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Wednesday
Oct292014

Introducing Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski. Five resorts, one major ski area

Alpe d’Huez grand domaine ski area is right at the heart of the Southern Alps. Each village accessing this exceptional ski area has its own style and ambience and offers something a bit different to the next.  As a whole, the five destinations offer a diversity of accommodation, activities and facilities to suit all holidaymakers.

What’s new in Alpe d’Huez

72 new snow cannons on Sarenne, Europe’s longest black run

SATA the Alpe d’Huez ski area management company is always striving to improve the quality and performance of the slopes and lift infrastructure. This year they aim for the full 16km of the famous Sarenne slope to be accessible and skiable by 6th December with the installation of 72 snow cannons guaranteeing snow-cover on the lower half of the slope. The new snow cannons will feature from Marmottes 3 to the Sarenne Bridge at 1,600m. The Herpie Lake will also become the highest artificial lake in Europe. The financial investment is estimated around 8 million euros (which includes the introduction of 72 snow canons, the lake and the snow factory). 6 webcams have also been distributed along the itinerary so skiers will be able to view real-time snow conditions on the Sarenne and the length of the Sarenne will be illuminated by each cannon which is equipped with LED lights to create a ’slope to the stars’ for night skiers.

Ski the 16km Sarenne at night

Good skiers looking for something a little out of the ordinary can try out this unforgettable experience on the legendary Sarenne black slope. Skiers take the last cable car up to the top of Pic Blanc, to an altitude of 3,330m, and watch the sun set over the Grandes Rousses enjoying the mountains in the company of Alpe d’Huez qualified ski instructors and ski patrollers. There will be a short stop at le GUC mountain refuge for an aperitif before venturing down the 16km and 2000m vertical drop of this iconic run. Once they have conquered the majority of the slope skiers can celebrate with a mountain dinner at the Auberge de la Combe Haute before returning by bus to the resort.
More information from SATA – 04 76 80 34 72 – www.sataski.com

New Snowboxx festival – 21st-28th March 2015

After two successive sell out festivals in Andorra, Snowboxx festival has found a new home in the French Alps. Snowboxx 2015 will be held in Alpe d’Huez 21st-28th March and promises bigger artists, more pistes and more parties. Not content with just moving resort, Snowboxx is also redefining the concept of the festival offering skiers, snowboarder and festival-goers a ‘festival village’ experience. The town will be split up into 4 areas: The Town Centre, the High St, Downtown and the Mountain and include a host of spectacles and activities from headline music acts, acrobatic ski displays, daily retro après sessions, Karaoke ski cabins, slopeside yoga, open air pool parties, mountain meals, ice sculptures, an on-the-mountain art project and a fancy dress world record attempt! 
Visit: www.snowboxx.com for more info

One for the kids

This winter a new family centre, composed of a school and canteen, has been developed to include a nursery that welcomes children from 3 months to 4 years old. Little skiers will also be well looked after at the ‘Chalet des enfants ESF,’ a modern center that combines ski lessons and activities for children over 2 and a half years old. 

Alpe d’Huez wins the First “Trophées de la Montagne”.

On the 23rd of April 2014 Alpe d’Huez competed against 44 other participants and was awarded the trophy for the ‘green initiatives’ category at an event held in Val d’Isère,

This trophy was awarded in recognition of the resort’s development and use of new electricity-powered machinery including a hybrid slope groomer, electric shuttle and electric vehicles.
See: www.alpedhuez.com for more info

What’s new in Vaujany

A new three-star residence, Les Epinettes, is planned to open in December 2014. The new residence is located close to the ski-lifts and will include 59 apartments (306 beds). Sympathetically built in the traditional style, combining wood and stone, the apartments will retain the Vaujany spirit.

Vaujany seamlessly marries rustic mountain appeal with modern facilities and was awarded the ‘Family Plus Mountain’ certificate in 2009 and, more recently awarded the “Station Verte” (respecting nature and the environment) certificate this year. At 1200m altitude the resort is made up of traditional alpine chalets and offers superfast links to the slopes. The modern lift system and lightning quick access to 250 km of slopes ensures skiers can make the most of their days on the mountain.  If the skiing isn’t enough entertainment  an impressive leisure centre offers  a variety of fun facilities from a covered ice rink, 4 lane bowling alley, swimming pool and spa to a climbing wall and toboggan run.
Visit: www.vaujany.com/en

What’s new in Oz En Oisans

Skiing’s not the only way to get down the mountain in Oz en Oisans. Each week, there’s something new for skiers to try from Airboards, snow skates, Trikke Skki, Snowscoots and Yooners; there’s plenty to challenge yourself and each other with. Available for all ages, these activities provide a whole new way of speeding down the mountain. There are also numerous different sports and activities in resort; from the warm pool and spa and indoor climbing wall, to the outdoor ice rink, badminton and table tennis.

