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Great skiing in Alps for enthusiastic family for the week before Easter??

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Howdy Folks,

Here the situation -- coming from the east coast of the USA and looking for (in order of importance):
(1) Highly reliable late-season snow
(2) Good challenge for me and my hot skiing spouse
(3) Reasonable convenience for dealing with daughters 12 and 9 who will be in ski school at least half the time
(4) Good instruction for kids
(5) Mom and Dad not needing to ski with guide to avoid certain death by avalanche or crevasse Laughing (Though high-level ski school group would be fine)
(6) Reasonable lift queues (especially in light of Easter holiday)
(7) Value for money
(Cool Alpine Charm (or at least gestalt!).

Unfortunately, apres ski is no longer a major factor, though fun places to drink and eat are always a major plus. I'm pretty sure most of our energy will be expended on the slopes! We can fly into Geneva or Zurich (or any other major airport), and rent a car and drive 3 (or even 4) hours if necessary.

We've been to the Alps for skiing only one other time, so this is a rare treat, so we're trying to balance between making it a little special and not causing our bank account to hemorhage.

Any of your opinions and advice will be most appreciated! (I would say I am kind of leaning towards either Tignes or Val Thorens, and am also considering Andermatt and St. Anton -- after receiving a lot of feedback that my original choices of either Zermatt or Chamonix were probably not great for the family aspect of our ski holiday. That said, I would consider other, and lesser-known resorts.)

Cheers,

PeteLovesPowder
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
pmurtha, I'm a bit of a fan of Val Thorens, so treat this post as biased. Very Happy However, I think VT will suit all your requirements other than number Cool - VT is much better looking than it used to be, but it is a French purpose built resort dating back to the 70s, so there are a number of large apartment blocks. As far as number 7 goes, it's not cheap but it's not outrageous - there's a wide variety of accomodation from luxury to very basic. You should be OK with 1-6 although this is likely to be a busy week which pushes up prices and lengthens lift queues everywhere.

On the plus side, you are high and its record on late season snow is very good indeed. It sits at the top of the Trois Vallees, an enormous skiing area (served by a truly exceptional lift system) which everyone should try once, IMHO. It's a lot better looking than Tignes. The skiing is suitable for all standards, and you can visit Meribel and Courchevel - so you get three resorts for the price of one!

I'm spending the season there Very Happy , so if you have any questions feel free to PM me.
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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?
pmurtha

(1) Highly reliable late-season snow - heaps of snow last year. La Balme is always good late in the season hence the Candide International - they wouldn't invite the stars over if it was going to be abandoned due to lack of snow!

(2) Good challenge for me and my hot skiing spouse - La Blame, Etale and parts of Grand Bornand good fun, safe off-piste. Hosts can show the places to go.

(3) Reasonable convenience for dealing with daughters 12 and 9 who will be in ski school at least half the time - Sno Acadamie - good ski school, english speaking instructors, for skiers of all levels. Teach at la Balme too, so in the same place. Hosts can always pick up and bring to where you are.

(4) Good instruction for kids - as above!

(5) Mom and Dad not needing to ski with guide to avoid certain death by avalanche or crevasse (Though high-level ski school group would be fine) - Sno-Acadamie do guiding if needed. Hosts can do some on-piste guiding if you want it. Sno-Acadame for off-piste stuff

(6) Reasonable lift queues (especially in light of Easter holiday) - always good in La Clusaz

(7) Value for money - lift passes, restaurants and bars alot cheaper than bigger resorts. Chalet catered so all you need to pay for is lunches - packed lunches can be arranged for a small fee if you are on a budget
(Cool Alpine Charm (or at least gestalt!) - Loads of french charm in la Clusaz, pretty french village, alpine shaped wooden houses, log fires, pine trees....etc I could go on and on!

Convinced? visit www.gravite.co.uk
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
We have a great record for easter snow in Alpe D'Huez plus a glacier and lift passes that cover you for skiing in Les Deux Alps as well. We run a catered chalet with exceptional food and also offer discounts to snowheads Very Happy If you are interested in finding out a bit more about the holidays we offer and about the resort then please have a look at our website www.skialacarte.co.uk or PM me and I'll be happy to answer any questions or give you some prices.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
pmurtha, Les Deux Alpes may be a good option for you. A number of reasons that I can think of:
You have also the option of the off-piste area of La Grave right next door.
It is very high and offers summer skiing, so late in the season would not be a problem
Easiski is a resident instructor there and would point out all the advantages of going there, plus may be able to give your daughters lessons.
It is not as expensive as the 3 Valleys.
The main town is quite lively, but is also quite an attractive centre.

I do not have a chalet to sell!!
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Ray Zorro, So kind!!! I've already had a go at espousing the advantages of LDA in the other thread to the sme question, especially for late season ski-ing. However, no PM, so I presume no interest. Sad Sad

pmurtha You're more than welcome to PM me or email me through the website for further and more detailed info.
Very Happy


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sun 20-11-05 13:15; edited 1 time in total
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Vaujany with Ski Peak - direct link into the Alpe d'Huez system, which meets all your requirements but is a bit ugly. Vaujany is a very pretty village, and that end of the system has the best snow late in the season.
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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!
Ok, just places I have visited so no angles here.

I would start looking at Switzerland as it can have the height, picture postcard ambience and the fact that IMO they do a pretty good all round type holiday. You mention Andermatt and I haven't been there but my impression is for your needs it may be a bit one dimensional. Showheads can shoot me down in flames here if they want but I think it is a touring/off piste destination which centres around one hill, the Gemstck which tops out at 2800. Maybe for insurance, you might need a bit more height. Knowing the Swiss they surely cater for families well enough tho'.

