Club Holiday to Cervinia March 2018 — A holiday with a difference

Reporter: Tony Shaw

Day of Travel

It started off snowy as I left home at 3.00am for the airport, navigating there was particularly difficult and as I had booked in to Terminal 1&3 long stay parking the walk over to Terminal 2 in the snow was going to be grim. Luckily I managed to jump on to a bus that dropped me off at Terminal 2 and to my surprise the check in at the airport flight desk went amazingly quick along with the security checks. Booking the additional luggage space for £18 (return cost) was definitely worthwhile and I managed to pack an additional week’s worth of underwear along with a number of other shirts and fleeces that I didn’t end up using. I met up with the usual crew in the airport Escape lounge and then everybody else before boarding the aircraft which unfortunately was then delayed for de-icing and everybody sat in their seats for an hour which appears to be the way it goes these days at Manchester. However, the flight took off without hitting any birds and the journey was quick. In Turin airport the border patrol officers must have been on happy pills as they let most people through with aggravation. The usual chaos ensued gathering the bags and then it was a case of navigating to the bus parked about 2 miles away. The Crystal Reps looked initially enthusiastic but this was soon to disappear on arrival at the hotel when they realised they were dealing with experienced travellers.

At the Hotel

Arriving at the hotel the initial signs were good and the look of the place was pleasing to the eye, however, the rooms were very small even for the smallest people amongst us such as myself. The staff to be fair were pretty good and the bar staff were amazingly helpful as well as courteous, unfortunately I wish I could say the same about the Crystal Rep. The ski passes were obtained by the designated members of the committee and then handed out at the evening meal. The first nights meal was à la carte and to be fair was not bad. As we were full board we ordered our sandwiches for the next day’s skiing. The next morning the breakfast was again not bad but the SCOM members acting like an army of locust managed to eat their way through much of what was presented to the surprise of the staff. Evening meal was ordered at breakfast for that day. The walk to the ski lift were only 150m walk away and took only a few minutes after navigating the icy stairs down to the entry point.

Day 1 — 48km skiing

I spent the first day skiing with the usual crew of Ruth B, Iain M, Phil J, Tony C and myself and we headed over to Zermatt taking the window of clear weather to get over there. However, it was a windy day and we only spent a couple of hours over at Schwarzee and Furi, so before we got caught by the weather we returned before being stuck over in Switzerland. It was a pleasant days skiing covering 48km in total and we managed to get our bearings for the next day. We returned for free beers at the hotel a little bit wind swept to discuss the days achievements and compare ‘Skitracks’ statistics like a game of top trumps. Following a quick shower we went down to our first meal of the week and to be honest it wasn’t fantastic but the starters and deserts weren’t not that bad to be fair.

Day 2 — 39km skiing

A new day and another clear morning but outrageously cold. Skiing with the same crew again we attempted to hit the Matterhorn area early and hitch a ride to the top of Gornergrat @ 3089m. We jumped on the ski train up to the peak at Riffelberg and to be honest it was a weird experience in this mode of transport to the top of a mountain. The views were amazing at the summit and we took the opportunity to purchase a fridge magnet and hat badge at the tat shop avoiding the numerous Asian tourists with cameras. We returned to the Cervinia side after being spooked by the ‘Matterhorn Express’ lift that had broken down just before we set off in it which caused some chaos as the skiers were rescued from each gondola cart. After the long drag lift over to the Cervinia side we decided to partake in a coffee stop at the midpoint of Red run 7 down to the hotel, this became the SCOM stop of choice before heading down to the mountain for the last run of the day. I took pity on the owner of the piste restaurant and handed over my emergency MCFC flag I always carry to add to her collection of all other inferior football clubs displayed on her walls.

Day 3 — 30km skiing

For a change of scene I decided to ditch my usual ski crew in order to provide and pass on vital ski knowledge to an emergent generation of SCOM members i.e. Valerie M and Lorraine J. So at the designated time of 8:45am we set off around Cervinia accompanied by Tony C. The wind was very harsh and cut through our clothing like a hot knife through butter. Due to the weather and half the system being shut down due to high winds we decided to pop over to the Valtournenche side which was much more protected from the wind. However, on the way there we inadvertently hit BLACK run 21 which was challenging for the girls but they managed the run exceptionally well and we all lived to tell the tail. After a short walk into the village centre and bumping into Mike S we decided to take a nice looking GREEN run under the lifts to bring balance back to the universe, unfortunately the GREEN run turned into be an itinerary route which had a very steep narrow slope that Valerie M decided to use this run to launch herself through the air. After a dusting down and a laugh we went for a brew and hit the nice sunny slopes at Salette where we met up with numerous others for the final hours and again headed over to the brew place of choice. In the evening a number of us decided to go out and eat at a local pizza restaurant and test the local beer at the numerous bars along the main street which were great and well worth the trip out even though we had to pay for the drinks. From what we were told when we returned to the hotel that evening it sounded like we had made the correct decision. We laughed like pirates that evening after being informed of this news and we ordered a few more free beers at the hotel bar and played a game of Perudo.