New for 2014-15: try Nordic Walking for free this winter

Nordic walking is incredibly popular and a sport usually associated with the summer. Oz en Oisans is now offering the chance to try Nordic walking during the winter seasons in picture perfect snowy surroundings.  Guided by an instructor, guests will be able to discover the magnificent plateau de l’Alpette, high up at 2000m. It’s the ideal opportunity to discover the walking trails and cross-country skiing in an awe-inspiring location. Originally a Finnish pastime, Nordic walking is becoming more and more popular. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner, occasional walker or seasoned runner – everyone is invited to have a go. The poles will help to guide you across the snow and discover a new side to the mountain.
Nordic walking is free and available: every Tuesday and Thursday from 9.30am to 11am.

More for the kids

Oz en Oisans has also introduced a new snow garden for children over the age of three and a nursery in the heart of the resort that has been specially adapted for those aged 6 months and over. Parents can be reassured that whilst they enjoy the mountain their children will be having fun with traditional games, discovering the mountain, creative workshops, climbing and electric quad bikes.
visit: www.oz-en-oisans.com/en for more information

Coming soon to Auris en Oisans

A new 4* residence  is coming soon to Les Balcons d’Aurea; located on the Place des Orgieres, with a host of shops and services on the doorstep and with spectacular views of the Ecrins, Les Deux Alpes Glacier and the Meije. The 4* residence will feature shops, restaurants and a spa (with pool, spa facilities, solarium and fitness equipment) and a private underground parking lot. Every resident will have ski in ski out access to the Alpe d’Huez ski domain.

The family focused resort of Auris en Oisans is designed to make winter ski holidays easy on a budget. Numerous free activities and events are organised by the resort to keep families entertained from wacky ski races, ‘fun on the slopes with inflatables’ and ice sculpture competitions. Most accommodation is ski-in-ski out with easy access to the slopes and resort centre. A dedicated novice ski area ensures learners progress quickly in a calm environment while the better skiers can enjoy the whole Alpe d’Huez ski domain.

Villard Reculas – step back in time

Villard Reculas has retained its Alpine charm so much that it remains still more a traditional mountain village than a resort. The first ski lifts were installed here in 1946 making it the starting point of what is now one of Europe’s biggest ski areas. Since then Villard Reculas has become a fantastic ski destination, without parting ways with its Alpine authenticity. Its cosy, inviting chalets and architecture make it one of the most beautiful villages in the Alpe d’Huez region and a tranquil haven for true mountain enthusiasts.

New for this season, Villard Reculas has introduced a new pedestrian square with cafés and terraces that make the most of the sun. The square will also become a hub for various entertainments and shows throughout the season. There is also a new green slope allowing easier access for beginner skiers into the resort.

Whether you go by road or on the piste, Villard Reculas is just 15 minutes away from Alpe d’Huez and offers fantastic value. The village itself has a friendly and warm atmosphere, but for those seeking a little more excitement, there’s plenty to enjoy; from the swimming pool to the ice rink and the Palais des Sports. Each week a programme is planned by the Tourism Office, offering a wide range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including snowshoe hikes and farm visits.

For more information on Alpe d’Huez grand domaine ski visit: www.alpedhuez.com

Tuesday
Oct282014

Pierre & Vacances launch two new properties in Andorra - the European ski destination with the most satisfied customers

Andorra has been praised by consumers following results from the 2014 Ski Club Consumer research.  Andorra and its ski area received an impressive net promoter score of 38* which is up by 9 points year on year and was ranked the best performing European destination when it came to customer satisfaction. The quality of skiing, ease of transfer, excellent ski schools and value for money scored particularly highly with many consumer comments applauding the extensive choice and quality of accommodation.

Pierre & Vacances has expended even further into Andorra and announced the launch of two brand new residences in El Tarter and Ransol, Grandvalira.

The new Residence Andorra Ransol features 42 spacious and modern apartments sleeping up to six, with alpine touches giving each apartment a cosy and welcoming feel. Ransol, situated just 1.5km from the centre of El Tarter village, is peaceful and ideal for relaxing after a long day exploring the slopes. Each apartment is kitted out with all the mod cons guests could need to self-cater and ensure that their stay feels as much like home as possible.

The new Pierre & Vacances Andorra El Tarter residence is based at 1700m in the heart of the typical Andorran village it is named for. The apartments are spacious, modern and homely. Most apartments boast a balcony and some have open fireplaces, perfect for curling up in front of after a long day’s skiing. The gondola lift to the Grandvalira ski area is just 400m away.

