Steer your ski clients to the most suitable resorts in North America. By Joanna Booth
British skiers can be put off heading to North America simply by the extra travelling time and expense, but those who’ve made the jump once are quick to go back. Why? Well, there are a lot of pros to make up for that one initial con.
The white stuff, for starters – snowfalls are more frequent than in the Alps. Other skiers; North America’s well-groomed pistes are less crowded and you won’t find as many queues for lifts.
Safety is paramount to many, and every resort in North America – unlike Europe – has a marked ski area boundary which is patrolled. And finally, the quality of accommodation and service is very high.
Maxine Roberts, head of marketing at Carrier Ski, predicts a good season for North America.
“Whistler is set to have record snow levels, while a new state-of-the-art gondola is due to open in Vail in November, which may help to stimulate interest. In fact, 2013 is already showing promising signs,” she says.
But once you’ve persuaded your client to make that longer flight, which resort should you send them to? Slalom through our suggestions below.
BEST FOR: FIRST-TIMERS
Try: Tremblant, Québec
Why: Endless, wide, tree-lined green and blue runs and a fabulous ski school. Most accommodation is ski-in, ski-out and the colourful village is pedestrianised. Eastern Canada is the most manageable transatlantic flight, and the resort has plenty of other activities – skating, snowshoeing, dog-sledding – if a first-timer gets bored on the slopes.
Book: Crystal Ski offers seven nights’ B&B at The Country Inn & Suites from £695, including transfers and flights from Heathrow departing January 23. Pre-book a lift pass and save up to 25% against resort pricing.
0871 231 2256
Try: Breckenridge, Colorado
Why: Beginners will like the well-groomed, gentle slopes on offer – there are 55 blue runs and some good terrain parks so there are plenty of spots to practise and perfect technique.
Book: Inghams offers seven nights’ self-catering in a two-bedroom condo at Beaver Run Resort from £1,010 including flights and transfers. The hotel is located at the base of the slopes with ski-in, ski-out access and has indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub with mountain views, spa and sauna.
BEST FOR: EXPERIENCED SKIERS
Try: Mammoth, California
Why: This is experts’ heaven. The ridge at the Panorama Lookout is peppered with double diamonds (the most difficult run rating in the North American system), couloirs and chutes which open out into vast bowls, steeps and deeps. There’s a large system of high-speed lifts, so seasoned skiers keen to get the most out of each day will rarely have to wait in line.
Book: Ski Independence offers seven nights at Mammoth Mountain Inn from £1,041 including flights from London and shared transfers or car hire.
0131 243 8097
Try: Whistler, British Columbia
Why: Consistently ranked as the number one ski resort in North America by a whole range of expert publications, Whistler was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Games. There are over 100 runs, five terrain parks and a 22-foot halfpipe.
Book: Crystal Ski offers seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Listel from £969 including transfers and flights from Heathrow departing January 12. Pre-book equipment and lift pass by November 15 and get up to 33% off.
0871 231 2256
BEST FOR: FAMILIES
Try: Lake Louise, Alberta
Why: Lake Louise Ski School is one of the largest in Canada, with an excellent kids’ programme with facilities both for teens and younger skiers, right down to the ages of three and four. There are excellent slopes for everyone, with plenty of challenging choices for expert parents.
Book: Thomson Ski offers seven nights’ room-only at Lake Louise Inn from £895 including transfers and flights from Heathrow departing January 11. Free lift passes are available for up to three children up to the age of 12 years.
0871 971 0578
Try: Fernie, British Columbia
Why: The wide, open nursery slope at the base of the lower mountain is great for kids skiing for the first time, but there are real challenges for intermediate and advanced skiers too. The resort has a ski school, themed events for kids and the daycare centre is right in the middle of the alpine village. Nearby is the historic mining town of Fernie itself with lively bars, restaurants and shops to keep the whole family amused.
Book: Inghams offers seven nights’ B&B in a one-bedroom loft apartment at the ski-in, ski-out Lizard Creek Lodge from £1,099 including flights and transfers. Children get free helmet hire and, up to the age of 12, free lift passes.
BEST FOR: NON-SKIERS
Try: Banff, Alberta
Why: The quality of the skiing here is excellent, but there’s also plenty to keep those less-keen on skiing occupied. In the heart of the Canadian Rockies there’s plenty beyond ski, from snowy activities such as ice canyon walks, dog-sledding, snowmobiling and snow-shoeing, to warmer pastimes including natural hot springs, great shopping and excellent cuisine.
