Author Archives: Martin

  1. What’s so good about skiing in Bulgaria?

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    I want to talk to you about skiing in Borovets in Bulgaria. With half term round the corner, next week also sees the busiest week of skiing and snowboarding. You may think that skiing is only for middle class families who think nothing of paying £6 for a tiny hot chocolate on the slopes of Austria or France, well not always.

    While Borovets may not have a reputation as the most sophisticated of ski resorts, it’s certainly not to be discounted: a top-notch beginner resort, Borovets is fantastic value for money and provides simple and straightforward skiing essentials. Please don’t think you’ll be in basic accommodation or in any way ‘roughing it’ though as Borovets is a haven of four/five star hotels at rock bottom prices, spas and the après is super fine, with a huge array of restaurants and bars everyone can enjoy.

    If you’re still not convinced, here are seven more reasons to head east:

    1. Skiing in Borovets 

    Skiing veterans may scoff at Bulgaria and I won’t pretend it offers the diversity of difficulty that places like Three Valley or Chamonix thrill seekers, but for most skiers and snowboarders, the mountains of Eastern Europe can’t be beaten. Borovets is a great place to learn – the resort’s nursery slopes are close to many of the hotels and the English-speaking instructors are friendly. A few years ago I went there and was taught to ski by an ex Olympian instructor for around £15 a day – not many people can say that! The Yastrebetz area of resort is perfect for those wishing to improve their skills, begin to parallel turn and begin navigating harder runs. On top of that, the snow cannon coverage is impressive, so even when the white stuff doesn’t fall from the sky, the slopes are kept topped up and in great condition.

    As an alternative you could do a 50-minute snowmobiling adventure for £25 per person for two or £35 solo. Another option is to go cross-country on the White Plateau from a lodge run by local guides from £12.50, including ski and boot hire. Getting used to these long, spindly skis doesn’t take long and you’ll see working farms, bears lairs and all sorts of local life – great if you’re feeling a bit of resort cabin fever.

    2. Convenience – short transfers and ski-in ski-out hotels 

    Once you touch down in Sofia it’s only a 1hr 30mins transfer to Borovets. Couple this with regular afternoon flights and there’s no getting up at the crack of dawn to reach the airport – you might even squeeze a morning’s skiing in before you depart! Great companies like will sort out cheap transfers as part of your overall package (I love turning up at an airport to see a man holding a card with my name on like a celebrity).

    Many of the hotels, like the Hotel Rila, Hotel Ice Angels and the Hotel Alpin are located right on the slopes, meaning you’re even closer to the action – ideal for beginners and seasoned skiers alike.

    3. The best value country for a ski holiday 

    The food and drink, like everything in Bulgaria, is the excellent value – you can pick up a pint of beer for the equivalent of £1.50 in Borovets. A shopping basket of ski essentials in a Bulgarian resort was less than half the price of the same items purchased in traditional favourites like Italy or Switzerland. A large pizza costs around £6, sausage casserole £4 and Baklavas £2. Please remember you need Bulgarian levs not euros.

    4. Tasting the local dishes 

    When you tell anyone you are going to Bulgaria, they always know a friend-of-a-friend who’s skied there and been less than impressed with the food. I’ll be honest, when I went there initially over five years ago; I was one of those people. The Balkan food consisted of questionable meat and chips covered in white cheese. However, with the resort growing in popularity, demand and cash injections has meant the cuisine as both improved and diversified. The food now ranges from local traditional dishes to international menus for tourists. They are, like most Eastern European countries big on meat and vegetarians/vegans may find it a bit harder but they do cater with delicacies like Snezhanka (yoghurt and cucumber) and Shopska (similar to Greek salad). The quality of meat is fantastic now and they offer legendary mixed grills or home made kebabs in pita bread which are delicious. If you like food similar to what you might cook at home, then there is pasta, salads, soups and stew. Desserts rock as Bulgarians know how to give good cake. There are also plenty of cafes on the mountain and these are, again cheap as the chips they serve so you can easily stop for a refuel.

