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The best of this season on holidays and snowboard and ski offers and new things to try
Crystal may be known for its cheap family ski packages, but it is gaining ground with two new accommodations for snowboarders: Chalet Terrachu in Tignes and Chalet Sequoia in Val Thorens. They include an Xbox 360 with Kinect, snow sports DVDs, a pool table, bar, and a “snow guru” to guide and party customers (crystalski.co.uk).
Ski lessons, Switzerland Verbier has become synonymous with extreme ski and snowboard competition, the Freeride World Tour (FWT). Now the competition organizers have teamed up with the local ski school to launch the FWT Club, which offers classes taught by local instructors. Classes include the company of professionals (and winners) from the area who compete, but lack permission to teach. However, they will offer advice and ski alongside clients as they learn to descend the cliffs and near-suicidal slopes. Reservations for various courses will be available in November (verbierbooking.ch).
Splitboarding, France Splitboarding is seeing a surge in popularity as more snowboarders - jealous of their fellow skiers' ability to glide quickly down hills - are giving it a chance to access distant snowy hideouts. In Chamonix, splitboards can be rented in town, but for a more immersive experience, the laid-back group of chalets Rudechalets (rudechalets.com) has launched an introductory week to splitboard from April 6-13, led by a prominent guide from the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations, Lars Vanhaelewyck, a Belgian "snowboard legend" who also teaches off-piste safety and crevasse rescue classes. The offer includes five full days with guide, board and skins rental, a six-day pass for the Mont Blanc Unlimited cable car, seven nights with full board in en-suite rooms at the Chalet Chocolat in Chamonix and connection tickets ( for groups of maximum six people).
Heliskiing in Austria
Powder White (powderwhite.com) has a new package to try heliskiing in St Anton, Austria, with full board accommodation for a week at Chalet Fritz and two heliskiing descents. The company has other exciting new ideas, including a trip to Courchevel for singles in search of love, called Potentially. It starts on March 16 and the offer is in a shared room: guests must bring a companion. Powder White has also launched 3-4 night full board weekend getaways to Courcheval and Verbier.
Heliskiing in Italy Another reasonable heliskiing trip is available from Echo Travel (echotravel.co.uk); in this case to Monte Rosa. The package includes four nights (bed and breakfast included) in a Gressoney hotel, three guided days, a pass for the cable car, a dinner, connections to the airport (not the flight) and a heli-ski descent.
Cable car, Switzerland
Bruson, one of the satellite stations linked to Verbier, will have a new cable car for the 2013/14 season. The long-awaited connection (first proposed in 1961) is an eight-seater gondola that departs from Le Chable and is likely to act as a catalyst for development, so if anyone likes the small village as it is , I better go this season.
Music and ski festival, France
After residing in the Swiss town of Laax, the Brits ski and snowboard competition (and music festival) move to the French resort of Tignes, a party town, full of fabulous bars and a huge ski area. The week-long event, March 23-30, will feature post-competition sessions that include a reggae barbecue, “sledgercross,” a Whitelines rail jam and what is called “drinking and bragging” (the- brits.com).
A new ski area, Austria
In Austria they have created a new ski area, Ski Jewel, linking Alpbach and Niederau with a new cable car to the Schatzberg mountain in Auffach, resulting in a connected area of 145km of slopes, 47 cable cars and three terrain parks ( skijuwel.com).
A new collection of snow-covered hotels, called Snotels, (snotels.com), offers 25 hotels in four European countries, including fabulous resorts like Engelberg in Switzerland. To search for chalets there is a new site where the customer publishes what they need and the chalet owners can respond with their offer, muchbetteradventures.com/ski.
Ski safari, Norway and Sweden
Ski Safari has added new ski vacations to multiple destinations in Sweden and Norway. A trip to the Swedish Arctic combines Åre with Riksgränsen, the northernmost ski resort in the world. A Norwegian safari to Geilo and Voss that also includes a scenic train ride from Oslom (Skisafari.com). Source: Guardian Travel
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