Book: Ski Independence offers seven nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel from £1,097, including flights from London and shared transfers or car hire.
0131 243 8097
Try: Reno Tahoe, Nevada/California
Why: Renoe Tahoe has the highest concentration of ski and snowboard resorts in all of North America – there are 18 within an hour of the airport. For non-skiers there’s the usual skating, sledding, and shoeing involving snow, but there are shuttle buses to the ski resorts from the city of Reno, with its shopping, spas, and thriving arts district full of museums and galleries.
Book: Thomson Ski offers seven nights’ room-only at the Peppermill Resort & Casino from £865 including transfers and flights from Heathrow departing January 11. Car hire with insurance is included.
0871 971 0578
SKI NEWS winter 2012-13
Crystal Ski’s 2012-13 programme covers three continents, 12 countries and 135 resorts. There are 300 free ‘First-Time’ packages in 16 resorts that include tuition, equipment and a lift pass. Also new are flights from Liverpool to Salzburg and Leeds Bradford to Geneva, twin centre holidays combining Christmas markets and skiing, and winter packages in Slovenia.
Inghams has added 27 chalets and chalet hotels to its programme, which spans 80 resorts in eight countries, flying from 21 UK airports, including Chambery for the first time. Seven ski resorts are new for the season: Auffach and Neustift in Austria; Les 2 Alpes, Megève and Serre Chevalier in France; and Colfosco and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy. New all-inclusive packages have been introduced in Austria, France, Andorra and Canada. There are thousands of free child places on offer, one parent saver discounts, cashback offers, early-booking discounts and lift pass savings.
Ski Independence has added more luxury hotels in Europe, including the slope-side Nira Alpina Hotel in St Moritz, where rates include free lift passes. The operator is also offering two for-one rail transfers to all Swiss resorts and all children under 15 travel free on Swiss Rail.
Powder White is offering free flights from any UK airport with bookings made to 20-bed Chalet Fritz in St Anton before the end of September.
Thomson Ski offers holidays in 74 resorts across Europe, the US and Canada. Launch offers include free hotel credit to spend in the bar or restaurant in some French hotels, half-price hotel credit in selected Italian hotels and discounts and free breakfasts in selected North American hotels.
Balkan Holidays has launched its Winter Ski & Board second-edition brochure with prices from £244 and new accommodation choices in Borovets and Bansko, Bulgaria. Also new are three and four-night ski weekends in Slovenia. There are early-booking discounts of up to £150 per couple, free child places and half-price ski or board equipment carriage.
Monarch will add ski routes from December. Friedrichshafen in southern Germany – only 90 minutes from St Anton, Lech, Zurs and Flims-Laax – will receive six new weekly flights from Gatwick and Manchester. From Leeds Bradford, Monarch will start flying to Munich and Grenoble.
Taber Holidays has introduced a White Footprint activity tour in Finnish Lapland. Based in Mounio, the six-night adventure features a day spent as a reindeer herder, a two-day husky safari with a night in a wilderness hut and a full-day snowmobile tour. Prices start from £1,885 and include flights from Heathrow, transfers, accommodation, all equipment and specialist clothing.
Scandinavian Travel has launched a skiSweden programme, in the mould of its skiNorway and skiLapland brands. The Swedish programme offers luxury accommodation in the historic World Cup ski resort of Åre, with hotels, catered chalets, cabins and apartments, with SAS and Norwegian flights from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.
The historic Hotel Montjola in St Anton has been bought by VIP Ski and is being transformed for this winter. The 33-room hotel, built in 1932, is being revamped with flatscreen TVs, sound docks and hot tubs. A seven-night package including flights from Gatwick and transfers starts from £949.
Neilson features new activities to go alongside skiing. These include ice-driving in a Porsche and a stay at the Icehotel in Sweden, fine-dining tours in Canada and a winter wonderland experience in Seefeld, Austria. All Neilson chalets now offer free Wi-Fi and breakfasts.
Jet2.com’s new ski destination for this winter is Grenoble. Flights from Leeds Bradford will start on December 16 and run until April 14 with fares from £34. Grenoble flights from Manchester Airport will start from December 15 and run until April 13, with prices from £39.
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