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Merits of Val Gardena towns -- Selva/Santa Cristina/Ortisei

 Poster: A snowHead
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Hello, first of all, first post!

We've skiied France the last five years (Portes du Soleil and Saisies) but want to expand our horizons this year to Italy. Our group has been 4 adults (I like reds and some offpiste; my brother who is much more aggressive and likes off piste); 2 wives who prefer XC but will ski blues if pushed) and my son, age 11, who likes reds and daughter age 9 who is fine with half a day of instruction or skiing blues.

We're aiming at Selva or Santa Cristina, for access to XC as well as reds/off piste. Ortisei seemed like its a little far away from some of the best stuff and maybe not enough easy blues nearby? But I could be totally wrong.

For our group, am I on the right track with Selva, then perhaps Santa Cristina? It looks like there are a lot of blue runs very close to Selva. We're planning on having at least one car, but being able to take a bus to lessons/lifts would be a HUGE plus. Nightlife is not a factor, nor is apres ski. By the time we've got everyone back in one place we're usually totally wiped out..

Thanks! Have done some search on the forum too...
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I went to Ortisei last season. I enjoyed it, but won't go again. All the skiing is up on a plateau, the Seiser Alm; or on the opposite side of the valley, the Seceda. The latter is a 10k fairly gentle run back down to the village with plenty of rest stops/bars on the way.

Seiser Alm is extensive, but all doable in a day, 2 at the most. That means travelling further afield for mor runs and scenery. My wife was a timid 'blue' skier, and the first couple of days challenged her. Mainly because when you get onto the plateau, you can't go anywhere but via a red, and to be fair, it was hard for her. And loads of others who were falling over like ninepins; or walking down there instead. After that one, easy.

We went first week of March, much of the snow was man made (and excellent), so virtually no off-piste, not that I go there!

Nice village, but a proper village, not a banging apre scene. Finally, you buy Italy and get Gemany/Austria. Not a pizza to be had pisteside. No, really.

CG
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Thanks, that seems to validate my feelings about Ortisei. I think we can hook into the larger Dolomite system more easily from San Cristina or Selva.
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Selva is definitely the best located (and priciest) of the Val Gardena villages (I say villages, the valley is almost one long resort from Ortisei to Plan de Gralba now). A lot of the hotels/apartments are a long walk from the lifts though.

There is a lack of blues immediately accessible from the village of Selva. Apart from the nursery slopes, it's all steep reds into the village. You have to head up to Plan de Gralba to find the blues.

Ortisei is a pretty village and has direct access via gondola lift to the easy terrain on Alpe di Siusi (Seiseralm) plateau, but its distance from the main circuit will likely be frustrating for those looking for a challenge, though the runs off Seceda back to Ortisei & down to Sta Cristina are really nice.

http://www.seiseralm-seilbahn.com/ita/anlagen.htm

It's going to be hard to find a place that caters perfectly for all the different needs of your group. I'll keep thinking...
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Thank you Luigi, my brother and I are OK with reds back into town. I think with Ortisei the problem is a lack of challenges for my brother (he was one of those guys who skiied on 215s in the 1980s...).

I'm thinking that if we are near one of the bus stops, it doesn't really matter if we are in Sta. Cristina or Selva, no? As for our wives, if we have a car they can drive a few kms to the XC area if need be. Harder to schlep 4 people with alpine gear in a car.

(alternatively, thinking outside the box, are there any other stations we should consider? I had thought San Cassiano or Corvara might also work for our crew.
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OK, yes, if you're willing to use the skibus and the girls have the car, that would work.

Not sure about the XC areas in Val Gardena as I've never done it. I reckon the Vallunga ones would be very dependent on natural snow which hasn't been very plentiful in recent years. I believe there is a small area on Monte Pana above Sta Cristina which is probably more snow reliable.

Corvara/Colfosco would be good base for your group as there is an extensive area of blues nearby and it has direct access to the Sella Ronda and over to the challenges of Arabba. Not sure about XC here though.

San Cassiano is one step removed from the main circuit, but I believe there's a lot of XC at Armentarola close by.

Are you driving from Paris via Mont Blanc or via Innsbruck??
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What about Arabba? As long as you don't need nightclubs.

Right on the Sella both directions. Loads of cruisy blues and easy access to the Marmolada where you may need your big girl pants.