The independent state of Andorra, nestled between France and Spain, isn’t just a shopaholic’s tax haven, but the home of 65 glistening snow-capped peaks and Grandvalira is the largest ski area in the Pyrenees. High altitude, snow-sure and almost always sunny, the Pyrenees deserve the praise bestowed from keen skiers and snowboarders in the 2014 Ski Club Consumer research. The research was collated from 14,600 customer surveys and generated some interesting comments and feedback. Skiers and snowboarders were asked to provide the reasons why they had given their chosen ski holiday destination a particular ranking. Here are some of the testimonials for El Tarter: 

“For beginners it was ideal. Great snow, easily accessible and quality lessons”

“I've been several times and this place has all you need for a fantastic holiday”

“Good skiing, good choice of accommodation, friendly resort and excellent ski school for children.”

“Huge skiing resort, small amount of people, good skiing conditions and excellent facilities.”

The Grandvalira boasts 210km of piste with a range of runs for all abilities and special areas reserved for little ones with snow gardens, nursery slopes and a children’s centre. For those seeking big thrills, Grandvalira is also where some of the world’s champions come for freestyle, freeriding and speed skiing. There are three snow parks, with one (El Peretol) open at night for true adrenaline junkies. Those looking to try something a bit different can choose from a range of activities including snowmobiling and ‘Mushing’ (dog sledging) to adventure circuits and paragliding.

Visit: www.pierreetvacances.co.uk or call: 0870 0267 145 or for more information

Tuesday
Oct282014

Put yourself in the picture!

Join Dryvember and post your alcohol-free selfies

November really is the “not quite” month. Not quite autumn, not quite winter, not quite the festive season . . . so this year why not make this month Dryvember?

That’s right, Dryvember! Can you rise to the challenge and stay dry for a whole month, a marathon (26 days), a half marathon (13 days), a week (during Alcohol Awareness Week from November 17-23), or even just a weekend, to raise money and awareness for The Alcohol Awareness Trust (AET)?

Every penny raised from the no-alcohol Dryvember pretox challenge will help AET continue to provide first class alcohol education to parents, schoolchildren and teachers throughout the country, so kids can enjoy a healthy, responsible relationship with alcohol in the future.

Early drinking among younger teenagers has shown to have huge knock-on effects, often leading to smoking, poor grades and other risky behaviours such as underage sex.

Active in schools throughout Britain, the AET’s open and holistic approach to alcohol education aims to ensure that teachers, parents and secondary school students have access to the best resources, support and information to help delay the uptake of drinking among kids.

And, even better, partnering organisations The Big Give and The Childhood Trust have pledged to match all donations – doubling the funds raised this Dryvember!

So let’s get everyone involved this Dryvember. We are already bursting with ideas to help you with your very own fundraising.

And even if you’re not taking part for the whole month, you can still show your support for the campaign by sending us your very own #AlcoFreeSelfie!

During Dryvember we want to see you enjoying some alcohol-free moments, wherever they may be. From mocktails to movie-nights, there are plenty of ways for you to get creative and snap yourself enjoying an alcohol-free beverage.

Why not get you family and friends involved too, via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?  Be a trendsetter and nominate them to better your #AlcoFreeSelfie.

As well as awareness, The Alcohol Education Trust is trying to raise £25,000 to help 25,000 kids receive their invaluable talkaboutalcohol programme in 100 schools next year.

For every #AlcoFreeSelfie you take and post, you can donate £3 to the campaign by texting ‘DRY’ to 70660. You can donate any other amount to by texting ‘Dry £5’ or whatever amount you choose by indicating it after the £ sign. You can also make a donation online: http://www.alcoholeducationtrust.org/dryvember/donate/

Every week, Dryvember will post the best snaps, with prizes available for the most creative – including a day a 5-star health spa, to help you really make the most of your booze break.

It’s easy to get on board this Dryvember, so dust off your camera, perfect your pout and get ready to start taking shots. Alcohol-free shots, of course!

For more information about the campaign, fundraising ideas and how to get involved, visit www.dryvember.com

For more details about The Alcohol Trust and their work, visit  www.alcoholeducationtrust.org

Tuesday
Oct282014

TOP FIVE CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO THE SKI EXPERTS AT VIP SKI, THE FAMILY SPECIALISTS 

Fun for all the family: is it really possible? While many parents are filled with dread at the prospect of organising a family ski break, particularly if the youngsters aren’t quite ready to take to the slopes themselves, there’s no need to panic. VIP SKI has the perfect recipe for a fun family holiday.

