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Folgarida - Hotel Gran Baita - February Half-term 2010

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Folgarida 1300
Country: Italy
Dates: 13/02/10 to 20/02/10
Who: Family of five at various points on the intermediate scale

Tour Operator: www.folgarida.co.uk. Generally impressed with the service both before and during the holiday - clear, concise documentation and requests for information sent out/provided. Not so impressed with the 12% currency surcharge (prices for 2010 were based on 1 GBP=1.4 EUR) but overall cost still less than with any other operator
Transport: Scheduled BA flight from Heathrow to Venice, then coach transfer to resort. Although the TO offer "all-inclusive" ski holidays, the Heathrow flight attracted a £50 per person supplement (BA's charge) - but received a roughly equivalent discount for five sharing a room, so hey-ho. Impressed with Heathrow T5 - both departure and return were on time, no luggage lost and BA staff unvaryingly helpful. Pre-booked parking in Long Stay Plus T5, good service there. Coach transfer to resort one of the longest I've ever done at 3.5 hours, but thankfully jam-free. Potential bonus for those who suffer from "hairpin turn sickness" (as does my son) - there are only eight of them up to the resort, so for the first time the coach was a Going green-free zone
Accommodation: Hotel Gran Baita. It might have seen better days, but the staff - mostly from the same family I believe - are wonderful and make the place somewhere I'd be happy to stay again. Special mentions to Simone (minibus driver amongst other responsibilities) whose cheerful disposition made the short transfer to the gondola station a pleasure every day, and to the bar manager (I never did find out his name) for his patience in teaching/reminding me of the Italian for "glass" (bicchiere). A good breakfast each day - bread, cold meats, cheese, boiled eggs, jams, juice, tea/coffee, cakes - and a pleasant four-course dinner even if the antipasti buffet was not up to Birthday Bash standards wink

Lift system: An equal spread between gondolas, high-speed chairlifts and fixed chairlifts. There were a couple of drag lifts too, but only in beginner areas as far as I saw. Only really queued once for the gondola up from resort, and that on the Sunday when glorious weather brought out the locals in droves. However, main chair further up was often busy (10 minute average wait). Overall, not a distraction past that first day.
Pistes: Folgarida-Marilleva (the included lift pass) is a relatively small resort with 31 marked runs covering (I would guess) 50km or so. However, there are plenty of near-piste and off-piste options and trees everywhere, so unless you're a mileage-only skier, there's enough there for a week. You also have the option of a EUR 20 day extension to Madonna di Campiglio (I didn't bother with this)
Lessons: As ever, dependent on the instructor. But at £70 for 6x2hr group lessons, worth a punt even if you only get some guiding. Personally, I gained a great deal from the lessons, as did my son. One of my daughters enjoyed herself; the other less so (though she was having boot issues). My wife had a mixed bag; some good days and some not so good.

Resort: A small centre with one mini-market, a few bars, a pizzeria, hire shops and a very nice patisserie Very Happy Perfectly adequate
Food & Drink: The pizzeria in the resort provided best value and was quiet most days (basic pizza for EUR 6). Mostly though we ate at the piste-side hotels in Folgarida 1400 on run 2 into resort, which were much better value, probably better quality and certainly quieter than the chaos city mountain restaurants around the top of the gondola.

Après-Ski: The Eta-Beta bar near the gondola station was pleasant enough, though we usually opted for a beer or calimero back at the Gran Baita. As usual, worn out after dinner so I can't tell you what went on after that point!

Summary: Folgarida-Marilleva is a nice little resort nestled in beautiful mountains. There's enough for a week's skiing unless you're into serious mileage only; I'd recommend the lessons and/or some off-piste. We were lucky to have four glorious days of sunshine to see the resort at its best; the fifth day was cloudy and the final day the snow just kept coming and coming - good news for anyone up there this week! Piste grooming is typically merciless on all runs - if it's bumps you want, then hop off the side (there are plenty in small and large helpings). Best run IMHO - and not just for the lunch associations - is the 3K-long blue number 2 into Folgarida 1300.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
TallTone, nice report. FWIW, I'd recommend the pass extension for Madonna di Campiglio to anyone who is reasonably competent i.e. progressed comfortably beyond beginner stage. Although marked as a red link, the piste to get over there is really more like a blue IMHO.
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I agree. All the piste's in this area are really well groomed,and makes the skiing much easier and as a result more enjoyable.I LOVE "nero uno" back to folgarida.
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I was in Folgarida last week tagging along with the school ski trip my wife was running. I have never been to a more over crowded resort.
I helped out with one of five groups, the earliest we skied was half an hour into the lesson, we spent the first half hour cueing, not so good considering the lessons where 2 hours long.
The main problem was in the mid station at Folgarida, where you have two fast 6 gondolas coming up from the village, with only one 4-man chair to take you out .
Generally the rest of the lift system was ineffective and very old. It's a small resort and cannot spread the skiers out in the way a larger resort can.
I still had a fun week, and would consider returning, but be warned, I found feb half term an overcrowded nightmare..
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britsound, if you found Folgarida crowded, then you haven't been to one of the big French resorts at half-term wink

