 25-minute trip to Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel and about the same amount of time from Chamonix to Switzerland traveling over the Col des Montets.

Skiers and snowboarders have the run of 145 trails adding up to 140 kilometers (87.5 miles). Forty-nine percent of the area’s trails are marked for beginners. The best areas for children and beginners include La Vormaine, Les Chosalets, Le Savoy, and Les Planards. Fifty-two percent of trails are best suited for intermediates. The La Tour and Les Houches areas provide good intermediate terrain as well as the more difficult Les Grands Montets, Le Brevent, and La Flégère ski areas. While only 12 percent of trails are designated for experts, the off-trail terrain is extensive. Locals recommend skiing off-trail only with a guide, though. The Les Grands Montets area offers some steep vertical drops and spectacular glacier skiing. Recently, upgrades have been completed replacing double-seater lifts with quad lifts in the new parking area in Le Brévant.

Snowboarders flock to Chamonix for on and off-trail thrills. The Argentière and the Grand Montets provide a challenge for advanced boarders. Chamonix is recommended for experienced boarders rather than beginners. The Le Tour area has a natural half-pipe and at Grands Montets there is a snowpark and a half-pipe. Cross-country skiers have 45 kilometers (28 miles) of trails to explore in two scenic areas designated for classical and skating style skiing. One runs through the Argentière and the other area starts from the center of Chamonix.

Chamonix is well-known for its good ski schools. One of the most popular is the Ecole du Ski Français. Not just beginners benefit from the ski schools as there are specialized courses in ski touring, glacier and couloir skiing, off-trail, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. The Ski Assis Evasion and the Association Handi-challenge are ski schools for the disabled.

Non-ski activities abound at Chamonix and include snowmobiling, ice climbing (also best done with a guide), ice hiking, snowshoeing, sleigh riding, and dog sledding, among others. Snow hikers can explore trails from the foot of the Drus, La Verte, and Les Grande Jorasses peaks. From the arrival station, visitors can see the crystal gallery, the Alpine fauna exhibition, and the ice grotto.

Those who would like to do a little sightseeing in the area may want to visit the Alpine Museum and the Mont Blanc Observatory. Take an unforgettable cable car ride to the Aiguille du Midi (which rises to the elevation 3,482 meters/11,316 feet). A red cog-wheel train climbs to the scenic Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. There are historic churches and villages nearby to explore and with more than 280 shops and boutiques in Chamonix, there’s lots of shopping to be done. On March 1, 2006 adults and children will dress up and parade through the streets of Chamonix to celebrate carnival week.

Après-ski is an art form in Chamonix. Restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, and even a casino fill time not spent on the slopes. There are more than 100 restaurants in Chamonix and 14 mountain restaurants. Choices range from the Chalet le Cerro, a quaint wooden chalet serving traditional foods of the region with a view of Les Bossons glacier, to L’Eden which serves classic French food with a modern twist. Cafés offering a fantastic array of pastries should not be missed. The Casino of Chamonix is popular with both visitors and locals. A free restaurant guide is available at the Chamonix tourist office.

It is no surprise that Chamonix continues to be one of the most popular ski resorts in the Alps. With the combination of exceptional winter sports opportunities and the beauty of this high-altitude alpine town, it is hard to beat. Not to mention the parties . . .

Great SuperSki Week to Garmisch, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is Germany’s undisputed Winter Sports Skiing and Snowboarding Capital, located only a short distance from the Austrian border. Once the host of the Winter Olympics, Garmisch is a large, cosmopolitan town with plenty to see and do both on and off the ski slopes.

The resort is built around the highest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze, with an altitude of 2,962 meters (8,832 feet). The top of the mountain is actually a glacier with amazing ski terrain for advanced skiers ranging from bowls to natural, ungroomed drops. There’s ample opportunity for leisurely, intermediate skiing on the 75 miles of trails in the resort.

Vacation Trip includes; Seven nights accommodation Hotel Alpina (3-star), Buffet breakfast at the hotel, Round-trip air via Lufthansa Airlines, Round-trip transfer via bus, local taxes Europe and airline fuel surcharges. Prices based on double occupancy.

