AIM HIGH THIS YEAR…

Aint no mountain high enough when it comes to great group skiing – but there are some peaks which come with a promise of shedloads of snow and also colder climates which make it stick around a little longer. This will be of particular interest if you are travelling at the very beginning or very end of the ski season when you can save a few bob by holidaying at this time. Not only is the skiing super satisfying but the views from the resorts located so high up are nothing short of breathtaking. Beginners need not worry if they are holidaying in a high altitude resort (high mountains do not necessarily not mean terrifying runs) – these resorts can cater just as well for beginners as the low altitude ones.

So how do you know if you will have super snow? (And are travelling to a high altitude resort?)

Well, by definition a high altitude resort is one which resides above 1600m. To offer a little more guidance we have compiled a list of those which seem to be the most popular amongst you high altitude enthusiasts:

Val Thorens France
The highest resort in Europe, Val Thorens is lift-linked to arguably the most popular ski area in the world, the Three Valleys. High-altitude skiing up to 3,200m grants some of the most snow-sure slopes in the Alps, perfect for early or late season skiing holidays. During your time skiing in Val Thorens you will have access to over 600km of pistes spread across 300 runs, served by over 200 lifts to explore the massive mountain. The season is usually the longest with skiing holdiays on offer from November through till May.

Courchevel France
The most prestigious resort of the largest linked ski area on the planet, The Three Valleys, Courchevel is a vibrant and chic resort. Courchevel is split into four village areas at heights of 1300, 1550, 1650 and 1850 metres above sea level. The different areas of Courchevel all have their own character, with 1850 being the most popular for luxury skiing holidays. Skiing will suit all abilities, from the couloirs at Mount Saulire, to the wide, open nursery slopes of 1850. The linked ski area of Courchevel offers the largest range of skiing of The Three Valleys ski area with over 1,304 acres of mountain dedicated to a variety of winter sports. For those who demand excellence on the slopes, Courchevel is the perfect ski holiday destination.

La Plagne France
A collection of 10 small villages with oodles of character, La Plagne is situated amongst the Savoie French Alps. The high-altitude slopes are quiet compared to Les Arcs. The long awaited ‘Paradiski’ area finally opened in 2003 linking La Plagne to neighbouring top ski resort Les Arcs, creating an impressive total skiing domain of 425km of downhill slopes to take advantage of.  Skiing in La Plagne can vary from wide open sweeping pistes to pretty tree laden runs. The views in La Plagne can be breathtaking so remember to take your camera up the mountain with you! The highest point, Bellcote glacier, sits at 3,250m and features more testing difficult runs for those feeling brave.

Les Menuires France
Sprawling over a large area, the purpose-built village serves as a base to the world-famous Three Valleys skiing area. Les Menuires is located beneath Val Thorens in the Vallee de Belleville, the village has 160km of pisted runs locally, and lift linked access to the staggering 600km Three Valleys skiing area. With 502 pistes spread over 200 ski lifts in total, you will be spoilt for choice. La Masse has some great, long swooping reds from one of the highest points in the valley. Or ski down to St Martin de Belleville for the day and have lunch in the sun at one of the traditional restaurants down there.

Alped’Huez France
Alped’Huez is situated on a high plateau in the Grandes Rousses mountainous area of the French Southern Alps. The popular traditional resort boasts glorious sunshine throughout the season and is suitable for all levels of skier and surrounded by high-mountain breathtaking scenery. The well-designed piste and high altitude skiing gives the area extensive amounts of terrain for your group skiers to explore. Group skiing holidays to Alped’Huez offer many fresh powder days every season for you to make your fresh tracks in. Tour de France even hosts one of its competition stages here in the summer.

Ischgl Austria
One of Austria’s largest skiing areas, Tyrolean Ischgl has high altitude skiing granting a snow-secure season longer than most other European skiing resorts. This resort is relatively undiscovered outside of Austria.With fast modern lifts and a great snow record, Ischgl has access to over 200km of downhill skiing, with 52 individual pistes served by 42 ski lifts. Part of the largest skiing area of the Eastern Alps, the Silvetta ski area, Ischgl and Galtur are two areas linked by bus covered on the same ski pass.