I should have added that I was on the 11-1 lesson slot and rose at a leisurely hour, all the better to avoid the 9am rush. As I said, Sunday was bad, but otherwise OK. Apart from when our instructor was late one morning - sorting out a problem - we were always up to the top within 10-15 minutes. I certainly didn't feel short-changed on lesson time - even if I'd only got an hour a day, 6 hours for £70 would still have been outstanding value.

One other thing I should add to my report - if you go with the same TO, consider going for your hire equipment on the first morning, as queueing for an hour for it on the evening is no fun at all Sad
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britsound wrote:
I found feb half term an overcrowded nightmare..


Hi

Yep - totally agree. I spoke to Tania (the admin manager of the lift pass office) the week before HT and she told me that a Belgium group had booked 1,300 lift passes. OMG.

For some reason 2 things happened - [1] the Belgium and UK HT's coincided and [2] they picked on our resort to swamp.

Does anyone know the Belgium HT dates for 2011. I'm having that week off Blush


TallTone wrote:
One other thing I should add to my report - if you go with the same TO, consider going for your hire equipment on the first morning, as queueing for an hour for it on the evening is no fun at all Sad


Again I agree - we cocked up. Sorry.
3 things went wrong.
1 Taller sports didn’t seems to have a system for coping with the hundreds of clients we sent em. Already sorted this for 2K11. We will put our staff in the shop - we are used to supplying up to 300 people with Boots, waterproofs, Rucksacks, etc up in Fort William and we can normally get through 300 people in about half and hour.
2 The coach arrival times in resort were all cocked up by baggage delays, which meant that they arrived in resort at the wrong time for people to be in the allocated time at the shop. For 2K11 we will assume that coach will arrive late and allocated hire slots accordingly.
3 people just turned up went they wanted to - what can you do. They are on holiday, to tell you the truth there is nowt we can do about this.

But yep (again) agree that we need to sort this out - and we will. There is nowt we can do about the flights / airport baggage, but we can about the shop. We are their biggest customer, so this give us a little flexibility went it comes to making arrangement that benefit our clients.

So, humble apologies about the waiting for the ski equipment. No use us blaming the airlines/airports/shops. We are the TO so it’s us who must take responsibility when the best laid plans go wrong.

britsound wrote:
The main problem was in the mid station at Folgarida, where you have two fast 6 gondolas coming up from the village, with only one 4-man chair to take you out .
Generally the rest of the lift system was ineffective and very old.

Don't agree with that (except with 1 lift)
The button lifts on the nursery slopes are there for a good reason.
The only lift that I can think of that is old is the lift up to Orso Bruno (from the Madonna link). The problem here is politics not money or the will to install a new lift. The base of the lift is actually on the Madonna slopes (only by a few meters) and they will not allow the Folgarida lift co to take out the old lift (that's on their land) and the local council will not allow the trees to be cut in a new line up the hill. So you are left with an old lift based on land owned by one resort and another (our) resort not being allowed to cut a new line though the forest.
But - best bet - stay out of Italian politics.
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For an idea of conditions on that final day, click here Laughing
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TallTone, An excellent report snowHead It saves me posting one of my own as I pretty much agree with most of what you've said and had a brilliant holiday. I didn't really learn anything new in my lessons, but had probably selected a lower group than I should have done and didn't want to abandon OH by changing after the first day. The lessons were still very good value though, as it was good to be taken around the mountain a bit and also do a little off piste (my first) on the Friday.
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Iski, your round I belive Toofy Grin
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Wayne, Too late! You should have taken up my offer while I was still there Laughing Laughing
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