    5. Après ski and nightlife – on and off the slopes 

    Even in the early days the nightlife in Borovets was brilliant with more bars than restaurants and all had the constant of a lively, friendly atmosphere and cheap prices. As with everything else, the variety and quality of the nightlife has grown; the sheer scale of what’s on offer in such a small resort will amaze you. There are family bars and quieter places to wile away an evening with great wine and chilled music, but if you’re looking to hit things hard, the pub crawl on offer is epic. Lots of stag parties are starting to come to Borovets as the combination of cheap sport and beer is legend! My now husband spent his stag do there which he organised through and said skiing and drinking (not at the same time) works great as a morning on the slopes snowboarding gets rid of any hangover. For those that like to plan their drunken antics, the action gets going at the bottom of town opposite the Samokov Hotel and works its way around venues such as Buzz Bar and BJs. Make sure you bring some decent boots with a grip though (no trainers) as despite the locals salting the paths it does get really icy underfoot. If you’d rather hit the slopes than the bars then Borovets caters for this too. Night skiing is available every night until 10.00pm during the height of season; all you need is a night pass valid from 6 p.m. If you want a bit of romance then there are local guides that offer candlelit walks in the woods followed by dinner for £13 – just ask your booking agent or hotel.

    6.Alternative activities to unwind

    I’ll be honest, I’m not a skiing fanatic as I’m not super fit so I like to have down time (that doesn’t involve beer) to feel a little bit pampered and lets be honest, skiing is tiring and makes you ache so a decent massage and a steam works wonders. Most of the hotels have spas and pools so make the most of the kneipp baths, the different saunas and the steam room. Also at the Hotel Flora a couples massage is only £20 for an hour – how crazy cheap is that?

    Horse riding is a thing – imagine riding horses in snow? Well in Borovets you can ride across the countryside between Borovets and Samokov taking in lunch at the Belyova Church Restaurant on the Samokov –really beautiful.

    There are also a few companies offering day tours which can be private or with a group, offering adventures, history, magic, wine and local customs. If you fancy seeing the Rila monastery and Sofia then no problem, most guides will design a bespoke tour around you.

    7. Ski in Borovets for less than £450 per person 

    Borovets offers excellent value, straightforward ski holidays. It’s a great place to try out snow sports for the first time, without breaking the bank. I have always booked through not just because they are the cheapest but because I have used them time and time again over the last ten years and I have always had great service and no issues (this isn’t a promoted post – they are genuinely decent!).

    Borovets in numbers 

    * Snow Range: 1350-2560m

    * 58km of piste:

    – 24km Easy

    – 29km Intermediate

    – 5km Difficult

    * 35km of cross-country skiing

    * 15 ski lifts (1 six-seat gondola lift, 3 high speed quad chairlifts, 11 drag lifts)

  2. You ski holiday check list

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    It is so confusing knowing what to take on a ski holiday, especially if you haven’t been before and it can get so expensive with all the kit you THINK you need.  I’ve put together a quick list that you can print off and keep to make things easier just to make sure you don’t forget anything mega important.  If you’re a beginner we recommend that you hire or borrow equipment on your first visit as it’s not cheap and skiing/snowboarding might not be for you.  When I was sixteen I went skiing with the school, had my mum and dad buy me loads of kit at the local sport shop and then, following an injury accompanied by getting lost up a glacier for a few hours (long story) I swore never to ski again so they had to sell it all.

    Hand luggage:

    ·         Passports

    ·         Photos for lift passes if required

    ·         Travel documents (airline tickets, parking confirmation, car hire voucher and accommodation details)

    ·         Maps

    ·         Insurance documents **Remember to upgrade your insurance to include winter sports before you go**

    ·         Currency

    ·         Credit Cards

    Hold Luggage

    ·         Think layers when packing – it’s easy to warm up by adding them and cool down by reducing them.  Some days you will be boiling on the slopes yet freezing at night – lots of thin roll necks.  Get thin leggings for under jeans too (Primark have fleece lined ones)

    ·         Sun cream and lip block is essential. The sun is very strong in the mountains as it bounces off the snow.

    ·         Hat, ski gloves, goggles, scarf and sunglasses.

    ·         Thermals if it is really cold – and your normal underwear!

    ·         Ski jacket, salopettes and several pairs of ski socks

    ·         A small back pack for taking up the mountain (useful for carrying emergency supplies)

    ·         Small first aid kit

    ·         Ski / board bag and boots if you are taking your own – hire these if your first trip.