St Anton Austria
The endless powder fields of St Anton  guarantee delivering excellent off-piste opportunities for those looking for adventurous skiing holidays. A wide, spread out resort with skiing split over two sides of the valley. With simply amazing skiing in St Anton, the Alberg skiing area really lives up to its reputation as a skier’s paradise. What St Anton is famous for is its steep terrain and vast powder fields where avalanche transceivers, spades and helmets are normal attire for skiers. Known as one of the finest ski resorts in the Alps, St Anton has stunning scenery, a picturesque car-free village centre and arguably the world’s most exciting and challenging terrain.

Snow is falling all around us Merry Christmas everyone…

Obviously, when we say all around us we actually mean where we would like to be – in skis, at high altitude, mountainside – and not in rainy old Blighty. It seems, however, that our daily snow-dances around the office have paid off and the white stuff is coming down thick and fast in pretty much all our favourite resorts.

With the peaks gloriously covered, great group skiing is a guarantee, but what about the après for skiing groups? If you’re not too sure where to head for the best après action or fancy trying somewhere new here is a selection of our top picks, where despite the cold temperatures, the nightlife is hot.

FRANCE

Val d’Isere, France
A premier ski resort offering world-class skiing, spectacular views combined with an amazing après ski scene makes Val d’Isere an absolute ‘must’ to visit at some point on your skiing travels! Après in this top ski resort is second to none for its endless choice and buzzing atmosphere. The FolieDouce situated at the top of the La Daille gondola is very famous to go and visit for a bevvie. Fancy getting piste? With some establishments open until 4am you’ll be sure to have a memorable night(or perhaps not so memorable as the case might be!). Despite the emphasis on partying, the world-class pistes and abundance of activities make the resort a fantastic all-rounder for families and groups alike.

Meribel, France
Originally developed by a Brit, the resort is very much favoured as the British home from home ski destination and Meribel Centre is a hub of excitement with heaps of cafes, bars (with happy hours!) and restaurants. When we think of Meribel – we think of not a lot of sleep, rather a bit too much to drink, good food and late night dancing! There are over 30 bars and 4 nightclubs to choose from you’re bound to find somewhere you like to have a pint or cocktail whilst exchanging funny stories from the day’s snowy activities. There are also good facilities in the village following the Olympics (where it hosted the women’s downhill) with a swimming pool and ice rink now.

Alpe d’Huez, France
If you are looking for extra activities whilst on your skiing holiday then Alped’Huez is an ideal option. It’s not just daytime leisure activities that Alped’Huez is famous for (such as the large outdoor pool and skating rink)…the après ski scene is well known for its party vibe and deservedly so! There is an impressive collection of cafes, bars and restaurants and some very popular nightclubs thrown in the mix.

Val Thorens, France
Val Thorens is based at the top of arguably one of the most popular skiing areas in the world, the Three Valleys, and not just because it is the highest resort in Europe – it is also highly favoured for its après scene.There are some fantastic bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you busy and up to mischief on your skiing holiday. With a mixture of Brits, Swedes and the Dutch, it’s an eclectic mix of people to party with.

AUSTRIA

St Anton, Austria
Known as one of the finest ski resorts in the Alps, St. Anton is where it’s at if you’re looking to party! Après ski in this town is legendary and often starts on piste side bars coming into resort before carrying on through the night in the many central bars and clubs. All starts up high on the mountain with a bar crawl named ‘Run-1’ consisting generally of lager and European music in the lively bars. Eclipse Ski recommends using the €2 ski/board check-in at KrazyKangeroo and Mooserwirt, it works the same way as dropping your coat off in a nightclub, so you can relax when you’re out that your equipment is nice and safe.

Mayrhofen, Austria
Legendary Mayrhofen lives up to its name for being a top ski resort for many reasons and one of these is its lively après scene. You can forget ‘it’s a school night here with many places to party all week long. There are plenty of places to wind down or kick off your evening with a wide variety of bars and clubs. Mayrhofen has a reputation as being the music capital of Tyrol and you will often find an exciting line up of music concerts to enjoy whilst on holiday. One of the great restaurants worth a visit is perched at the top of black run ‘Route 17’ has a big cosy log fireplace, homely food and organic schnapps – perfect for rounding off a day of skiing.

