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Review of the 2014 Ski Season

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Holiday Reviews 2014

Location Date Review
Alpe d’Huez, France 12th - 19th January View
Selva,Italy 25th January - 1st February View
Baqueria, Spain 9th - 16th February View
La Plagne, France 2nd - 9th March View
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland 15th - 22nd March View

Chalet Hotel Les Cimes, Alpe d’Huez, France.

There were 26 members on our holiday to Alpe d’Huez, The start to the holiday was not the smoothest with poor weather at Chambery airport delaying by 4 to 5 hours the planned early morning departures of members flying from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and Stansted. Gatwick and Bristol afternoon departures also suffered with the inevitable knock-on delays to aircraft schedules. However everybody duly arrived, albeit the Bristol and Gatwick contingent very late in the evening, in time for a full evening meal.

We were sharing the chalet with a larger, and a bit younger group from Belfast. The chalet hotel was full but, as we found out on the first evening, this did not detract from the quality of the food and service the chalet staff provided.

Getting skis from the hire shop was efficient; the shop being close to the tourist and ski lift offices and the start of the bucket lift through the town. The chalet hotel itself was only 100m or so from the Grand Sure chairlift up to the Signal peak. As there is now no ski guiding in France, we formed our own ski groups which varied in daily composition and skiing ambition from the leisurely ladies to the nearest we got to piste bashers.

The conditions throughout the week varied but benefited from a fresh 6 or more inches of fresh snow on the second day but this was left unpisted, For the rest of the week conditions were variable with some good days interspersed with periods of low cloud, occasional top-ups of snow and high winds, which again prompted some early retreats from the slopes.

The chalet was comfortable and the numerous and young chalet staff were all very helpful and attentive. The premium rooms with balcony were quite large but the baths were quirkily small. The catering standard was generally very good with varied menus and plentiful wine. Afternoon teas were really good with interesting additions to the usual fare of bread and cakes in the form of soup and quiche.

Judging by the experience of this week and the views of members on the holiday, Les Cimes is definitely a place we could go to again.

Charles Woodcock

Hotel Alpino Plan, Selva, Italian Dolomites

24 ARPskiers, including 4 new members, flew into Verona and travelled to Selva.

We settled into the comfortable Alpino Plan hotel and the Demetz family looked after us well. They were particularly accommodating with regard to some special dietary requirements.

Although out-side the main town, the hotel was well served by ski buses. The first uplift of the day could be skied to and on most days we were able (with care) to ski almost back to the door.

Throughout the week the snow conditions varied and on the Tuesday there was a heavy fall of snow. Two “social skiing” groups had formed for those wanting guiding and were led by the chalet reps, During the week most of the areas in the Sella Ronda were skied. On Thursday due to heavy snow fall the eagerly anticipated visit to “The Hidden Valley” had to be cancelled but the poor visibility didn’t put off the intrepid ARP skiers and many enjoyed skiing in the Colfosco bowl and on the Corvara slopes. The black runs on the Dantercepies side were also enjoyed.

On Friday there was more snow and some members were put off by the amount and decided not to ski. One member explored the walking paths through the forests above Ortisei whilst two others took the bus to explore Bolzano. It was near here that frozen remains of “Otzi” the 5300-year-old man were found. Another intrepid group, skied to St. Christina then completed the 10.5km run from the Col Raiser above Ortesei. Not content with the ski slopes, this group once again went sightseeing en route, taking in the back streets, gardens and suburbs! The black runs back into Selva were enjoyed by many others on this last day.

The ARP Concert Party and Choir entertained us on our last evening. There were funny and thought provoking items. The choir serenaded us with a version of “My Favourite Things”, adapted to be more relevant to us “skiing oldies”. There was also a competition for the best and most appropriate set of “collective nouns”.

Despite the snow, our early morning departure the journey from Selva on Saturday was uneventful, and our planes were on time. Although marred by an unusual number of accidents, the week in the beautiful Dolomites was most enjoyable, with good skiing, much laughter and the camaraderie of ARP friends, old and new.

Sheila Walker

4* Chalet Eira, Baqueira, Spanish Pyrenees

Our group of 25 travelling from Gatwick, Bristol, Manchester and one from Munich quickly settled into The Eira, to be greeted by the staff by whom we would be guided, and served with our evening meal, setting the standard for the week. Glad to be back in Baqueira and familiar territory for most of us, it’s delights yet to be discovered by our 9 new members.

Soon kitted out with boots and skis by the friendly and good humoured chaps in the adjacent ski hire shop (they even help you on and off with your boots!!), we walked the few yards to the first lift and our first run of the week. The recent snowfall had been good but on the first run, which started at the very top of the mountain in poor visibility with the weather somewhat overcast and cold threw up some problems with guiding but these were later rectified and from then on guiding was excellent. The following day gave us a better morning with a covering of new powder snow, providing some challenging but enjoyable conditions.

