A Look Back At 2018/19 Ski Season
A blog from Seren…
As we near the end of the season, we take a look back at a fantastic season, with record snowfall across Europe and exciting new projects popping up across the world, here is our review of 2018/19.
In February the ski racing world was hit by the news that Lindsey Vonn, three-time Olympic medallist, would retire early after announcing that her ‘body is broken beyond repair’. Winning gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, to many Vonn seemed unstoppable but after a series of serious injuries, the ski racer accepted that she could not continue. She competed in the super-G and downhill competitions at the World Championships in Are, Sweden at the beginning of February before turning her attention to alternative career options. She leaves the sport with her head held high, “I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals and 7 World Championship medals…I have accomplished something that no other woman in history has ever done”. Vonn’s story is one of comebacks, injuries and victories, it is not a story of failures or unreached goals.
Although Vonn may not be competing anymore, there was plenty of snow for the rest of us to enjoy. Austria saw the heaviest snowfall in a century, bring many resorts to a complete stop after snow drifts blocked access. Almost 10ft of snow fell in just 48 hours across parts of Austria with an additional 3ft due to fall later that week. The army was brought in to help clear roads, deliver supplies and create access routes for holidaymakers. Although this amount of ‘white gold’ is every skier's dream, it also caused a spike in avalanches and skiers were reminded of the importance of checking avalanche warnings prior to leaving their accommodation and the importance of staying on the piste, despite a great desire to enjoy powder days.
Where is the most unlikely place you’d expect to see snow? Shanghai? After it was announced that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games it came as no surprise that there would be a spike in interest when it came to skiing and winter sports. The 227,000²m Wintastar Shanghai will be home to a 90,000²m ski slope. Designed by award-winning Italian, Massimo Mercurio, inspiration was drawn from European ski resorts, alpine charm and icebergs. The facility will be run by Majid Al Futtaim which also runs Ski Dubai as it is due to open in 2022.
Grandvalira in Andorra celebrated its 15th anniversary and hosted one of the most important events in the snowsports calendar, the FIS World Cup Finals in Soldeu and El Tarter. Consisting of 4 events; downhill, super-G, slalom and giant slalom the event was a hive of activity with the top 25 skiers from each category competing on the Avet (Soldeu) and Àliga (El Tarter) slopes.
Just days before Vallnord hosted the Freeride World Tour where we saw some of the most daring skiing in the industry. This was the 4th round and the decider stage for those riders with the most points to progress on to the final races in Switzerland. 50 of the worlds best freeriders took to the mountains, where despite the weather not playing ball the entire time, they made their sport look effortless to spectators on the slopes below.
This season we have seen numerous new hotels open across the French Alps, ranging from all-inclusive Club Med resorts to party central in Chamonix there is something for everyone in each resort.
Club Med Les Arcs Panorama opened just above Arcs 1600 in December 2018, it is a jewel in the Paradiski ski area. With over 430 rooms ranging from Superior to 5Ψ (5*) Suites this brand new resort offers high-quality accommodation and breathtaking views. The vibrant and modern interior was designed by Didier Rey. It echoes the contemporary curvaceous design of the exterior of the building. The rooms are spacious, warm and welcoming with vivacious tartans and bold modern architecture, it is alpine with a luxury edge. Take in the views of the Tarentaise valley from your own balcony or head to one of the 3 restaurants for breathtaking vistas. If you are interested in experiencing a Club Med holiday contact our sales team who will be happy to discuss this hotel or any other Club Med hotel with you.
Keeping with the luxury theme, Daria-I Nor in Alpe d’Huez is the new sister hotel for Koh-I Nor in Val Thorens. This brand new luxury 5* hotel mixes modern glamour with alpine charm. For those looking to relax after a day on the slopes, you can either unwind in one of the 46 bedrooms or visit the spa with two swimming pools, two saunas, a Turkish bath, salt wall and a whirlpool for the ultimate muscle recovery experience.
For those looking for a bit of a party atmosphere, La Folie Douce in Chamonix opened at the start of the season. With a variety of rooms ranging from twins to mixed dormitories, there is something for everyone. Dependent on snow conditions, this is Chamonix’s only ski in-ski out hotel situated just a 5-minute walk from the centre of the town. There are numerous apres-ski parties throughout the season as well as themed evenings.
Though there were plenty of new hotels that opened this season, there was also a number of hotels which received a complete makeover. Here are just a few of our favourite refurbishments that were completed for the 2018/19 season.
Hotel Naudi in Soldeu is a great family friendly hotel at the start of the village, and just a 5 minute walk from the ski lifts. Run by the same family for 3 generations, its sister hotel Xalet Montana has also received a full renovation that will be complete in time for the 2019/20 season. There are 28 rooms and 3 luxury suites which opened in March 2019, these are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway.
Park Piolets Mountain Hotel & Spa, Soldeu was fully revamped in time for the 2018/19 season. The 4* hotel overhauled all their 150 bedrooms and the entire ground floor area including a ski room, meeting rooms and the brand new Kao Soldeu restaurant which was a winter pop up serving fine dining Chinese cuisine. Once again this hotel is in a fantastic location close to the slopes and local amenities.
New Lifts & Slopes:
Meribel saw the opening of the Legends chairlift, replacing the old Plan de L’Homme chairlift. The heated covered chairlift has padded seats emblazoned with the names of snow sports legends including Lindsey Vonn. For those who are not great fans of draglifts, you’ll be pleased to hear that the old Plan de L’Homme chairlift replaced the previous Cherferie draglift.
Courchevel has become even more accessible with the installation of a 10 person cable car connecting Courchevel 1550 to Courchevel 1850 in just 3 minutes. The gondola is free for those travelling from 1850 to 1550 but requires a small fee or the use of your lift pass for those travelling from 1550 to 1850.
Courchevel is not the only resort that saw a new cable car, La Daille in Val d’Isere also installed heated, WiFi connected gondolas that now take just 4 minutes 30 seconds to reach the top of the mountain, half the time it used to take.
For those looking for new slopes head to Grandvalira in Andorra. Grandvalira announced in February that it would be integrating with Ordino-Arcalis. The first 30km of Ordino-Arcalis slopes were added to certain Grandvalira lift passes, known for it’s fantastic off-piste areas this is great news for those who enjoy backcountry skiing. It is important to know that this addition is only available on consecutive passes of four-days or more and cannot be combined with any other services like lunch or lessons.
For Further Information
Our team are experts in Andorra, France and Canada and have years of experience living and working in ski resorts across the world. If you are looking to plan the trip of a lifetime get in touch and we'd be happy to help. You can call us on 02921 880022 or enquire online, have a look at just a few of our amazing deals.
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