Zermatt is a very very good ski destination and lacks for nothing.
The only drawback is the spread out village which may need a bit of organising with regards to meets ups but in this respect it is much more convenient to do that than Chamonix for example. And what a village! You will not need a car here as they are baned so you could save on that and train down from Geneva or Zurich. I think Geneva is more convienient but the journey from Zurich is supposed to be spectacular, I believe, so if you travel during the day, that will really set the tone of the holiday. Check with more informed Snowheads here as I am thinking of the Glacier Express type journey here so might be a bit wayward in precise detail. And with the train you can send your luggage ahead so a few changes are part of the adventure without the luggage side. Zermatt will be about a 4 hr train ride though but tihs shouldn't be a chore...!!
The only thing about Zermatt is that it isn't really a beginners resort at all but if the children are comfortable getting up the mountain they will be ok.

I think Engelberg is a good choice as well and has ambience, height etc. Would lose out to Zermatt on kudos and all round destination etc but would be nearer to the airport- 2 hours, Zurich, and cheaper.

Coming all the way from the states you might as well go for a once in a lifetime destination which is what Zermatt would certainly be. The village is more like a town but it has the Matterhorn and swiss building regs which means the new buildings/hotels aren't out of character so would knocks spots off of most of France with regards to mountains ambience/picture postcard scenery etc.

I will leave France to other snowHead's as it has its well deserved fans. Val D and LDA are hon mentionables, the former is a world class resort and has it all and the latter is a sleeper which people are just recognising - well , me, certainly, and does have Le Grave but that does mean you will be a village and 40 mins away from the kids.

Enjoy researching all this on the web..!!
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Dear JT and other Snowhead correspondents,

Thanks for the detailed info on Zermatt -- which has gone back to the top of my charts. (Talk about a "flip-flopper"!) A few specific questions about Zermatt:

(1) Any recommendations about the ski schools for kids? The now somewhat-outdated Reuters Guide had negative things to say about the long-established Swiss Ski School, and getting the kids some good lessons is a priority.

(2) We were looking to find an apartment relatively near the Gornergrat lift, thinking that the kids will need to go there for lessons and we will probably be skiing there a fair amount ourselves. Does that sound like a plan, or would we be better off somewhere else in town? Any specific recommendations would be most appreciated! (Right now we're looking at the Bodmen.)

(3) Any specific recommendations about where to ski relatively challenging terrain (my wife and I pretty much stick to black and double black in the USA, though we have been known on occasion to regret it! Laughing) without a guide? Any recommendations about where to find a relatively high level off-piste group?

(4) We will be coming in from Zurich by train. Should we nonetheless consider expending a precious ski day for the Glacier Express?

Any other Zermatt holiday info cheerfully accepted!

Cheers,

Pete
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 brian
brian
Guest
PeteLovesPowder,

1) dunno

2) The Gornergrat train takes 40 minutes out of your morning, we didn't use it for that reason. The buses are pretty good but the one time you can expect big queues is the end of the day at the Klein Matterhorn end of town. The runs down from Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn finish there.

3) http://bergbahnen.zermatt.ch/graphics/skigebiet05/gornergrat.jpg

The runs marked yellow on this bit are unpisted "itineraries". North facing, and Stockhorn to Gant is 4000 vertical feet ! Get your legs in shape Very Happy

4) Hmmmm, nah ! In Zermatt you are high up among the most beautiful scenery in the alps. Why go and see it from lower down in a train ?
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
PeteLovesPowder,
Zermatt is a great place to ski but can't help you on the childrens ski school as last time I went was pre kids. I have skied a little off piste there but without a guide so I cannot help you there much either.

For accomodation late season the best place to be IMHO is close to the Klein Matterhorn as this may have the best snow and hence possibly the longest lift queues, if you are close by you can get there before the queues form.

If you go for say 10 days you could fly into Zurich get a train to Andermatt ski a couple of days there and then go on the second half of the glacier express route onto Zermatt after a days skiing (sending your luggage in advance). I have done this before (I had longer in Andermatt) and it worked out great, but if time was limited I would not waste it on a train journey personally, I agree with Brian. Andematt at this time of the year will have a very limite ski area for intermediates. Zermatt is great except for total beginners.
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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.
PeteLovesPowder,


Haven't used the Ski schools so a seperate post on their merits might be a good idea. I believe they have quite a few now so this normally stops the Swiss ski schools getting complacent.

I stayed at the Ambassador near the Gornegrat but that lift is slow and should be used on really sunny days when the slow ride is negated by the fantastic views. Maybe somewhere like the Bristol is more central to the Sunnega and Klien Matterhorn lifts.

We spent most of our time between the Sunnega and Gornegrat and these runs will keep you more than amused. I would hire a guide from the TO for a few days and then nick his lines. I joined an off-piste group very easily and the guide was very good and knowledgable as you would expect. I don't think he was UAIGM which is what you will/should need if you plan a heli trip. The Montersosa is a very good trip and not so draining from the Zematt side althogh the Italians are cheaper in my experience. Talking of which on a good snow day you can find loads of off-piste stashes in Cervinia as the Italians don't do much off-piste here. They will follow you if you show them the way tho' so the snow will not stay untracked for too long. Maybe a couple of days guiding will get you to everywhere you want to go

A few links
http://switzerland.isyours.com/images/rg.maps.zermatt.pdf

http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/valais/zermatt.accommodation.html

Looking at the train times the ride from Zurich is 4 plus and meanders everywhere. Geneva is over 3 with just the one change I think at Visp when it changes to a mountain gauge. It may be better to do the latter in retrospect.

I think there might be few snowHead's is Zermatt for the season and there should be some others with more tips and knowledge
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