Tag Archives: Cervinia

5/4/13 – April skiing: where to go for a last blast

Fabulous spring skiing in Ischgl two years ago. This year, those brown patches are white

Fabulous spring skiing in Ischgl two years ago. This year, those brown patches are white

To round off this snow-blessed winter in the Alps and escape the persistent winter chill of home, if you have a few days and a few pounds to spare I suggest you go skiing.

I have a final trip booked, to Val d’Isere – not a usual haunt of mine as I generally head for Austria, Italy or Switzerland, but it will be a nice change. Last time I stayed there, apart from one short press trip a couple of years ago, was when I was training to be an Inghams rep nearly 20 years ago.

Anyway, if I didn’t have that trip booked, here are the places I’d consider…

1. Engelberg in Switzerland. The top slopes are open till May 26, the town is lively, there’s accommodation for all budgets (including a youth hostel) and it’s only an hour from Zurich airport. There are also some brilliant local guides. Read more about that in my Telegraph article from last season about where to join off-piste groups.

...and when the slush sets in, here's what you can do instead

…and when the slush sets in, here’s what you can do instead

Zermatt, where the views are at their best at the end of the season

Zermatt, where the views are at their best at the end of the season

2. Zermatt in Switzerland. It’s open till May 5, the town is vibrant, busy and full of ski mountaineering folk – and the shops, for once, are offering plenty of end-of-season bargains on gear (not forgetting the pyjamas, nighties and underwear, at Calida, towards the top of the main street). Again, there’s lodging for all budgets. But it’s far from the airport, so go for a week to make it worthwhile. Read more in the insider’s guide (and here is page 2) I compiled at the start of this season.

3. Obergurgl in Austria. It’s open till April 28, and with the village at about 1,900m and most of the skiing between there and 3,000m, there’s very quick access from hotel or b&b direct to the snow. What’s more, there’s fantastic touring, with a great choice of day tours. It’s less than 90 minutes from Innsbruck, and if winter flights have tailed off by the time you want to go, you can fly to Friedrichshafen, Salzburg or Zurich instead. Read my recent piece in the Telegraph, and my off-piste article from last year, to find out more.

4. Ischgl in Austria. The lifts aren’t due to close until May 1. I went late in the season a couple of years ago and despite it not being a good snow year, there was excellent cover thanks to super-efficient snowmaking earlier in the season. There’s good touring nearby in the Silvrettas – hire a guide and stay overnight in the Jamtal Hut (open till May 4), for instance. Keen apres-skiers will know its reputation for lively bars, which is merited – read more in past blogs of mine, such as this one, by entering ‘Ischgl’ in the search box on the right.

Just think of the tan you will get

Just think of the tan you will get

Other late-season favourites of mine are St Anton in Austria, which stays open till April 21; Alagna/Gressoney/Champoluc in Italy (only till April 14, sadly – but lift passes are free till then if you book three nights locally, and it’s amazing value for food and drink); or Cervinia in Italy, which shares Zermatt’s slopes but not its prices (open till May 5). An underrated place probably not on your radar is the Engadine, where Diavolezza/Lagalb stays open well until May 20, and Corvatsch until May 5. The area offers excellent ski touring too – and don’t be put off that it’s in the St Moritz area: there are hostels and modest b&bs as well as swanky hotels.

Of course, you could always plump for Colorado or Utah, where a snowstorm is meant to be heading right now, or for snowy Scotland, where conditions are excellent.

I’ll leave you with the details of four great cut-price deals that landed in my inbox  this week from Inghams, which might be worth a look if you can make a dash for the Alps at the last minute. I’m sure the other tour operators have similar offerings at equally appealing prices.

St Christoph, Austria. £349 for a week’s chalet-board (that means half-board, including wine with dinner and CHOCOLATES afterwards) in a chalet hotel with a pool and doorstep skiing, including return flight from Gatwick to Innsbruck on April 13.

