Sauze d’Oulx – It was a hit!

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

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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!

 

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More Ski Resorts I’ve Known – Italy

I normally go to Austria for skiing but I have been lucky enough to visit Italy a few times – and I’m going there again in January – to Sauze d’Oulx near Turin.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/italy/sauze-d-oulx/11235561/Ski-Sauze-dOulx-resort-guide.html

Canazei – This was the first Italian ski resort I visited and it was VERY COLD!!  Obviously cold is good on a ski holiday, but there was one early morning when the temperature gauge actually said minus 22 degrees centigrade!  This was the only ski holiday when I got wind burn on my face and came home with big red blotches on my nose & chin.  But it is a lovely resort – very pretty, nestled among the Dolomites.  The Dolomites are spectacular and turn a wonderful pink colour at sunset (I wasn’t normally up at sun rise to see this)!  One of the big attractions for Canazei is that it is part of the Sella Ronda ski circuit.

Check-out the review that I wrote for the RTE Travel site at the time.

http://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/travel/features/2009/0226/140692-canazei/

Courmayer – A stunning resort that sits at the bottom of Mont Blanc in the Aosta Valley.  The food was great and the quality of food in the mountain huts was some of the best I’ve found in ski resorts.  The village is very pretty and is full of Italian tourists wandering around in Armani gear (even the ski instructors wear Armani)!  The funniest thing is that the Armani clad tourists rarely venture onto the slopes – they prefer to sit outside the numerous cafes posing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/italy/courmayeur/

 

Where is all the snow this year?

Unfortunately, there is not too much snow around in the Alps at the moment.  We definitely need more of a dumping to get the levels up or the snow cannon will be working in over-drive this season.

It’s best to pick a high altitude resort if you want guaranteed snow but if you’re off to America or Canada this year, you are in luck.  See the Welove2ski website for excellent weather reports.

http://welove2ski.com/snow-report

There is loads of snow in the US and Canadian resorts right now.  This might be the El Niño effect.    2015 sees the strongest El Niño in 18 years.  This could be making the winter milder in Europe but much colder in America.  It’s just my theory – I’m not a metrologist!  See link below for more info on the 2015 El Niño.

http://www.weather.com/news/climate/news/strong-el-nino-noaa-update-november2015

I’m off to Sauze d’Oulx in the Italian Alps on January 24th but the snow hasn’t been great yet this season.  But it is 2,536 m above sea level so is reasonably high up – I remain hopeful.    One of my favourite past times now is checking the Sauze d’Oulx live webcams – see link below.  All ski resorts now have webcams so if you are going off somewhere this season, you can Google the name of your resort + webcam and you should be able to find live cameras to show you what’s going on/how much snow is around, etc.  It helps to build up the excitement before you go!

http://www.sauzeonline.com/sauze-doulx-webcam/

 

 

Check out the snow forecast for the Alps!

I love this feature on http:www/welove2ski.com/snow-forecast

You can type in the name of your resort (yes – I’m going to Sauze d’Oulx in January!!! – see previous post).  The name of your resort will appear on the map of the Alps and it will give you a 5 day snow forecast.  I obsess over the snow reports and log onto this everyday to check progress – I’m a snow geek!    It adds to the anticipation of the holiday. This feature is only available for the Alps so if you’re going to America/Canada, this won’t work.

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This is also a great website for general snow reports – see the latest report below.  It’s a useful way to check out where the best snow is, if you are lucky enough to get a last minute ski break.

http://welove2ski.com/snow-report/november-25-2015

We have been very lucky with the snow these last couple of winters, so fingers crossed we will get another great season.

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