5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are at least 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe. The Alps have a special mix of landscapes, style, glamour and après ski. And when you add the world-class ski terrain in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and France, it can’t be beat!

Olympiaregion Seefeld
Olympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation blends skiing or snowboarding with the culture, history and alpine views only available in Europe. It’s a unique alpine experience – thermal baths for après ski relaxation; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after skiing all day on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation is the perfect blend of travel experience and incredible skiing!

Here’s 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe:

Why Europe?

Why not? If you haven’t been to Europe, you have to go (ski season or any season). Almost everything is different – time zone, language, food, and money, electrical outlets too. And now add the ski specific differences in Europe – over 4,000 ski areas; huge terrain; great snow; efficient lift systems and super long top of the mountain to bottom of the valley runs.

Skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland

When To Go?

Generally speaking, most ski areas in Europe open at the end of November and close later in April, with some exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts have fewer visitors and are more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means shorter lift lines! Prices are much higher at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during school holidays around Christmas, Easter, and particularly with the now popular February Reading Week.

If you are going on your ski/snowboard holiday during late March-April (with longer and nicer days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a higher altitude resort. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Cervinia, Italy all come to mind. Zugspitze, near Munich, is a glacier and is skiable from early autumn until late spring. It has the highest elevation (2,100m) and is the most snow guaranteed mountain in Bavaria.

Skiing in Val D'Isere, France
France

Where To Stay?

There’s a wide range of places to stay from traditional Alpine chalets and guest rooms; to charming historic hotels; to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at or near most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great hospitality and value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class trips with transportation, boutique hotels and inclusive experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski areas include Gstaad, Switzerland; Courchevel, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course built specifically for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have more consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in/ski out and true slope side lodging. The list of resorts includes the well known Val D’isère, and many other less known like Peyragudes, France (in the Pyrenees), St Johann, (Tyrol, Austria) and Geilo (Norway).

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience along with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat delicious local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Kitzbühel, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and St. Moritz, Switzerland.

What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer a combination of spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Cities near resorts offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. As an example, skiers in Seefeld, Austria can take a quick 20 minute train ride down the mountain to Innsbruck. Or do it in reverse – stay in the city and travel up to the slopes. Munich is the perfect springboard to the nearby mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Nearby Wallberg or Alpspitze are great options too. You can ride all day, and then enjoy Munich beer and it’s beer halls by night!

Stay in Munich for A Ski Trip To Europe
Munich

Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to literally thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. A multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass offers 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. The world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees in France, includes Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and 5 more resorts. The Milky Way Ski Area straddles both France and Italy and let’s you ski and snowboard across actual country borders (and have a French pastry or Italian cappuccino).

A local ski guide is a very worthwhile extra. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain, keep you safe and will have local knowledge on lunch spots and après ski parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 200 euros per day.

And at the end of your European ski holiday, you can still have more Europe! Add on a trip extension to an iconic city like Vienna, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, rich in history and culture. Europe ski vacation anyone?

All Season Apparel With Icebreaker

As an avid skier, and ski patroller, I deal with all kinds of weather. Cold, snow, rain, and now spring-time. I ski in all weather conditions and for hours at a time so it’s important to dress appropriately throughout the day.

I’m a fan and customer of Icebreaker. Prior to this ski season, I was already the proud owner of a pair of their ski socks (super comfortable and they somehow don’t smell), the Merinoloft Hyperia Hooded Jacket (ribbed, lightweight and uber cool) and Victory Long Sleeve Zip (a mid layer top). At the start of winter, I added the Oasis Long Sleeve Crew top and Oasis Leggings (the ultimate “long johns”). I’m a fan! If you are an outdoors person, you know the importance of layering and Icebreaker has it figured out to a tee! If you travel a lot, as I do, Icebreaker lets you pack light and be ready for any kind of weather.

outdoors

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are three seasons in addition to winter. Spring is taking hold across the country, along with its wildly fluctuating temperatures. My mid-layers are becoming outer layers for spring and early summer. If you’re up for outdoor adventure after winter ends, Icebreaker’s merino wool feels cooler, wicks faster, and resists odor.

My newest addition, and one of the latest and greatest from Icebreaker is the Descender Long Sleeve Zip. It’s been updated for 2019 and is now available on Icebreaker.com. It is a nice outer layer for spring weather but can also function as a mid-layer next winter. It features channeled fleece to provide warmth and temperature regulation. The brushed merino fleece is softer and more breathable than synthetic fleece. There’s a reverse coil front zipper and zippered chest pocket with media cord port too. The Descender LS Zip is comfortable, warm and fits like a glove! As with all Icebreaker product, it’s top quality, lightweight and made from Merino wool. It’s made for spring and the warmer months ahead.