St Anton, Austria. £349, chalet-board, similar to above. There’s no pool but the place, Chalet Gampen, looks pretty good, with whirlpool, sauna and all that stuff. Departing from Gatwick on April 13.

Tignes, France. £369 at Chalet Hotel Le Dome, described as ski-in, ski-out. Similar deal as above, flying to Chambery on April 13 from Gatwick – easily the best airport for Tignes, being about 90 minutes away.

Val Thorens, France – the high-altitude end of the Three Valleys. £369 at Chalet Anais, departing from Gatwick on April 13, flying to Chambery.

Happy holiday-hunting, if you have time!

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, France, Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Off-piste, Ski touring, Switzerland, Transport, United States

27/7/11 – My his-and-hers collection, part one

True love in Obergurgl village, circa 1996

This week I was reorganising and rationalising my office and I came across an entertaining article in my “Other Writers’ Cuttings” folder about a couple who dressed in matching outfits every day of their lives. Mrs would lovingly sew bespoke his-and-hers garments for her and her Mister – from Hawaiian holiday suits to evening dress.

This reminded me that somewhere among my photo albums is a probably unmatched collection (forgive the pun) of photographs of his-and-hers ski suits. For some reason I took to photographing examples of such co-ordinated pairs over a five-or-so-year period in the 1990s. I have located the pictures and thought I’d share some examples in case any especially happy couples require inspiration for next winter’s ski wear.

Cinched waists were all the rage - at least they cover the bum quite well

Most of the photos I’ve found are not brilliant quality, and many were taken from some distance. The richest pickings at that time were to be found in Hochgurgl, the little satellite of Obergurgl, where I worked two winters and a summer as a rep and ski host for Inghams.

Perhaps it was the high altitude of Hochgurgl (which I believe lies in Austria’s highest parish) that sent holidaymakers there a bit loopy and caused them to appear in public as clones – but I also captured a few goodies in Obergurgl and elsewhere.

Another colourful example - at Hochgurgl, I believe

The last time I spotted a his-and-hers on the slopes was in Cervinia last season. This was after a few years’ gap in sightings, and I was delighted to see that matching couples still visit the mountains.

If I were somehow to end up wearing the same suit as a boyfriend, I suspect I’d find it confusing in a similar way that my sister did as a teenager when she pointed to someone wearing a yellow top and black stretch trousers – the same as hers – and said, “Huh! For a moment I thought that was me!”

I hope you like these and I’ll drip-feed a few more over the next weeks.

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Filed under Austria, Gear, Italy

4/1/11 – Zermatt and Cervinia: border cross

En route to Bontadini's on the 8.24 Gornergrat

‘Twelve Slugs Bourgignonne Style’ proclaims the English menu at Bontadini, Cervinia. This week I’ve been in Zermatt, whose mountain restaurants are acclaimed, but for me this one, just over the Italian border from the Theodulpass, beats anything on the Swiss side – not only for value but for setting and service. On Tuesday I sidestepped the slugs and opted for tagliatelle with deer (14 Euros) while celebrating a friend’s birthday there, also factoring in an Italian piste-bashing tour. It’s a great way to avoid crowds early in the week: most people wait till midweek to cross the border.

If you catch the 8.24 Gornergrat train you can zoom to Furi, take the Trockener Steg bubble and Klein Matterhorn cable car – queueless at that hour – and be in Valtournenche by 10.30. You’ve time to whizz to Cervinia – just as the Italians are waking up – and catch a chilly succession of chairs to arrive at Bontadini, with its picture windows, woodburners and jolly waiters, by midday. If there’s no room in the smart side (book if you can), the self-service is decent too: carbonara (9 Euros) is spot on, especially with a glass of Barbera (5 Euros for 3.75cl).

My tip for the afternoon? Up and down the much-overlooked bubble and chairs between Furgg and Furggsattel, taking in the moguls on the steeper lower half, or peeling off towards the Matterhorn, either on to the steeper Garten off-piste, or the picturesque red run.

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Filed under Food and drink, Italy, Switzerland