Read More: Ski Garmisch-Partenkirchen from $1,798

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Looking for something different? We can help you plan your vacation of a lifetime! Get a free customized vacation proposal at 60+ resorts in 6 countries.

»Request a Ski Trip Quote

Or, call our reservation center toll free for more information about other European destinations: 800-333-5533.

 

Grindelwald, Switzerland; Experience the Jungfrau Top Ski Region

The small village of Grindelwald is nestled in the Swiss Alps of the Bernese Oberland. Along with the resort towns of Mürren and Wengen, Grindelwald is part of the famed Jungfrau Top Ski Region that offers magnificent scenery, diverse wildlife, and some of the best skiing in Switzerland.

Grindelwald’s history stretches back over 850 years. It wasn’t until the early 1800’s that the farming village turned its eye toward tourism. The first hotel was built in 1818, and the tourists have been coming ever since. The town’s Swiss chalet-style buildings add a traditional ambience to this Alpine town.

Three ski areas surround Grindelwald: the First, the Männlichen, and the Kleine Scheidegg. A Jungfrau Top Ski Region pass covers all of the lifts, trains, and ski buses that connect them. The region provides 213 kilometers (133 miles) of skiable terrain, with 30% designated for beginners, 50% for intermediates, and 20% for experts.

Grindelwald is the best of the three villages for beginners to use as their base. New skiers may want to take some lessons from the resort’s outstanding ski school. Scenic beginner trails run from Kleine Scheidegg down into the town. Beginners may also want to try the First ski area, as well.

Intermediates will have a hard time trying to ski all the slopes available to them in a week’s vacation but they can certainly enjoy the effort. Twenty-eight trails adding up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) of runs descend to Grindelwald itself. Intermediates also enjoy terrain in the larger Jungfrau region and the descent down the Eiger Glacier.

Advanced skiers have less terrain at Grindelwald but with access to the entire Jungfrau region it is still a good base. Grindelwald’s First and Männlichen ski areas boast some steep terrain with long trails to challenge the advanced skier. Experts will want to try the Schilthorn Mountain, the highest skiable terrain in the Jungfrau at 2,971 meters (9,748 feet). A 45-minute train ride takes skiers from Grindelwald to the Schilthorn.

In addition to skiing, there is an abundance of winter activities in Grindelwald. Snowboarders are thrilled by the vast array of boarder-friendly slopes at the resort and throughout the Jungfrau region. Grindelwald’s three ski areas all have their own snowparks.

Ice climbing is another popular sport in the area. Grindelwald lies below the north face of the Eiger Mountain, providing convenient access to climbers. Climbing courses and local guides are available for instruction. Grindelwald, and the larger Jungfrau region, is a playground for winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (30 kilometers/19 miles of tracks), and tobogganing, bobsledding, and sleigh riding.

Grindelwald après-ski activities begin with a meal at one of the area’s 40 restaurants. The local restaurants serve the wonderful specialties of the region including Swiss fondue, Raclette, and Rösti, as well as international meals. A visit to a café is a must with its apple strudels, breads, chocolates, and turnovers. Later in the evening the après-ski scene moves to clubs, bars, and discos.

It would be a shame to travel to Grindelwald and not take a trip up to the Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe. A cog railway climbs to an elevation of 3,471 meters (11,280 feet), offering a spectacular panorama of mountain peaks reaching as far as France and Germany. This train ride takes visitors to the Ice Palace (a glacial ice cave exhibiting ice sculptures), as well as the Aletsch Glacier and the Sphinx observation terrace. Travelers also enjoy the novelty of riding on a sled pulled by a team of Greenland dogs.

Another popular excursion is a trip to the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant perched at the top of the Schilthorn. The restaurant, built for the filming of a James Bond movie, is reached by gondola from Mürren. The view is so spectacular that diners may even forget to eat their meal.

Back down in Grindelwald, visitors enjoy shopping for Swiss souvenirs and ski wear, relaxing in a spa at the sports center, or exploring the local history museum.

After one trip, visitors know that they will have to come back for many winters to enjoy all of the beauty and all the adventures that await them in Grindelwald and the Jungfrau region.