    ·         Moisturiser/aftersun

    ·         Warm jumper and jeans for evening time

    ·         Apres ski boots/walking boots with a good grip

    ·         Deep heat spray – you may sprain a muscle so be prepared

    ·         Toiletry bag with all the basics inside

    ·         Any medicines

    ·         Cereal bars/glucose tablets for energy on the slopes

    Don’t leave home without

    ·         Sorting out the feeding / housing of your pets and plants

    ·         Cancelling your newspaper / milk until you get back home

    ·         Telling your cleaner – she may set the alarm off while you are away!

    ·         Sort your mobile so you can use it abroad and check your data prices

    ·         Any timer lights set to ward off burglers

    ·         Clear out the fridge and take out the bin!

    Don’t bother with:

    Heels, dresses etc – après ski is all about being warm and casual.  People will be in bars wearing jeans and jumpers so you would stick out (for all the wrong reasons) in a slinky dress.

    Money saving tip:

    People tend to sell ski stuff on eBay frequently owing to upgrading or simply not enjoying the whole experience.  I found that I was able to buy decent quality items cheaper than hire costs and most have only been worn for a weeks holiday.  If you are planning to ski next year then start searching eBay once the season finishes in March – google the best brands to look for.  If you don’t fancy items pre owned then go to budget sports stores like sports direct or Aldi who offer a wide range of quality items at low prices.

  3. How to Survive a Family Skiing Break

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    If you’re heading to the slopes for a family ski break, there’s plenty of things you can do in advance in order to ensure you have your best trip yet. The first? Read this blog; it’s packed choc-full of handy hints and advice before you’ll appreciate before you brace yourself for an active holiday with your kids. It’s bound to be chaotic, but it’ll definitely be worth it…

    So, where to start? When it comes to planning your ski break with family, it’s worth doing your research well in advance of booking. After all, there’s no point turning up to your European ski resort only to discover they don’t cater for little ones – and by that we mean in terms of food.

    Deliciously fancy three-course dinners are all well and good, but is there something your children can enjoy tucking into as well? Many resorts – like France’s popular Tignes – will happily cook food for your kids, providing you bring it with you. Do keep this kind of thing in mind when it comes to hitting ‘Book’ on that online family skiing break.

    Taster Sessions for Beginners

    Right, let’s talk about the skiing itself. If you’re new to the hobby – and we imagine your kids, at least, might be – think about booking them in for a fun taster session before you jet off. Local dry slopes or snowdomes offer some great family-friendly lessons at reasonable prices; attending a couple of classes like this may just give your kids the confidence boost they need before hitting the real white stuff. You won’t want any on-slope tantrums, so do ease them into the hobby if at all possible.

    And when you do make it to the European slopes, make sure you have the right gear. Most of your equipment will be available to hire when you arrive, but do pack essentials like good ski socks, a hat, goggles and a good thermal top for wearing close to your skin. Layering is key, too and make sure you have large pockets, as well – ideal for placing additional layers for later.

    Does Your Resort Offer Childcare?

    While you might prefer to take your kids with you for some serious skiing during the day, there’ll be times when you’d prefer the convenience of good, organised childcare. If, for example, you’re a beginner, you may struggle to learn as well if you’ve got kids in tow.

    Make sure you check in advance if your ski resort offers a child care facility, or taster sessions (as mentioned above) to ensure they can still enjoy all that skiing has to offer without the worry of keeping up with their mum and dad. Should you require it, some resorts offer chalet-based childcare – which sees nannies visit your chalet to look after your children in the accommodation – which means you’ll know exactly where your kids are and they’ll be likely to feel more comfortable, too.

    In terms of family accommodation, there’s plenty on offer. Why not choose a holiday village with self-catering apartments if you prefer to cook, or go all-out and opt for a chalet-based resort which often includes meals, too?

    On a Budget?

    If you’re on a budget, choose a ski resort that’s a little off the main circuit as it’ll likely be a bit cheaper. And always bring plenty of things to keep the kids entertained; books, games and magazines will ensure they’re quiet on the plane over to your chosen resort, as well as in the mornings when you’re trying to get ready. But not only that; bringing your own entertainment is bound to work out cheaper; a night or two in the chalet playing board games with you will help you create great family memories for your kids, while saving some money.