VIP SKI’s family skiing holidays are built with children very much in mind, and there is a small army of nannies at the ready with fun and innovative ideas to entertain youngsters on ski holidays this winter.

From sledging to snowballs, and husky dogs to hot chocolates, VIP SKI has every base covered to ensure everyone enjoys the best holiday possible.

At VIP SKI, the team of dedicated nannies works tirelessly to ensure the kids are entertained. In fact, so tirelessly that last season the 24 nannies clocked up an impressive 13,616 working hours. That’s the equivalent of 567 days, 81 weeks or 18 months!

But there were plenty of children to be entertained, with 180 infants and 1,713 children aged between two and twelve years old, taken away on a VIP SKI break last season.

When they’re not out showing the kids the delights of a snow holiday, VIP SKI’s nannies are busy devising fun activities to really make it a holiday to remember.

Among the top activities enjoyed by kids of all ages (and a few adults too!) are

  1. Sledging
  2. Bum-boarding
  3. Snow painting
  4. Bubble trips
  5. Treasure hunts

Sledging and bum-boarding are perennially popular, while snow provides the best blank canvas for a bit of painting. Forget pens and paper – budding artists should just wrap up warm and get creative with the landscape this winter.

Bubble trips are also in high demand at VIP SKI’s luxury resorts. Intrepid explorers can carve out a mountain adventure, searching for the elusive Yeti or Gruffalo by following the well-placed footprints that lead to . . . hot chocolate and marshmallows! The nannies also do love to dress up – a fun activity that includes the children too! – So don’t be surprised if clients spot a few mysterious mountain creatures roaming around.

For children aged over three years old, treasure hunts in the snow are popular. VIP SKI nannies make multi-coloured ice-cubes and hide them outside, a colourful treasure for explorers to hunt for.

And they have plenty of ideas for indoor fun, too. It it’s too cold to head outside, kids aged from as young as one can have a go at making their very own snow – bringing the joy of the outdoors to the warmth of the indoors! With a bit of warm water and some soap flakes you can whisk up your own frothy snow, perfect for building indoor snowmen A bit of glitter, food colouring or paint thrown into the mix adds that extra bit of sparkle!

With nannies available in almost all of VIP SKI’s resorts, including Val d’Isere, Meribel, Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz, Alpe d’Huez, La Plagne and St Anton, guests can be assured that a skiing holiday with VIP SKI will be fun, action-packed and stress-free. All of the nannies are qualified to the highest standards, and are dedicated and enthusiastic- allowing parents the luxury of free time, safe in the knowledge that the kids are in the best hands. From pyjama parties to the piste, and everything in between, VIP SKI’s committed team are here to help.

To find out more about VIP SKI’s family holiday packages and about the fantastic team of nannies and what they can provide, you can contact VIP Ski on 08445573119 or simply visit the fully interactive website www.vip-chalets.com

Monday
Oct272014

What’s new in the Jungfrau this winter

The Jungfrau region has always been accessible for a weekend ski break with easy rail links from Zurich and Geneva but this winter season it’s become even quicker to reach the mountains with new flights routes into Bern-Belp airport.

This year the region has introduced more snow fun on Kleine Sheidegg with a new beginner area and fun park, new ‘ice magic’ in Interlaken, a new half pipe in the White Elements Snowpark and a new ‘Winnercard’ that will track, film and photograph skiers in action capturing their holiday and creating a souvenir holiday album. Another series of exciting events has also been announced for 2014-15.

New flight routes into Bern airport - the closest gateway to the Jungfrau

Holidaymakers can now fly directly into Bern airport from a variety of UK airports with new winter routes from Intersky and Skyworks airlines. The international airport Bern-Belp is the closest airport to the beautiful Jungfrau region with transfers taking a short 45 mins into Interlaken where skiers can access the ski resorts of Wengen, Mürren and Grindelwald and the Jungfrau ski region by rail. Bern-Belp has the fastest check-in times in Switzerland, and is favoured (for good reason) by the rich and famous and their private jets. The new routes mean it’s now easier to make a quick ski weekend getaway to the mountains and feel like a film star while you’re at it.

TopSkiSwiss.com will be operating weekly charter flights with Intersky airlines from the following UK regional airports into Bern-Belp; East Midlands, Norwich, Bournmouth, Humberside and London Southend.

Skywork Airlines has also announced it will be operating a series of new flights into Bern-Belp from London’s ‘sixth airport’ customer-friendly London Southend. From 27th October the airline will offer flights twice a day from Monday-Friday and once on a Saturday.

