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Review of the 2019 Ski Season

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Holiday Reviews 2019

Location Date Review
Tignes, France. Sat 8 to 13 January View
Meribel, France. Sun 20 to 27 January View
Arabba, Italy. Sat 2 to 9 February View
Baqueira, Spain. Sun 124 Feb to 3 March View
Alpe d'Huez, France. Sat 23 Feb to 2 March View
Cervinia, Italy Sun 10 to 17 March View

Tignes, France.

All flights flew to Chambery and there were 40 members in the chalet. Everyone was organised into ski groups of between 5 and 7 and had the chance of meeting the other members of their group at the “welcome drink” before, and during the evening meal. There were 7 groups, set according to the abilities and level of skiing that people had reported to me. Creating these groups can be a bit hit and miss and it’s not surprising that people began moving between groups quite early on and this changes the balance of each group affected.

On the first day, Monday, Joan was wiped out from behind on the first run of the day, and after having a check up at the Medical Centre was diagnosed with a cracked pelvis and hospitalised in Bourg St Maurice. What a stroke of bad luck! On Wednesday it snowed all day and many people stayed off the slopes. Wednesday was the staff day off and we all ate out at various restaurants. Everyone reported enjoying their meals, but those of us who went to La Ferme des Trois Capucines in Le Lavachet gave it 5 stars. Joan was released from hospital and returned to the chalet in the evening.

The next day there was some great skiing, clear skies and bright sunshine but bitterly cold. Friday, the last day but one, was designated the one on which to hold the traditional evening entertainment. I was lucky to have a good selection of acts including a very funny sketch involving Nelson, Hardy and a Bosun, all suitably bewigged and attired. There were several funny monologues and jokes and a very fine performance of “Cry Me a River”. It was a very enjoyable evening and everyone who volunteered an act can be suitably proud of the result. Saturday was generally clear but with some cloud and still cold. We managed to get some decent skiing on this last day.

On Sunday we all returned home. It was later reported that Joan was taken to the plane by ambulance. Once at Stansted she managed to struggle off the plane, only to be told that she had to get back on board so that she could be taken off again by some special lift apparatus. Sometimes it is hard to think of a suitable comment!

Peter Taylor.

Meribel, France

30 Club members made the trip to Chalet Hotel Alba. We shared the chalet with another party of 12 with an age-profile not too much lower than ours. The chalet was quite comfortable and well provisioned apart from the poor availability of the sauna and spa. Buffet service had replaced waiter service for dinner this year, it is said in response to French employment laws, and co-ordinating with the other guests this worked quite well with this sized chalet. The wine flowed freely, so much so they had to replenish their stocks much sooner in the week than they had previously experienced.

The chalet was at the Rond Point a 10-minute free bus ride or a 30+ minute walk down to Meribel Centre, but it was only a short walk across the road to the piste down to the Chaudanne at Meribel Centre affording ready access to the valleys of Courchevel on one side and to Brides les Bains/Les Menuires/Val Thorens on the other as well as the Meribel valley itself.

The now established routine of pre-organising ski-groups on the basis of members’ pre-declared skiing preferences was followed and, in terms of groups surviving relatively unchanged over the week, seemed to work reasonably well. Snow conditions were generally good with enough soft snow on top of a hard base to be reassuring. It was topped up by a few light snowfalls over the week with only a few occasions of snowfall, and low cloud causing a late start/early finish to the day’s skiing. Otherwise and certainly towards the end of the week, the days were quite glorious and emphasised how generous and satisfying the easier slopes of the 3 Valleys can be for the less adventurous intermediate skier, whilst still providing plenty of opportunity for the go everywhere/do everything fast contingent.

As usual we had our share of skiing knocks and injuries, but thankfully no breakages, and none that it seemed that rest and time wouldn’t cure.

On the penultimate evening we had our ‘cabaret’ show which included, on the one hand, the eminently forgettable rendition by the committee members on the holiday, of the default club song (it being the only entry so far!) – ‘Let Us Ski’ and on the other hand, the much more memorably entertaining and enthusiastic duo tribute to Victoria Wood’s ‘Let’s do it’.

The chalet’s comfort and ski-friendly location are good reasons for the Club to use the Alba again.

