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 Poster: A snowHead
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Planning a ski holiday next year for the following party:
Couple 1 - intermediate skiers - comfortable on red runs, preference for wide runs
Couple 2 - one intermediate as above, one very nervous 'beginner' (has had 3 attempts at a skiing holiday, made it down a green in Les Gets this year, keen to try again)
Couple 3 - intermediate as couple 1 (but she is lacking in confidence somewhat)
Couple 3 have twins, who will be 6 when we go, and who have done one week of private lessons (aged 4)

We are going in half term, and between us have the following stipulations:
Not a massively long transfer (travel sickness!)
Ski school (for twins and 1 adult) needs to be near main ski area
Plenty of KM of piste - ideally mainly blue/red, ideally wide and tree lined
Good for beginners
Other activities (walking is fine) for couple 3
Not one of the massive French resorts (lift queues will be just too horrendous) - would prefer not France
And we're trying to do it on a budget - feels like the IMPOSSIBLE ski holiday!!

Resorts we have (between us) visited - to give more indication of what we've liked:
Sauze d'Oulx - between us have visited 6 times, and LOVE it, but it's NOT good for beginners, so it's out (shame, as it meets all other criteria)
les Gets/Morzine - probably ticks most boxes apart from the French one...
Maria Alm - ticks many boxes apart from the main ski area being a bus ride away from the ski school area
Zell am Zee - not enough KM of piste
Murren - ££££££££!!!!
Alpe d'Huez - nothing for non-skiers (there's a limit to how much swimming you can do!) and too big/busy

Can anyone suggest any resorts that could possibly meet our criteria? Serre Chevalier is one that's been suggested (but not sure how much there is for non-skiers, and of course it's French!) Personally I have a soft spot for Austria and Italy.

Any and all suggestions/recommendations would be welcome!
Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@WoottonBecs, Welcome. You're looking for Saalbach or Hinterglemm. Like Zell am See, but much bigger (270km). Ski schools all meet in the village centre and speak English. Snowacademy and Furstauer in Saalbach and Snow & Fun in Hinterglemm all have private ski areas for the kids, although they'll probably be off and away after day one. Lots to do for non-skiers, and easy for them to get up the mountain (special cheap tickets) so you can meet up for lunch. Only 90 minute transfer along flat valley roads, so no sickening hairpins - 8 of you can book a private transfer from Salzburg for reasonable money if DIY, otherwise speak to the Tour Operators.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Madonna de Campiglio?
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Saalbach was also the first to spring to my mind.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Why is Sauze not good for beginners ?
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Saalbach is a good option but how about the Aosta Valley in Italy. Champoluc is good
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Saalbach.
Dolomites if you can get Innsbruck flights (90 minutes)
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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!
Grandvalira in Andorra would suit on most counts, although it's typically a long transfer (albeit straightforward and not particularly curvy). That said, if you can find flights to La Seu d'Urgell (marketed as Andorra) then you're on the doorstep.
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Have to say, while I've never been, everything in your post and from what I've heard of it points towards Saalbach (or Hinterglemm), with the caveat that I'm unsure on how possible it is on a budget (others will know). Appears I'm not alone to feel that way judging from responses so far Very Happy

I'm sure Richard will be along soon with his local advice, he's the expert on all things Saalbach.
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If you're prepared to overlook the French issue, Saint Gervais covers your needs I think
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Thanks for the replies so far - will take a look at these ideas.
I went to Sauze as a total novice and there is only one blue in the resort. If you're in ski school (which we were) the instructors have to take you on reds by about day 3, and then spend a whole lesson getting down the run. Which is ok... but then there's not much scope to enjoy nice easy slopes when you're not with an instructor.
As a resort, once you can ski a bit, it's great - I love it. Have been 3 times, and would go again in a flash. But I know it (and my beginner friend) well enough to know that there just aren't the nice easy slopes to build your confidence like there are in Les Gets (for example).
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Another for Saint Gervais, its got 445Km but not the crowds of the mega resorts.
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SkiWelt (Ellmau, Westendorf, Soll, Scheffau etc). Cheap flights to Munich then less than 2 hour transfer.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@WoottonBecs, most difficult is 'doing it on a budget' at half term, when big components of a snowsports trip can cost double compared with off peak.
Do you have a rough idea of budget for the trip?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We don't have a budget set - we know it will be more than most other weeks, and are basically looking to book soon so that we can plan/save for 9 months. By 'doing on a budget' I mean more along the lines of 'we need to keep it sensible/reasonable' rather than 'we're looking for the cheapest option possible'.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The Rohrmoos part of Schladming.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Some good suggestions from others already.
Possibly Cervinia, via Turin airport, would tick most of your boxes?
St Gervais is a good call for a large French area that meets most of your needs but avoids the worst of the half term crowds. Also has some more reasonably priced accommodation, compared to the mega resorts.