Visit: www.flyskywork.com form more information

New Snow Fun Kleine Scheidegg

New to the 2014/15 winter season, Snow Fun Kleine Scheidegg has been introduced for beginner skiers and snowboarders and those that just want to have fun in the snow. Kleine Scheidegg is located 2,061 metres above sea level and offers visitors some of the most spectacular and arresting views of the Eiger north face, Mönch and Jungfraujoch. First time skiers and snowboarders will feel like they’ve conquered the mountains as they look out over the scenery from confidence-building terrain. The gentle slopes are served by a covered magic carpet for easy beginner access. Other activities such as snow tubing, sledging and snow biking are also available.

Capture the winter fun and win with the new Winnercard

Jungfrau Top of Europe has introduced a new Winnercard that will track skiers and snowboarders round the mountain recording vertical drop, speed and distance travelled and create a holiday album with photos, films, stats and rankings in any friendly competitions. Holidaymakers can pre-register for a free Winnercard online and will find the various photo and movie points on the mountain where a quick swipe with their ski pass will activate the cameras. They can also collect ‘badges’ on the card for the number of consecutive days skied, lifts used in a day and various other point-building activities. Collect the right badge and you would be entered into a prize draw to win an Audi A3. For more information and to register for the new Winnercard visit: www.jungfrau.ch/winnercard

New Top of Europe Ice Magic in Interlaken

Interlaken will open their new ice-skating experience on 20th December 2014. The centre of the town will be transformed into a winter wonderland on ice from December to February with four interlinking ice rinks, runways, skating, curling and cosy restaurants.

Grindelwald embraces the freestyle scene and introduce a half pipe for 2014-15

Snowboarders inspired by Swiss-bred (Russian-born) athlete Iouri Iourеvich Podladtchikov (ipod to his peers) who took gold in the men’s half pipe at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, can now come and practice their moves in the White Elements Snowpark.

Grindelwald will become one of the few wintersports areas in Switzerland with a half pipe. The Grindelwald-First area has a long-standing tradition in freestyle and will develop the White Elements Snowpark to include the pipe, enhancing the fun and freestyle area. The First Aerial Cableway will create the new half-pipe at the Bärgelegg in a natural trough in the landscape. Using the natural topography of the land greatly reduces the manufacturing costs and impact on resources. After the winter season the trough will be fully landscaped and restored to its original state which will also ensure minimal impact on the surrounding landscape.

Winter events

It will be another action-packed year in the Jungfrau with world class downhill racing and freestyle events, mountain safety talks, wacky horn-sledge racing, mega treasure hunts and top music festival SnopenAir. Here is a select of the best of the season’s events.

16th -18th January 2015: Be a spectator for the Lauberhorn 85th World Cup downhill slalom Race. With a length of approximately 4.5 km and race speeds reaching up to 160km per hour it’s the longest and one of the most dramatic downhill races to watch.

19th - 24th January - Join the celebration of ice art at the World snow festival in Grindelwald on the natural ice rink.

7th-8th February - Experience world class snowboard action up close at The Audi Snowboard open series that will take place in Grindelwald-First. The event is establishing itself as one of Europe's most important junior tours in the snowboard arena with several riders rising to international stardom.

28 February - Take part in the ‘Horn-Sledge’ races, Alpigle. This rustic sport is growing in popularity and is the ultimate kick for both participants and spectators. Keep an eye out for pilots that might stray from the course on this fast-paced ride!

6th-8th March - Get involved with the 7th WHITESTYLE OPEN in Mürren. The quiet mountain village will be transformed into a vibrant urban freestyle scene with daring riders showing off their skills on a kicker in the village centre. As well as the after-dark big air competition there’s also equipment testing and after-party.

4th April 2015 - ‘I’m a Treasure Get me out of Here!’ guarantees sky-high treasure hunting fun and the opportunity to find some incredible prizes. A collection of treasure chests containing a stash of prizes are hidden in the snow in a specific area. As soon as the signal sounds, the treasure hunters are let loose with tools to find and dig them out. The incredible range of prizes includes Stöckli skis, iPads, Jungfrau Ski Region season lift passes, GoPro cameras, travel vouchers, helicopter tours and the first prize is a BMW X1.

11th April 2014 - Get your dance on at SnowpenAir, Switzerland’s biggest winter music event. The high-altitude event in Kleine Scheidegg and can only be reached by a journey on the beautiful mountain railway where national and international bands will play at 2061m. The line-up for the 2015 event will be announced soon. For more details and to purchase tickets visit: www.jungfrau.ch/snowpenair

For more information about snow holidays in the Jungfrau region please visit: www.jungfrau.ch