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Places which have plenty to do for a non-skiing girlfriend :)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
OK... since Zermatt will definitely do for my GF, plus there is that super scenic trip to the very top, which slopes do you think I could manage?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
peter_h wrote:
Telegraph is the new Daily Mail, apparently, so no need to be ashamed Smile Smile


Oh god, now I really am ashamed!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
OK; Zermatt has this lot

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peter_h,

Sorry - I can't be specific as I was last there about 10 years ago (with a group, including the struggling skier). I do remember, however, that my friend enjoyed the higher, wide runs below Klein Matterhorn (in lessons) and was able to ski back to the town from there without any problems.

I'm sure others will be more familiar with the place and will be along to comment soon.

You will both love Zermatt. It is absolutely stunning! Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yes; this one is really nice and it looks like it probably is one of the above runs


http://youtube.com/v/GQ-ZI4_MrzE

The shorter blue I mentioned earlier seems wider.

So there is a choice Smile

Amazing how much time one can spend researching this... people need to make better videos so you can read the names of the places Smile

The transfers are mostly ~ 4 hours. However that is no worse than getting to Wengen/Grindelwald which was similar. And a direct bus should be shorter
https://www.mountainexposure.com/about-zermatt/getting-to-zermatt/
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https://www.globalmousetravels.com/flaine-france-a-guide-what-to-do-eat-and-stay/

Only just over the hour from Geneva Very Happy

Earlier in the thread I spoke of Zermatt, it is a stunning high mountain town and the bias to your non skier is very clear in its attractions. I'd be a little nervous now in matching it to your clearer perspective in needs for skiing though. it's possibly not the pistes themselves but access to them judged against your desire for such ease in reaching them promptly, also returning to at least spend proportion of afternoon together. One description of Zermatt ski area is "vast " an asset if you want it but possibly a compromise too far at your stated skill level.

I've organised for many levels of skiing and interest within groups and the two I'd definitely have confidence in sending people to would be Flaine and Cervinia, certainly if they were to not find themselves out of their depth skiing wise.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@peter_h, Been to Zermatt a couple of times. The upside is obviously the scenery - the Matterhorn is stunning and gets into every photo and everyone should go there at least once. The skiing is good and fairly extensive, though a little fragmented (a certain amount of bussing between accommodation and lifts and between the different sectors may be required). The village is pleasant and car-free. The apres-ski, such as it, is somewhat low-key and restrained. The prices are expensive, so take your credit card. (https://ski-resort-stats.com/top-10-most-expensive-ski-resorts/#Europe).
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
" it's possibly not the pistes themselves but access to them judged against your desire for such ease in reaching them promptly"

The blue runs at Zermatt need 3 cables cars to reach them, but that will be the same issue for everybody, so if I am at the start of the queue at the first one, say 8am or whatever, that should work Smile

"I've organised for many levels of skiing and interest within groups and the two I'd definitely have confidence in sending people to would be Flaine and Cervinia, certainly if they were to not find themselves out of their depth skiing wise"

That sounds like a carefully worded way of saying the skiing is hard there. I've watched many videos now and there are bits there which are really narrow, but also wider bits. The narrow ones I don't enjoy especially if steep (because I have to snow plough them). However I have been to much worse places (because in the past I never looked at videos; I just looked at the piste maps) and while nothing I have seen videos of beats Madonna one cannot just keep going to the same place Smile Also Madonna was really hard work for my GF.
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Quote:

" it's possibly not the pistes themselves but access to them judged against your desire for such ease in reaching them promptly"

The blue runs at Zermatt need 3 cables cars to reach them, but that will be the same issue for everybody, so if I am at the start of the queue at the first one, say 8am or whatever, that should work

I think the point that was being made is that, unless you shell out megabucks for the Hotel Zermatterhof, or its like, you may well be waiting at bus stops in the morning to get to your chosen lift, and then catching more buses to get to another part of the sector. It's a great resort, but, like most non-purpose-built ski villages/towns, not as interlinked and convenient as it might be.

Cervinia has plenty of wide, easy pistes of the kind that you might be looking for, plus the chance to sample a bit of Zermatt's skiing and views of the Matterhorm from the other side; however there's not much going on for a non-skier, unless things have changed there (which I suppose they might have - it's been a while). It's essentially a place for skiers. Fond memories though of the Dragon bar.
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On a small point, do you need to carry your passport to go between Cervinia and Zermatt?

