SNOW is falling in the Alps and ski resorts across Europe are preparing to welcome us again.
After Covid forced shutdown last season, winter sports companies are rebounding with specials, more flights, new cabins and even an express ski train to the slopes.
If you don’t feel like going abroad, head to the Scottish Super Highlands or one of the UK’s amazing indoor snow centers. TRISHA HARBORD selects a range of offers.
1. TRAIN HIM ON THE TRACKS
LET the train take the pressure on the new all-inclusive ski vacation.
Travelski Express sells packages to six popular French resorts, which also include exclusive transfers and seven-day ski passes.
The train, operated by Eurostar with a dedicated check-in at London St Pancras, departs once a week, normally on Friday evenings, except Christmas and New Years, and runs overnight to Moutiers and Bourg. You are then driven to your accommodation in Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Méribel, Les Menuires or Val d’Isère.
TO LEAVE: Departures from December 26 to April 9. Seven nights’ rental at the 3H Belambra Le Hameau des Airelles residence in Les Menuires, including travel from London St Pancras on January 14th, from £ 569 per person. See fr.travelski.com/travelski-express.
TRACKS FOR SINGLES
LEARN to ski or snowboard and make friends at a house party in the French Alps.
Singles vacation specialist Friendship Travel has three new chalets in Les Deux Alpes and Vaujany, a hamlet near Alpe D’Huez.
The seven-night trips run from December 19 to March 20, and a member of the Friendship Travel team is hosting each house party.
The 3H Chalet Ruby aux Deux Alpes is a renovated stone farmhouse with nine bedrooms, a fireplace and a hot tub on the terrace.
TO LEAVE: Seven-night half-board at the chalet including dinner and wine on five evenings, afternoon tea and six half-day lessons, with flights from Gatwick on December 19, costs from £ 1,085 sharing a room. Exclusive use £ 1,285. See friendtravel.com.
As the Winter Olympics kicks off in Beijing in February, you could try a sport that has been around since 1924: cross-country skiing.
The medieval town of Kitzbuhel, located in the Austrian Alps, has around 40 miles of prepared trails with the areas around the Hahnenkamm, Kitzbuheler Horn and Wilder Kaiser easily accessible.
The slopes are free but beginners are recommended to book a guide for private cross-country skiing sessions from £ 85 per person.
TO LEAVE: Seven-night half-board at the 3H Edelweiss Hotel in Kitzbühel, with flights from Manchester on January 8th including transfers, starts at £ 949 per person, based on two shares. See inghams.co.uk and kitzbuehel.com.
OFFERS IN THE DOLOMITES
FREE ski guide and coaching and a half-price ski pass are offered in the Italian Dolomites. With over 745 miles of slopes, the Superski area is the largest in the world.
The Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn, which gives free lessons to skiers and snowboarders with a qualified instructor, is close to the picturesque village of Canazei, a lively resort with lively bars and restaurants.
A new cable car, a short walk from the hotel, takes guests to the 42 km Sella Ronda circuit with its pristine slopes. Take one of two routes – avoiding ski lifts or difficult terrain.
TO LEAVE: Seven nights at 3H Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn, including breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, departing from Stansted on March 20 and transfers included, start at £ 915 per person, based on two people sharing a room. For more details, see igluski.com.
FOR excellent family skiing, head to Norefjell in Norway.
There are 30 trails including three for small children, who can practice basic skills such as making turns and slowing down.
They will also meet Nore Rein, a “reindeer” mascot who knows how to ski.
The ski-in, ski-out Norefjell Ski & Spa has two restaurants, a gym, a spa, an outdoor jacuzzi with mountain views and a 52-foot climbing wall .
TO LEAVE: Seven nights in B&B at 4H Norefjell Ski & Spa, departing from Heathrow on select dates January 7-21, costs from £ 499 per person. Book before November 11. Details are at britishairways.com/ski.
BULGARIA has the two cheapest ski resorts, Borovets and Bansko, out of 32 European centers, according to a recent Post Office Travel Money report.
Borovets in the Rila Mountains has 36 miles of slopes for skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping and winter hiking, and is a party hotspot.
The Radina’s Way hotel, with a wellness center, is a mile from the slopes and the resort center, but there is a regular free shuttle.
TO LEAVE: Seven-night half-board at the 4H Radina’s Way hotel, which includes flights from Gatwick on January 15 and transfers, costs from £ 418 per person, based on two shares. Other UK airports available. See crystalski.co.uk.
SKI Beat introduced weeks of meat, nut and gluten-free skiing in catered chalets, with five-night vacations available for travel between January 3 and 8, in all of its chalets in seven of the best resorts in the French Alps in from £ 519.
The company has also added hundreds of flights from Heathrow.
Plagne 1800 village is a family resort in the Tarentaise valley with Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, as a backdrop.
TO LEAVE: Five nights at the 3H Chalet Arpette in Plagne, with flights from Heathrow or Gatwick on January 3rd, starting at £ 569 per person. See skibeat.co.uk.
SCOTLAND has five ski resorts, with terrain suitable for beginners and seasoned professionals, and equipment can be hired at several locations across the country.
Glenshee Ski Center is the largest resort and Glencoe Mountain Resort has the longest and steepest slope, with great views of Buachaille Etive Mor.
Lecht Ski Center is a quieter option for beginners and families, while Cairngorms Mountain Resort offers the more difficult slopes, and Nevis Range Mountain Resort has everything in one place, from the restaurant to the beginner’s area to through the rental of equipment and courses.
TO LEAVE: Two nights in B&B and dinner at the 3H Highlander Hotel in the Cairngorms, including lift passes and equipment hire, costs £ 237 per adult, £ 211 per child, under 12 £ 170. See skinorwest.com.
TRY A SNOW
WANT to hit the slopes but can’t afford to go? Try one of the great snow sports centers in the UK.
Snozone has centers in Yorkshire, Hampshire and Milton Keynes at Bucks, which has a main slope of 575 feet. There is also a slide, a gym, a cinema, a bowling alley and a restaurant.
Chill Factore at Trafford Quays in Manchester has a snow park with inflatable tubes for hitting the tracks, while Snowdome in Tamworth, Staffs also has children’s tracks, an ice rink and climbing walls.
Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Center, Herts, has a new Ringo Slide to hit the slopes at full speed.
TO LEAVE: The 1 hour package at Snozone Milton Keynes costs £ 24.99, junior £ 19.99. See snozoneuk.com. 1 hour Chill Factore pass from £ 24.30, junior £ 20.25. See chillfactore.com. And at Snowdome, from £ 28 and £ 24. See snowdome.co.uk. Ringo Slide, £ 10 for 30 minutes. See thesnowcentre.com.
YOU can now fly from ten UK airports including Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham to eight resorts in Italy, Switzerland, Austria and France with one-way fares starting at £ 23.
There is a service from eight airports in Geneva where you can get transfers by bus or train to nearby runways.
The Alpine village of Verbier is located in the Four Valleys: 250 miles of slopes, a snow park, a children’s area and more.
The 4H Hôtel de Verbier has been recently renovated and has a spa, a gym and a hammam. It is close to the ski lifts, restaurants, bars and shops.
TO LEAVE: Jet2.com offers one-way flights from Birmingham to Geneva in December from £ 23. Double room at the Hôtel de Verbier from £ 240 per night, breakfast included. See hoteldeverbier.com and verbier.ch.