All Season Apparel with Icebreaker

Why is Merino Wool such a great natural fiber? Well here’s why:

  • Thermo-regulation – the ability to both gain and release heat
  • Resilient and soft (and not itchy)
  • UV Protection – UVA and UVB resistant
  • Biodegradable (naturally biodegradable)
  • Flame Resistant (exceeds all other fabrics)
  • Odor suppression – even their socks don’t smell!
  • Moisture management – holds up to 35%

Sustainability is the core of Icebreaker’s brand with its products, values and business ethics. Merino provides natural performance amd is naturally biodegradable. Icebreaker itself strives to be a more sustainable organization with supply chain improvements, PFC reduction and the elimination of acrylics.

Icebreaker breathes environmental and social responsibility from how their garments are designed and made – and they make great clothing for whatever you do outdoors- travel, ski, outdoors, hiking, and walking. But it’s also great clothing for urban adventures around town and everyday indoors.

 

Ski and Travel…

I’m a big fan of night skiing. When I was a kid, I was a member at a little ski hill called “Uplands”. I would walk over to the hill after school and ski into the night. I remember that each of 4 runs had one light on it near the top. It was primitive but it was the only way to ski during the week.

Fast forward a bunch of years. Instead of school, I’m at the office staring at my ultra-cool Rule#5 Snow Messenger Bag and thinking of skiing. The bag is made of waterproofed nylon with snow crystal print and ski runs named in the lining. It holds my laptop and and tech gadgets to and from work. I pack up and get ready for a quick after work trip to the ski hill. I still can’t wait to go night skiing!


My lifestyle involves travel and skiing in large doses. It’s what I work for. I love to travel and love to ski. Lifestyle products keep me thinking about “apres work” and keep me motivated. Besides the Snow Messenger Bag, Rule#5 has a Backpack, Slim Wallet, Dopp Kit and Regular Wallet under there ski inspired collection. Travelling with frequency seems glamorous but it’s not. Long days, flight delays, long transfers -fun!… The travel part of my life is easier to coordinate and plan with functional products like this. Check it out!

Where to Go in Lake Tahoe When You’re Not Skiing

Lake Tahoe, the cobalt blue lake where California and Nevada meet, boasts a reputation as the ultimate skiing destination for travelers seeking mountainside luxury and rugged adventure. This winter, Tahoe has experienced record snowfall fairly earlyin the season, so visitors looking to plan a trip should act fast, as local resorts will get quickly booked! And while Tahoe is primarily known as a skier’s paradise, with resorts like Sugar Bowl Resort and the upscale Northstar California Resort standing out as popular destinations, there are plenty of options beyond the slopes. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite things to do before or after a day of skiing — or for travelers who would rather take in the scenery than speed down a mountain.

Foodie-Friendly Dining

The Ritz-Carlton’s restaurant, Manzanita, is particularly popular for its refined dishes all made with local ingredients, along with a wine list featuring many Northern California favorites. For a more intimate experience, visitors should check out Cafe Fiore, consisting of seven tables in a tiny alpine cabin. Cafe Fiore is known for its hearty Italian fare, with its house special, scallops and other seafood sauteed in lemon and wine tossed with linguine, a particular standout.

Health-conscious travelers should make a point to stop by Sprouts Cafe, a natural foods cafe established way back in 1990. It’s informal atmosphere is family-friendly, with books and games for kids are scattered about. Another great casual option isBasecamp Pizza Co., which offers hearty fare, including pizzas laden with ingredients ranging from bbq chicken to crisp vegetables. The vibe is laid-back but lively, with a happy hour every day and live music every night.

Daytrip to Truckee, CA

Visitors should trek up to the north shore of the Lake and make a stop in the charming old railroad town of Truckee, CA, now an upscale, hippie town  with a bustling nightlife. The crown jewel is Moody’s Bistro Bar and Beats, tucked into the Victorian-era Truckee Hotel. A hip bar and live music (including past visits by regular Paul McCartney) will make for a lively night on the town. Those interested in a down-to-earth “dive” should stop by the Tourist Club, one of the oldest bars in town and somewhere a party is always happening.

High-Rolling in South Lake Tahoe

Those wishing to get a taste of Vegas-like activities should check out South Lake Tahoe, across the Nevada state line, where a small strip of casinos sits alongside the lake. Harvey’s, which is right along the lake, is known for its old-school atmosphere.  Just down the street is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which offers, in addition to its casino, three restaurants and two bars and lounges. The MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa is known for its nightlife, as its Opal Ultra Lounge is the place to go for a wild night out. (It’s a favorite of bachelorette parties!) For affordable lodgings in the area, consider the Holiday Inn Express South Tahoe, which is located near the main casino strip and also features a relaxing sauna.

Bustling Galleries for Art Lovers

Art fans should make sure to check out some of the galleries in the Tahoe area, which specialize in various styles of art, from painting to sculpture to glasswork and photography. A long-time favorite is Gallery Keoki, specializing in fine art photography and even offering the service of creating custom fine art installations for homes and office spaces. The James Harold Galleries has a large and varied collection of paintings and sculpture, all by new and known names in contemporary art. To take a piece of Tahoe home, visitors should definitely stop by the Jon Paul Gallery, which specializes in photographic artworks depicting the majestic natural beauty of Tahoe. Photographer Jon Paul even offers workshops for aspiring photographers, hinging on his philosophy of “bringing the fine art of nature home.”

