Reporters: Paul Speed & Marie Stanley
So you’re new members? Well yes, and no. We’ve been in the club for about a year, regularly attending the Chill Factore sessions on Wednesday nights, but this was our first proper trip with the Club, so we hadn’t met a lot of the regular holiday goers.
Outbound journey. Any concerns we had about the holiday were put to bed on the plane by sitting beside Tony, who having discovered we were new recruits, spent much of the flight introducing us to fellow SCOM members.
The Hotel. It’s fair to say the layout of the Hotel du Golf is quirky, with all of the sleeping accommodation built on a series of ramped corridors, making the room numbering system a bit confusing. Having no staircases to the bedrooms is odd, but eliminates tired ski- legs having to climb stairs in the morning.
The rooms were clean and well sound- proofed, we didn’t hear our neighbours. Good quality free wifi in the rooms was a first for us. The bathroom had a generously-sized bath by alpine standards, but on the minus side, a sit- down shower.
Unusually, skis and boots were looked after by a staff-member from the adjoining rental shop, with access to skis/boots via a pass, (more like a cloak room), which gave an extra level of security that seemed to be appreciated by all.
Access to the pistes was pretty much ski-in ski- out.
Hotel Food. The buffet system did its best to please everyone, with a variety of starters, fish and meat courses and vast array of desserts every night. Similarly, the breakfast buffet choice was overwhelming. There was some disappointment earlier in the week with wine running short on the tables. This didn’t seem to be a problem later in the week, so may have been a misunderstanding in the hotel.
On one night there was some concern about a fish course being under-cooked, though this seemed to be a one-off.
Waiting Staff were unfailingly friendly; the maître d’ was well liked.
The Skiing & Weather. This was Paul’s eighth trip to Paradiski, and Marie’s sixth, so we know the area quite well. Overall, Arc 1800 is the best place to stay on the Les Arcs side. At the Hotel Du Golf, we had near ski-out access to the Transarc Lift. (admittedly with a bit of poling). Transarc delivers you into the heart of the resort, affording access to the Arc 2000 bowl, and easy access to the Vanoise express to rocket you over to La Plagne. La Plagne seemed to be very popular with the majority of the club, some thought the snow was better and that it was prettier too. Having been over to La Plagne last year, we decided to stay local for this trip.
Weatherwise we had a couple of cold days to start with—the wind was a little too strong for comfort on some lifts—fortunately good shelter can be easily found in the Peisey/Vallandry direction (or around 1600) with quiet pistes in the afternoon and good tree cover.
The Arc 2000 bowl was quite cold with strong winds lifting snow straight up the valley to the top of Transarc Lift, and closing the Grand Col lift at least one day.
Some runs above 1800 were very icy the first few days—especially Grand Mélèzes.
Wednesday was hot. We made the mistake of staying low and Paul felt pretty dehydrated that evening. Many people in the club had gone over to La Plagne that day, accounting for some very tired bodies that evening.
From Wednesday the weather remained sunny, so the latter half of the trip was classic spring conditions. Although, the resort was in need of more snow by the end of the week, with a few lower pistes closed.
Snow conditions down to Villaroger and routes into Plan Peisey/ Vallandry were turning to porridge later on hot afternoons, though were quite impressive in the mornings.
Highlights. What we enjoyed most about this holiday is the ability to properly get to know “Ski” people in a relaxed atmosphere, which the evening meal provided. We soon found people took an interest in us, and even made sure we were matched up with other club members at the same level, for social skiing. We enjoyed sharing the run down from Col De La Chal (Plan des Eaux) and trips around the Aiguille Rouge with our new Ski Club friends, in between days where we had ESF private lessons arranged.
The Aiguille Rouge comes up again and again when people talk about Les Arcs, and the snow was always in good condition there. The viewpoint is worth the walk, giving excellent views of the Tarentaise / Vanoise. The black run there isn’t too hard, that’s because it’s really a red!
Witnessing the solar eclipse was an unexpected bonus, due to the kindness of a French tourist, who lent us a special viewer at the top of the Aiguille Rouge.
The return journey. Very slow traffic on the road to Moûtiers caused increasingly anxiety on the coach about missing the flight back to Manchester.
Fortunately the ground staff at Chambèry pulled out all the stops, and fast-tracked us through the crowds, into the final waiting area. Our adventures were not yet over however, as in the general confusion our runway coach deposited us at the wrong aircraft twice!
And Finally. We’ve been asked quite a few times what did we think of the club trip? Would we be back on another holiday? The answer is a definite yes! Nice to meet you all, and thanks to all those involved in organising the holiday.