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European ski holiday - confused.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all
Now we're back to Australia after a wonderful skiing road trip of western USA (Alta, Snowbasin, Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, Squaw Valley and Mammoth) we're actively looking to finalize our trip for this coming winter. By the way despite not perfect conditions a couple of weeks ago we got in some great skiing and even skied in a couple of feet of fresh snow a couple of days.

I started this topic some time ago and received plenty of good advice and it has narrowed things down somewhat but I'm still looking for direction to a degree. There appear to be so many options.
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=132254&highlight=

We're a family of 4 (kids will be eleven and thirteen) and we are advanced intermediate skiers. We ski groomed and non groomed black diamond (and some double black diamond) terrain in North America. We will go to Europe with low snow expectations due to the timing of our holiday (early season) and the non-patrolled nature of the resorts. We are happy to be on skis and if we're cruising blues taking in nice scenery we'll be delighted.

A few parameters to consider.
1. We can be in Europe between about December 19, 2018 and January 14, 2019.
2. We can and expect to fly into one city and fly out of another. eg Munich and Milan.
3. We see this as a holiday with skiing rather than a dedicated ski holiday. I would like to get in 8 or 10 days on skis I guess.
4. We definitely want to visit a city with a Christmas market, visit a city close to one of the concentration camps so we can do a tour (a little perverse I understand) and definitely want to visit Venice. We are less likely to visit big cities (eg Milan) than we are visit mountain towns with mountain scenery (eg Aosta).
5. This site has helped me understand we would be less comfortable in France than we would be in Austria or Italy due to the reported French 'attitude'.
6. We have no budget restrictions but I'm a tight back bottom deep down and I dislike the feeling of being fleeced. I expect we'll avoid Switzerland due to the reported high prices and exchange rate.
7. We have not experienced the raucous euro apres ski so that is not needed but I suppose we'd be open to checking it out. A few beers before dinner and a wine or two at dinner before a fairly early night is normally our routine.
8. I have a strong preference for proper ale type beer. I do not do generic 'easy drinking' lager.
9. We are open to travel on trains but are equally comfortable hiring a vehicle if that is needed.
10. I have never done the 'half board' style lodging and admit that doesn't sound very appealing. We like the idea of breakfast at the hotel, lunch on the mountain and dinner at a local (walk to) restaurant in the evening. I guess we'd be prepared to try it for a few nights if needed.
11. I love the sound of the Dolomites but I don't know how I would feel skiing down a white ribbon with green on the side. Maybe I would find it acceptable?
12. We have never been in the one ski resort for 7 days in a row. We normally ski a couple of days, do a tourist thing for a day and have another couple of days skiing. If we were in a resort for a full week we would want some other activities to break up the week.
13. We would need to rent skis (and boots in the kids case).
14. The only language we speak is Strayan. Very Happy

My kids are good travelers and are basically mini adults who don't drink alcohol. They don't need kids style entertainment. We like the idea of taking in the European culture and I expect due to our limited language just buying a train ticket would be an adventure in itself.
I'm hoping for some guidance on an itinerary.
Thanks in advance.
Simon
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

This site has helped me understand we would be less comfortable in France than we would be in Austria or Italy due to the reported French 'attitude'.


5. I've never experienced this reported French 'attitude'. Always had very pleasant service in France in dozens of trips with the exception of one really grumpy assistant in a bakery in Tignes Le Lac once. I've had the same pleasant service in Austrian and Italy too.

8. If you make it to the Portes Du Soleil this place brews some rather lovely beers: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g196705-d2515050-Reviews-Le_Fer_Rouge-La_Chapelle_D_Abondance_Abondance_Portes_du_Soleil_Haute_Savoie_Auve.html
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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?
I think you are as likely to find friendly and unfriendly people in France as anywhere else. I would not factor that into your selection.

Your belief that European resorts are not patrolled is incorrect. Christmas is a very busy time for resorts, snow-making and snow-moving will have been performed as needed in the major resorts and you'd be very unlucky to find them un-skiable.

As a tourist you can function in English easily enough. To put it another way, Anglophones can get by with being lazy about bothering to learn other languages.

I'm not sure why you think the Dolomites are especially dependent on snow-making.

US resorts are small and touring around them makes sense. The major European resorts are large and there is plenty of skiing to explore in a week. Hence people tend to stay in a resort and I'm not sure how many do "itineraries". Resorts and hotels are geared up to people who stay for a week. Over the Christmas week, I'm not sure how easy you would find booking a hotel for a short period.

All major resorts have activities for people who don't ski because it is common to go as families where not everyone skis.

