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USA family - Easter 2023 Alps Ski Resort

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@j b, I agree with your comment about beginners. They need good consistent snow and that tends to be found in high altitude resort. My first trip was to Kitzbuel in April. In the morning the snow was rock hard and the afternoon slush. Half of my beginners group quit before the week was done. Aim high for beginners in April and target conveinence over everything else.

Certainly the big resorts give the beginners a more comprehensive view of what skiing is all about. On his 3rd day on skis I escorted by nepthew from Arc2000 down to Pre st Espirit then from the top of Combourciere down to the Transarc (I think we had a diversion down to 1600 as well) then back up the Transarc to Arc2000. All gentle blues. He loved the journey. I don't think he went down to Villaroger or Vallandry that trip but I think he went everywhere else.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

While I agree there are better places than Avoriaz for April in terms of elevation, remember that 7 out of the party of 8 are beginners or near-beginners. They aren't going to make use of the entire area.

But they might not enjoy crowded pistes and lifts if lower parts of the PdS are warm and slushy.
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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?
Val d'Isere would seem to have everything the purplhays group would want from a first trip to the Alps. It's high, with high altitude skiing, it is atmospheric, it is at the end of a dead end road in winter, hence limited traffic, and it should have good ski instruction. It's a nice walkable place. From a perspective of a Boston based Alps ski nut, it ticks all the boxes. Avoriaz is a really cool, purpose built place, about the best of that sort of village. But, as others have stated, the lower altitude skiing, which encompasses much of the surrounding Portes du Soleil area, could be a mixed bag. Zermatt and Verbier are both great resorts, and would be a must for later trips, but val d'Isere, with Tignes, seems to offer a lot for everyone in this mixed group.
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@purplhays,
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is if Russia turns off the gas taps this winter. France should be OK but the other Alpine countries wouldn't be.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Kenzie wrote:
@purplhays,
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is if Russia turns off the gas taps this winter. France should be OK but the other Alpine countries wouldn't be.


<Waves> from 2.5% fossil-fueled Switzerland.
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Quote:

it is atmospheric

I must say that I don't think Val d'Isere is "atmospheric". Or not in a good way, at any rate. But I do agree it ticks many of the boxes.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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Welcome to snowheads @purplhays, .... Must have been a Jimmy Hendrix fan Madeye-Smiley

Its a difficult choice ... lots of good suggestions here.

For European ambience and charm I would not go to France ..
I would recommend Austria for that, but then you would have to worry about the snow, for non skiers you need access to a city such as Saltzburg to drop in on the Von Trap family. Eat Strudel, cake and coffee.
But where to ski around there?
Kaprun has a glacier with easy skiing at the top and a really great beginers area if the snow is still good at the north end of the village.
Zell am See has the local train station .. its about an hour into Salzburg from there.

Or as may have already said ... Val Thorens is snow sure but lacks that European charm.

You'll have a great time wherever you go, so just do it.
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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!
as the grass doc says, Austria is a complete different experience and there's plenty of high skiing, ischgl, Sölden/obergurgl, zillertal valley but to name a few.
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Quote:

For European ambience and charm I would not go to France ..
I would recommend Austria for that, but then you would have to worry about the snow, for non skiers you need access to a city such as Saltzburg to drop in on the Von Trap family. Eat Strudel, cake and coffee.
But where to ski around there?

This reminds me another non-France potential, St Moritz.

I’ve been there in one April some years ago. And several people I met at my hotel were all “1st week of April regulars”. They said the snow was “typical” for that year. By which it meant it was fresh snow twice in a week (only 10-15cm), sunshine half the time and cloudy the rest. Snow coverage was not a problem. St Moritz is quite high and rather cold even in 1st week of April. So apart from 1 day of slush in the afternoon, the rest of the time was just your very garden variety of snow. (In fact, due to some train platform issue, we were dropped off by the train in one of the village about 50’ from the platform. I remember trudging through snow up to my thigh — and that’s at the train station, i.e. base level)

It’s a small city, easy and frequent train & bus connection to many surrounding villages with what I think a lot more charm than say Val Thoren! (BTW, I’m also from NYC and I found VT has less “European charm” than … Okemo! Wink ).

Access should be by flying to Zurich instead of Geneva. A private transfer would be just around 3 1/2 hr according to google.