Which dates are your half term week? Can make a significant difference to crowds, given how mainland European holidays are staggered between early Feb and early March.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
One consideration might be European holiday dates.
If your half term is 10/2-17/2, it is Fasching week so might be busier than normal in Austria and the Dolomites. In France only Zone A is off, so it may be a good year to go to France?

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2966764
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I would say Montgenevre fits your brief perfectly.

Linked to Claviere and the rest of the Milkyway (for those wanting to do lots of miles).

Lots of wide and gentle reds and blues, and it's possible for beginners to do top to bottom on greens (I think), so gives beginners a real experience of travelling around the mountain (rather than being stuck on a beginner run at the bottom of a resort).

Ski school (excellent A-Peak) at the base of the resort, opposite the main drag.

Transfer from Turin just over an hour.

Other activities. Snow shoeing. Ice Skating. New spa just out of town.

Great little resort, French, but a traditional town rather than purpose built, and never really that busy.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Good point about dates - we're going 17/2 for a week.
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@WoottonBecs, Saalbach ticks all those boxes, easy to nip over to Zell as well. Personally would swerve Morzine/Les Gets, unless you're a fan of slow lifts to short runs.
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That's interesting about Montgenevre. I have been there (on a day trip from Sauze), and get the sense that visitors (certainly those on packages) are being encouraged to take a day trip there, meaning it buses in a lot of additional people. It was certainly very busy when we went (2nd week in Jan, so low season), but the snow was poor elsewhere in the Milky Way last year so it was something of a destination. I thought the thing that really let it down was the lack of dining options on the slopes - there was only one restaurant on the mountain, and it was heaving and 10Euros for a Croque Monsieur! I know there are lots of options on the main road at the bottom of the resort though (which may work out better anyway if we're meeting up after ski school).

I had wondered about it as an option though - might add it back to the list...
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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!
WoottonBecs wrote:
Good point about dates - we're going 17/2 for a week.


That is lucky - most of UK have half term the week before. You do want to be looking at getting flights ASAP even so.

We found Italy to be significantly cheaper than France on the slopes for food.

I second Cervinia suggestion above (though haven't been to some of the other suggestions)
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+ 1 for Madonna di Campiglio. It fits all your skiing criteria and jumped into to my mind as I read your list. But sadly not the transfer..how serious is the travel sickness issue? If it could be gotten around, then you should consider this resort seriously. Flattering blues, some wide reds, and a few blacks that the better skiers can do, plus loads of trees.
Kronplatz may help on the budget side of things - again lost of trees and good mix of runs. But it is smaller so the more advanced members may have to consider a couple of days trips to Dolomite resorts. I also don't know about transfers/getting there.
The Dolomites are also a good bet although some resorts have more trees than others and would better meet your criteria than others. Also there will be some windy roads towards the end of the transfer - so again depends on how bad the travel sickness issue is.
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I'm a huge fan of MdC, but I think it fails the test on two counts:
1. Transfer time is about 2 1/2 hours, although there is none of that horrendous winding round hairpin bends you can get elsewhere.
2. Lack of km. MdC has only 60km and the link to Pinzolo is pretty poor
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
I'm a huge fan of MdC, but I think it fails the test on two counts:
1. Transfer time is about 2 1/2 hours, although there is none of that horrendous winding round hairpin bends you can get elsewhere.
2. Lack of km. MdC has only 60km and the link to Pinzolo is pretty poor


