Good company – 60 skiclub members arrived in Sestriere, a good mix of veteran members and new, youngish and not so young, expert skiers and relative beginners, Yorkies, Lancastrians and ‘others’. Despite differences the group felt united and there was a good ambience when we all met at mealtimes. This was my third club holiday and it was good to meet up with familiar faces and to make new friends.
Good hotel: The Hotel du Col was very well situated so we could ski out from the boot room and we only had a short uphill walk to get back home. Lockers were heated overnight but there was some dissatisfaction about paying 10 euros for a shared locker and only one key. This was a minor niggle soon overcome once the key board was discovered!!
The beds were very comfortable and the rooms were cleaned daily with a change of towels during the week. The hotel staff were friendly and cheerful. Food was plentiful and delicious. Personally I would prefer a quieter dining room and waiter service rather than buffet but the buffet did ensure that even the heartiest appetites (mentioning no names Nigel! ;) were satisfied. My friend who has a gluten allergy was given VIP treatment, getting chef prepared plates delivered direct to table. A huge birthday cake was prepared for the triple birthday celebration and the whole restaurant was plunged into darkness as we sang happy birthday and the trio blew out the candles.
There was some form of after dinner entertainment at 21.30 most nights. We ventured down to hear the ‘live music’ one evening and were very impressed by the singer/guitar player/comedian from Bristol. He could play excellent cover versions of just about anything – Bohemian Rhapsody, Hey Jude, American Pie, and soon had us all singing along and some even dancing!! The quiz night was not quite as entertaining but, despite not knowing many answers, team SCOM won first prize (we got extra points for Christine’s witty and flattering caricature of Shane the Crystal rep!!)
Good snow the first day we were confined to the Sestriere area because of high winds. After this conditions were perfect for taking the morning gondola out of Sestriere to explore neighbouring Sauze d’Oulx and Sansicario. Our find of the week was a lovely restaurant Clot Bourget (no 5 on the piste map) with friendly table service, delicious pasta and polenta dishes and absolutely divine coffee. On Friday we had snow and fog and though most of our intrepid club took to the slopes all were back by early afternoon, not being able to see one piste marker from another. This gave time for shopping and sampling the local Barola wine in superb goblets at a nearby hostelry - I bought a couple of bottles from the local supermarket to take home to my wine buff husband and for once he was impressed by my selection!
Our final day was truly magical. Julia, David, Dave and I decided to cross the border to Montgenevre. This involved several long lifts but the views of beautiful wooded valleys with the larch trees sparkling under new snow were breathtaking. We arrived in time to lunch in France and do several pleasant runs before heading home. David had been leading us very skilfully all day but the one time he got on the chair in front by himself we three were so busy chatting we got off automatically as the chair touched down, only then realising that it was a halfway point. We had to scurry back down the mountain to pick up the same lift and what should have been quite a relaxed trip back became a bit of a race to get the bubble before closing time! Still a lovely day was had by all, a fantastic final day to an excellent holiday.