The third day gave us the conditions skiers dream about! The sun shone and there was very little wind. The slopes were well pisted and there were no queues, with our guide taking advantage of these conditions and showing us as much of the resort as we were able to ski. The hosts were pleased to see everyone finding their own level during the ensuing week and enjoying the company of the group they skied with. Our newest members quickly became part of the Arpski camaraderie, and the relaxed evenings during which we shared various light-hearted anecdotes as we enjoyed the superb meals provided by Greg our Chef.

Day 4 was another perfect day with our 89-year-old member’s day being made for her when a bus driver left his seat to carry her skis for her….why doesn’t anyone else get this sort of attention! She even gained fame on Facebook when the chaps in the ski hire shop insisted on having their photograph taken with their arms around her shoulders. She had achieved her ambition to ski in her 90th year following an earlier knee replacement, and who cannot praise her surgeon enough for providing her with a superb new knee which stood up to the demands of her speedy skiing.

Day 5 was yet another perfect skiing day and at our evening meal Chef Greg had made a celebratory cake and the camaraderie which could be seen in abundance as the week progressed continued as we celebrated her dream to be skiing in her 90th year’!! – didn’t she do well!! She was then presented with a signed Certificate commemorating her achievement, and an engraved ‘Glass Mountain’, followed by a toast and a few words celebrating her achievements and recalling all we have shared with her over the years and just how much her friendship is valued.

Our final day saw some difficult skiing due to strong winds and finding ourselves blown backwards uphill on skis - a somewhat unusual and unnerving experience.

We left Baqueira in the rain and mist, celebrating our holiday and feeling blessed with the friendship we had enjoyed, and the support we had from both our fellow Arpskiers and the staff of The Eira. Spending time in those beautiful mountains brought a certain peace to us both. Thank you Gang!

Beryl and Alison

Chalet Hotel Graciosa, La Plagne, France

When we arrived at La Plagne on Sunday afternoon the sun was shining and we were looking forward to our first day on the slopes. However, we were warned by the chalet manager, that the weather would change on Monday and Tuesday. Sure enough the next two days were snowy, but what struck us most was how crowded the pistes were. The resort was packed! Cha, the chalet host, said that this particular week was the Belgian spring holiday.

On Wednesday the skies cleared and the sun came out and the skiing conditions became superb for the rest of the week.

In spite of the French restrictions on ski guiding, people quickly began to sort out who they liked to ski with and formed into similar ability groups. Although Cha had made a printed guide with suggested ski routes and café stops, the main problem early on was finding our way around. This too sorted itself out as the week went on.

During the week one member fell and hurt his chest. After visiting the Medical Centre, it turned out that he had cracked five ribs. He was given painkillers but if we were kinder people we would have taken care not to make him laugh!

On Thursday (staff day off) we went out for a meal in the evening, which everyone enjoyed. On Friday evening we held a “cabaret” of various entertainment including jokes, song and verse, generously volunteered and performed by members (and one non-member who told a very funny but true story). The evening was rounded off perfectly by Becks, the barmaid, who sang a couple of songs and accompanied herself on the guitar.

Another successful ARP050 Ski Club holiday!

Peter Taylor

Hotel Silberhorn, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Unfortunately the host who organised this holiday, was taken poorly and could not come along. There were 18 members on this trip, and four new members. On early arrival at the Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen, we were all able to collect skis and lift passes and be ready for the guiding the following morning. There was no problem in Switzerland with guides and guiding! The first morning there were very icy snow conditions which required much attention as the ice ruts were hard and unyielding, but by the mid morning the sun had softened the surface. This pattern continued throughout the week with long sunny days. There were two guides shared between the Silberhorn and the Chalet Rosa guests.

On the guides day off on the Wednesday many went to The Top of Europe, the highest railway station in Europe. This winds its way through the Eiger and Monch, and ends up in the Jungfraujoch. Here there is an amazing “Tour” including an Ice Palace that is inside the glacier, an Alpine Sensation and the Jungfrau-Panorama – a 4-minute 360º cinematic experience. There was a lift to the Sphinx Terrace research station at 3571m with more amazing views of the area.

Several members only skied a couple of days but enjoyed the sunshine, walking and visiting the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant on the Schilthorn.

The Hotel Silberhorn was welcoming, with good food and accommodation. Now that there is a ‘Ski and Boot Room’ at the station, the daily necessity of carrying skis whilst wearing boots was avoided.

This was another excellent ARPski holiday, new friendships made and old ones renewed.

Heather Rae