Regarding point 2 it is true MDC is only 60km but together with Pinzola, Folgarida and Marillena you can munch 150km Very Happy . However, it is true the Pinzolo link takes a long time and it is also the case that the infrastructure isn't as good in the two other areas. However, we really liked the runs there as well as MDC. But can't think of any reasonable comeback on point 1 re the 2 1/2 hour transfer time!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Personally, wouldn't say SkiWelt is great for beginners, but may be I didn't see the beginners bits. May be worth having a look at Are in Sweden, particularly the Bjornen area. Great area for beginners/kids. Linked to rest of Are. Not expensive so long as you don't eat or drink out often.
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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
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dobby wrote:
Personally, wouldn't say SkiWelt is great for beginners, but may be I didn't see the beginners bits. May be worth having a look at Are in Sweden, particularly the Bjornen area. Great area for beginners/kids. Linked to rest of Are. Not expensive so long as you don't eat or drink out often.

Interesting, having skied the SkiWelt this year, I've rarely seen any big resort set up better for beginners. There seemed to be a great progression. If I had to choose a place to stay as a beginner, I'd go with Westendorf I think.
Admittedly, there places in the area that I think would be far better for beginners, such as the Ski Juwel, but they don't have the massive kms of pistes that the OP is looking for. Personally I'd consider staying the SkiJuwel area. The more experienced skiers could then have the Allstar lift pass which would allow them to access loads more skiing (so long as they have a hire car).
The other alternative to consider would be staying in a smaller resort, with the intermediates taking advantage of the time to have some tuition. With things to work on, you don't actually need that many km of piste. One good one with powder suits me sometimes Happy
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I sorted a mixed ability group of 22 with some near beginner youngsters half term this year and we went to Flachau in the Ski Amade, thoroughly recommend it. We booked full use of a catered chalet with sunweb but they had some quality looking smaller albeit self catering accom options too that were also really good value. It's literally straight off the A10 from Salzburg /Munich so no vomit inducing bendy mountain roads and all the mountain restaurants were very reasonable compared to France.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
So... just when I had high hopes that our elusive resort had been found (Saalbach), it has been ruled out due to altitude. We had a terrible time 2 years ago, with a week in Sauze with no snow, which means snowsure-ness is a key criteria. Whilst I'm happy to chance it for half term, being late Feb, others aren't happy to take the same risk.

Cervinia is a possibility, although looks like it doesn't have that many km of runs? And still need to look at St Gervais. The search continues!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Look at historic snow levels. Resorts further East don't need the altitude so much to keep the snow. Don't rule out Saalbach just yet
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I'm sold on Saalbach, but it's easier for me - I ski nearly every year. The family with twins can only go once in a blue moon, and it's a deal breaker for them. They have read some bad reviews apparently.
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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?
Your half term is a week later than ours. Ours clashes with the big Fasching Festival/ Carnival but you should miss it. If you want to be as sure as possible about snow cover on piste and plenty of kms then Dolomites has to be considered.
Nothing is going to tick all the boxes so the question is where are you gong to compromise?
Is it a Tour Operator trip or DIY? Do you fly and hire a car / cars?
Self catering with a bit of eating out?
Does the travel sickness sufferer travel ok by train?
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Quote:

I'm sure Richard will be along soon with his local advice, he's the expert on all things Saalbach.

Did someone call me? Actually I'm a little mystified, in that it seems that Saalbach is now being discounted on the grounds that it isn't snow-sure enough - in the middle of February! Shocked Shocked Shocked

@WoottonBecs, Saalbach is higher than many thriving ski resorts in Salzburgerland and the Tirol - Zell am See, Kitzbuehel, Mayrhofen, Alpbach, Maria Alm, Niederau, to name but a few, and it has some of the best piste maintenance and snow-making in the Alps. Every year it hosts the UK Police and RAF winter sports championships. It is currently the fourth most visited resort in the world (down from second place the previous year).

It opens for skiing at the beginning of December and closes in mid-April, and, in my experience, it's pretty successful at maintaining decent skiing conditions, and it struggles at the extremities of the season no more than most other resorts across the Alps and Pyrenees. As JohnHSmith has commented, the snowline gets lower as you move further east and away from the warming influence of the Atlantic Ocean, so the altitude of ski resorts towards the eastern end of the Alps doesn't need to be as high as those in the west.
As is sometimes pointed out, the mountains in this part of the Alps are generally less rocky (more grassy in summer) than those further west, and less snow cover is needed for the pistes to be prepared for skiing.