    As with all family holidays, a ski break isn’t always going to be a walk in the park. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. Take into account our top tips and you should have a stress-free trip to remember.

  4. What’s it like to be a skiing beginner?

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    The world of skiing can be a daunting place for those who have not experienced it’s wonders before. Often stereotyped as the sport of the rich kids, who throw around words like “sick line brah” and “gnarly” seemingly in every other sentence. It can be a struggle for an adult who hasn’t been exposed to skiing/boarding in their earlier life to break into this weird and wonderful world.

    However, as somebody who was in that selfsame position not so long ago, I’m here to tell you that it is possible, it isn’t all that difficult and goodness me it is oh so rewarding! I love the sport, I love the stunning locations and I’ve love the people (I even tried throwing “gnarly” into a sentence once, but I was describing my morning waffles and it didn’t quite come off the way I’d hoped). But I digress.

    I had admired skiers and snowboarders for a long time, but I had never been given the chance to get out onto the mountain myself and give it a go. My school didn’t offer ski trips and nobody in my family has any interest in the sport, so it wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I finally decided enough was enough and I signed up to work a ski season in France. Skiing holidays have a tendency to be very expensive in the classic areas of the Alps but as a chalet host I had all of my accommodation, food, ski pass and rentals paid for, on top of wages and tips (and let me tell you there is quite a pretty penny to be made where tips come in). So there I was, all the gear and no idea. But with a host of new friends keen to teach me, a whole mountain range at my disposal and nothing but time. Sure I had to work a few hours in the morning and get back in time to rustle up dinner for my guests, but all through the day was ski time! Besides, meeting a new batch of guests each week was one of the best parts of my season, skiing is a social sport after all, not to mention the aprés!. It really is the greatest sport in the world and the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Or with your clothes off in fact (yes I tried it and yes it does hurt like hell when you fall, please take my word for it).

    Now I am aware that not everybody can just up and leave for 6 months on their jollies because they fancy learning a new skill. so if you would like to learn how to ski/board while keeping that nice job and loving partner, there is an easier way. Most people’s hesitation in picking up skiing is the cost of ski holidays, but fear not, there is a cost effective way to hurtle down a mountain at breakneck speeds.

    There are an increasing number of eastern European resorts sprouting up which offer incredible slopes at a much more reasonable price. Bulgaria is one such place in particular which offers an ideal location to begin your ski/boarding life, not only is it gentle on the wallet, the skiing terrain tends to be less extreme than that of the classic ski regions of Europe, making it perfect for beginners/intermediates and allowing you to build on your skills and take lessons in a more suitable environment. A quick note on the lesson front; take them! I didn’t and it took me most of my first season to correct my technique, it’s much better to get the correct form straight out of the gate.

    For those who still have reservations about jumping in feet first, grow a pair! No I jest. There are many indoor ski areas around the UK; Xscape and Chill factor to name a couple, where you can pick up the basics before heading out onto the big boy mountains. Also Scotland has an underrated ski area, if you head up to Aviemore in the Cairngorms the slopes offer beginners a fairly expansive piste run to get you moving away from that pizza slice technique and into beautiful parallel turns.

    So there you have it, no more excuses and no more hesitation, get yourself out there and take advantage of those beautiful mountains!

    Ski Lingo

    Aprés Ski – Literally it means ‘after ski’, but really refers to the nightly social assault course which can take more out of you than skiing!

    Piste – The designated areas set out by the report, much like roads for skiers/boarders

    Off piste – Skiing/boarding away from the designated ski areas (can be excellent once you have reached a level of proficiency)

    Bunny Slope – A beginner’s slope usually accessible by a magic carpet.

    Flat Light – Grey skies and dim light that makes changes in terrain difficult to see – nasty!

    Magic Carpet – Step onto this and you’ll be carried smoothly forward.

    Ski Lift – Carries you up the mountain on your own personal sofa, achieving mastery in alighting can require greater study than the skiing itself.

    Pow Pow – Freshly fallen snow or champagne powder!

    Ski Bum – One who lives to ski…and avoids anything that isn’t skiing ie: work!

    Gnarly – When you’ve gone beyond radical, beyond extreme, it’s balls out danger, and or perfection, and or skill or all of that combined. (snowboarders are prone to hyperbole).