Kitzbuhel, Austria
Pretty Kitzbuhel comes to life at night with an abundance of bars, restaurants and a few nightclubs to choose from. With a great range of choice there are bars and restaurants to suit all budgets whether you are after a night in one of the Champagne bars or high end restaurants or fancy something a little more low key in the form of drinking pints in the Londoner or Flannigans. The middle of the main street is where people tend to flock for the ultimate party atmosphere. Feeling lucky and up for a flutter? Then you can wind down from a day on the slopes and try your luck in the casino.

ITALY

Sauzed’Oulx, Italy
For anyone who has dabbled in a spot of après in Sauze d’Oulx , it will come as no surprise that many of the bar owners in this Italian resort also have bars in Ibiza. Enough said! With its party vibe and wide range of bars, clubs and restaurants Sauze d’Oulx is the perfect choice for group ski holidays. The long established ski resort is also known for its long sunny days so you are very likely to be able to enjoy extended days of skiing, a nice beer at sunset and even longer nights partying!

Call us today on 01273 224767 to find out today’s best offers at the resorts above and get your skiing holiday booked. Are you the organiser of your trip? Click here to learn more about our free online mini websites which are free to all group bookings taking the stressful organising out of being the organiser!

Three of the best skiing holidays for 2013

Arctic blasts may have been hitting the UK in the last few weeks, but it has been a lot more rain than pretty snowfall. So if you like your cold weather to be more “winter wonderland” than “deluge of freezing rain”, it may be the time to think about swapping your brolly for a pair of skis and booking your ski holidays.

The recent London Ski and Snowboard Show at Earls Court saw a boom in visitors in 2012, with a reported 12% growth on visitors from 2011 and with forecasters predicting another record snowfall for the upcoming ski season, make sure you are not disappointed next year by beating the crowds and booking early.

The Granvalira, Andorra

A six million Euro investment in the area, means a trip to Granvalira could be a great place to grab some great ski deals in the Pyrenees. They have created six new slopes, including the first ever descent slope in Andorra. Not only have improvements been made on the slopes but the après ski is not looking too shabby either. Already known as a thriving party hub, new bars and restaurants have opened, including the incredible Vodka Bar, where you’ll soon find your head spinning, and that’s just from the 2,150m altitude! It isn’t only party goers who will have an amazing experience, as improved facilities and activities are now available for families, making it a great group skiing location.

Chamonix, France

For seasonal skiers, Chamonix probably needs no introduction. Boasting some of the most stunning slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, it has five varied ski areas, making it an ideal choice if you are in a group with mixed ability skiers.

Opening in 2013, the boutique Hotel Le Faucigny will make a charming addition to the exclusive Neilson ski offering. Having undergone a major refurbishment last winter, this stylish haven from the slopes is based right in the centre of Chamonix, ideal for experiencing the amazing après ski on offer in the array of bars and restaurants, without the long, cold walk home. You can even get a wonderful afternoon there, perfect for relaxing those aching muscles and recharging the ski batteries.

Les Deux Alpes, France

If you are looking for a resort that is fabulous for families, that caters for all standards of skier and boasts slopes surrounded by stunning mountain views, then look no further. From beginner runs on a glacier, to the chance to hire a guide and try free-riding on incredible off-piste runs, there is something for even the most discerning ski party.

The resort has a wide-range of ski chalets for different sized groups and every budget but, if you are really looking to splurge, the four-star Neilson Chalet Chartreuse, in Les Deux Alpes is not to be missed, with a menu designed by the celebrated chef Chris Colbrough of Flying Kiwi Inns – a true culinary experience.

With so much on offer for this season, why not plan ahead and book now to snap up the best deals on skiing holidays?

Ski and Snowboard Show London 2012

Last week was all about the Ski and Snowboard Show…

Last week was very exciting for us. Not only are we partial to a spot of spooky fancy dress, pumpkin scooping and an excuse to play a few naughty tricks in the office. 31st October is a double whammy for us as, in addition to Halloween, it marked the opening of this year’s Ski and Snowboard Show in London’s Earl’s Court.

The 4 day show, now in its 39th year, was jam packed with attractions to delight all snow lovers. Whether you are on the lookout for inspiration on the latest winter gear to fashion on your upcoming group ski trip, which resorts to head to or learn more about extra activities available on your skiing holiday – this is the show that brings you everything you absolutely NEED to know before the new season kicks off.

