InTheSnow Magazine is the only free Winter Sports News Magazine in the UK, edited by world renown ski journalist and Snowhunter. Our mission is to bring everything ski to the masses. To find you the coolest videos, to teach you how to do stuff, and to entertain you with all things ski.
So the days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger and yet another winter season has been and gone, It’s enough to make any snow-lover wallow in self-pity… but it doesn’t have to be that way!
The start of summer is the perfect time to ensure that next year’s ski holiday is your best yet, with the benefits from early booking ranging from increased choice to the most impressive deals, allowing you to secure your perfect ski holiday.
We all know how utterly gutting it can be when you find your perfect chalet or hotel, only to discover that it doesn’t have availability for your number of guests or your preferred dates.
Next year, this is key for British families to consider, as the majority of schools in the UK are set to have the same week off for February half term.
Family ski holidays are some of the most precious experiences you can have as a family and allow you to share your love of the mountains. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that half term holidays are undeniably some of the most popular weeks of the season as families hit the slopes for a getaway to remember.
Usually, half term holidays are spread over two weeks, with some schools off on the first week and others on the second. However, in 2020, all schools are in store to have the same one week for half term, meaning that an already popular holiday period is going to get even busier.
Not only will this affect flight availability (and price) but it will also have a major impact on larger groups’ ability to book whole chalets, or those who are after specific rooms in a chalet or hotel.
What’s more, holiday deals with most major companies will be extremely competitive, so it’s massively important to get in there early to ensure you get the best holiday options.
Not only does booking early mean that you will have more choice when it comes to accommodation, location and flight availability, it means more choice in all areas of your ski holiday.
Booking early puts you in a much better position to get all the options you desire, from choosing your perfect seats on the plane, ensuring your entire family or group is sat together, to getting the best ski hire deals.
This is also highly beneficial if you are booking ski school, whether for yourself or your child, as although many people do not anticipate it, ski schools can get full up, particularly in peak weeks.
This means that if you rock up expecting to sort ski school when in resort, or go to book lessons a couple of weeks before you arrive assuming there will be a wealth of availability, you may be very disappointed and have to spend your time figuring out another plan of action.
Early booking not only ensures that you are guaranteed a place in ski school, but also means that if you have preferences when it comes to timings or session length, you are more likely to succeed in securing these.
It’s often said that the early bird gets the worm and this has never been more true than when it comes to ski holidays.
Of course, we all know that one person that swears by getting a last-minute deal – waiting until two days before their desired departure date to book their holiday. Not only is this just not possible for the majority of us, it also doesn’t guarantee the best rates and can end up with you being forced to visit a resort you really don’t fancy.
Booking early means that you can guarantee a holiday to your dream resort, with the best possible deal.
This is particularly important for anyone wanting to ski in North America next season. With stunning, world-class resorts, incredible powder and an unbeatable friendly atmosphere, skiing in North America is something all snow sports fans should experience.
Generally, holidays across the pond are significantly more expensive than popping over to Europe, but with early booking deals, a transatlantic ski holiday becomes increasingly affordable.
The early booking deals here are often the best you will get all year round and can turn skiing in the North America from a bucket-list experience to a done deal. From accommodation to even lift passes, you could be looking at savings of up to 60% off the regular holiday price when you book before 30th June.
It Will Keep You Going Through Summer
If, like us, you’re struggling with the idea of several months off your skis or snowboard, booking your ski holiday now may be the best way to keep your winter spirit up!
While the many indoor snow centres and outdoor ski slopes in the UK are fantastic at keeping ski cravings at bay during the warmer months, nothing can compare to the feeling of reaching the top of that first chairlift of winter, setting off on your first run amidst spectacular snow-capped mountain scenery and knowing that your coming week consists of Alpine adventure, quality outdoor experiences and fantastic food to top it all off.
Booking now will give you something to look forward to and will give the whole group, or family, something to build excitement for. The earlier you book, the longer you have to get excited! Not to mention longer to plan your trip and make sure your entire holiday is perfect.
More Flexible Payment Options
Convinced but still concerned as to the ability of your summer budget to withstand the cost of a ski holiday? Never fear!
One of the advantages of booking early is that many tour operators allow you to easily spread the cost of your holiday throughout the year. You simply need to pay a deposit up front, with the final balance not due until much closer to the holiday.
This way, you can choose to pay monthly amounts, budget in a number of block payments, or simply wait until winter rolls around to pay off your ski holiday. This is more flexible and much less stressful than having to simply pay everything up front, so there’s no surprise that it’s a key factor in booking early for many people!
So, what are you waiting for? To gain all the benefits of booking your ski holiday early this year, head to destinationski.com
A massive new indoor snow centre in China, due to officially open next month, has had its ‘soft opening’.