I have no idea about ski school.
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johnE wrote:
Quote:

I would agree, plus add Les Arcs.

If you want to go to Les Arcs I would reccomend Arc2000 for beginners or perhaps EdenArc. However there is less for non skiers to do in Les Arcs than Tignes (I would love to go subba diving under the ice on the lake)


If you want folk to like skiing make the convenience of it the priority. The ability to walk straight out of the accommodation to a ski school/lifts would always be my priority, most especially with kids in tow! There is enough faff for beginners to deal with without a long walk or bus ride to the skiing. If those who don`t want to ski are happy to drive consider staying high and those wanting a day off can then drive down the mountain to go exploring.

Someone mentioned PDS and Avoriaz in particular, in a bad snow year, it`s a disaster! Many places are.

Arc 2000 is good shout for ski convenience but bears no resemblance to a traditional village, for that some of the Austrian resorts are better, but traditional villages are not typically high in the mountains so ski convenience would be very limited that late in the season.

Many purpose built high resorts have great accommodation with in house spa/pool/sauna etc but to explore outside the resort generally require a car.

If you can, prioritise. Staying low with easy access to a big town in April will mean a trek for skiers, being high is much more likely to get easy access to skiing but anyone not skiing will have to drive to access anything not deliberately built into a ski resort.
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CaravanSkier wrote:

If you want folk to like skiing make the convenience of it the priority.


This, above all.
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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.
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
CaravanSkier wrote:

If you want folk to like skiing make the convenience of it the priority.


This, above all.

I got a very different impression from the OP.

This is a family holiday. Fathers and kids skiing, “wives” do their own thing, but “willing to try” skiing.
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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
I think the OP has enough data and perspectives to make their own mind up depending on their own realistic expectations of how much skiing the beginners will do. Personally I wouldn't fly transatlantic just to bring beginner families skiing and if I did I wouldn't try to make it an all things to everyone trip but focus on the most important priorities. Only the individuals concerned can truly rank those priorities. What we do know about April is that spring conditions can be hostile for beginners if you pick the wrong altitude/exposure.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I had a good feeling that I stumbled on the perfect community when I started reading all the previous threads related to “Spring”, “Family”, and “Easter”. This community is full of rich information with a very supportive attitude!

With that said, I could have never imagined such amazing, helpful, and thoughtful responses to my original (first ever) post!! A sincere thank you to each and everyone of you that took time out of your morning/afternoon/evening to share your experiences and knowledge about skiing in Europe, I am beyond grateful!

I’ve shared this thread with the other adults traveling with me on this ski vacation and everyone’s feedback has been extremely helpful for us to think about what’s most important for this trip. We’re still discussing and debating, but I will be sure to share our final decision (and will likely ask for more suggestions/recommendations to help plan the details/logistics wink ), thank you again!!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We aim to please purplhays - well, most of us! Laughing

Do let us know what you decide.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

I will be sure to share our final decision

We look forward to that! Little Angel
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@purplhays, how exciting!

Avoriaz-I haven't skied there, but the PDS is not big on elevation, and, though the PDS has a good snow record relative to its elevation, once temperatures warm up, the "mush" is likely to develop earlier in the day than if you are up high-as others have observed, that's not much fun for beginners (or anyone else for that matter!).

If you want the combined classic Alpine experience and snow sure skiing, I'd second the recommendation of Zermatt, plus you get great food, especially over on the Italian side and it's very snow sure later in the season. There are inconveniences however. It's perhaps not the best resort for beginners or low intermediates, the logistics raise the "faff" factor, especially with kids, it's not as easy to get to the slopes as many high mountain resorts in the Alps, and there is the cost factor of staying in a pretty blingy resort. If you want to find accommodation options in apartments, the tourist office can offer links to properties and there are rental agencies with a vast range of properties from basic to super luxury on offer. There's not much ski in ski out accommodation to speak of, and it's definitely not a resort where beginners can ski back to the to bottom, so that's the trade off, but there is plenty of accommodation within a short walk of the lifts or at worse a short bus ride. There are a number good ski schools-many native english speaking instructors (my stepson worked for Summit which was run by Brits https://summitskischool.com), but to be honest, it's such an international resort, all instructors speak good english. Private lessons are far cheaper than in the USA.