Charles Woodcock.

Arabba, Italy.

After a miserable trip from Innsbruck for half our group, and no water on the first morning, the holiday went very well…and with no casualties. Twenty members went to Arabba. The Snowheads Ski club had 50 booked into the hotel. They had patronised the Portavescovo for the last 12 years, so naturally took precedence over the number of rooms available to us.

The first day had the last gasp of the awful weather- more snow and then low clouds. Some skied as normal and others took it easy. There was no water in the hotel and vicinity from 8 – 12 due to a snow plough breaking a water pipe, and with the Innsbruck transfer it appeared that the fates were against us. However that was the last of the negatives. The weather was more or less perfect for the rest of the week, sunny days with minimal cloud providing excellent skiing conditions.

The Stella Ronda is a very large area with many places beyond the clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits, so there is plenty of variety. Some of the group skied with the Snowheads. Queues were rare. The lifts were an easy walking distance of the hotel and you could ski back to just above the ski room.

The Hotel Portavescovo had a good bar next to the lounge where you could take your drinks if preferred. I think most were happy with the food. The antipasti buffet was excellent – great seafood on one evening. The rooms were of a good size. The resort Rep organised an enjoyable trip down the hidden valley with an excellent ski guiding programme afterwards.

The entertainment night was held on Thursday evening as the Innsbruck flyers had a very early start on Saturday morning. We found an area with a small stage. The show opened with a warm and amusing song followed by some witty monologues. The main event was a fine performance of “Nelson’s Navy in the 21st century”. Needless to say Nelson and Hardy struggled to cope. A vigorous version of Strip the Willow finished off. Fortunately the transfer back to Innsbruck was trouble free.

I can strongly recommend Arabba and the Portavescovo Hotel for future ARPski holidays. As long as you avoid the Snowheads there should be more rooms available.

David Clark

Baqueira, Spain.

Having stayed at The Chalet Eira in Baqueira for many years, both Alison and myself were somewhat apprehensive about how the change of venue to the Hotel Tuc Blanc would compare for those members who had enjoyed ARPski Group holidays at The Eira over the previous years. There were things we missed but as the week progressed our concerns proved to be unfounded, and both returning members and those not familiar with the Chalet Eira and new to Baqueira, were seemingly more than happy with the Tuc Blanc and its facilities. Rooms were comfortable and well equipped. The excellent Buffet style meals provided a vast choice and a variety to suit all tastes were well received and enjoyed. Inexpensive and good quality wines, alongside very efficient, friendly and willing staff were to remain with us all week.

Tim and Annette remained very much a part of our Baqueira holiday, Always on hand to ensure Lift Passes were issued and, as in previous years, to ensure guiding as required was organised into three groups, each with their own guides; these groups interchangeable according to ability or members requirements on a day to day basis, and with a Minibus provided each morning to take those who preferred not to take the short walk to the gondola.

Several new members were with our group ready to experience the charm and delights of Baqueira which seemingly did not disappoint. The snow stayed with us with the added bonus of blue skies and sunshine for much of the time and, for the most, the uncrowded slopes which Baqueira is known for.

Our traditional last evening brought forth a wealth of talent and entertainment including magic tricks, interesting stories, sing-a-longs and Pantomime, for which we were given the use of a private room. A fun-filled last evening in true ARPski Tradition. Our journey home was not so good for members travelling to Gatwick with flights delaying our arrival home by 5 hours.

Beryl Wagner Gage

Alpe d'Huez, France.

As a first time holiday host I breathed a huge sigh of relief when everyone arrived in resort as planned from 8 UK airports. Prior to arrival the resort had basked in 2 weeks of unbroken sunshine and on our first day we awoke to blue skies and high temperatures. There was much shedding of layers as this weather continued and the sun seekers took full advantage of the weather to enjoy tea on the balcony whilst the more delicate amongst us retreated to the coolest corner of the lounge!

Although the sunshine was welcome, combined with the very crowded pistes, at times it provided some challenging skiing. Instead of partaking in afternoon tea someone who shall remain nameless was overheard justifying the purchase of a gin and tonic with the words ‘I almost died today’. Whilst a slight exaggeration, the fall was indeed spectacular but thankfully did not result in any injury.

