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So fussy! Can't decide when and where to go in 2021

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Trying to decide where to go for our 2021 ski holiday (3 of us, myself other half and younger daughter 17).

We were initially in a dilemma because eldest (other daughter) is off to uni next year and we had hoped to go to our favourite destination, Dolomites, over half term but realised they don't have half term at uni, then was deliberating over Easter or New Year week. Cut a long story short, eldest is not coming now but having done a fair bit of research and trawling through the threads, I am a now a little undecided as to when and where.

What we like
Good quality hearty food - No need for fine dining but not into pizza or chips or self service restaurants. Food is quite an important theme here!
Good value for money at mountain restaurants - We like to sit down and eat well; you just cannot beat the fantastic food on offer around the La Villa area.
Fair weather skiing - Last year over new year week in La villa it was -13˚ and it was just too damned cold. Both myself and daughter suffer from poor circulation unfortunately.
Big ski areas with a good mix of terrain
Convenience - don't like traipsing around between disconnected ski areas or get buses from one area to another, just want to get skiing!

I don't know whether to go back to the Dolomites and stay Selva side but half term clashes with Carnevale and Fasching next year so will no doubt as busy as New year or to try Austria or have a go at easter skiing in France which we could go from the 27th March next year. I think New year is a definite no no because I dont want to risk it being that cold again.

I have always resisted the big resorts such as Val Thorens and Tignes because of the fact that they are purpose built and I worry about the price of food and drink slope side. We have a moderate budget, we don't scrimp and scrape but I like to feel like I've got a good price and always book DIY. This year we are looking to keep it slightly cheaper and will most likely self cater but most likely fly, hire a car and get a supermarket shop on the way but still eat on the slopes in the day.

Half term: Montgenevre, Lech/Zurs, Serre Chevalier
For Easter, Val Thorens, Alpe D'Huez, Cervinia
Val Thorens looks very purpose built (a bit like Avoriaz) but I guess conveniently ski in ski out? If you went here over Easter would you get the full 3 valleys pass?
Tignes - Can you get to the end and back of the Espace Killy in one day? We go reasonably fast.
Cervina - Don't know much about the resort other than it shares with Zermatt

If anyone can recommend resorts that I can look into that they particularly like for the same reasons above I would be grateful of your opinions!

Been to the following places so far:
Whistler - Honeymoon (pre kids March/April) - would love to go back but probably too expensive nowadays
Val Cenis - Easter (late March) - Good budget holiday but probably would not want to ski anywhere smaller and we found the lower slopes very slushy at end of day
Piesey Vallandry (Les Arcs) - Term time early Feb. Wasn't keen on all the criss crossing of slopes and not keen on food at all. So much sausage and chips on offer!
La Villa (Dolomites) New year week and half term week - Our favourite
Morzine (Portes de Soleil), Jan, Feb and March. Good food, been 3 times, bit of a pain to cross from Morzine to Avoriaz side
Zillertal - March, short break. Food good but disconnected ski areas.

Thanks for reading Very Happy
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1. Meribel
2. Lech
3. Val d'Isere
4. Les Arcs
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Hmm. I'd always try to avoid half term in France - and for the reasons you cite the Dolomites might not be ideal either. And statistically I don't think half term is likely to be much warmer than New Year. I think I'd plan for Easter but keep my options open till very near the time - hoping to be able to go to the Dolomites again but with a high purpose built French resort as a back up if snow is poor. Easter is low season in France, and you shouldn't have problems with booking accommodation late. As for travel, flights from the UK at Easter are expensive, especially at the last minute. I'd drive.
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I’d stick with the Dolomites, but move around to Arabba or Selva and attack the area from a different angle. snowHead
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mini_mo wrote:
Tignes - Can you get to the end and back of the Espace Killy in one day? We go reasonably fast.


Yes you can, The lift system is pretty efficient so you can achieve it fairly quickly if you plan your route.
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From what I've heard the snow making and piste grooming in the Dolomites is very good. And March 27th isn't actually that late. I've been skiing in the Tarentaise more than once in mid-April. So that's where I would go if I had your criteria.

I don't eat in mountain restaurants. However, from what I've read whilst you can get decent food in the Tarentaise mega resorts, it's patchy and not for the budget conscious.

On the flip side if you want to moderately priced self catering accomomodation, a big ski area and convenience.... then the Tarentaise is the place to go....