The show is a fabulous day out for those who live to ski, love to board and even those who have never donned a pair of salopettes (but would like to one day) with a whole host of interactive activities, over 200 stands, entertainment and of course a few live penguins thrown (not literally) into the mix.

Once you have satisfied your appetite for all things to do with the white stuff you can retire to the Alpine Bar and enjoy your favourite post ski tipple whatever it may be. Stick around and you can even relive après as the DJ’s kick off their sets to carry you into the evening.

So take our advice – if you missed it this year, start planning for the next and bag yourself an out of office pass now and we’ll see you at the Alpine bar for post Ski and Snowboard Show bevvies next year.

Why book with Eclipse Ski? – Your free group ski trip microsite of course!

Your FREE personal ski trip microsite is the ultimate tool for organising your ski break!

With access to information such as flight numbers and hot resort tips, as well as options to pay your balance on-line and upload images, your personal website is an invaluable resource for your ski trip and accessible by every member of your group!

Your FREE group ski trip microsite will include:
• Personal login IDs and passwords
• Flight details
• Individual payment facility
• Accommodation information
• Resort information and local piste map
• Options to add ski extras
• Image gallery
• Message board

Keeping everyone in the know…

Eclipse Ski aims to take all the hassle out of booking your trip to the mountains. One of the main challenges of a group holiday is keeping everyone in the know about every aspect of your big trip. By gathering all the necessary information together for you, it’ll save you a barrage of questions. Every member of your group can log in to the website to view the latest information – meaning all you need to worry about is getting excited about your forthcoming ski trip!

Memories that last a lifetime…

Your group ski group ski trip microsite is also the perfect place for sharing photos and messages about your trip in the build up and aftermath of your holiday. The group website will remain live indefinitely and is yours to keep.
Friends and family can re-visit the site to browse all the photos and stories of your best (and possibly worst!) moves on the slopes. Your unique microsite will make booking your group ski trip a pleasure!

Six of the Best: Where to Ski in Luxury

Skiing holidays have often been associated with a sense of wealth and luxury; allowing those with a good level of disposable income to defy the elements to enjoy the clean mountain air and dazzling landscapes at some of the best appointed resorts in the world.

For those looking for a little bit of luxury in their winter break, there are a number of fantastic resorts which are guaranteed to tick all the boxes on the most demanding of checklists.

Here are six ideas of great places for you to consider:

Courchevel

Visitors to Courchevel in France not only have access to one of the most extensive ski areas in the world, offering opportunities to those of all skill levels, but also have the benefit of being in a resort famous for its glamorous style and French chic. There are a multitude of designer boutiques, world class 5 star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants which make it a favourite for the most discerning of skiers.

Meribel

Meribel in the Three Valleys of France is quite rightly known for the charm and beauty of its buildings, giving a traditional character that derives from the traditional wooden buildings. The Meribel valley is the world’s largest ski domain with runs ranging from Péclet-Polset at 3,560m for the experienced skier down to Brides–les-Bains at 600m for those looking for a more gentle approach.

Megeve

Megeve can lay claim to being the originator of luxury skiing holidays, having been a favourite for European royalty for many years. As part of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area there is easy access to Mont D’arbois, Rochebrune and Le Jaillet, meaning there are over 100 lifts serving nearly 500 km of pistes. The Old Town is the centre for top quality cuisine and high class nightlife, although it mainly does come with a price tag that reflects its exclusivity.

Verbier

In Switzerland high up in the mountains at an altitude of 1500m lies Verbier. Although an all-year-round resort with a wide range of activities across the sporting spectrum, it is in the winter months that the Alpine scenery really comes into its own and the classic character of a Swiss ski resort takes precedence.

Zermatt

Zermatt is a picture postcard image of Switzerland, boasting some of the best Alpine scenery as almost a third of the 4,000-metre Mountains of the Alps lay around the resort, which has maintained its allure since the Matterhorn was first conquered in 1865. Not only are the facilities for skiing amongst the best in the world, the 5 star hotels and restaurants are a match for the peerless setting. It is also an all year round working ski resort.

