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|Resort: Sauze d'Oulx
Domain: Milky Way
Date: Late February/Early March 1999, 2002, 2004 & 2005
Our holiday: Learned to ski here in 1999 and been back 3 times since. Have now had about 9 weeks experience. Each trip was part of a large mixed ability group (20 to 30) of 20 and 30 somethings.
Website : http://www.skiclub.co.uk/skiclub/resorts/gssg/resort.asp
Basics : About 1 hr 15 mins north of Turin Airport in the Aosta region of northern Italy. We travelled with Panorama on each occasion.
Lift system : The lift system does leave a lot to be desired. Far too many antequated 2 man chairs and drags. However, for the most part these can be avoided by using routes with (relatively) high speed quad chairs. Gondolas (very few) are primarily reserved for links between the different Milky Way villages.
The terrain : Sauze has a host of varied blues and reds with a sprinkling of relatively mild blacks. They are predominantly tree-lined except for broader motorway pistes higher-up. As far as i recall, they are predominantly north aand north-west facing. Most routes lead to Sportinia, the ski school and main restaurants area. The Milky Way (including Sansicario, Sestriere & Montgenevre) has approx. 400 km of piste and has a hge amount of cruising intermediate fare with a few scarier blacks sprinkled throughout. The ski from Sauze, the most westerly of the linked areas, to Montgenevre (in France) was a particularly enjoyable (long) day. Montgenevre, however, is not on the standard Milky Way lift pass but thanks to one of the groups fluent French we managed convince the lift operators to allow us to do a couple of runs there!
The snow : Sauze has a notoriously unpredictable record but for the first thre of my trips there (and hence the primary reason for returning) the snow was as close to perfect as one can get with good depths and fortunately good snow falls on the days leading up to my trip. The weather was generally beautiful with long sunny days. For me, one of the primary joys of skiing is doing so with the sun at your back so i was particularly pleased. The kicker came last year where there was almost no snow in the resort. The busride up to the village was particularly dis-heartening as it looked like an Irish country village we were arriving at rather then a chocolate box ski village. All links to the sister Milky Way villages were closed so we had to make do with Sauze and occasional (short) day trips to Sestriere and Claviere. Although we managed to put a brave face onit, this experience made me very nervous of pre-booking far in advance a trip to Sauze, but as i always say, you can't control the weather.
Off-piste : I tend to stick to the pistes so my word on this is not particularly authoratative but the little bits i did were enjoyable.
The resort : The village is fine, if a little uninspiring, and can be quite rowdy late on. On each occasion i stayed in Jovenceaux - just below Sauze - which is much much prettier and is as far from "purpose-built" as you can imagine. Naturally, it is a bit quieter but its charachter makes up for the lack of apres here. To get to the main slopes from Jovenceaux requires the skibus and a quad or two slow 2 man chairs through the trees (and leave your skigear at the charming restaurant/bar Chi-chis half way up) which does tend to blast the hangover off you!
Food : Most of the mountain restaurants are standard fare, fine for filling the void but thats about it. Chi-chis and the retaurant at the top of Clotes lift are probably the best going. Del Falco is without doubt the best restaurant in Sauze village (but i heard a rumour it was closing or at least that the ownership was changing). In Jovenceaux, Etoile de Neiges is an absolute must. Beautiful cheap pastas and pizzas and good craic for apres as well.
Accommodation : I stayed in the Des Amis and Edelweiss in Joveceaux. Good 3 star 50 room hotels with good service and lifts to Sauze each evening (the 15 minute walk uphill is painful but the sozzled 10 min downhill was generally the best part of the night!!). The food (we were HB) is OK, but thats about it - we tended to eat out about 3 nights anyway.
Costs: On the cheaper end of the spectrum, about 450-500 for flights transfer and accomodation. Booze prices are comparable to home (but with much larger measures) and a lot cheaper than French resorts.
Conclusion: When the snow falls, it is a great spot. Endless intermediate runs, great apres and lovely sunshine. Downside is the unpredictable snow record and dodgy lift system which is due an upgrade due to the staging of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Sauze d'Oulx feedback thread
Ian Hopkinson - Contains extended scenes of peril - Me & Mrs H