Mr P and I have a place in St Martin de Belleville in the Trois Vallees, home of Val Thorens which, at 2400m, is the highest ski resort in Europe (15 mins drive up the road for us or about a 50 min ski if we are in a hurry). VT is not the prettiest architecturally, and it's above the tree line (which hovers around 1800-2000m in most resorts), but you should get good snow conditions even in April with far less mush. All accommodation is pretty much ski in ski out and centres around the gentle slopes in the village. For the more adventurous, the skiing goes up to 3300m. On a good day it's less than a 3 hour drive from Geneva airport, and with the number in your party you could look at booking a minibus transfer to take out the stress of car hire and navigation(such as Alpybus, or Coolrunnings for VT). As @Pasigal, has observed, it you want to ski somewhere cute and alpine, just take the pistes to St Martin de Belleville-though that could be a challenge for beginners.

Another option which no-one has mentioned yet, but could be a good option if you are interested in the 3V ski area, is Courchevel. Courchevel 1850 will most likely be a bit short on Russian visitors this coming winter (Courchevel has been their go to winter playground for about 20 years), so maybe accommodation will be cheaper and easier to find (ha ha-I'm probably kidding myself, perhaps gone are the days where it would ever be good value-it has some amazing chalets that are beyond the wallet of most mortals!). The slopes above 1850 are fantastic for beginners. Even in April I might be tempted by its baby brother Courchevel 1650 (aka Moriond) which is a lot less flashy and has some excellent north facing slopes directly above the village which are good for beginners and early intermediates. Off the slopes in the Courchevel area there is a very fancy swimming complex, and lovely walks in the trees, options also likely to include guided snow shoe outings, dog sledding etc.

Similar to VT in terms of the limited Alpine charm, but good and convenient skiing and instruction would be Tignes. Val D'Isere-does have more charm, though maybe not so beginner friendly in terms of getting off the mountain at the end of the day. There's a good range of ski schools in all f the above

Food wise-a catered chalet has been the way many of us Brits experienced their ski hols for many years. With Brexit (Crying or Very sad) there are fewer, but it might be worth checking those out if you can't face cooking every day. They vary from good value, relatively basic but most en suite accommodation with average food cooked by young people after a gap year in the mountains to more sophisticated operations, with professional chefs-almost all catering for the British market.

The possible issue with almost all accommodation particularly in peak season, is bookings tend to be preset at one week-usually Saturday to Saturday, but occasionally Sunday to Sunday-the latter avoids the "transfer day" traffic issues of a saturday. For you guys Airbnb and vrbo might be an option for an odd span of dates, but still your best bet for seeing the full range would probably be to look on the resort website to see what is on offer-they are likely to have links to rental agencies, plus individual properties.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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Jack wrote:
Val d'Isere would seem to have everything the purplhays group would want from a first trip to the Alps. It's high, with high altitude skiing, it is atmospheric, it is at the end of a dead end road in winter, hence limited traffic, and it should have good ski instruction. It's a nice walkable place. From a perspective of a Boston based Alps ski nut, it ticks all the boxes.

I agree that Val is the obvious choice. It's one of the world's most popular ski resorts for some very good reasons. It's high enough to be snow-sure without being filled with brutalist 1960s architecture, and it's a pleasant place to hang out if the non-skiers lose interest in the slopes. That's a rare combination of virtues. I would call it attractive rather than atmospheric, though, and it does have moments of extreme hideousness such as the La Daille area. Also note that beginners are likely to need to take a lift down in the evening, as there is no easy way off the mountain to central Val.

A few warnings are needed if purplhays is used to the Rockies. First, accommodation in France is very cramped; look at the room sizes and don't go for maximum occupancy. Second, everything in the French Alps is centred on a seven-day trip with a Saturday changeover; options for accommodation and schools will be otherwise be limited. Third, at the risk of sounding patronising, the ski area is huge compared with even Vail or Whistler; it's easy to get lost or stuck in the wrong village when the lifts close, so be careful. Fourth, although lift queues will be rare, the pistes will be crowded...imagine Vail on a bluebird powder President's Day for the nearest equivalent.