Find it very odd you describe PV as "criss crossing". it is a little bit if you need to get across to other runs or to the other areas of Les Arcs but there are a number of pistes going fairly directly downhill. The 3V is similar in this respect.
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Your tick list seems similar to mine.

I'd avoid the big resorts in France, often good for skiing but bad for food and often not value for money.

Try something in Austria for a bit of a change up would be where I'd look I think.

Maybe Saalbach, or one of the many villages in Tyrol area.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Easter is quite early next year so I'd go for that over half term, personally.
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We skied in Val D'isere last year at end March (flew out 31 March) and are back again for the same week this year (fly out 28 March)
(Sheffield schools fixed their two weeks off at start of April regardless of when Easter actually falls).

That week (27 March 2021) is off peak (French start two weeks later, bulk of UK schools the week after) - only seems to be UK private schools off (and possibly Universities broken already)

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3468683

So a nice quiet week - no queues . Plenty of accommodation.

Snow has always been fine - resort is at 1850 and lifts either way take you to a mid station of 2200 M or so with lifts then going further up so plenty of high altitude skiing - if lower slopes are poor you can always download.

Food on and off slopes is fine if you do some research ...not to Italian price and quality though.

One huge positive in Val is the regular , very efficient and free ski buses which tootle round all day.
Never more than 5 mins wait. Once on the mountain - everything is lift connected.

This year we are in your favourite La Villa for Feb half term (next week!). Hoping it wont be too busy...
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@sheffskibod, La Villa will be fabulous next week because Fasching and Carnevale week does not clash. They seem to clash with UK half term every other year. Have a great time!

Thanks for people's suggestions. Am doing some research today and will have a think...
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mini_mo wrote:

For Easter, Val Thorens, Alpe D'Huez, Cervinia
Val Thorens looks very purpose built (a bit like Avoriaz) but I guess conveniently ski in ski out? If you went here over Easter would you get the full 3 valleys pass?
Tignes - Can you get to the end and back of the Espace Killy in one day? We go reasonably fast.
Cervina - Don't know much about the resort other than it shares with Zermatt


Yes, the majority of accommodation will be ski in/ski out in Val Thorens. Generally at Easter we only get a VT pass, but if the snow looked particularly good then you could always upgrade online (for the full week or even one or two days). Plenty of skiing in VT/Orelle if you don't.

It is purpose built, but more along the lines of Avoriaz than Plagne Bellecote, for example.

With it being Easter, the demand for accommodation will be lower, so you do have the option of leaving it late. But the caveat to this is, while you should be able to find accommodation, the best value for money apartments in the high snow-sure resorts tend to get booked up early. This may be something to consider if budget and VFM is a big consideration. Otherwise you might end up in much smaller apartment for your budget if you leave it too late.
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I recommend Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Austria. Big, well-connected ski area. Sunnier and drier than northern Austria. Plenty of food options. Moderately priced.
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Saalbach. Nothing else needs to be said.
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beeryletcher wrote:
Saalbach. Nothing else needs to be said.
Except that it's spread out and somewhat disconnected. It gets fewer sunlight hours on average than resorts further south, and it can suffer from high temperatures and melting in the spring. But it is still a really good resort.
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lenzerheide
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
+1 for Serfaus Fiss Ladis. I reckon it's got the best mountain restaurants of all the places I've skied. Good prices too, probably half the price of somewhere like Val D'Isere or the Three Valleys.
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beeryletcher wrote:
Saalbach. Nothing else needs to be said.


not sure - I found the atmosphere in town a bit beery and letchy.

Adverts for pole dancing clubs at the gondola stations were awkward when queuing with my daughter at Christmas.

Food on mountain was a little disappointing. Ski buses were very infrequent. Too much walking about for me.

We wont be back.
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Quote:

With it being Easter, the demand for accommodation will be lower, so you do have the option of leaving it late. But the caveat to this is, while you should be able to find accommodation, the best value for money apartments in the high snow-sure resorts tend to get booked up early. This may be something to consider if budget and VFM is a big consideration. Otherwise you might end up in much smaller apartment for your budget if you leave it too late.