As usual the young people the chalet were friendly and helpful. On the whole the food was good, the hot water plentiful and I did not receive any complaints. At lunchtime on the last day the conditions changed suddenly and drastically bringing very high winds and falling snow. I was very grateful that all the groups sensibly heeded the warning signs at the lift stations and returned to the right side of the valley without delay before the high lifts closed.

No ARPski holiday would be complete without a drama or two, and when the lift pass office put the wrong photos on some of the grand senior lift passes the ensuing conversations would have made a great Whitehall Farce had it not been so frustrating and time consuming for those involved. Poor John ended up with first Marie, and then Judy on his pass, whilst Mike said that Judy’s picture did not look much like her. This was no surprise when it turned out to be a photo of Mike himself! When the ticket inspector was called and accused us of sharing passes there was a moment when I thought we might have made ARPski history by being arrested! When asked repeatedly to move her rucksack Loraine came up with a time saving idea and put it on under her jacket. Whilst this offered a solution, the resulting Quasimodo photos are hilarious.

Thankfully there were no meat wagons or hospitalisations required but of course it would not be a skiing holiday without the obligatory twisted knee or two, and we did have a couple of those, but thankfully they do not seem to be too serious.

I was worried there would not be sufficient volunteers for the traditional evening entertainment. How wrong I was, I was spoilt for choice. A rich variety of very talented acts stepped forward and provided an absolutely splendid show which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Having Welcomed 2 new members on this trip, it was testament to the friendliness of ARPski members that they enjoyed it enough to come on an ARPski trip again next year.

Val Deere

Cervinia, Italy.

The last ARPski Club trip of the season was to Cervinia on the Italian side of the majestic Matterhorn. 39 members travelled there. The Hotel was comfortable and centrally situated. A short walk took us to the slopes behind the hotel. The hotel staff, particularly those in the restaurant, were extremely helpful and patient.

Adverse weather conditions with very high winds and poor visibility marred the first day, Monday. Due to the poor conditions locally, Crystal organised their “Away Day” to Pila, with 3 lucky skiers taking their coach to ski further down the Aosta Valley. In Cervinia most lifts were closed and we were advised that the best skiing conditions were to be had at the lower linked village of Valtournenche, accessible by bus. Those with the sharpest elbows and most pugnacious queuing style made it there, either by bus or taxi, as the entire skiing population of Cervinia attempted to reach that village.

Better weather conditions greeted us on Tuesday but no links were open to Zermatt via the Plateau Rosa. Although there were large lift queues at the start of the day, most of us enjoyed a good day’s skiing.

On Wednesday, despite large queues to begin the day, some made it over to Switzerland via the Theodulpass and returned on the new “3S” Cableway from Trockener Steg up to the Klein Matterhorn. This “Matterhorn Glacier Ride” is now the world’s highest 3S Cableway with 25 gondolas moving 2000 people an hour. Inside each high-tech gondola are 28 heated leather seats and 4 of the cabins have glass floors giving passengers a thrilling ride.

Thursday was dull and many lifts again closed because of the wind. Some skiers ventured to Valtournenche, others had a shorter skiing day, and others enjoyed longer lunches. Two members had birthdays today and the hotel provided cakes with fireworks to celebrate.

A half a meter of snow fell overnight and it continued snowing throughout the morning on Friday. Unfortunately again, the severe weather meant the closure of many uplifts. A few hardy folk braved the severe conditions with wind which almost lifted you off your feet. Our traditional “concert party” was held this evening. I am always amazed at the range of talent amongst the ARPski fraternity, and tonight was no exception. The opening “mantra” encouraged us all to live life to the full! Other members then provided us with jokes, songs, recitations and even a more “traditional” folk song, which was well received with us all joining in the chorus. Our entertainment finished with the ARPski Anthem “Let us Ski”!

We woke to clear blue skies and sparkling sun on Saturday, our last skiing day. Needless to say we all made the most of this glorious change in the weather. Most folk went over to Switzerland. One group even combined a trip there, came back into Italy and then took the red run from the Plateau Rosa down to Valtournenche, one of the longest runs in the world.

Whilst not the most memorable week for skiing, our stay was enhanced by the friendship and camaraderie of the ARPski group.

Sheila Walker