Posted on 25 October 2017
Resorts across the Alps are gearing up for start of the 2017-18 ski season with many set to benefit from extra air routes and new investment into lift systems and infrastructure.
Looking first at the French Alps, flying to Grenoble this season has got easier thanks to both British Airways and Jet2 adding Saturday flights from Heathrow and Stansted respectively, while Jet2 also is operating Saturday and Sunday flights from Birmingham. Grenoble is the main gateway to the popular resorts of Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes, amongst others. In addition, Jet2 has launched its first routes to Geneva, Salzburg and Lyon from Stansted, and Geneva, Salzburg and Turin from Birmingham.
Elsewhere, on 11th December a new airline called Powdair kicks off with new routes between Sion in the Swiss Alps and six UK airports, namely London City, Southend, Luton, Bristol, Southampton and Manchester. These new services, starting from £125 one-way, will cut transfer times to resorts, including Verbier, Crans Montana and Nendaz, significantly.
Reaching Austria is getting simpler too, thanks to new EasyJet flights from Gatwick to Klagenfurt, commencing on 16th December, which are complemented by the four flights British Airways is running from Heathrow to Salzburg each week.
Travelling to an Austrian resort by rail gets easier this year too, thanks to a new overnight service that sees Eurostar linking up with two other services across Europe. The new train route delivers skiers to key stations in the Tirol region in time for breakfast. In particular, it delivers improved access to the ski areas of SkiWelt, including the resorts of Söll, Scheffau, Ellmau and Going, Ski Juwel, Zillertal Valley and Innsbruck. The journey starts with a Eurostar from London to Brussels, followed by a connection with a Thalys or ICE train to Cologne, from where you board an ÖBB NightJet sleeper train to the Tirol. Meanwhile, Eurostar has announced it is dropping its London-Lyon service for this winter season.
Turning to resort improvements, a new 247-kilometre ski area launches in the French Pyrénées this year. Called Pyrénées 2 Vallées, it is formed by the joining together of St-Lary, Peyragudes, Piau-Engaly and Val Louron, all of which can now be accessed by one lift ticket as well as being linked by shuttle bus.
One of the largest additions in any resort this season is the development of a brand new skiing bowl between Morillon and Samoëns in the Savoie region of the French Alps. The new ski area will include a new six-seater ‘Coulouvrier’ chairlift, two new blue pistes and two new red pistes (open for 2018/19). The chairlift will be Europe’s longest, stretching for 2,850 metres and transporting skiers from 1200m to 2120m during a journey lasting nine minutes.
Still in Savoie, world famous Courchevel has a new bubble lift at Moriond, which runs alongside a hair-raising 3,000m toboggan run with a 450m vertical descent. Across the border in Switzerland, Andermatt will be connected for the first time by a new chairlift – with more to come to Sedrun.