Located in the Southern city of Guangzhou, population around 15 million, the centre originally named ‘The Cultural Tourism City’ was initiated by the Wanda Group, the same company that built the world’s largest indoor snow centre (by snow area) in Harbin, Northeast China, which opened in 2017.
The centre has four separate ski runs with a combined length of nearly 900 metres and what’s believed to be the world’s first indoor gondola lift.
The centre has four separate ski runs of 328m, 230m, 243m and 78 metres in length, however, in an unusual design feature, it is reported that the 328m and 78-metre slopes can be combined in one run via a flat 50-metre link area to create a 460-metre long descent.
The longest indoor ski slope of the 90 or so currently open indoor snow centres is in Germany at the Alpincentre with a 640-metre slope, but a longer slope is being built within the new Meydan One complex in Dubai, which has been variously reported as aiming to be between 750 and 1.2m in length.
Guangzhou is currently fifth in the world for slope length and due to drop to seventh when several other ‘under construction’ slopes open, but it is unlikely to lose its current second in the world for size, with 56,000sqm of snow-covered fun, behind Harbin, very soon.
The Guangzhou centre is expected to attract 20 million visitors per year, a big chunk of the Chinese president’s stated aim of getting 300 million Chinese people to try winter sports before the country hosts the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.
One of the challenges with this aim is that although China famously has a huge population, the vast majority live in the warm, flat, southern part of the country with no snow. This complex helps resolve that conundrum.
Besides skiing the indoor snow playground, described as a ‘4th generation indoor snow centre’ offers around 30 snow entertainment activities such as snow slides, skate park, ice bumper cars, ski rotator and Santa sleigh, which doesn’t require any special sport skills, providing fun and recreation for the whole family.
The facility uses an S6 snowmaking system from Italian company TechnoAlpin. The Italian-based company says the system is ideal for indoor snow conditions as the system means a new layer of snow can be created daily, ensuring optimum snow conditions even for large numbers of visitors.
The Silvretta Arena ski area on the Swiss/Austrian border which connects the ski slopes of Ischgl and Samnaun is digging deep once more to add still more fast, comfortable lifts to its impressive fleet.
For next winter the lift company will spend €24 million on two new Doppelmayr D-Line chairlifts Velilleck F1 and Visnitz N2.
The new Visnitzbahn N2 above Samnaun will be Switzerland’s first 8-seater chairlift. It will travel from the 2,261m Alp Trida up to the Visnitzkopf (2,633m) and the lift’s valley station was already built last summer 2018 with a new ski run, 68b, leading directly to the new valley station.
The new chair will be able to carry about 900 passengers per hour more than the lift it replaces, which had been operating on the route for 25 years.
As with recent new Silvretta region lifts each chair will feature unique art work (this time themed on the history of Samnaun) and the chairs will be extra comfortable heated ‘armchairs’ ergonomically designed 52cm wide. The chair will also have weather protection hoots.
The other new lift, with a speed of six metres per second, will be the fastest yet in the Silvretta region.
The new 6-seater Velilleck F1 chair lift up to Pardatschgrat will be more than a kilometre longer than the double chairlift it supersedes which had been in operation for 26 years.
The unique art work on this lift will be themed on local flowers and again the chairs will be extra comfortable heated ‘armchairs’ ergonomically designed 52cm wide. The chair will also have weather protection hoots.
The Finnish ski resort of Ruka has announced that it will open for its 2019/20 season on Friday, October 4th, 2019.
The centre, which only ended its 18-19 ski season on Thursday, May 9th, last week is even more specific, noting that;
“The season starts at 9:30am with three slopes open in the Saarua ski area.”
Ruka is one of a select group that manages to open for a ski season of at least 200 days each autumn to spring.
Most of the rest that are able to have glaciers or permanent snowfields, however Ruka opens early in the autumn thanks to snow farming – stockpiling snow from the previous winter under cover then spreading it out on the slopes again to use as soon as temperatures drop again in the autumn.
It’s a technique also used by Kitzbuhel to open in October too, and it now has the longest ski season in the Alps for a non-glacier resort, also stretching its season to more than 200 days, through to the start of May.
A resort spokesperson said they are currently considering October 19th as their season-opening day next winter but will decide nearer the time depending on conditions.
Other resorts without glaciers but with long seasons of around 200 days or longer include Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge in Colorado (October to June and November to the end of May respectively) and Mammoth in California (November to July).
A basketball star from the American NBA league is reported to have bought a long established French ski resort, even though he doesn’t ski.
Tony Parker, who is of Franco-American descent, has bought a controlling stake in the SEVLC company which runs the ski lifts, snowmaking and other infrastructure at the ski area above Villard-de-Lans and Corrençon-en-Vercors.
