TWO Pyrenees resorts are among the top ten European ski destinations as picked by tour company Directski. This is the top ten:
1. Best ski resort for friends – Söll, Austria
Söll is a good choice for a group of mixed ability skiers and non-skiers, as it has lively après, ski, a pretty village atmosphere, access to 250kms of ski runs, good ski school and gentle nursery slopes, and masses to do for non-skiers, such as curling, ice-skating, swimming, paragliding or indoor tennis. When the lifts stop, the entertainment ranges from authentic Tirolean, to modern and Eurotrash, with masses of bars, clubs and restaurants.
A week’s ski holiday with accommodation at the Schindlhaus Apartments in the centre of Soll can be booked from as little as £354 per person from Gatwick and £344 from Manchester (£364pp from Belfast, £399 from Dublin, £424 from Cork) based on 4 sharing on a self-catering basis.
2. Best family ski resort – Mayrhofen, Austria
The traditional Tirolean town of Mayrhofen is a good choice for a family ski holiday, with its friendly family-run hotels, streets lined with brightly lit shops and restaurants, English speaking ski schools and good crèche facilities, while the town is surrounded by mile upon mile of excellent skiing. The ski schools, crèche and the ski lifts are also all close to the centre, simplifying pre-ski drop off and pick up for younger kids.
A week’s stay costs from £653 for a family of four at the Hotel Alpenschlossl, a hotel close to the Penken gondola and the resort’s amenities, ideal for families who want everything at hand in the southern centre of Mayrhofen, departing from £445 from Gatwick and Manchester, including return flights, accommodation and transfers (€500 from Dublin, £501 from Belfast, £511 from Cork), based on 2 guests sharing.
3. Best après ski – Arinsal, Andorra
The prize for best value après ski has to go Andorra for its duty free pricing, inexpensive, great value resorts. The happy hours, discos, lively cafes and restaurants also give the Andorran resort of Arinsal its reputation as one of the liveliest resorts in the mountains. The skiing’s pretty good too!
A week’s skiing with self catering accommodation at the 4* St. Moritz Apartments in Arinsal, Austria can be booked from just £296 from Gatwick, £316 from Manchester, £366 from Belfast and £349 from Dublin including return flights and transfers, based on 4 sharing.
4. Best skiing for ski divas – Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere is one of the world’s top ski resorts and draws skiers from around the world. Home to the men’s downhill in the 1992 Olympics it offers extensive, world-class skiing, amazing powder and great opportunities for off-piste adventures. If you want to be seen in all the right places, it has to be on the piste in Val d’Isere.
A week’s skiing in Val d’Isere costs from £278 per person, based on 4 sharing a 4* self-catering apartment in the Chalet de Solaise with return Gatwick flights (Manchester from £298, Belfast £357, Dublin £379) and transfers.
5. Best for romantic ski chalets – La Tania, France
Cozy up in front of the log burner, snuggle in the sauna, ski together directly in and out of the ski chalets, ideal for romantics and ski-lovers. Couples can enjoy the sociability of chalet life, with the privacy of lovely pine lined rooms and cosy beamed ceilings, right in the heart of Les Trois Vallees, one of the world’s greatest ski destinations.
A week’s stay at Chalet Beriozka in the French resort of La Tania can be booked with Directski.com from £680 per person from Gatwick and £589 from Manchester based on 2 sharing a room including return Gatwick flights, transfers, cooked breakfasts, afternoon tea with home baked cakes, three course dinners with unlimited wine, complimentary toiletries and Wi-Fi.
6. Best beginners resort – Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Learn to ski away from the bright lights of a glitzy resort. Pick somewhere fun and lively like Pas de la Casa in Andorra for cheaper equipment, duty free shopping and great value learn to ski packages, with good, English speaking ski schools and great après ski too.
A week’s skiing with self-catering accommodation at the 3* Aparthotel Olimpiades in Pas de la Casa can be booked with Directski.com from £323 per person with return Gatwick flights (Manchester £343, Belfast £393 and Dublin £376) and transfers, based on 4 sharing.
7. Best for ski & spa – Bad Gastein, Austria
The Austrian spa town of Bad Gastein is world renowned for the soothing properties and the alleged healing powers of its natural thermal waters. Its snow record is pretty good too, which makes it a perfect ski and spa combination for those looking to relax after pounding the slopes.
With its steam bath, outdoor heated pool, whirlpool, sauna and massage facilities Directski.com has a week at the 4* Sporthotel Alpina in Bad Gastein, Austria from £473 per person from Gatwick, £453 from Manchester (Belfast £523, Dublin £508 and £534 from Cork) including return flights, half board accommodation and transfers, based on 2 sharing.
8. Best high altitude skiing – Tignes, France
When the snow’s melting elsewhere Tignes is a cert for the white stuff and is one of Europe’s premier destinations for glacier skiing with the Grand Motte glacier dominating the surrounding area giving it one of the longest ski seasons in Europe. The resort is served by the large well-linked L’Espace Killy ski area and offers access to over 300km (190 miles) of pistes.
A week’s self catering ski holiday at the 3* Le Hameau du Borsat apartments in Tignes, France, based on 4 sharing, costs from £287 per person, including return flights from Gatwick or £307 from Manchester and transfers, (Belfast £362, Dublin £332).
9. Best budget skiing
The best way to trim the cost of a ski holiday is to ski in mid-January when Christmas and New Year are over, but before half term, take some friends, find a good value apartment in the French Alps and self-cater for a week. France’s La Plagne together with Les Arcs is one of the largest ski areas in the world with extensive access to high altitude skiing on uncrowded pistes.
Directski.com has a week’s self-catering ski holiday in France’s La Plagne for £263 per person from Gatwick (£244 from Manchester, £313 from Belfast and £308 from Dublin) including self-catering accommodation at the 3* Belambra Residence Cassiopee apartments, return fights and transfers, based on 4 sharing. The prices tumble further for larger group sizes.
10. Best non-ski activities – Zell am See, Austria
For non-skiers and those wanting to take a break from the slopes Zell am See – with its pretty lake – has masses to offer, including tobogganing, bowling, a sports centre with indoor pool, ice-skating, snow shoeing, sleigh rides and cinema. Its good rail links with other resorts and Austria’s cities makes it a pleasant base for touring too.
A week’s half board accommodation at the 3* Hotel Seehof costs from £499, based on 4 sharing, with return Gatwick flights and transfers, (£519 from Manchester, £549 from Belfast, £551 from Dublin).