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HELP! Resort Advice

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello all, new to forum and joined just to get some help on where to go (polite answers only please)

My wife and I are looking at going skiing in the first week of March for a week. My wife has never skied before and even though I skied a lot as a teenager I have only been once in my adult life (Risoul 2004) but still had it then and would class myself as an intermediate (probably lower end of now).

My main question is around Bulgaria, is it any good? I know its not going to have the same amount of runs as La Plagne and not worried about that. My days of black runs and mogul fields are over. The piste maps look ok for me with enough variety keep me happy and as I said my wife has never skied. I also know that there wont be any of the old world charm of the Austrian/Swiss resorts but is Bulgaria that ugly? . What's the quality of the accommodation and food like? We are both in our mid 40's and need a certain level of comfort. Which is the best resort and will they have snow at the beginning of March?

Same questions too for Andorra

At the moment it is only really Bulgaria and Andorra that are affordable or is it worth waiting a couple of weeks and seeing if there is a last minute deal to some of the more established resorts?

Any and all advice welcome
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you are considering Bulgaria, I'd look at Serbia. Cheaper, less hookers, very few groups of party animals, accommodation is very good, and plenty of runs for beginners and intermediates to enjoy. Plenty of charm around, but a few new developments going up now. Bulgaria prices are increasingly heading towards the smaller resorts in France, Austria and Italy, and often have less runs and certainly less old world charm.

All that said, there are loads of resorts and loads of availability, personally I'd be shopping around a lot and find a package deal including lift pass, equipment hire, flights, transfers, and compare it with the other options you have closer to the time.
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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?
Also having skied in Andorra, and if you offered me a free ski holiday in Andorra I'd pay for a trip somewhere else myself.
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Can't help with Bulgaria or Andorra I'm afraid, but March is between the half term holidays and Easter breaks so it should be quieter and cheaper in France / Austria.

You should be able to pick up some last minute bargains.

Can you define what is affordable? A few years back we managed to get a fantastic catered chalet in Zermatt plus flights and transfers and ski passes for £1,400 for the two of us on a late break (so £900 for the flights and accommodation / food and about £500 for the ski passes)
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Ive been to bansko several times. Its catered more towards families & quieter than borovets (less hookers & less party animals).

As Bulgaria Lev is pegged to the Euro (just under 2 lev to £1 euro), your money does not go as far with the weaker £ v the euro.
It was 2.7 lev to £1 in 2015 & now its nearer 2.1 lev. so 25-30% difference. That has massively closed the gap between Bulgaria & cheaper alps resorts.


If its more about keeping costs down & learning to ski on the cheap + you dont mind a 2* / 3* hotel then there is lots of choice.
This year someone in our group is hiring skis & having 2x 2hr 1 on 1 lessons for £175!

Food is fantastic if you hunt them out. Meats & stews slowly cooked & very reasonable priced - especially if you walk to the old town & avoid the main drag.

As for first week of March - the main gondola queue up could be quite long.....
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Thanks for help so far.

I have found deals in Borovets for around £1400 all in and Pamporovo even cheaper. I would say up to £1600 all in is affordable but could maybe push it for the right deal. I will keep looking and hope I find something good.

Any advice on good places too look. So far pretty much only been in Crystal, Iglu and Neilson.

Thanks again
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Poshprop wrote:
Thanks for help so far.

I have found deals in Borovets for around £1400 all in and Pamporovo even cheaper. I would say up to £1600 all in is affordable but could maybe push it for the right deal. I will keep looking and hope I find something good.

Any advice on good places too look. So far pretty much only been in Crystal, Iglu and Neilson.

Thanks again

have you looked at balkan holidays?
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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!
I would say that if your wife wants to have a go at skiing for the first time is that you try to maximize the pleasure/convenience aspect. I have not been to Bulgaria but from what I'm reading here, a not-so-great experience is just as likely as a satisfying one. You don't want to turn her off of skiing is what I'm hearing.