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 28, 2016.

Ski Season Is Coming!

Can you feel a chill in the air or is it just my imagination? With the unofficial start of Fall, I’m already thinking about skiing. If there’s a better way to enjoy the winter, I don’t know what it is- the crisp air; new fallen snow; the exhilaration of the first run of the day. Memories of last ski season are flooding back with the help of these top 3 photos from an Inghams Facebook competition.

Inghams Ski Winner #1

It’s hard to forget what twilight is like during winter- absolutely magical. The fading light brings out colours in the sky and clouds that you would never see otherwise. It’s definitely a time to pause and look up!

Inghams Ski Winner #2

This is what skiing is all about- skis, fresh snow, mountain views and nature. With the added reminder that when your ski day is done, it’s time to warm-up, unwind and have some après ski, indoor fun at your resort or chalet.

Inghams Ski Winner #3

It’s night time and it’s time to gain some appreciation for the town that is the host for your holiday. Get out and walk the streets and alleyways, try an interesting restaurant, drop in at a pub with the locals. And enjoy the view!

The great ski destinations of the world are calling- Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Canada and more. A ski package is the way to go with airfare, hotel, lift tickets and more included. Life is simpler and the details taken care of. With the help of a quality ski holiday company, the world is your oyster. Get out there!

Skiing in Norway: Back to Basics

Skiing in Norway? Probably not your first choice or for most people. How can it compete with the glitz, glamour and après skis of the Alps? It doesn’t have the verticals or expansive terrain of Canada, so it can’t claim that. The only thing it can do is be different. Instead focus on making sure that everyone knows how different it is. And it is different.

I’ve had the fortune to have done a bit of skiing in my time (this an attempt to modestly say I’m a ski bum). This time I decided to venture away from the usual destinations of the Alps. No longer following the masses like a lemming, I opted to book a skiing holiday to Norway with Crystal Ski. I was sold on the fact that Norway had empty slopes. Skiing within yourself and carving sharply to avoid a gathering of people mid run would be a thing of the past! Any sort of ski rage would be non-existent.

Norway- Hemsedal from the Top

What I wasn’t expecting were the resorts themselves. Once you have visited a few resorts around Europe, you get the sense that they are all the same. Identical shops, identical restaurants. Turn left onto any street and it’s lined with spas and hotels. Why would Norway be any different? Well maybe it is because the destinations popularity dipped as others grew; maybe it is because everyone thinks the winters are harsh (they’re not by the way) or maybe it is that everyone thinks that it is really hard to get to. Whatever the reason is, it hasn’t been hit by the commercial fist of the ski industry. It was a rustic quaint resort that oozed skiing.

The resorts themselves were rural looking log cabins lined with snow. Not a neon light in sight. Nothing big, nothing brash just understated. The closest resorts in style to them are some of the lesser known ones in North American. As pretty as the villages are their primary goal is to be a place to stay while skiing. That is not to say that there are no facilities, but they do not overwhelm the resort. Something that can’t always be said (I’m looking at you Aspen). The facilities enhance the experience. At no point do you walk down the street and lose your sense of place. Always there is overwhelming feeling that you are in Scandinavia.

Norway- Hemsedal lodge

Once you learn the history of Norway you begin to realize why it is like this. There aren’t many cultures that are as entwined with all things ski as Norway is. They claim to have invented it; they definitely invented a couple of turns (Telemark and Stem Christie); and they spend an obscene amount of money on equipment. For them it isn’t a hobby, it is a way of life and a means of transport. This is probably the biggest reason why skiing takes centre stage over everything else in Norway. And why Norway is a back to basics destination.

Norway isn’t perfect though. It can be let down by the slopes. They are not challenging enough. No chutes, no gulleys but plenty of fresh powder. At mid week, the urge for something new becomes overwhelming. Cross country skiing becomes a genuine option. In Norway it is a major sport, not just the coward’s way out. So the courses stretch for miles and miles. The fact that Cross country is so important to Norwegians could be why the downhill runs see less attention and why it doesn’t suffer from overcrowding.

So Norway is a destination for skiers who have had enough of the sideshow around Europe and the Alps. If it had a few more difficult runs and alpine lined slopes, it would probably be heralded as a Mecca for the skiing purist. But it doesn’t. But what it did offer me was a week purely dedicated to the pursuit of powder. A week I enjoyed. A week of fresh air living. I left almost as chilled as my Scandinavian hosts. Pure escapism on the slopes.

Thanks to Martin Nolan, certified ski bum, for this post on the often overlooked ski destination of Norway. Follow Martin on Twitter @martinnolan7