St Anton

The first ski club in the Alps originated in 1901 in the Austrian resort of St Anton, located on the Arlberg pass. With such a long and noted history, St Anton remains a favourite with those ‘in the know’ and has developed into a modern destination with all the qualities to provide a luxurious background to your Skiing holiday.

A country of diverse landscapes: the ski holidays and rural resorts of France

France has countless things to boast about. Arguably the jewel in the country’s crown is the beautiful selection of ski resorts and rural getaways scattered across the landscape.

Here is a look at some of the best France ski holiday destinations: boasting luxury, adventure, fine dining and above all, stunning landscapes.

Les Deux Alpes

With a glacier underfoot, skiing continues in the beautiful part of France almost all year round. It offers a getaway to suit almost any traveller’s budget, from hostel accommodation through to the stunning four-star Hotel Chalet Mounier, complete with a Michelin starred restaurant.

While the ski village lies at 1,650m, the ski area goes up to a staggering 3,600m. This offers some of the most spectacular views in the country and it would be hard to beat a sunset from these towering heights.

St. Martin

While some ski resorts in France foreground the benefits of convenience over attractions, St. Martin’s is certainly the exception. Located in Trois Vallées, it’s an old cheese-making centre below Les Menuires in the Belleville Valley. It might not be the destination for party animals, but its stunning farmhouses and 17th-century churches offer an abundance of charm and ambience.

There’s a gondola with access to the ridge above the Belleville and Les Allues valleys. From there you can ski to Méribel, Les Menuires, and Val Thorens. You need not skimp on luxury here either, with the two Michelin starred restaurant La Bouitte, located only a small journey away in a neighbouring village.

Méribel

A favourite ski destination for the younger members of the royal family, Méribel is a luxurious and picturesque ski resort in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps. It’s one of the country’s most expensive destinations, but it’s worth every penny, boasting some of the finest views, most challenging ski runs and opulent accommodation the continent has to offer.

However, with a royal price-tag comes royal standards, so if you treat yourself to a stay in Méribel, prepare for the best.

Away from the slopes
While it might be famous for its snow season, France also boasts countless rural hideaways and locations well away from the ski slopes. If you fancy a slightly warmer getaway this year, you can’t look past the rural resorts located in the Normandy and Brittany countryside. Follow the delicious cheese and cider routes for some outstanding local produce, enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery and discover the slow meandering rivers of the region.

La Chaumière hotel and restaurant in Normandy offers the best of the coast and countryside, with picturesque views and countless activities such as horseback riding. Another scenic resort in rural France is the Chateau D’Audrieu. This resort is set amongst the exquisite French gardens and acres of beautiful parkland and includes a magnificent historic 18th-century château which remains a popular tourist attraction.

Advanced Group Skiing Trips

If you’re an advanced skier it’s more than likely that you would have mastered the technique to ski on any terrain, such as perfect parallel turns, off-piste skiing, moguls and black runs. Group skiers of advanced skiers and snowboarders normally struggle more than any other ability to find what they’re looking for as choice can be limited.

Generally speaking, the higher the altitude the steeper the gradient. Getting to some of the more difficult parts of skiable terrain may mean leaving the safety of the pisted runs and hiring a guide to find some adventure. Some of the best spots are untouched off-piste powder terrain, but remember to take proper avalanche equipment with you, such as a GPS.

If your group is looking for off-piste then Austrian resort Hinterglemm and neighbouring Saalbach boasts 100km worth of ground to cover. St Anton has a great off piste run down from the Valluga Peak. Chamonix and Tignes are famed for their off-piste and selection of terrain suitable for the expert skier.

If some of the members of the group are feeling like James Bond for the afternoon, why not go heli-skiing for some off-piste downhill skiing accessed by a helicopter. It’s available in some of the larger resorts such as Meribel or Val Thorens in France, or Cervinia in Italy.

If it’s monstrous moguls you’re looking for then try the homogeneous ‘Swiss Wall’. Right on the French-Swiss border, the steep black run is full of moguls and is easily accessed from the slopes of Avoriaz. Are you daring enough to tackle them?