Hotel Zermatterhof is 2.6k for 1 week mid-Dec Smile But that one is not really near the lift.
The ones near the lift go from 800 quid (for self catering) to 2.5k. I paid 2.5k for Madonna in February! But everything else goes way up then. I did a Skivo chalet holiday to Courchevel Dec 2017 and it was 1k for both of us, rising to 1.7k in Feb 2018. Plus flights.
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@peter_h, I was trying to phrase In a way that wouldn't over dramatise it. Very Happy I'd be confident if accompanying someone that I could guide even very nervous skiers down most slope. Giving detached advice is a little more difficult as I'd not wish to encourage someone to enter something that they really could struggle with as it can strip any good feeling out of it really fast.

The sector that may be of most interest is via Trockener Steg lift up to the glacier. Not only is it spectacular, reaching nearly 4000mtrs, when the snow levels are good enough to cover the glacial crevasses it has piste areas so wide that you can hardly see the piste markers on the other side! It is absolutely huge up there, making you feel truly small. In addition you are up on a very gently sloping "plateu " of the glacier, making it very easy skiing.

The return though Is a very long way on the type of terrain you wish to avoid at many points, lift from mid station avoids this though.

It's a place which I don't think anyone would regret going to, it's truly very high mountain feel is so absorbing. It's if it can be conveyed accurately to you to form your own opinion I'd say.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
What would be the place nearest to Cervinia (e.g. via a short bus ride) where there is stuff to do?

It lies at the end of a canyon, and one would need to travel to the south. The first place I see is Chatillon.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Probably Aosta, 1hr and about 50kms from there.

Appears to be most interesting, and possibly connected by bus.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

On one forum, someone reported this about Saalbach

https://www.euroga.org/forums/trips-airports/3411-skiing-in-austria-merged-threads/post/55135#55135

I am not sure how much weight to attach to that... but I know the guy personally.


It is how I would describe too. A fair reflection of what we experienced, lots of skiers and boarders trying to remember where their accommodation is, late at night in full skiing attire and ski's over the shoulder staggering around the resort.

I disagree strongly - and I spend months there, not just a weekend. The village centre is pretty and usually draws complimentary or even glowing remarks from first-time visitors. If you want them, there are a fair few expensive shops selling designer gear up and down the main village street - but who in their right mind moans about the fact that there aren't enough of them in a ski village?

Yes, there will be a few people who party hard and don't go back to their accommodation to dump their gear first. Sometimes you will see them late at night, and occasionally some poor, inebriated soul may ask for directions to their hotel; other times you will see none of them - we have often made our way back through the village late at night and the streets have been more or less deserted. Much depends on the time of the season and the day of the week. It's a similar situation in any ski resort with an apres-ski scene. Unpleasantness is a rarity - invariably people are good-humoured when they emerge from apres-ski parties or late night bars.
IMHO the above-linked review is a gross distortion - this Telegraph article is more accurate:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/articles/Best-Austrian-ski-resorts/
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Sure; what matters is whether there is a lot of noise outside the hotel at midnight onwards.

I've got this winter's plan down to Zermatt, Cervinia and Saalbach/Hinterglemm. Cervinia has the least for my GF to do but it would be OK in a nice hotel with facilities.

Any guesses on when Zermatt is going to get snow? Smile Dec 2015 was a disaster for the Alps, Dec 2017 was amazing.

Might start soon https://www.j2ski.com/snow_forecast/Switzerland/Zermatt_snow.html


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Tue 6-11-18 20:47; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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tatmanstours wrote:

I disagree strongly - and I spend months there, not just a weekend. The village centre is pretty and usually draws complimentary or even glowing remarks from first-time visitors. If you want them, there are a fair few expensive shops selling designer gear up and down the main village street - but who in their right mind moans about the fact that there aren't enough of them in a ski village?


It's fine and all that but the only real "feature" is the square by the town hall. You'd be hard pushed to claim it as interesting as Kitzbuhel or many Italian villages and being small it doesn't really offer that much for the pedestrian in the way of wandering around activities. It's no different from most Austrian villages and considerably better than e.g. the hideous Zuers for which people pay top Euro for some unfathomable reason (well I know it's snobbery but hey ho). But it's a ski/biking/hiking resort so it is entirely fit for purpose.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
peter_h,

Someone above mentioned that you can see the Matterhorn from Cervinia Of course you can. But don't expect it to look like the classic view from Switzerland (ie prepare to be disappointed). Sad
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That's OK. We will go to Zermatt first Smile
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peter_h wrote:
...

Any guesses on when Zermatt is going to get snow? Smile Dec 2015 was a disaster for the Alps, Dec 2017 was amazing.


Zermatt was pretty much at the epicentre of the recent storms and at one time was forecasted to receive almost 5.0m snow - but no idea how much it did get in the end.

https://www.zermatt.ch/en/Webcams
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@peter_h
Quote:

On a small point, do you need to carry your passport to go between Cervinia and Zermatt?