Mr Parker is reported to have spent over a year discussing his then potential purchase and plans for the ski area, which include new lifts, with the local authorities of the resort villages concerned in France before finally going ahead and buying a 76.9% stake.
Mr Parker says he has no plans to make any major change of direction for the ski area, but wants to “give back” to France. He has teamed up with two local businessmen to help run the company and says the focus will continue to be on a family ethos.
The lift company was formerly run by two brothers, now reported to be elderly, aged 89 and 91.
Mr Parker, who began his career in the French basketball leagues 20 years ago before making the move to the NBA in 2001, has been unable to ski because of contractual constraints from his basketball career but says that his wife and family love skiing.
Top Image credit Villard de Lans Tourist Office/T Hytte
Eureka Entertainment to release Arnold Fanck’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, the greatest of the German ‘mountain films’ and the film that is recognised by many as the first ever ‘ski movie’, digitally restored in 2K and presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK as a part of The Masters of Cinemas Series from 17 June 2019.
German filmmaker Arnold Fanck made this beautifully photographed Bergfilm, or ‘mountain film’, in 1926. Written in three days and nights – especially for Leni Riefenstahl – The Holy Mountain took over a year to film in the Alps with an entourage of expert skiers and climbers.
Ostensibly a love triangle romance – between Riefenstahl’s young dancer and the two explorers she encounters – Fanck relishes the glorious Alpine landscape by filming death-defying climbing, avalanche dodging, and frenetic downhill ski racing.
Digitally restored in 2K, The Holy Mountain is a visual feast – and a fascinating look at the origin of a genre. The Masters of Cinema Series is very proud to present this landmark film in its UK debut on Blu-ray.
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (Masters of Cinema) New & Exclusive HD Trailer - YouTube
One of the world’s leading dry ski centres is to get a major cash injection from the local council to transform it in to a multi-sport outdoor activity centre.
The Hillend dry ski centre above Edinburgh, also known as the Midlothian Snowsports Centre, located in a prominent position on hillside above the Scottish capital, has been one of the world’s biggest year-round ski centres for around five decades.
Its ski slopes were overhauled and expanded several years ago with investment from the council and Scottish Government, however this new £13.8m council spend on ‘Destination Hillend’ will go on widening the centre’s appeal including building the highest zipline in UK, the longest Alpine coaster in UK, an activity dome with high ropes and soft play as well as a food court and shops.
The council will also aim to develop a hotel at the site and market this for an operator, there will also be glamping-style accommodation.
The ski facilities will get a new reception building and the fun slope will be upgraded for the Snowsports Centre
The upgrades will be phased over three financial years between 2019 and 2022.
Orthopaedic surgeon Paul Harnett broke the world record for running a marathon in ski-boots, knocking around 22 minutes off the previous 5 hours 52 minutes record, completing his marathon in 5 and a half hours.
We all love the mountains for our snow-sports fix each winter, but come the summer we’re more likely to head to the beach for our summer holidays.
Increasingly though, that could be a mistake. Whilst beach resorts and the whole process of travel to them has changed little over the years, except perhaps becoming ever more crowded and ever less likely to be a relaxing experience, Alpine resorts have been raising their game and offering ever better facilities and even more attractions for the summer visitor.
Escape The Crowds
Just as it can get busy on change-over days heading to the Alps in the winter, the same is true heading to many beach resorts in summer – only with added heat and dust. By contrast, summer is the comparatively quiet time in the Alps when you can breeze through the airport and find the roads up to resort uncrowded (well, so long as you avoid Tour de France days).
You could even argue you’re doing your bit for the environment as whilst the cool mountain air stops you overheating in the Alps, wasteful aircon units are busy battling to keep hotel rooms cool enough to be bearable down by the beach.
A Better Chance of a Tan
You can still get a great tan too (the sunshine is more intense at altitude so shades and strong sun cream are the order of the day) and send back much more impressive Instagram pics with a magnificent snow-capped mountain backdrop rather than a sea of beached bodies and burning blubber. The village of Vaujany, in the Oisans gets an average of 300 sunshine days a year – that beats most beach resorts.
Chill Out or Action Packed?
Staying in a mountain village like Vaujany you can enjoy your holiday at whatever pace you like – from utter relaxation, doing next to nothing and simply soaking up the tranquillity to a full-on week of summer mountain sports – switching skis and snowboard for bike and trainers. Or simply alternate between the two each day.
Stay By The Water Anyway
Just because you’re in the mountains it doesn’t mean you can’t stay by the water – just stay lakeside instead of seaside. You can still go swimming if you like – you’ll just be in pure mountain water without the crowds, salt or waves splashing in your face. There are so many natural pools to discover, and jump into from the rock face if you’re brave enough.