Whatever gives you your skiing kicks, here’s a list from Eclipse Ski for recommendations of highly rated resorts for advanced skiing holidays:

- Hinterglemm, Austria
- Saalbach, Austria
- St Anton, Austria
- Lake Louise, Canada
- Whistler, Canada
- Avoriaz, France
- Chamonix, France
- Les Duex Alps, France
- Tignes, France
- Val Thorens, France
- Selva, Italy
- Verbier, Switzerland
- Zermatt, Switzerland
- Aspen, USA

G’day Skiers and Snowboarders

Australia and New Zealand are now about to open their ski lift gates for the first time this year. They are expecting the busiest season in years after releasing lots of deals for the season to give it the push that it needed.

Early-bird passes sales have exceeded sales of the last few decades and its set to be a record-breaking season. Both New South Wales and Victoria states have been fortunate enough to have over 30cm of snow falling last weekend. Combined with the excellent snow-making facilities some resorts have even been able to open a week early!

If you are planning to head out to the Aussie slopes there is of course now a new iPhone app with up-to-date information on snow conditions, lifts, events and deals.
Many new chairs have been installed across the resorts over the past six months, meaning the skiing and snowboarding here has more to offer than ever before.

Over in New Zealand, the ski bus system has been taken up a notch and ski area Treble Cone welcomes its first fun park this season to keep the group skiers and snowboarders occupied who want to take it to the next level away from the pisted runs.

Eclipse Ski recommends looking out for the Festival, Clicquot in the Snow, which takes place between 31st July and 5th August in Thredbo Village. The village turns yellow with events including apres ski parties, exclusive dinners, tastings and picnics in the snow.

Eclipse Ski’s Easy Guide to Booking a Group Holiday

Our experienced ski consultants understand that arranging a group ski holiday requires preparation to ensure every member of the party travelling has their ideal holiday. We’ve prepared an easy guide to help you plan your exciting skiing trip…

Book early for the best ski deals…

Booking early is highly recommended for groups as this enables the group leader to book the best holiday possible. Chalet accommodation is the most popular type of accommodation for group skiers. Chalets become fully booked and sell out quickly, booking early will enable you to book the perfect chalet in a location that is just right for everyone. What’s more, Eclipse Ski offers early bird discount to those booking early! Give us a call now on 01273 224 768 or send fill in the enquiry form to find out about the best deals on offer today.

Organising your group ski holiday…

Trying to get an idea of confirmed numbers is a great place to start. Knowing how big your group is will make it much easier to find the most suitable accommodation at the best possible price.

We all lead busy lives, so agreeing on a preferred date of departure is important to make sure it fits into everyone’s schedule. For the majority of Eclipse Ski’s 7-day ski holidays the dates of departure will normally fall on Saturdays and Sundays. Christmas, New Year, Half Term and Easter ski holidays tend to be known as ‘high’ season and this can be reflected in the price. However, during ‘low’ season, such as early-mid January and early March, cheap ski deals are in abundance!

Everyone’s expectations of the type of board basis and service can vary. It’s important to get a clear understanding of everyone’s requirements and budget to come to an agreement on whether you’re looking for a self-catered apartment, self-catered chalet, fully catered chalet or hotel. Most chalets and hotels are star rated between 2* and 5*, and their ratings depend on the quality of the chalet, the facilities available, the board basis and the food and beverage packages offered.

Flexibility offered for getting there

Eclipse Ski offer fantastic flexibility for groups. It is possible for group members to fly from different UK departure airports or travel by Eurostar. Eve if members of your group are based in different locations of the UK, you will still qualify for your relevant Eclipse Ski group discount!

Friends and family of all ages can take advantage of group ski packages with Eclipse Ski as generous savings apply to those booking larger parties. Group ski holidays are an exciting way for group skiers to take advantage of ski deals to find the best cheap ski chalet holiday deals around. A group of friends or a luxury corporate weekend away, there is something for every group out there.

Why not enjoy the picturesque mountains whilst indulging in the social side of skiing by taking advantage of one of our fantastic group ski deals?

Choosing the right resort…

Groups tend to be made up of all different ability levels. Finding a resort to suit everyone is essential. You may have beginners that require a ski school, a snow boarder asking for a board park and advanced skiers requesting extensive off-piste areas. Choosing where to go can be difficult, but by calling our experienced ski team 01273 224 768 we’ll help and advise on the best resort to cater for all your needs.