Day 4 — 41km skiing

Inspired by the fabulous previous days pupil feedback I took it upon myself to ski with some of the older members of the club i.e. John H and Ian M. Again the weather was harsh and windy and a face mask was a must wear. We headed over to the Valtournenche once the lifts were operating fully and the ski schools had dissipated. The Valtournenche side was completely sheltered and very sunny, some great skiing was accomplished and the slopes were virtually empty. We hit a number of on piste coffee stops and we put the world to rights on the lifts all day. At the top of the mountain we took the opportunity to get out of the chilling wind to quaff some goulash soup which was lovely and fulfilling, it was nice to get away from the pre wrapped cellophane sandwiches provided by the hotel but at €13 for the soup I did question myself afterwards if I should have spent the cash. Later in the day we bumped into a few more people from the SCOM and again we ended up in the brew place of choice before the final decent to the hotel. That evening following our meal we played Perudo again (now the official game of any SCOM holiday) where we tried to teach a number of members how to play, a fun night was had by all and plenty of free beer and wine was served up by the very lovely bar staff. A social night was arranged for the Friday night in a local bar for Après Ski drinks.

Day 5 — 51km skiing

The Friday brought me back skiing with the usual crew and an additional number of other people i.e. Sarah L and Jennifer G. As the weather was fine we headed straight over to the Matterhorn area again to hit the dizzy heights of the mountain at Hohtalli @ 3286m and then over on the train again to Gornergrat @ 3089m. We all had a good thrash around but due to stomach issues I had to bail out at 1.15pm to find a restaurant that had an actual toilet instead of just a hole in the ground. Following my comfort stop I headed over to the Cervinia side on my own but still managed to get to Valtournenche for a number of runs where I met up again with numerous SCOM members for a quick ski. At 3:30pm we all met again in the now named ‘City Flag Coffee Stop’ for a hot wine and then down to the hotel to get to the ski social meet up in the village. Numerous people attended the ski social event in the CopaPan Bar/Restaurant although a tiny bit later than advertised. We all had a good time and chatted about skiing and Facebook posts. Again a number of us decided that it was advantageous to eat out in the town rather than take our chances in the hotel for food. We debated all evening about future ski trips and the usual bragging rights on ‘Skitracks’ and then back to the hotel for free beers and a game of Perudo.

Day 6 — 43km skiing

The last day of skiing Tony C and myself decided to ski out with Deborah M and Ian M as they hadn’t been over to the Zermatt side as far as we had achieved on previous days. As the weather was very good again we took advantage of the early lifts over and got there quickly and well before any others. We went up the ski train and then back down where Tony C decided to chance his arm at the pre-rutted slalom course where we stood at the bottom laughing at his attempt (video available upon request). For lunch as a treat on the last day of skiing we went to the top of Plateau Rosa @ 3480m where we sat and observed the fantastic views whilst gasping for oxygen in the amazing exclusive environment. Soup was in order and again at €13 it was worth taking time to eat and take in our surroundings. After lunch we popped down to Cervinia where Tony C went back to the hotel with a knee injury and the rest of us went for a hot wine at the ‘City Flag Coffee Stop’ for one last goodbye. The evening brought a bit of chaos as our bags and skis had to be packed and dragged down to the minuscule ski locker room early and ready for collection at 2:00am. The evening meal was à la carte again and to be fair there was a good choice of food and tasty. The usual staff tip was handed over from the people who added to the funds and a last couple of beers were finished off before we went to bed for departure.

Departure Day

We awoke at 4:30am for those who put their clocks forward adding a bit of excitement on the day to see who had remembered to do so. Breakfast was served and then we went off for our collection at 6:00am in the local coach park where our frozen luggage was acquired from outside the coach house and packed onto our vehicle. Unfortunately we sat on the coach for about an hour whilst the Crystal staff pratted about before eventually setting off. The coach driver took no prisoners descending the mountain and we arrived at Turin Airport in an amazing record time, even more amazingly we were checked in with our luggage and through security within 20 minutes! Unsure of what to do with the additional time we had on our hands we sat down drinking coffee in the posh waiter served airport lounge before departing from Italy. No flight delays this time around although Ruth B did find out that our aircraft had suffered damage from a bird some trips prior (see YouTube post on Facebook SCOM Facebook Group). On landing back in Manchester unfortunately we had to wait around 1 hour for our luggage to arrive which never goes down well at the end of a long week skiing and entertaining.

Holiday Executive Summary

A great trip was had by all and fantastic skiing conditions were observed. The only downside for me was the hotel location in relation to the village centre (although offset by location to lift) and the evening meals at the hotel. However, in terms of value for money and company it was another top class SCOM ski holiday.