"Raucous euro apres ski" is not mandatory. Finding "proper ale type beer" may be a challenge. On that point, I suggest going native.

If you are determined to visit Venice, then personally I'd fly in and out of Venice and spend the intervening time in the Dolomites.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sat 20-01-18 8:10; edited 2 times in total
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Don't worry at all about the French "attitude" - non-existent in my experience. My advice is go to the Three Valleys as impossible to be bored, you won't ski every run even on seven days, every type of accommodation available at nearly every price point. Embrace the half-board option as part of the European skiing experience. Save some money for off-piste guiding.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I live in Austria for half the year (a very friendly place)and yet the friendliest resort staff I have seen were the lifties in Val d'Isère in Franch a couple of years ago. A smile and a hello for everyone getting on the lifts.
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Sounds to me like you need to visit the 'Serre Chevalier' valley in France, which is near italy, has a beautiful walled city with gastronomic delights called briancon in the south, loads of skiing options with easy access, and La Grave as an option for iconic, wild skiing a bit like they have in the back bowls of the US. If you want to do the concentration camp bit (more people should, it's important we don't forget) I think they're largely in Poland but there is one called Terezin near Prague that would certainly also meet your need for a Christmas market and more pretty architecture than you can imagine. Big distance though so maybe do that first leaving skiing till later when the snow would be likely be better.
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If you like mile after mile of groomed piste, you'll love the dolomites but if you are expecting any challenging piste skiing you will be disappointed, every square inch of piste is groomed every night and they have nothing like N American double black diamonds.
I have skied there for the past 3 years, all have had fairly low snow depths but everywhere in Europe has good snow this year.
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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!
4. Innsbruck? it's a small city, and surely has a Christmas market. Aren't the concentration camps all up north in (or towards) Poland ?
8. The other one in Portes du Soleil is Le Bec Jaune in Morzine (ace food there too). And if in Innsbruck, there's Tribaun (that one's more bar than restaurant). Craft beer though, if that counts as real ale.
11. from new year onwards it'll probably be white everywhere. they manage to hold the Val Gardena and Alta badia FIS WC rounds there before new year, so it can't be all bad.

dunno about france or italy, but certainly in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands the train ticket machines are all at least bi-lingual, as are the various websites too.
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I suspect that problems will arise for you wherever you and your mini adults go with your detailed list of 14 requirements and pre-conceived ideas of the attitude of a whole country.
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@sbooker,

I wouldn't let prejudices about French "attitude" put you off. We live in France and, like everywhere, you mostly receive what you give as a visitor...

Anyway, I would suggest Krakow, Poland, for their Christmas market and proximity to Auschwitz (easy day trip by bus, you can buy tickets in Krakow, which is a beautiful city in its own right). I don't think it's odd to want to visit a concentration camp. In fact, I think it's mandatory for anyone who really wants to understand human nature. Auschwitz is a powerful experience.

You can reach Krakow quite easily via train from Berlin or Prague/Vienna.

As for the skiing, if you're only looking for 8-10 days on the snow and with the lodging situation you describe, probably Austria/Italy, and staying mostly in the eastern areas of Europe (Germany/Austria/northeastern Italy/Poland/Czech Republic. No reason you couldn't fly into Munich and out of Milan. (or even Berlin/Venice)

I agree with leaving the skiing till after New Year's. My itinerary for you might go something like this: Fly into Berlin or Munich, have some good beer, go to Krakow/Auschwitz (2 days), train to Prague for a few days, then on to Vienna etc. After New Year's, ski in western Austria, then down to Dolomites. Leave a couple of days to visit Milan or Venice, then fly home. It would be possible to visit France but would be expensive -- i.e. how would you get to Chamonix/Tarentaise resorts from eastern Europe? If you want to ski France then best to fly into GVA and out of Milan or Turin -- but you'd be looking at some considerable effort and expense to get to a concentration camp/Christmas market.