Yes you need to take your passport with you when you go from Zermatt <-> Cervinia

You probably won't need it but they do advise it
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@peter_h, there is an airport not far from Zermatt at Sion.
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Yes, it is well known. I landed there in 2004. Absolutely stunning scenery around there. There are, as often, unfortunate issues around parking arrangements and costs, rising into 4 figures if you stayed for say 1 week.

One airline, Powderair (?), was going to fly Gatwick-Sion, but their website said they are not selling tickets, and a google suggests they had financial trouble. A pity since it would be brill for Zermatt, and lots of other places. I imagine most people use Zurich?

There is a number of these airports. So close to the slopes, yet so far. Interlaken is another, for Wengen/Grindelwald. Innsbruck is similar but worse, with the local aeroclub having wangled a monopoly, making parking impossible.

These canyon airports are properly accessible only if the sky is clear above, so you do the planning and then sit tight until the webcam shows a blue sky, then depart. Can be hard to book hotels then. OTOH it is the best way to go skiing: when the sky is clear Smile
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:

It's fine and all that but the only real "feature" is the square by the town hall. You'd be hard pushed to claim it as interesting as Kitzbuhel or many Italian villages and being small it doesn't really offer that much for the pedestrian in the way of wandering around activities.

@Dave of the Marmottes, Without wishing to argue the toss about matters of subjective taste, I was actually focusing on the particular comments made by the reviewer in the linked article. He said nothing about "features" or how "interesting" it was, and comparing any ski village with a town like Kitzbuehel is pointless - apples and oranges. I would readily accept that no small ski village is going to be ideal for a non-skier whose idea of a good time is to wander around shops. (Although most such villages worth their salt can offer an array of non-skiing activities, and Saalbach is no exception - see my list on P.2 of this thread.) But to say that it lacks a "scenic village centre" and has "no fashionable shops" is IMHO utter dangly bits. Perhaps he didn't have a good look round. Perhaps he’s never seen a French resort or Solden. Perhaps he was drunk (not exactly a wild surmise in view of some of his comments).
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I have just booked a self catering at Zermatt, a very short distance from the lift, and my GF will report in due course Smile

It is a bit of a risk snow-wise but I believe there is already enough snow to ski on at the actual pistes, so Dec should be ok.
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Zermatt is somewhere I rate as a good bet for early season.

Hope you have a great time.
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@peter_h, well no-one can say you haven't researched it! Hope you BOTH have a great time x
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@tatmanstours, Oh don't get me wrong I agree - Austrian ski villages are more than capable of offering an array of complementary activities and the hoteliers are usually very competent at offering the nice stuff like Wellnesses that would put most higher starred UK hotels to shame. I just don't see that Saalbach is a particular standout among its peers for prettiness, activities, culture etc and it can't be denied it has some of the things that culturally some people see as demerits like strip clubs (as do most Austrian resorts). It's main advantage is access to a huge ski area of intermediate friendly runs plus of course soem more challenging stuff for those with the appetite.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
The prices at Zermatt are eye-watering, with 3k/week hotels common, but I knew that, and we found an apartment for a very reasonable price by ski resort standards - 1k; same as what we paid for a Dec 2017 Skivo2 chalet job at Courchevel. That would have been 1.7k in Jan/Feb 2018, which shows how much cheaper Dec can be.

Thank you again for all the tips Smile
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You know it makes sense.
@peter_h, 3k per week? That's virtually my whole budget for the 4 trips I did last season! Although probably only one of them would be the type of trip to take a non-skiing girlfriend on, the others definitely sided more on skiing than comfort.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Yes; loads of 3k/week hotels. OTOH I saw some £600/week self-cat apartments (gone from booking.com as of today). Airb&b has more stuff which is cheaper but there is a risk because some airb&b hosts will kick you off if a longer booking appears (I would imagine it is better in Switzerland). There are loads of websites carrying apartments and the regulars will know more... for example in France there are a couple of sites which charge a lot less commission than say booking.com but are designed for French only and to keep foreigners out Smile
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I am not sure if this is a suitable thread for this but are there some smart ways to find airport-resort buses? I was surprised to find nothing Geneva-Zermatt. Only trains. The apartment owner said "only trains". This is fairly unusual, even if the ski shuttle buses tend to run weekends only. The Dolomites (Corvara and Madonna) are served directly from Verona airport for £36/person each way.
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@peter_h, Zermatt only allows electric vehicles (with the exception of certain vehicles like rubbish trucks), so even when we went with Crystal it was transfer coach from airport to a train station, onto train, then we had to take turns to use these little electric taxis to transfer from train station to the accommodation.