It was my preferred base staying in the Hotel Malita http://www.hotelmalita.it/en/
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Though I haven't skied in the Dolomites I have visited a lot in the summer. This summer we spent a few days in Wolkenstein. I really liked the town but from our hotel it was at least a 20 minute trek to the nearest ski lift (though I suspect there would be many more busses during the winter than the summer), which sort of puts me off. From what I could see of the skiing it all looked nice gentle cruising. I think it would suit your family well.
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TQA wrote:
What about Arabba? As long as you don't need nightclubs.

Right on the Sella both directions. Loads of cruisy blues and easy access to the Marmolada where you may need your big girl pants.

It was my preferred base staying in the Hotel Malita http://www.hotelmalita.it/en/


There's very little blue terrain accessible from Arabba without traversing steeper reds first, perhaps just the 2 runs off the midpoint of the gondola going towards Passo Padon, but yes it is a great base for accessing some of the best challenging terrain around the Sella Ronda.

I can't think of any XC in Arabba either.
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johnE wrote:
Though I haven't skied in the Dolomites I have visited a lot in the summer. This summer we spent a few days in Wolkenstein. I really liked the town but from our hotel it was at least a 20 minute trek to the nearest ski lift (though I suspect there would be many more busses during the winter than the summer), which sort of puts me off. From what I could see of the skiing it all looked nice gentle cruising. I think it would suit your family well.


Other than the nursery slopes, it's all steep reds into the village at Selva (Wolkenstein). I know, I took some second-weekers there once. We had to get them up to Plan de Gralba & Sella Pass to find stuff they could do.
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luigi wrote:


Other than the nursery slopes, it's all steep reds into the village at Selva (Wolkenstein). I know, I took some second-weekers there once. We had to get them up to Plan de Gralba & Sella Pass to find stuff they could do.


Looking at the map, that doesn't necessarily seem like a drawback. I can see dropping kids at ski school in the Larciunei area for the morning and skiing the reds above that (Dantercepies etc), then maybe after lunch skiing with them at Passo Selva? Is that too ambitious? (My son can handle reds; my daughter can go down them so long as I'm next to her)

One reason I'm leaning toward Selva if we can find the right accommodations is what looks like a lot of variety. Gonna be a pricey trip so I'm obsessing a bit about accommodating everyone, even my fussy brother...

Thanks again @luigi for your knowledge. Any other astuces would be appreciated...hope to reciprocate some day on Saisies/PDS/Serre Che (the stations I know best)...
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Also to add that we would probably fly into Milan or Innsbruck (If Milan is significantly cheaper, which I'm sure it will be, we'll fly there then rent a car). Drive from Paris would be a two-day affair.
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@Pasigal, The nursery slopes in Selva village are mainly used for total beginners/one week skiers, more advanced ones use the Plan de Gralba area.

Have you downloaded the 3D piste map? - covers the whole Sella Ronda ; a fantastic resource

https://www.valgardena.it/en/ski-snowboard/slopes-lifts/interactive-ski-maps/
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I have stayed in Selva and Corvara, and for options on all your needs I would recommend Corvara being the better base for to head out. Just my opinion, and people on here may have different, but it would be ideal for the wives as they have all the blues they want, Selva is a bit limited. Off piste is an option as you are on the Sella Ronda. XC is also set up between Corvara and Colfosco, but I haven't been on this yet..
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Thanks, good to know about that area. I did see the map but haven't downloaded it...

Hard to tell how gentle a blue in Italy is b/c as you know in France they divide easy slopes into green/blue. I imagine that Italian blues run the table from "you'll be doing some poling" to "this is rather fun, hey?"?

Well, I think we're committed to Val Gardena for the XC possibilities. (60km or so up and down valley) I didn't see enough to satisfy my wife in Alta Badia so probably best to just let that lay...given that, is there anything that tips the scales in favor or against Selva vs. Santa Cristina?
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Simon94 wrote:
I have stayed in Selva and Corvara, and for options on all your needs I would recommend Corvara being the better base for to head out. Just my opinion, and people on here may have different, but it would be ideal for the wives as they have all the blues they want, Selva is a bit limited. Off piste is an option as you are on the Sella Ronda. XC is also set up between Corvara and Colfosco, but I haven't been on this yet..


I will take a closer look at the XC possibililites in Corvara...
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Another vote for Corvara, the Alta Badia runs has lots of easy blues and the best restaurants.

If you choose to stay in Selva, the Hotel Flora is a comfortable three star opposite the skibus stop with parking and is pretty much ski in.
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Selva is the best bet in my opinion (although can't comment on the XC aspect). The lifts up from Ortesei to Sedeca feel vintage in a bad way

You can always down-ride the bubbles if you don't fancy the red home runs - although they're nothing too scary
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Pasigal wrote:
is there anything that tips the scales in favor or against Selva vs. Santa Cristina?