As for languages, 'strine can be a real barrier wink

Seriously, learn hello/goodbye/thank you/"do you speak English" (using the formal "you") and you'll be fine anywhere in Europe -- don't forget to smile and go with the flow.
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I'd echo most of the comments above but would add that it's even harder finding accommodation for less than the usual week at New Year than it is at Christmas. However, that's assuming you'll be staying in a ski resort - many European resorts are geared up for people who like to walk out of their accommodation and onto a ski slope or a convenient bus. And that's what many British skiers like. However, if you are flexible about commuting to the slopes by car you will find non-standard accommodation periods easier. Be warned, however, that you would need to do careful research about which resorts have convenient car-parking. At busy times, finding somewhere to leave your car - even somewhere expensive - can be a problem. That's true, for example, in Val d'Isere (a great resort with lots of fantastic skiing, by the way). It's not true everywhere - practically every generalisation you make about European skiing is (thankfully!) wrong. Yerp is a pretty varied place, really. snowHead

Would just add that the only place I've encountered truly shocking customer service is Austria. Some of our party were stuck in a broken down lift in a hotel and my son - who wasn't, and who spoke fluent German, went to get the proprietor to help. She told him it was the middle of the night (it was admittedly after midnight) and to get lost. He called the Fire Brigade. Shocked But that's exceptionally uncommon. Practically all Austrians you will encounter, like practically all French people, will be charming! They are keen to get hold of your money, after all.......
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I’ve just re read the entries on your earlier thread (including mine!). You say you have narrowed things down, but, aside from discounting France and your beer requirements, it doesn’t look much narrower!
As this is a ski forum wholly populated by dedicated ski addicts, please bear in mind that most of us think it’s mad not to be skiing every day if you have the time and funds, especially if you are within spitting distance of a mountain and snow.

With the dates being clearer, I think you should start your trip in Germany/Austria for all things Christmassy- I think Munich Christmas market is one of the biggest. And you can also fulfill your wish to visit Dachau.
Early season you could grab some Glacier and high altitude skiing somewhere like Obergurgl which will be well underway by then (I think it opens about the end of the first week in December). By the Saturday before Christmas, if you want to ski Christmas Day itself, you really ought to try and get yourselves based in a ski resort for a week, it may be more difficult to find accommodation for 4 people for the odd couple of days here and there. Don’t discount the Dolomites. For B&B hotels look for places in Austria and the Dolomites that call themselves a “Hotel Garni” as I think they do not do evening meals, but can still provide accommodation of a high standard. They may do shorter stays too.
The thing with skiing in the Alps as opposed to a North America is that it is a cultural experience in itself and I think you would regret it if you had too many short stays, especially as the ski areas are so much bigger so you get to travel about.
Maybe then for after Christmas, do more non skiing touristy stuff over in Italy-Venice etc.

The drive across Northern Italy to Aosta is quite a long way, but I would still suggest heading that way, and then through the Mont Blanc tunnel to France. Can’t help you about trains etc.

As you are not returning till mid Jan, your best bet for good snow and quieter pistes is your last week. Don’t write off France. If you really want a different and varied ski experience the 3V still takes some beating.
If not...perhaps stay in Italy and the Aosta area...take a look at Champoluc, or head to Cervinia and then you can ski over into Switzerland (Zermatt) and see the Matterhorn from the “right side”. This is always weather permitting, and January winds and weather can involve lift closures at high altitude, as those of us skiing this Jan know only too well ( if you didn’t know..epic quantities of snow this year, but very stormy).
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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
Oh - and the Dolomites are your best bet in a bad snow year. White stripes down a green field make for easier skiing than green fields.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@emwmarine, +1
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
dogwatch wrote:
....
I'm not sure why you think the Dolomites are especially dependent on snow-making. ....


Can you not?



Of course sH Snowmageddon showed an opposite situation.



But I'd say that in poor years the Dolomites is an area particularly dependent on snow-making. All that said, it is a fantastic area.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
But the same can happen anywhere. Just depends on the whims of the weather gods.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I saw the Polizei patrolling the pistes at least 3x on my recent week in the Dolomites @sbooker, One had his binoculars out whilst on a ridge, there was another with a dog.

Kraków is a fantastic, beautiful, historical, friendly and cheap place to visit and has Auschwitz and Birkenau an hour or so away.
Innsbruck to fly into, for Xmas markets, it is a pretty place, has lots of skiing close by and free to access on local transport.
Otherwise Europe is your oyster, so many great places for one reason or another.
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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?
I'm not sure why you have a downer on half board. Many hotels pride themselves on their food and often have tables for walk ins or are restaurants themselves. The only limitation is probably being asked to choose from 2 or 3 options in advance rather than having a full menu at your disposal but no problem B&B is readily available.
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On the not skiing part of your trip, you might want to fly into Berlin, go to sachsenhausen camp (and see cold war stuff), then train to Munich for the Christmas market and begin your mission through the alps to Italy.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As a fellow Australian who, other than Swedish, speaks only ‘strayan, you’ll be fine.

Sounds like you should fly into Munich, see the Christmas markets and Dachau. Then head to Salzburg is you want to see more quaint chocolate box style markets. From Salzburg you have the pick of a large number of resorts. Most of these resorts have small pensions which are usually bed and breakfast and less strict on the 7 day booking.