Last season, which was supposed to be particularly poor for snow, I skied exclusively in Saalbach between 11th December and 14th April. Pre-Christmas piste conditions were surprisingly good, with all lifts open and, I would estimate, at least 150km of piste available - also all connections were open between the four main villages that comprise the Ski Circus (Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang, Fieberbrunn), so it was possible to ski the usual long itineraries without doing the same piste twice in a day. Our last guests (all good skiers) arrived on 8th April and had an enjoyable week - typical spring skiing, decent conditions in the mornings and enough available to mean that they didn't feel the need to drive half an hour to the glacier at Kaprun, even though that would have been an option. During February the snow typically reaches its maximum depth, and it would have to be exceptional for any of the 70 lifts and 270km of piste to be closed through lack of snow. Even in a hypothetical unusually bad year I would be astonished if the resort could not muster at least 200km of open piste.
Having said all that, such is the resort's popularity that many visitors return year after year, so it tends to get booked up early, and there might be a problem in finding well-located accommodation for a group during one of the prime school holiday weeks.

I hope that this is helpful and might assist in reassuring the snow-worriers (who are right to be cautious, incidentally). If any further information is required, I'd be glad to assist. If you would like a copy of my comprehensive guide to the resort, PM me your e-mail address.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Oh rats tatman, wish I'd spotted you before! We were trying to choose a resort for our family with Skiing for nervious intermediates, convenient location of accommodation in a town, snow sure, lots to do for non-skiers, although it doesn't look like you have the much -sought-after-in-Austria seperate beds for the kids (no way will our 16 yo girl share a bed with her 13 yo brother). We've booked and paid for obertauern now. Out of interest, how far are you in Saalbach to the thermal baths btw and is there public transport/can you ski there? I'm sure we will be looking again the following year though, so will give you a shout then.
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@WoottonBecs,
Quote:

Cervinia is a possibility, although looks like it doesn't have that many km of runs? And still need to look at St Gervais.


Cervinia itself has over 100km of piste. But it is lift linked on area pass to Zermatt, giving over 320km of piste together.
St Gervais lift linked to over 300km of piste on Evasion Mont Blanc pass. A further 100km+ on same pass a shortish bus ride away in Les Contamines. Total 445kms.
Saalbach Hinterglemm ski circus has 270km of piste.

I think they're all big enough for a week.
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Quote:

I think they're all big enough for a week.

...or even for a whole season! Laughing
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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!
Saalbach.
Serre Chevalier.
Courchevel 1850.
Wengen.
Sestriere.
Avoriaz.
Les 2 Alpes.
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I also recommend Montgenevre to fit your criteria. if price is an issue stay in Claviere to save money( Italian prices) but less convenient to the slopes.Your good skiers can also visit Sauze on the lift pass.Apparently there is only one restaurant on each side of the mountain as the village restaurant owners don't want the competition, but its a short run down to the village for lunchtime crepes or a return to your accommodation for lunch.There are green runs from the top of the mountain on both sides of the village which is a big plus for beginners or nervous intermediates.For those who want a day off skiing its 10k to visit Briancon which is a historic town worth visiting. We stayed at MMV Le Hameau des Airelles, which we liked and is ski-in ski-out.
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I would go with the Saalbach or Westendorf recommendations but would also throw in la Thuille. It is probably more like 2 hours transfer but that is from either Turin or Geneva, broadening your flight options. The skiing is broad (160kms) and relatively high and pistes East facing, so pretty good for retaining snow. You also have the opportunity to ski La Rosiere (linked) and Courmayeur (30 mins by bus but free to ski on your lift pass).
Beginners have an area at the bottom of the slopes and then numerous wide pistes to move onto and non skiers can visit Coumayeur, Aosta, The Mont Blanc Cable Car and the wonderful Hot Springs at Pre St Didier (15 minutes away). I would imagine it will be a bit quieter than many other resorts for half term and cheaper as well.
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