I think it's going to be dictated by the logistics of getting the different members of your group where they want to be each morning.

If getting to a ski school meeting place comes into it, you want to be as accessible to that as possible. I believe the 3 options are, but please do check with the individual ski schools:

1.Selva village nursery slopes for beginners

2.Plan de Gralba for intermediates

3.Monte Pana for Sta Cristina Ski School

Once you've decided that, then find somewhere that allows you to get there, either walking, by skibus or car, bearing in mind that the wives who want XC will need to get where they want to go. Bear in mind that the skibus service up to Plan de Gralba isn't continuous.

If the kids have ski school at Plan de Gralba, the hotels there would be ideal, but I believe they don't come cheap. Snow is generally better up here than in the village.

So the next consideration would be price, away from the lifts and bus stops in Sta Cristina is going to be the cheapest. Right by the lifts in Selva or Plan de Gralba is going to be higher price, you pay for convenience, but if you can drive up to Plan de Gralba each morning, that would be a good option too.

You will be able to go off and explore other terrain wherever the kids do the ski school and same again in the afternoon, so Sta Cristina or Selva would serve for this, though some of the longer excursions...Sella Ronda, Marmolada, Hidden Valley are going to be too far if you need to get back in 2/3hrs to pick the kids up again.

So it's all down to convenience & price really.
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red 27 wrote:
Selva is the best bet in my opinion (although can't comment on the XC aspect). The lifts up from Ortesei to Sedeca feel vintage in a bad way

You can always down-ride the bubbles if you don't fancy the red home runs - although they're nothing too scary


I think red 27 has forgotten how scary a red a closing time can be when you are a post beginner/timid intermediate. And, more to the point when you get to the top of Ciampinoi in the morning you are faced with returning to village (not the point), the red to S. Cristina (not that easy) or the horrible red that goes the other way which is usually mogulling up and covered in beginners lying on their sides. (It's not horrible to anyone with some confidence but I can remember my wife when she was coping with the average red having a "moment" on that slope.

Not so bad going up Dantercepies I suppose.
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Pasigal wrote:


Well, I think we're committed to Val Gardena for the XC possibilities. (60km or so up and down valley)


I would think that most of the reliable XC terrain will be at altitude on Alpe di Siusi. The Vallunga area near Selva is fairly low and I doubt it has snowmaking. I'm not sure as I've never indulged, but it's something you need to weigh when choosing where to base yourselves as your group has very different needs.
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Ghost Dog wrote:
red 27 wrote:
Selva is the best bet in my opinion (although can't comment on the XC aspect). The lifts up from Ortesei to Sedeca feel vintage in a bad way

You can always down-ride the bubbles if you don't fancy the red home runs - although they're nothing too scary


I think red 27 has forgotten how scary a red a closing time can be when you are a post beginner/timid intermediate. And, more to the point when you get to the top of Ciampinoi in the morning you are faced with returning to village (not the point), the red to S. Cristina (not that easy) or the horrible red that goes the other way which is usually mogulling up and covered in beginners lying on their sides. (It's not horrible to anyone with some confidence but I can remember my wife when she was coping with the average red having a "moment" on that slope.

Not so bad going up Dantercepies I suppose.


Yes, all the options off Ciampinoi would be very daunting for timid skiers. Dantercepies reds are slightly easier but they get very chopped up by midday from the Sella Ronda traffic. You really need to get inexperienced or timid blue-run skiers up to Plan de Gralba by road.
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@Pasigal, I stayed in Selva 2 years ago, beautiful place and thoroughly recommend. The Oswald is a fantastic hotel if you afford it.

As for the skiing, there are tons of nursery slopes at the bottom of the Dantercepies lift, and likewise the cruise down in to Corvava is not bad, dare I say it I would not class this as red.

On the other side of the hill, the top of the Piz Sella Cable Car is a nice wide open area. The runs can get a little cut up late afternoon, but whilst we were there they used to piste bash half of it in the afternoon to avoid all the beginners getting to nervous.

Coming down, is not that bad if you are fairly comfortable with reds, and if im being honest I wouldn't worry to much about them as they are not ridiculous steep.