  5. Ever thought of snow tubing?

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    From the minute they let you go, the slide down to the bottom of the slope only brings laughter and happiness

    This is my thoughts on tubing which is one of the most up and coming ski slope activities around the UK at the moment! Living in North Norfolk, England really has it highs, however one of it’s few lows are the lack of winter sports. Having never taken part in activities like skiing, snowboarding or ice skating, the best I could hope for annually was for sledging, as fun as sledging gets I have always wanted more from winter. When the opportunity arose to take part in a children’s birthday party at Norwich Ski Club in ‘tubing’ I knew very little on this activity, and I have to admit I felt it would be a bit too childish and tedious for me. However I can’t say I had my views set high, and was only being optimistic about the activity. When first arriving and taking part in a friendly safety talk, I soon found myself only looking down…..the ski slope in a rubber ring only thinking how quick I could get this ring to the bottom! It really did surprise me in how quick they can go, and due to the excellent staffing you know you feel safe at all times. You will tend to go down the slope roughly 10 times all from different positions and different groups, and considering it only cost £10 per person for the hour it soon flew by. Every time I was going down, either in a group or by myself I couldn’t stop myself chuckling away as you are gaining speed into a cushioned ending at the bottom, you are only excited to head straight back up and do it again.

  6. Confessions of a chalet girl

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    I chose to undertake a ski season as the thought of continuing to sit at a desk 9-5 everyday sent shivers down my spine. The opportunity to run a chalet in the French Alps – who could say no? None of my friends had been a chalet girl before so I trawled the internet searching for advice and guidance on what to expect. Nothing. Nada. Nichts. So off I went to the Alps with an open mind.

    Nobody can comprehend the sheer anticipation as you wait for your new guests to arrive in your chalet. Who will they be? What will they be like? And ultimately how much will they tip!? Waiting for the guests to step off the coach at 1pm on a Saturday was the moment we all dreaded!

    The cake was baked, beds made, chalet hovered, and the guests were settling in. The first week was a bit of a blur, up at 6:30 every morning and back in the chalet by 5 ready to cook and serve a 4 course evening meal. I love cooking and showing off my culinary skills and really enjoyed being in the kitchen.

    After I successfully passed my probation period, my lift pass was handed to me and the mountains were mine to explore. The Espace Killy is one of the greatest ski areas in Europe, the diversity of terrain and variety of slopes is phenomenal. Just when you are ready for your afternoon break, you can hit The Folie Douche for a bit of lunchtime dancing on tables, champagne showers and overpriced beer! Lose your head in the music and dance on the tables with your ski boots on, and have the time of your life (just remember that you may bump into your chalet guests – this can get awkward!).

    The weeks flew by and the further I got into the season, the more confident I felt around the guests. In my chalet I was lucky enough to have the odd week where guests were a similar age to me and wanted to say thank you by taking me to ‘Dicks Tea Bar’ until the early hours! Drinking £100 bottles of vodka, dancing on the tables and having 1am snow fights made all the hard work worth it!

    Next time – secrets of being a chalet host and how to cut corners!!

  7. Literally cooler than surfing

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    There are few things on the planet cooler than surfing, for a long time it was hailed as the ultimate mix of athleticism combined with style and when you factor in the surf pro’s being worshipped more than many other sportsmen and women could ever contemplate then it was rightly labelled the king of cool sports until….. Snowboarding arrived. Initially developed in the United States throughout the 1960’s, snowboarding got exposed to the masses on a large scale at the 1998 Winter Olympics where it’s unique style and fashionable riders took the globe by storm, from then on Snowboarding broke new barriers in the pursuit of the ultimate adrenalin journey for many and what makes it such a cool sport is that you are never too old to venture onto the board for the first time. There are many reasons why Snowboarding has become so popular, here is just a sample…

    Can’t swim- not a problem, scared of sharks- don’t worry about it, fearful about 30 feet waves- the only waves you will see in snowboarding will be coming from the adoring masses watching on as you nail the half pipe in front of an on-looking crowd.

    The important thing to know about snowboarding is that you can apply your skills garnered from sports that you currently partake in order to be a success on the slope. Basic leg strength gained from other sports will serve as a perfect complement to the carbon fibre runway of your snowboard that you find yourself perched on atop the slope and whilst the combination of skateboarding and surfing may seem daunting to begin with, once you learn to work with your board instead of against it then it soon becomes an extension of yourself and you soon wonder why you never tried this awesome sport before.