You don't need to go to Zermatt, but I think that if you go to a mid-level station in France or Austria you'll both be happier. We just got back from Valloire (see my TR), and my wife is essentially a beginner and had a very positive experience with lessons and the variety of green/easy blue runs. Another resort in France that you would both enjoy is Les Saisies, which has a great set up for beginners and is a very pleasant village.

I'm very interested in Slovenia, having been there in summer and fall but not winter. I think it might combine lower cost with good Alpine ambience (and English speakers).
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Poshprop wrote:
Hello all, new to forum and joined just to get some help on where to go (polite answers only please)

My wife and I are looking at going skiing in the first week of March for a week. My wife has never skied before and even though I skied a lot as a teenager I have only been once in my adult life (Risoul 2004) but still had it then and would class myself as an intermediate (probably lower end of now).

My main question is around Bulgaria, is it any good? I know its not going to have the same amount of runs as La Plagne and not worried about that. My days of black runs and mogul fields are over. The piste maps look ok for me with enough variety keep me happy and as I said my wife has never skied. I also know that there wont be any of the old world charm of the Austrian/Swiss resorts but is Bulgaria that ugly? . What's the quality of the accommodation and food like? We are both in our mid 40's and need a certain level of comfort. Which is the best resort and will they have snow at the beginning of March?


Personally, I would choose Slovakia's Jasna resort over any Bulgarian resort. There is an English-speaking couple that runs a great chalet in Liptovsky Mikulas and part of their service os to take you to the resort every morning and collect you in the evening. They will take care of arranging ski lessons etc. as well.

However, let's talk about Andorra. It will probably be fine for you. Many ski stations have English speaking instructors, so your wife will in good hands. Your hardest choice will be to select whether to go to the Grandvalira area or the Vallnord area. For Grandvalira you are probably best of for El Tarter or Soldeu. There is a beginner slope nearly next to the road between the two villages, but some hotel close-by are best avoided, especially the Vall Esqui / Vall Ski. For Vallnord you really have the choice between staying in La Massana (preferably within walking distance of the Gondola) or in Arinsal (some places down the road in Erts will suffice too). Transfers to your hotel from Barcelona or Toulouse airports can be easily arranged via AndBus (~Ä76 return pp).

IMHO food is great in Andorra. If you're vegetarian/vegan, choices are less in restaurants, and there is only 3 in Andorra that I know of that specialise in the non-animal variety. Beer & wine are cheap too.

A couple of notes about Arinsal (probably biased as I live in the village):

It does not have the old-world charm of Switzerland (for that you need to go to other villages in Andorra), but it is quite pretty, especially when it snowed. There is a gondola in the village centre and a lift a further up at one of the hotels. Arinsal does have a bit of an English and Argentinian feel to it in the season, but the variety of food is good. If you like comfort, you should look to the Parc Diana hotel as it has a small spa as well. It is also only about 200m walk down to the gondola.

If you want to get out of Arinsal to go shopping down in Escaldes/Andorra-la-Vella, the bus ticket is Ä3.60 one way. Buses run either every 60min or 30min depending on the time of day. They run from quite early until very late as well. You can actually come off the lifts for the day and then pop down for shopping as they only close around 8-9pm down in the valley.

As to the skiiing, yourself might run out of the slopes after 2-3 days, but you can take the lift up to Pic Negre and then use the transfer gondola to go skiing in Pal, which has many more slopes. The ski instruction area in Arinsal is well setup, with a number of English instructors. There is a combination of magic carpets and a chair lift.

The disadvantage with Arinsal is when the wind blows. The top lifts get closed and one cannot use the transfer gondola to Pal. Your only opton the is to take the free skibus down to La Massana and take the big gondola from there. Wind should be less of a problem in March though.

HTH. (Feel free to ask more questions).
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Digger the dinosaur,

Ehhhhh? How can you write off an entire skiing nation in one fell swoop?

What was so bad about your trip? Puzzled
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Digger the dinosaur wrote:
Also having skied in Andorra, and if you offered me a free ski holiday in Andorra I'd pay for a trip somewhere else myself.