Ski instruction is good, and I also believe there is a XC run near Plan de Gralba
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luigi wrote:


If getting to a ski school meeting place comes into it, you want to be as accessible to that as possible. I believe the 3 options are, but please do check with the individual ski schools:

1.Selva village nursery slopes for beginners

2.Plan de Gralba for intermediates

3.Monte Pana for Sta Cristina Ski School


The Selva ski school seems to show that the Plan de Gralba area is something of an annex, with all levels accommodated at the main meeting point in Selva, but I'll definitely have to give them a call...
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Pasigal wrote:


The Selva ski school seems to show that the Plan de Gralba area is something of an annex, with all levels accommodated at the main meeting point in Selva, but I'll definitely have to give them a call...


Yes, a call or email and they'll tell you where the meeting point is for your kids levels. It was albob that suggested it could be Plan de Gralba, maybe they just take advanced students up that way sometimes. But the meeting place could well be on the village nursery slopes, there are some steeper runs just above the beginners area where they take those that can cope, then there's the reds down from Dantercepies for more challenge.

Bear in mind that it's quite a steep climb up Strada Dantercepies to the nursery slopes from the main street where the main skibus goes. You can use the Costabella chairlift to get above there, but it's a steep pitch off the top for timid ones. I believe there is another smaller bus that runs around Larciunei and serves the nursery slopes in the morning.

My first week on snow in 1999, I learned on the nursery slopes in Selva, but on the last day they took us beginners by bus up to Passo Sella to ski the blues from there down to Piz Seteur, around Piz Sella, etc. Some of the class went back to Selva on the bus from Plan de Gralba, but those of us who had progressed more followed the instructor down the narrow blue back to the village.
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Pasigal wrote:
luigi wrote:


If getting to a ski school meeting place comes into it, you want to be as accessible to that as possible. I believe the 3 options are, but please do check with the individual ski schools:

1.Selva village nursery slopes for beginners

2.Plan de Gralba for intermediates

3.Monte Pana for Sta Cristina Ski School


The Selva ski school seems to show that the Plan de Gralba area is something of an annex, with all levels accommodated at the main meeting point in Selva, but I'll definitely have to give them a call...



Just to clarify -- When I went to Selva with a mixed group, everybody in lessons started on the nursery slopes in Selva village ; after a couple of days there, the more advanced one were asked to meet their instuructors at Plan

==========

Ghost Dog wrote "..or the horrible red that goes the other way which is usually mogulling up and covered in beginners lying on their sides...."

There is an 'alternative' to that - turn right out of the lift station, then ski around the back of the lift/restaurant station (under the Ciampinoi gondola) on to a piste (Ciampinoi 4) - this takes you to the top of the Ciampinoi double chair, turn right here and you can ski down to Plan de Gralba :: Having said that, it is narrowish and can get 'scraped', but is less 'bad' than the other piste (Ciampinoi 5)

But, yes, coming off the top of Ciampinoi can be intimidating...... !
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Quote:
There is an 'alternative' to that - turn right out of the lift station, then ski around the back of the lift/restaurant station (under the Ciampinoi gondola) on to a piste (Ciampinoi 4) - this takes you to the of the Ciampinoi double chair, turn right here and you can ski down to Plan de Gralba :: Having said that, it is narrowish and can get 'scraped', but is less 'bad' than the other piste (Ciampinoi 5)


Both those runs are fine in the morning. The red is nice and wide and the blue is a road. They just get a bit too much sun and so can cut up a bit after luncheon.
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red 27 wrote:
Quote:
There is an 'alternative' to that - turn right out of the lift station, then ski around the back of the lift/restaurant station (under the Ciampinoi gondola) on to a piste (Ciampinoi 4) - this takes you to the of the Ciampinoi double chair, turn right here and you can ski down to Plan de Gralba :: Having said that, it is narrowish and can get 'scraped', but is less 'bad' than the other piste (Ciampinoi 5)


Both those runs are fine in the morning. The red is nice and wide and the blue is a road. They just get a bit too much sun and so can cut up a bit after luncheon.


The bodies strewn across the red every time you ride the adjacent chairlift tell a different story...the lumps and the traffic are fine for experienced skiers, but a bit of a nightmare for newbies. A couple of nervous second-weekers took almost an hour to get down there with assistance. Next day we took them by car up to Plan de Gralba.
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I always thought that if you just changed the color from red to blue there wouldn't be a problem. "Sure, you can do this. It's just a blue run!"
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@luigi, My (ex)-Girlfriend (3 week skier) stood at the top of that run, and described it as a "Wall" - skied it tho'...
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@Pasigal, agreed. Far more physiological than people think.
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Thanks for great tips. I booked a stay in Selva for Feb. 17-24, just out of town toward the Plan de Gralba area. It's in front of a skibus stop, and looking carefully at the terrain maps and ski school, I think that's probably actually a better location than right in the center. We'll have a car, too, so our wives can go up and down the valley for the XC trails (snow gods willing of course).