I would ordinarily also give a warning about the prices. But I've recently been to both New York and the Rockies, and anywhere in the Alps will look like a bargain in comparison.
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For bookings that aren’t sat to sat I have had plenty of options booking ‘odd’ dates in Austria and for next season, Zermatt. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the reasonable price for accommodation in middle of the road 3 star places in Zermatt. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles there are bargains to be had. I’ve never skiied in North America but have looked at prices out of curiosity and generally Europe is better priced. As for lift passes that value for money is brilliant considering the size of many of the resorts.

I’m paying for everything in Australian dollars though so keep that in mind Very Happy
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OP Update

Due to fluctuations in flight prices, we decided to fly into Milan and will arrive on Sat, 01-Apr. We have also amended our plans and are going with a modified ski vacation. We will spend time touring in and around Milan on both the front and back end of the trip. We will travel to Aosta Valley on Monday and are staying at a self catered villa in Chambave (20 mins to Aosta, 45 mins to Cervinia). We will ski at Cervinia Tues-Thurs and check out Friday.

As stated in the OP, we are a group of 2 families: one adult advanced intermediate, one beginner adult (will need lessons), four children (7, 8, 9, 12 y/o) that will need ski school, and two first-time adults (wives are willing to try skiing on this trip!)

In preparation, I need:
(1) English speaking ski school for the children
(2) English speaking private ski lessons for the beginner adults
(3) place to hire skis and boots
(4) things to do for the non-skier adults in (4a) Cervinia, (4b) on the mountain, and (4c) in the Aosta Valley
(5) places to eat in (5a) Cervinia, (5b) on the mountain, (5c) Aosta, (5d) Aosta Valley
(6) logistics in and on the mountain (e.g. parking, ski pass, best way to Zermatt, etc.)

I hope this community can help me with anything and everything Aosta Valley/Cervinia ski trip planning! Very Happy
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@purplhays,
I'd start a new thread with a title along the lines of Cervinia help, and repost your questions.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Mon 19-09-22 15:35; edited 1 time in total
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Kenzie wrote:
@purplhays,
I'd start a new thread with a title along the lines of Cervonia help, and repost your questions.


Well it's good cough mixture, oh sorry that's Covonia. Toofy Grin Of course to be serious your typo should read Cervinia... Madeye-Smiley
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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!
@purplhays, blimey 45 minute commute each way is going to make for long days especially with beginners and kids. You need to find a ski hire shop that will store your stuff each evening to avoid having to lug it in both directions. You may also need private lessons if you’re only there midweek as group lessons are usually sold in week long blocks. And only the advanced skier will have the skills to get over to Zermatt. Book up Chaket Étoile well in advance for a nice lunch (on the terrace of the weather is nice)
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Alastair Pink wrote:
Kenzie wrote:
@purplhays,
I'd start a new thread with a title along the lines of Cervonia help, and repost your questions.


Well it's good cough mixture, oh sorry that's Covonia. Toofy Grin Of course to be serious your typo should read Cervinia... Madeye-Smiley

Cough, cough. Corrected. Embarassed
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We were in the Aosta Valley this summer and enjoyed going up the Skyway Monte Bianco rotating gondola to Mt. Blanc. You have to book in advance. The base parking is near the entrance to the Mt.Blanc Tunnel above Courmayeur. It's very impressive but obviously, best done in good weather.
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I'd fly to Milan Linate and go to Bormio. The skiing is high, faces roughly north, and the snow should remain in good condition at that time of year. The main mountain should have enough skiing for your group as it does seem that the majority are beginners or near-beginners. But you can also visit Santa Caterina on the same lift pass and that's not too far away if you are feeling adventurous. You can also travel to Livigno, but that's a bit further.

The town is really nice and there are lots of good-quality hotels available at good prices. If you're getting an excellent exchange rate already, then your money will go even further here. Lots of nice, well-priced restaurants too. Thermal baths available although I've never been.

You could hire a van from the airport, but a lot of the hotels can arrange private transfers and for your group of 8 it should work out fairly economical as you will fill a 9-seat van. It's over 3 hours from the airport - but that doesn't bother me. Finally, you can ski on the Stelvio track that will be used for the downhill in the 2026 Winter Olympics (although the lower part will be slushy at that time of year).

Edit - although I now see you're going to Cervinia. I didn't read the 2nd page of replies!
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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.
Good call on Milan. There's enough to do in the city for a few days, and a side trip to one of the lakes is a must. We have flown into both Milan airports, much prefer Malpensa.
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