In fact, there’s water everywhere in the mountains; from fast flowing, adrenaline pumping white water rafting and hydro speeding to slow moving, family friendly canoe trips with the option of fishing. Not to mention lots of amazing waterfalls, including the particularly stunning La Fare falls, a pleasant hike up from the village.
There’s also the option to head 10 minutes down into the valley to a watersports centre where kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, windsurfing and pedaloe’s are all on offer. That’s basically everything a beach offers and more!
If you prefer your water a little more contained sometimes there’s also a full leisure centre complex in the village complete with Olympic size pool, kids pool, chute and a connected outdoor sun deck.
This facility also incorporates a spa, sauna and jacuzzi for complete steamy, watery relaxation.
Cycling and Biking
Well, the beach has just about lost the argument by this stage. There may be a few dusty flat, busy car-filled roads near your coastal resort but it can hardly bear any comparison to what’s on offer in the mountains.
Mountain biking and road cycling are both huge, and still growing, as summer activities here. The world’s longest downhill mountain bike run, some 30km (19 miles) in length, is here, but that’s just one extreme from dozens of choices beginning with far easier routes starting right outside your chalet door.
It’s a similar story for road cyclists, with everything from short, easy routes to some of the toughest challenges of the Tour de France which passes by each year. Its most revered mountain climb takes you up to Alpe d’Huez taking in its infamous 21 hairpins on the way up.
In fact for cyclists more than 24,500 worldwide climbs rated by the popular international network for active cyclists ‘climbbybike’ you can take on no less than 3 of the top 20 from the door of your Vaujany chalet.
But there’s cycling for every level of cyclist here with all the support and facilities you need, including cycling guides who’ll show you the way if you wish. You could also join an event like the Etape du Tour or the Marmotte Sportive and literally follow in the tracks of the greats!
Other Outdoor Adventure
Besides biking, hiking and swimming there are a number of adventure centres and organisations that have been created in or near Vaujany.
The resort has a via ferrata, which, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a safe form of climbing, that gives you ladders to climb, bridges to cross and cables to connect to guide you along a secured route.
Of course, there’s plenty of opportunities to try ‘proper’ climbing in the area too, whether you’re a beginner wanting advice and instruction (perhaps you’ll get hooked once you’ve tried the via ferrata?) or an experienced climber looking for a new challenge.
The village also has its own paragliding school offering tandem flights and beginner courses if you’d like to see everything from above.
Then in the neighbouring village of Oz the Kamikaze adventure park, reached by a lift ride, contains a collection of climbing courses and zip wires rated green to black for the level of challenge just like ski runs.
And in Alpe d’Huez a new mountain coaster, a kind of downhill roller coaster also accessed by a ski lift, is a fun new attraction, complete with virtual reality headsets, for summer 2019.
Why Peak Adventures in Vaujany?
Peak Adventures has been offering winter holidays to the idyllic French Alpine village of Vaujany, a part of the huge Alpe d’Huez ski area, for more than 30 years has recognised this and runs summer mountain holidays to their incredible destination in Oisans, Isere Valley, it knows so well.
Vaujany is both a tranquil place to stay and yet is also choc-full of fun and exciting things to do if you want to a full action week of summer alpine sports and activities.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, you can perhaps mix full action half the day or half the week with a relaxing time the rest, or even divide up your party – peace and quiet for some, all action for the others.
Whatever you choose to do you’ll be enjoying your holiday in a stunningly beautiful area of lush alpine pastures filled with summer flowers, running streams, hills and forests set against spectacular snow-capped mountains.
The Peak Adventures summer holiday formula is similar to the company’s highly successful winter version – the focus of friendly, helpful, service and high-quality chalet accommodation to rent at very reasonable prices, with superb cuisine served during your stay to keep you fuelled up for everything and anything that takes your fancy on the slopes. So put it all together and you have every aspect of the perfect alpine holiday covered.
Guests also receive a free Alpine Discovery Pass which gives benefits including a free entry to both the swimming pool and ice rink and a free climb at TPH Alpette as well as discounted guided hiking and free bike testing.
Peak Adventures offer a range of comfortable chalet accommodation options, three offering boutique-style self-catered holidays and ranging in size from one to 17 people in almost entirely en-suite rooms; to the company’s flagship luxury-catered Chalet Saskia, the best Accommodation in the village, which has its own spa facilities.
It is not however just the great accommodation and food that makes the company’s summer mountain holidays something special, it’s the service and the staff attitude of ‘nothing is too much trouble.’
For cyclists, in particular, the company runs special cycling holiday packages that can include delivery and pick up of up to a dozen cyclists and their bikes (there’s a trailer pulled behind the minibus for up to 12 bikes) from key cycling locations in the region as required. There’s also a large secure area for bike storage and maintenance.
And so back to the original question: “Beach holiday or Alpine holiday, which to choose this summer?”