This.^^^
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Poshprop wrote:
Thanks for help so far.

I have found deals in Borovets for around £1400 all in and Pamporovo even cheaper. I would say up to £1600 all in is affordable but could maybe push it for the right deal. I will keep looking and hope I find something good.

Any advice on good places too look. So far pretty much only been in Crystal, Iglu and Neilson.

Thanks again


Those companies you mentioned are pretty good, I also use Inghams, but its worth doing a search for all inclusive packages if you prefer this.

I think Thompson ski do all inclusive as well.

VIPSKI are good too, but their chalets are a little bit more expensive
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If you're happy with cheap and cheerful look at Rocketski. The accommodation will be warm and well placed for the slopes and well priced but not luxurious. They go to some nice resorts good for all level skiers. We've had some good hols with them.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Cheers Dr Geoerge. I have been looking them and have got one eye on a deal to Serre Chevalier, which both the wife I like the look off.

I also liked the look of Kransjka Gora in Slovenia but was a bit worried about the snow there in the beginning of March. Any one got any knowledge of there?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
£1600 to include lift pass will normally get your a catered chalet and lift pass in a front line resort.

Last year I stayed in courchevel le praz and had a full 3V ski pass for around £800 pp though I do have my own ski kit.

Currently you can book a half board holiday to arinsal with iglu ski for £400. Even with a lift pass and equipment hire you should be well within budget unless you need to cover lessons as well within that budget though I can see one deal at £370 so you would be close
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Been to Bansko last year - early march. Was a good time for snow, albeit at lunch time it was a little slushy on the road back to the village, but still perfect up in the mountains. I consider it bigger thus better than Borovets etc, that meaning more blue pistes to choose from. Especially if you are in for a week. There is also stuff to do besides skiing in the area.
Great UK pub near the gondola, i used TripAdvisor to wisely choose the mehana dinners.
I consider Bansko a good choice for beginners, but I still haven't been to Montgenevre or Andorra which are also recomm.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Poshprop, if your wife has never skied before then presumably she will be taking lessons. In which going somewhere with a good ski school becomes critical to your choice. I'd suggest something ski in, ski out also. If you taking a TO package out of the busy times of the season, which is sounds like you are then booking inside 10 days of your trip will ensure the best deals. I am a bit of touch having not done that for a while but reading on here I reckon £500-£600 will get your flights, transfers and accommodation sorted. Lift passes will depend on where you are going. From perhaps £400 in the smaller resorts up to £800 in the bigger ones. Then you have ski hire and lessons.
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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?
This is random and many probably won't agree, but as a beginner skier I found Norway to be amazing - it was quiet, the lessons were fantastic, the runs were pretty, and the transfers weren't too bad. It was really confidence boosting as the red runs are more like the steeper blues in France or Austria, and there are mini fun parks and slaloms and stuff (we were in Trysil). Could be lovely for a first ski experience for your wife - and you'd probably just about find enough do do!

Mid-march seems to be cheaper than other times, and flights with Norwegian are cheap as well. You may be able to bring it in on budget - though of course the main problem in Norway is that food and booze is pricey! We opted to have buffet breakfasts and dinners at our hotel to fill up. And it's not got the apres of other places (was so knackered skiing that I didn't care but could be a consideration). We booked through flexiski, I rang them to get exactly what we wanted.

Might be worth a look? I've heard good things from friends about Lapland in the same way.
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Oh, I'll add - if you had considered Kranskja Gora, perhaps also look at Zakopane? Bonus is it's cheap, pretty and friendly, less bonus is having to get around to the various areas. This can all be sorted for you fairly cheaply though, we contacted a lady called Barbara at Discover Zakopane, and she basically sorted all the gubbins and her dad drove us around!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
snowglider wrote:
Digger the dinosaur wrote:
Also having skied in Andorra, and if you offered me a free ski holiday in Andorra I'd pay for a trip somewhere else myself.