I'll second that. We normally go at Feb half term but going at Easter this year. Tried to leave it as late a possible to book but got nervy: decided to go for Tignes and just saw 2-bedroom apartments disappearing by the week. So in January I found something that looked nice (there weren't that many places!) and booked it. It only has one (big) bedroom to sleep us and the kids in 2 bunk beds and 2 couchette (fold down from the wall) beds but the whole place is nice and large and it's a 3* property (close to slope/lifts/bus). Would have preferred 2 bedroom but the trade off is that the place was advertised at 800 Euros, I offered 700 and got it for 740 for the week. Can't complain about that. But I would assume that had I booked a bit earlier I could have got a nice 2 bed in a better location......for more money obviously.
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Last year we went April 13th and had no problem securing a nice apartment in Les Menuires.
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Layne wrote:
Last year we went April 13th and had no problem securing a nice apartment in Les Menuires.


This is a fair - by shifting to a slightly lower resort and in the second week of the school hols, you suddenly open up a larger range of options.

We were in Val Thorens for the 6th April we got a much nicer/larger apartment than my brother by booking earlier (and he didn't necessarily book late).
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@altaski8, +1, however I have never been! Very highly thought of though and worth researching. Came out as second best resort in the world after Zermatt in a German poll.
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@mini_mo, We did Easter in La Tania for many years, no problems accessing the whole Trois Vallees and skiing back at the end of the day.

After that we went to Stuben over Easter and once again could always ski back - fab hotel I'd recommend here https://www.hubertushof-arlberg.at/en/

La Thuile maybe worth a look for the food, decent skiing and sensible prices!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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We also love the Dolomites....but we have recently returned from Saalbach which we can wholeheartedly recommend. Fabulous everything....skiing, snow, scenery, food (on mountain and in town), accommodation, lift system, transfer......there was nothing to dislike!
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@sheffskibod, try Hinterglemm, it's still lively but a tad more grown up
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@kettonskimum, Easter is earlier in 2021 so it may be even harder to find a property. This year it looks as if Les Arcs will be almost deserted over Easter (everyone must be looking at Tignes and Val Thorens)
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@mini_mo, Saalbach ticks all your boxes. If you're considering it, send me a P.M. asking for my comprehensive 20 page guide, which will help you avoid the negative impressions formed by a couple of contributors above, and leave you with the glowing impression formed by @PS,

People generally like the resort for the size and inter-connectedness of the ski area, the availability of ski-in ski-out accommodation (with no need for walking or bussing - although the ski buses are regular and very efficient), the fantastic mountain restaurants (including some really outstanding ones), the reasonable prices, the ambience of the scenic village centre, the friendliness of just about everyone you encounter, and the extremely jolly apres-ski. (Incidentally, my wife and step-daughter think the few discreet, pole-dancing clubs are great fun, but a little overpriced - unless I'm paying for the drinks!)
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Re: Saalbach. I seem to remember walking a few hundred meters through town (in ski boots with skis on my shoulder) to get from one area to another. Is that situation all sorted now?

I also remember people being really pushy and aggressive in the lift lines. Maybe they organize those better now.

Saalbach is nice, sure. But to me it doesn't really stand out from Kitzbuhel, Wilder Kaiser, Schladming, Maria Alm, Flachau, or a bunch of other Austrian areas. They do have really good PR though. I see Saalbach advertising everywhere.
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@altaski8, much depends on where you stay - walking is fairly optional and can largely be avoided. Research and astute choice of location pays off, as in most resorts.
Lift lines are generally non-existent or minimal, although NY week this year did see a few, possibly owing to the weather and conditions. Never seen the behaviour you describe in all my winters in Saalbach since 2006.
Not saying it stands out from the other perfectly nice resorts you mention. It doesn’t really need any P.R. - it’s already number 4 in the list of most visited resorts worldwide; the only worry is that it might become too popular, and that we might start seeing more of those “lift lines” that you mention.
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@tatmanstours, all good points. From memory and using the piste map as a guide, yes walking is theoretically optional. But it looks like you have to take quite a detour to get from one side of the area to the other without walking. The area is large and spread out to be sure, I just personally wouldn't describe it as well connected.