Even if you were going half-board you could just go for dinner away from the chalet. On that note, if you want a chalet, in my experience, France is really your only option (although I’m not sure about Italy). In my view, Austria doesn’t really have the same chalet market as France.

Whoever told you the French have an attitude was wrong. I’ve never had a bad experience in Les Gets, Avoriaz, Chamonix valley, Puy St Vincent, Tignes, Megeve, Val d etc

It’s pretty easy to get to Venice from wherever you are in the Alps.

No matter where you go, if you have a car, it’s pretty easy to explore and ski in adjacent or nearby resorts eg from Argentiere and Cham it’s a short trip to Courmayer in Italy and to Megeve; and the bus from St Anton to Lech.

As for beer, Austria is the way to go. You won’t get grapefruity India pale ale or even proper Ale like in the UK, but what you will get will be delicious.

I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
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@dogwatch, no. It won't happen at the tops of resort areas at, for example, Les Deux Alpes, Val D'Isere, Tignes or Verbier. In may skiing life, the only area I have seen the top of a resort area in bare grass in March was the Dolomites ... I have tended to go for high resorts, but by no means always.
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@chivdog, I think attitudes about French courtesy may depend on age. Tignes used to be fairly grim. Then one year the lifities were smiling and thanking us as they checked our passes. I guess they had had pre-season training. It was almost scary - not what we were expecting at all. I am returning once more to Les Deux Alpes this season. The locals are friendly, there's a great ski instructor there, a regular crowd of Brits it is good to ski with .... and I get a free lift pass because I am somewhat senior. wink
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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!
avoid austria if you dont like smoking
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I have to admit, looking at your earlier thread your first post is pretty much on the ball.

- Start in Munich for sightseeing and culture, Beer and brauhauses, sausages and pork knuckles. Visit Dachau.

When I lived in Munich we used to go Nuremburg for the Christmas market and I still think it's rated as the best in Germany. (It's about a 2 hr drive from Munich)

- Head for Innsbruck, sightseeing, more markets, get some lovely skiing in.

- Head down into Italy. The Dolomites are on your way to Venice so stop their on the way for more skiing in the majestic mountains there.

- Then spend a few days in venice

- Then head for Chamonix for some large scale mountain scenery with the possibility of deep snow. Soak up the french atmosphere.

- Maybe visit Switzerland for more skiing, scenery, different culture again.

You'll have to fill in the exact details yourself as that will depend on how long you want to spend in any one place, what grabs your interest, how you like to travel (and for how long) and really what each of your family wants to do with your time there. Personally I would drive because of the flexibility it gives you for traveling and also the opportunity to easily ski in another area if you want to.

Fly out of whichever airport works best for you. Could easily head back to munich and catch return flight from there.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Sat 20-01-18 12:50; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

As for beer, Austria is the way to go. You won’t get grapefruity India pale ale or even proper Ale like in the UK, but what you will get will be delicious.

unless you go to the bar I mentioned earlier, where extra juicy IPA etc. is exactly what'll be on tap. although they seem to have quite a few stouts on the go the last time I checked.

oh, and it's non smoking too.
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olderscot wrote:
I have to admit, looking at your earlier thread your first post is pretty much on....


Bang on.

Re Austria and smoking, I didn’t notice it that much, but that’s maybe because I last skied in Austria just before or just after the 2007 smoking ban came into force in the UK. I do recall a chap in Lederhosen skiing smoking a pipe. Since then I’ve skied only in France.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I think @olderscot, has a good itinerary, although I'm not really sure why visiting Dachau is part of a fun holiday, and it's called Nürnberg not Nuremburg (sorry about the pedantry). But as @pam w pointed out, finding short stay accommodation over the Christmas period can be tricky.
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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
Quote:

although I'm not really sure why visiting Dachau is part of a fun holiday


Only because it's on his list of things he wants to do.

Quote:

4. We definitely want to visit a city with a Christmas market, visit a city close to one of the concentration camps so we can do a tour (a little perverse I understand)..


Quote:
and it's called Nürnberg not Nuremburg


Even Nürnberg calls it Nuremberg in English. Although I'll apologise for the 'u'.

https://www.nuernberg.de/internet/stadtportal_e/

Next thing I know you'll be telling me we shouldn't be calling Venezia 'Venice', or München 'Munich' come to that.