This.^^^


Why? It may be your opinion, which you are of course entitled too but personally I don't think it's either helpful or constructive to the OP.

Personally, I think Grandvalira in Andorra is perfect for you. It's a huge ski area with over 210km of pistes, which are perfectly set up for both the beginner but also the intermediate. First week of March is also a great time to go, as snow will be good (it's relatively high) and you've got a decent chance of sun (one of the resorts Soldeu means Sun God)*. The ski schools have British ski instructors, who have a fantastic reputation. While Soldeu as a village can't match Austrian/Swiss picture postcard beauty, it does have a certain rustic charm, and is certainly not a purpose built eyesore.

Definitely worth considering, and ignore those that would turn down a free ski holiday!!!! rolling eyes rolling eyes



*although obviously I don't control the weather....
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Handy Turnip wrote:
snowglider wrote:
Digger the dinosaur wrote:
Also having skied in Andorra, and if you offered me a free ski holiday in Andorra I'd pay for a trip somewhere else myself.

This.^^^


Why? It may be your opinion, which you are of course entitled too but personally I don't think it's either helpful or constructive to the OP.



Definitely worth considering, and ignore those that would turn down a free ski holiday!!!! rolling eyes rolling eyes


I could have, of course, elaborated...
But, instead, I decided to take my mama's advice: "If you don't have anything nice to say - don't say anything at all". rolling eyes rolling eyes rolling eyes

*(See? I know how to use eye roll too).
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@snowglider, congrats on the eye roll!

Maybe stating constructively why you donít like it would have helped the OP, because then they can judge whether itís relevant to them at all.

Unfortunately you didnít actually follow your Mamaís advice and you did decide to say something (albeit not particularly helpful) rather than choosing to not saying anything at all!!! wink

* (gone for the wink this time to keep it friendly)
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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!
Alright folks. Look we've all had a drink lets keep it nice and step away (what's the emoji for sarcasm?)

As Layne suggested earlier I think I will wait to see if I can pick something last minute and get my wife on the dry slope for a couple of lessons first too. I don't need to book just yet so maybe get a good last min deal a couple of weeks before.

Keep the advice coming though any ideas and suggestions welcome

Cheers
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I'm upper intermediate and will be going back to El Tarter for I think the fifth time in 6 years. Huge ski area, pretty mountains, good native English instruction.

ET has zero nightlife though, so if you want to go out for a few evening meals, Soldeu at least. Pas is supposedly full of drunken teenagers so I'm avoiding that.

The buildings are nothing pretty to look at but I don't go skiing to look at buildings.
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You have been very spoilt with a trip to Risoul which is an absolute gem of a resort. Bulgaria and Andorra are going to offer better value but much more commercial and busier slopes/lifts
Risoul is a great place for a first ski holiday. If you can afford it, take your wife there......
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@Handy Turnip, Re: eye roll: -likewise! Wink

I didn't actually say anything; I simply agreed with someone who was saying something. My mama never said I shouldn't agree with someone who is saying something; just that I should desist from expressing a negative view myself. Wink

Actually, I thought that the OP might find my view useful, especially as it wasn't offered in isolation. Though I can see that you took it upon yourself to interpret/gauge usefulness of other posters' views for the OP. Wink


*(Four friendly winks from me to you)! Wink
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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.
@snowglider, he may have found it more useful if you offered a reason why! But weíre going around in circles now, and as @Poshprop says Ďtime to step awayí. Agree to disagree and all that.

@Orange200, completely agree.
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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
snowglider wrote:
@Handy Turnip, ...Though I can see that you took it upon yourself to interpret/gauge usefulness of other posters' views for the OP. Wink

Handy Turnip wrote:
@snowglider, ...he may have found it more useful if you...

And again...
But, yeah, agree to disagree and all that. And to "step away".
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Digger the dinosaur, @snowglider, I'm really curious to know why Andorra was so bad, and why you won't say! I've never been there so I'm not biased.