Regarding lift lines. I'm not saying they were particularly long when I have visited (during non-peak season). But rather that you had to really fight for your spot in line... with elbows and mean glances and such. I find that an unnecessary annoyance.
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Having skied in France and Austria there really is no comparison.
The Austrians look after you so well. The mountain restaurants are way more superior and cheaper as well as cleaner and better maintained than in France.
Pick your resort carefully and you can get amazing skiing and super fast lifts. We loved all that Saalbach offered, as mentioned by some others above.
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@altaski8, I agree that there are certain points in the Ski Circus, where you might walk between lifts (e.g. between the Schattberg Xpress and the Bernkogelbahn or Kohlmaisbahn, or between the U-bahn and the Reiterkogelbahn), but why would you do that?
None of the Saalbach residents and regulars of my acquaintance do that. The accepted practice is to cross the valley at Jausern/Vorderglemm and at Hochalm, where you step straight out of your skis and onto a gondola. No one I know ever walks between lifts in order to cross the valley.
Likewise itineraries to Leogang, Fieberbrunn and Zell am See involve no walking whatsoever.
This season I have been hacking round the Ski Circus for 40 days, covering 128,000 v.m., and I can think of only two occasions when I have walked more than 100 meters. On both occasions that involved an easy, downhill stroll (about 7 minutes, with my ski boots in my rucksack) from the Kohlmaisbahn to the Schattberg Xpress, and that was only because I was meeting friends there for the first lift.
On the question of using elbows and mean glances to fight for my place in lift lines (which generally I don’t encounter), I can honestly say that in 16 years or so of skiing round the Ski Circus, I have never once witnessed such behaviour. Moreover I would find it surprising if the cosmopolitan mix of nationalities, which one generally finds in Austrian ski resorts, abandon their good manners when they visit the Ski Circus (a ski area that is generally reputed to be relatively queue-free).
In all my years of skiing, I can only think of two examples of the kind of scrum-like behaviour you describe: Mayrhofen, before they upgraded the Penken cable car, and Avoriaz (I remember a Frenchman jeering that “the Eengleesh are stupide for queuing”).
Going back to the ski convenience issue, everyone will have their own tales to tell, often influenced by their choice of accommodation, but for the record, the resorts that for me have involved the most walking and bussing have been Mayrhofen, Badgastein, St Anton, Zermatt, Val d’Isere, Serre Chevalier (Monetier), Les Deux Alpes. The most ski-convenient ones have been St Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Vallandry, Arcs 2000, La Plagne, Alpe d’Huez, Leogang, and Saalbach. There have been quite a few others that fell between - a bit of walking to the lifts involved, but not enough to be concerned about: e.g. Cervinia, Champery, Les Gets. It usually boils down to whether you book ski-in ski-out accommodation - which involves appropriate research and asking pertinent questions on this forum.
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Could I be the only one who's thinking ... The Lecht?
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@mini_mo, sod all this and go back to Whistler. If you start looking now and ready to book by April/ May you can get a great deal and even include Vancouver. American Ski Classics can help with great deals, 2 bed condo in the village, transfer and Air Canada flights with carriage. Get the epic local pass at the right time and its very reasonable. You know what, I think I'll book whistler again for next year!
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Another vote for Serfaus. Gets plenty of sun, great interconnected ski area and plenty of good food options.
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@mini_mo, Schruns, Montafon. Skiing and food.
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Hi all, thanks for all the feedback. I have sat down with other half and we have decided to go in half term so will either go back to the Dollies or Saalbach (due to the numerous times this has been recommended). Obviously Saalbach is quite low altitude. Has anyone had any issues with snow during half term? Also where would you suggest is a good base (town) and location within the town for self catering accommodation so that we can have a short walk to the ski hire shop, which will be ideally located at the Gondola/main lift up and that we can access all of the areas easily with out too much walking. As I mentioned previously, we can cover a lot of mileage in 1 day but do like the convenience of not lugging ski's and walking too far in ski boots. I assume most people would fly into Salzburg?
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@mini_mo, Saalbach is at medium altitude for the eastern Alps. Half term is in the middle of the peak season, so as snow sure as you can get.
The general consensus is that Saalbach is the best location in the ski area, and the upper part of the village in the vicinity of the Kohlmaisbahn or the Bernkogelbahn is preferable to being down on the main road (the Glemmtaler Landesstraße).
The village is quite compact, so walking in ski boots tends not to be a problem, and plenty of slopeside, ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
Salzburg is indeed the nearest airport, and there is a 7 times a day shuttle service that will deliver you to the door of your accommodation.
If you P.M. me your email address I will send you my comprehensive guide to Saalbach, which will probably answer all or most of your likely questions.
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