I have just got back from a week’s skiing in Sauze d’Oulx, Italy (24th – 31st Jan ) and I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised! I ski with the same group each year and we usually go to various resorts in Austria. However, this year there was a group decision to try somewhere different and Sauze d’Oulx emerged as the winner. The transfer from Turin airport to the resort is only an hour and 15 minutes and this is a big plus. It also has a reputation for being very reasonably priced in the bars and restaurants, and I found this to be mostly true. This is a great website to get all the info you need on the resort: http://www.sauzeonline.com Sauzeonline provides a great weekly update on snow conditions, resort info etc on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNdFYjPS_Lo
I arrived with fairly lowish (but hopeful) expectations as I had read that it was a bit ‘lager loutish’ and not terribly pretty to look at. BUT THIS IS SO WRONG! While there is a large British/Irish tourist presence and a couple of ‘British Bulldog’ type pubs, the rest of the place is a delight. There are loads of really nice cosy bars/wine bars and cafes/restaurants/shops where you can avoid the ‘Magaluf on ice brigade’ and it is also very pretty and picturesque (unlike the neighbouring Sestriere, which is hideous to look at – more on that below!!). My favourite bar was the Derby Bar which looked like an upmarket ski chalet with a beautiful fire and stacks of wood – it was a fairly laid back place where you could have a few cosy drinks. The Vagabondi Bar round the corner was good fun too when the live band were playing. The town was very lively at night but mostly in a good way. There was a lot of fun around the place but it didn’t get too much. http://www.sauzeonline.com/apres-ski/
There is a beautiful little old town in the village and the narrow streets and tiled roofs are delightful. The town also sits in a ‘bowl’ so you are surrounded by fabulous mountains at every turn.
Now about the skiing…..Again, I was very impressed! Unfortunately we picked a bad year for snow (it’s an El Nino year – see previous post on this!). There wasn’t a great deal of snow and many of the lifts/runs were shut. But the lift company and piste management did a tremendous job to keep as many runs open as possible through use of the snow machines. There are lovely long red runs that go from the top of the mountain all the way back down (Red 2000 was my favourite) and the setting/scenery is absolutely beautiful. There are also loads of great mountain restaurants where the food is good and reasonably priced.
When the snow is good, this is one of the biggest ski areas in the Alps (the Milky Way) but this year, the ski area was much smaller due to lack of snow. However, we did mange to ski over to neighbouring Sestriere one day. http://www.sestriere-online.com This is a purpose built resort (built for the Turin Olympics) and it is an eyesore! It reminded me of the brutal industrial architecture that can be found in the Soviet block! But if you are not too concerned with aesthetics, than it is a good cheap place to ski for a week – but not for me! Sauze d’Oulx was a thousand times nicer – both in terms of the ski runs and the quality of the resort.
The food in our hotel, Relais Des Alpes, was the best I’ve ever had on a ski holiday. It was very plentiful (didn’t lose any weight on this holiday!) and great quality. The hotel itself was nice enough, but not as cosy and pretty as the places I’m used to in Austria. http://www.crystalski.co.uk/ski-resorts/italy-ski-holidays/sauze-doulx/hotel-relais-des-alpes/. There was a spider in the bed on the last night – which really FREAKED ME OUT!! It was BIG!! But that isn’t the hotel’s fault!
We flew out from Dublin with Crystal Ski and they were very good throughout the week. The reps were friendly and plentiful – they seemed to pop up everywhere we went. They organised lots of activities during the week, including wine tasting and a ski away day to nearby Montgenevre in France. http://www.skiclub.co.uk/skiclub/skiresorts/resortintro.aspx/Montgenevre#.VrhqPYSfnFI
Overall, a pretty decent holiday – I would recommend Sauze d’Oulx. I would like to return in a couple of years – but will try to pick a year where there is more snow!