I think you will struggle to find a cheaper holiday than Bulgaria, but do very careful research as you generally get what you pay for. Personally I'd choose Borovets over Bansko as the transfer is shorter and it has more than one lift up from the village, therefore dispersing the queues. The gondola queue at Bansko would put me off, even though the town and ski area are bigger. Yes there are buses/taxis up to the ski area but it all sounds like a faff to me.

From what I've read, ski instruction is good and cheap in Borovets and I think there's enough skiing to keep a beginner and a lower intermediate happy for a week. It's also small enough to easily meet up for lunch etc. Just pick a hotel that's not a bus ride away.

I think if I had slightly more budget I'd probably go for Andorra (surely it can't be that bad), or maybe go DIY and book flights to Geneva or Innsbruck now and look at a last minute French/Austrian accommodation deal.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
From my early march 2017 own experience, the only problem with Bansko is the morning queue for the gondola to take you up on the mountain.
If you get there a few min before they open it should be reasonable. Bansko is bigger, wider selection of pistes and much more blue ones than Borovets
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If you are considering Andora have a look at BA holidays. They have just started a sale (yesterday) that includes flights from London and 4* hotels dirt cheap. PS always cross ref the reviews on hotels.com. You need to have booked and stayed to leave a review.

I see your location is Cardiff so obviously you can get the Bus direct to T5 front door and you are good to go.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@drporat, but that is 8am, so you need to be there at 7.45! That means breakfast around 6.30 and not everyone wants to get up that early on their holidays, I definitely don't. It has 70kms of pistes V Borovets' 58kms so yes it's bigger but it really needs a second gondola as the one it has can't cope.
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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?
Get a lesson or two for your wife at your local ski centre beforehand - great investment!
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Personally I'd avoid persuading a beginner to take lessons on a dry ski slope unless they are pretty highly motivated, willing to get wet and not afraid of falling over. An indoor slope with artificial snow is a lot easier and more user-friendly.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yes avoid artifical slopes for me too, you could get a hand injury before you go Sad
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We were first time skiers on a girls holiday to Borovets last year. All 40 upwards.
The instruction the two first timers had was brilliant, my friend really didnít take to it and had s total meltdown on day 3. Without the instructor we had I think she would have called it a day and packed it in.

Hookers - didnít see any
Strip clubs - really not obvious
Stag doos - saw 3
Drunken yobs - we tried hard not to be
Food - was fine, not amazing, not terrible.
Slopes - fine for us and very enjoyable
Price - £500-£600 including flight, accommodation, half board (didnít eat in hotel though) equipment hire and lessons.

The in resort exchange rate was 2.25 lv to the £ last year.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Oh and lift pass included as well
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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!
Lou1 wrote:
We were first time skiers on a girls holiday to Borovets last year. All 40 upwards.
The instruction the two first timers had was brilliant, my friend really didnít take to it and had s total meltdown on day 3. Without the instructor we had I think she would have called it a day and packed it in.

Hookers - didnít see any
Strip clubs - really not obvious
Stag doos - saw 3
Drunken yobs - we tried hard not to be
Food - was fine, not amazing, not terrible.
Slopes - fine for us and very enjoyable
Price - £500-£600 including flight, accommodation, half board (didnít eat in hotel though) equipment hire and lessons.

The in resort exchange rate was 2.25 lv to the £ last year.
one of the best trip reports I've read in a while snowHead
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Thanks.
We really enjoyed the resort and thought for the level we were at (the bottom level) it suited our needs cost wise.

We are all competitive horse riders who have ridden since early childhood and understood that although you get what you pay for..... balancing ability with expectation and value for money is the wisest choice.

We figured skiing and horse riding are fairly similar
Itís expensive
You can hurt yourself
You can pay loads of money to do it
All the gear and no idea is roughly 50% of the people who do it
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Thanks for the replies. Still not booked . Keeping my eyes open for a bargain but if I don't get one that its going to be Bulgaria/Andorra at list price.

If anyone knows of a good site to grab a bargain please share
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