As for finding a semi-affordable self-catered apartment for 6 ... let's just say it took a LOT of back and forth in my fractured Italian.

I think we'll fly from Paris to Milan then rent a car. Looking at Easyjet we should be able to drive to Val Gardena in +/- 4 hours, arriving around 1700h. Innsbruck would be much shorter but X times more expensive. Plus who doesn't love driving in Italy?

I'll hopefully be back with a trip report in March!
Sad
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Innsbruck is also prone to fog. snowHead
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Pasigal wrote:
Thanks for great tips. I booked a stay in Selva for Feb. 17-24, just out of town toward the Plan de Gralba area. It's in front of a skibus stop, and looking carefully at the terrain maps and ski school, I think that's probably actually a better location than right in the center. We'll have a car, too, so our wives can go up and down the valley for the XC trails (snow gods willing of course).

As for finding a semi-affordable self-catered apartment for 6 ... let's just say it took a LOT of back and forth in my fractured Italian.

I think we'll fly from Paris to Milan then rent a car. Looking at Easyjet we should be able to drive to Val Gardena in +/- 4 hours, arriving around 1700h. Innsbruck would be much shorter but X times more expensive. Plus who doesn't love driving in Italy?

I'll hopefully be back with a trip report in March!
Sad


You better book those flights quick before they go up! Milan Linate is closer than Malpensa. I flew there last year when I visited Val di Fassa, it did take longer than we hoped as it was raining heavily and it turned to snow at 900m in Val di Fassa.

If you're staying beyond Selva up toward Plan, I think you can get across the river near the Fungeia chair and ski down the blue to the village, then cross the road to the Costabella chair, the short red drops you onto the Dantercepies lift and the nursery slopes under the bridge.
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Thanks, good to know about the flights. Will get right on it...
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Quick update on flights, just to add to general knowledge base: I booked tickets for 4 people on EJ from Paris to Milan Feb. 17-25 (going to spend the night in Milan to avoid doing return in one day from Selva), for total of 320 euros, including 3 checked bags. Without the bags it was 200 even. That's a good deal. Might splurge for a bigger rental car now!

(Lyin'air was 30 euros from Beauvais to Milan but Beauvais is 90 minutes from our home; plus...I don't have a good feeling about the future of Ryanair)
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Pasigal wrote:
Quick update on flights, just to add to general knowledge base: I booked tickets for 4 people on EJ from Paris to Milan Feb. 17-25 (going to spend the night in Milan to avoid doing return in one day from Selva), for total of 320 euros, including 3 checked bags. Without the bags it was 200 even. That's a good deal. Might splurge for a bigger rental car now!

(Lyin'air was 30 euros from Beauvais to Milan but Beauvais is 90 minutes from our home; plus...I don't have a good feeling about the future of Ryanair)


Sounds like you got a good deal there! I'm paying similar for London to Venice in Feb. Just check out the baggage charges and the new crazy rules about paying extra to sit together on Ruinair and you'll be glad you've chosen Sleazy.

Last year at Milan Linate we had an Intermediate SUV booked with Dollar/Alamo. Needless to say they had run out, so we ended up with a 9-seater Ford Transit...at least there was plenty of room for the 4 of us!!

Good plan giving yourselves an extra day to get back to Milan, maybe you could take a diversion via Lake Garda. We did this last year, didn't add much to the journey time, cutting the corner down the western side of the Lake, looked spectacular in the February sunshine, rejoined the Autostrada near Brescia. Another option may be Bergamo Old City, supposed to be beautiful and right next to the A4 back to Milan.

This winter we're doing a day in Venice before catching the evening flight back to London.
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Was going to add my thoughts to all this, but looks like you are all sorted, which is great.
I worked in Selva last winter and am going back again this year. The ski area is awesome and I'm sure you are going to love it. As a few others have mentioned the Dantercepies area and down towards Colfosco and Corvara is probably your best bet for the first day or so. But if you are staying up toward the Plan di Gralba area, or with the bus stop outside the hotel (Alpino Plan?) you can get there easily, and that's a nice, kind area too, with some good fun stuff for the kids.
Enjoy!
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