Last edited by 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 on Sat 20-01-18 14:13; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

I'm not sure why you have a downer on half board

I am. I really dislike feeling that either I have to eat in the same hotel every night or go out and pay for a second meal. In fact I dislike hotels altogether. If money were no object I'd always prefer to rent a classy apartment, cook some simple things for myself and friends, relax in my own sitting room with the very best in wines and spirits and go out to lots of nice restaurants.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Though renting a swish private chalet and chef would also be good. Your own pool, gym, massage room and cinema, a flunkey to run you to the slopes and your own chef to cook whatever you want - and are willing to pay for. My son has cooked in some chalets like that but they are seriously expensive. The customers paid a couple of thousand euros a week just for him and they also paid at cost for all the lobsters and caviare they ordered. It's how the other half ski, for sure! The staff apartment in one chalet (owned by a top Parisian banker and absolutely not available for rent) was twice as smart as my own apartment, for a start. The banker's wife was an interior designer and the place was full of intriguing objets d'art.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If you’re looking to use the wonderful European train system, www.seat61.com is a useful site.

If it is a good start to the season you may want to explore off piste, particularly in places like Chamonix. I’m sure there are a number of seasoned off piste bashers on this forum who are able to recommend guides.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@olderscot,
Quote:
Next thing I know you'll be telling me we shouldn't be calling Venezia 'Venice', or München 'Munich' come to that.
It was the u that threw me. Never mind.
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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?
dogwatch wrote:
I think you are as likely to find friendly and unfriendly people in France as anywhere else. I would not factor that into your selection.

Your belief that European resorts are not patrolled is incorrect. Christmas is a very busy time for resorts, snow-making and snow-moving will have been performed as needed in the major resorts and you'd be very unlucky to find them un-skiable.

As a tourist you can function in English easily enough. To put it another way, Anglophones can get by with being lazy about bothering to learn other languages.

I'm not sure why you think the Dolomites are especially dependent on snow-making.

US resorts are small and touring around them makes sense. The major European resorts are large and there is plenty of skiing to explore in a week. Hence people tend to stay in a resort and I'm not sure how many do "itineraries". Resorts and hotels are geared up to people who stay for a week. Over the Christmas week, I'm not sure how easy you would find booking a hotel for a short period.

All major resorts have activities for people who don't ski because it is common to go as families where not everyone skis.

"Raucous euro apres ski" is not mandatory. Finding "proper ale type beer" may be a challenge. On that point, I suggest going native.

If you are determined to visit Venice, then personally I'd fly in and out of Venice and spend the intervening time in the Dolomites.


Apologies for the preconceived ideas. I’m sure most French people are lovely - no offence intended.
We will spend this year trying to learn some basic German and Italian.
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emwmarine wrote:
I suspect that problems will arise for you wherever you and your mini adults go with your detailed list of 14 requirements and pre-conceived ideas of the attitude of a whole country.


The parameters aren’t absolute musts. I’m trying to design an itinerary that my family will enjoy. I’m sure we’ll have a great time regardless of where we go and what we do.
Again no offence intended regarding the French attitude. I had not even heard of that idea until I read it numerous times on this site.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I'm not sure why you have a downer on half board. Many hotels pride themselves on their food and often have tables for walk ins or are restaurants themselves. The only limitation is probably being asked to choose from 2 or 3 options in advance rather than having a full menu at your disposal but no problem B&B is readily available.


No downer on half board as such. I’ve just never tried it and I like the idea of trying different restaurants each evening. I guess we may be open to it.
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In Italy in particular half board in any small family owned hotel is IMO a delight. I get the not working to someone else's timetable but kinda prefer a swim or sauna then dinner rather than shopping or pounding the pavements peering at menus. EOSB excepted because the cooking and hanging is all part of the vibe but even then we are usually pre shopped.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Could someone point me in the direction of good accomodation sites please?
Or is it best to go to each individual resorts accomodation page?
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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!
Ah minefield.

Some tourist offices have good websites for accomodation with effective and up to date booking engines, many are little more than a directory of phone numbers and email addresses. And if you are looking for accomodation other than 7 days starting on a weekend many places will just ignore you until much much nearer the time.

In all honesty combination of Trivago/ Booking/ Hotels.com and tourist office will cover most bases.
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Just to echo DoM above, tourist offices are sometimes fantastic (e.g. the tourist office for St Anton). AirBnB and tripadvisor would also be worth a look.
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@sbooker, As others have said, the local tourist office website is often an excellent place to look for accommodation. One other resource which is often useful if you are looking for accommodation in Austria and Northern Italy for part of a week only (i.e not the full 7 days) is www.tiscover.com
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