There are also quite a number of horse drawn carts in use as well Happy
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Wengen is also car-free, but Inghams offer[ed] a bus transfer, presumably to the edge of the town only, if you booked a package which was a charter flight (weird). The alternative was 3 or 4 trains, which is what we did.

BTW Wengen was very nice for my GF.
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We arrived Tasch by car, parked and got the tram into Zermatt.

Speaking to one of the railway station controllers he was mystified why anyone would travel in any other way but by train in Switzerland. He wasn't joking at all.

Then one of our party put their lift ticket into the tram station entry gate, and jammed it (you bought both from Tasch kiosk prior to departure). But even as we we're leaving on the tram a maintenance engineer arrived to fix it! It's not like British rail Very Happy
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I think there reason there are not so many bus transfers is that Switzerland has such a great and well integrated train network. From Geneva airport it is a single train to the bottom of the Zermatt valley then the mountain train to the resort. Even if you took a bus you would have to change to the train at Tasch. For Wengen this can be done with 2 changes but again the last train takes you up to Wengen from Lauterbrunnen, you would also have to take this train if you had a bus transfer.
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@Dave of the Marmottes,
Quote:

a particular standout among its peers for prettiness, activities, culture etc

Never claimed by me - no doubt nicer/better than some, but probably fits somewhere between Alpbach and Solden (as most Austrian ski villages do). As for culture, I'll have you know that we had an opera singer serenading the merry throng in the Hinterhag Alm last March - beat that Mooserwirt!
Quote:

can't be denied it has some of the things that culturally some people see as demerits like strip clubs (as do most Austrian resorts)

Such people mystify me. Having said that I'm always bemused by the typical Brit attitude to nakedness - as you know, every Austrian hotel sauna is a challenge to British inhibitions. No one else in Europe seems to bat an eyelid. The nefarious establishments to which you refer are reasonably discreet, hidden away from public view down in hotel basements. Having said that they can be fun, in an eye-opening sort of way - Mrs TT has dragged me into a couple, and I'm glad to say that her presence at my side helped to deter any assaults upon my virtue or my wallet. Those (one-off I hasten to add) visits gave rise to a few amusing anecdotes, which I usually reserve for chair lifts, rather than discussions on this eminently respectable forum.

@peter_h,
Quote:

ski shuttle buses tend to run weekends only

I only mention this for future reference, and also because you said in another comment a page or two back that shuttle buses tend to operate only at weekends. In our neck of the woods (and this applies to a few resorts hereabouts), there is an eight times a day, door to door shuttle service (the "Holiday Shuttle") running between the resorts and Salzburg and Munich airports, and this is advertised as running every single day of the year. In my experience most non-package tour visitors use it in preference to trains and buses, especially from Salzburg, since it's not exorbitant and it's quick, easy, reliable and convenient. On a week day out of the main season, you may often be the only person being transported.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

are designed for French only and to keep foreigners out

Puzzled how d'you make that out?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@peter_h, the transfer by train is actually a nice part of the trip. For years the way to do it has been to buy a Swiss Transfer Ticket which are sold by the Switzerland Travel Centre in London - a ticket valid for a month from any point of entry to your destination and return. Had to be purchased before you arrived in Switzerland. HOWEVER these are being stopped from the end of this year and the STC told me they are running down their stock so when they’re gone, they’re gone. I suggest getting on to them and seeing if they have any left. If not, then you’ll have to go online to the SBB site and look at either a super saver ticket (which ties you to a specific train, possibly risky if your flight is delayed?) or a Saver Day Pass for each day of travel. On sale 60 days out, price increases the closer you get to travel.
No catering on the train from Geneva, but a supermarket in the railway station. Don’t overlook Basel if you have the option of flights there. For our family of five it is about 1/6 (I kid you not) of flights to Geneva at New Year.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Zurich is also an other possible option. Both Basel and Zurich are infinitely nicer airports than Geneva.
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Geneva is a cattle market at xmas Smile but we are doing it because there are many more flights (at a civilised time, not getting up 3am) than Zurich. OTOH Gatwick is a cattle market too for the early morning flights, which is how most people go, especially with some package holiday firms. But Geneva is the worst I have ever seen.

Pam - the two sites I had in mind were Cybevasion and Abritel. I once stayed at a "hut" near Grand Bornand and the owner (who lived in the basement) explained to me how much cheaper these are, in commission terms, than e.g. booking.com. This was 3 years ago and they were French only then.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Fri 9-11-18 11:08; edited 1 time in total
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