    So go forth this winter and reach for the board….you will not regret it

  8. When students hit the slopes

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    The UWE ski trip to Les Deux Alpes successfully lived up to the notoriously uninhibited nature of typical university ski trips. A 23 hour booze fuelled coach trip set the tone for a week tucked away in the mountains without the shackles of work or deadlines to attend to. Instead it was a week of skiing and drinking, much of the time partaking in the two simultaneously. Despite the worrying lack of snow when arriving at the resort, there was enough higher up the mountain to satisfy six full days of skiing and snowboarding. A lack of alcohol was no such worry, armed with 5 litre jerry cans of wine, students invaded the hotel on arrival to prepare themselves for the first night of a no holds barred holiday.

    Though we were in France, it felt like a little part of England with the scores of English students that were in the resort at the same time. Universities from Nottingham, London and Exeter were all in attendance and helped to create the vibrant party atmosphere that was an inherent part of the ski trip. However, there was some serious skiing to be done too. Despite the summertime nature of the town, once a couple of hundred metres up the mountain there was good snow to be found. A key feature of Les Deux Alpes is its glacier; sitting at 3200 metres it provides skiing all year round as well as stunning views reaching as far as Mont Blanc. Starting at the top after literally being dragged up by a lift, you might choose to go down the green run on the left, or the slightly harder option and go down the blue on the left which also splits off into a red later on. Whichever one you go for, it spits you out onto a blue run not that different from a motorway. Incredibly wide and fast, although not particularly steep Signal was a leg-burner that gave the chance to safely build up some speed without much fear of seeing your skis fly off while you fly off the edge of a cliff.

    Travelling down the mountain after having a break on the chair lift from the pressures of Signal, it was compulsory to stop at the Pano Bar for après-ski. The highlight of the holiday for a many, it is essentially an outdoor nightclub situated halfway up the mountain. Though drinks prices were expensive, taking up a hipflask was an easy way to beat the goat on the cheap, as long as you avoided swigging in the wandering eye of the bouncer. By the end of the 2 hour extravaganza it was time to attempt to ski back down to town. Not in exaggeration, this was quite a challenge. With it getting a bit dark and vision slightly impaired, combined with alcohol it allowed for a fair few falls in the diminishing daylight. Once you had got to the last run that would take you home you could either go down a flat, winding green run. Or you could try the icy black called Valentin. Though extremely steep, it was rightly satisfying once you eventually got down in one piece!

    Once back at the hotel, after showering and eating it was time to get ready to leave for the bars again. Yeti bar was the closest, but L’Avalanche and Bresilien were probably the most popular; whilst the Rum bar, which sells over 100 different flavours, was also a hit on the last night. After staying out till the early hours, one might have thought it would be tough to get up and see through a full day skiing. However, skiing is by far the best hangover cure. With this in mind it was easy to get up after 4 hours sleep with the lure of fresh mountain air and the sun shining through the window. This was the pattern for the week, making it an extremely fitting week for the end of term with a perfect balance between skiing and partying.

  9. 5 mountain activities away from the slopes: splitboarding

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    Ever felt that ski resorts were too industrialized, or too crowded? That using chairlifts and cable cars was contradictory to the values you should embrace as a sporty? Ever wondered what was behind the top of that fascinating mountain? If the answer is yes, you are probably ready to switch your stance and get on with the latest growing winter sport: splitboarding!

    Splitboarding is at the crossroad of off-piste snowboarding and ski-touring. To be more illustrative, at the start of the day you literally “split” in two your snowboard, stick removable “skins” on the base, set up the bindings into touring mode and you are good to go (up)! After an enjoyable ascent and a well-deserved break (with a view), now it’s time to convert back to a snowboard mode and do that perfect descent. If you haven’t quite yet pictured what it is, check out videos and articles from websites like or

    Among the numerous benefits of the sport, the access to untouched terrain is probably the greatest: untracked powder fields, hour-long runs and all other off-piste features guaranteed. You are about to realise that “perfect run”! This is even possible when snow is lacking in ski resorts or when winter is back in spring-time and lifts have already closed. All this with no pressure from other skiers/snowboarders rushing to jump start you or the mogul fields found on resort slopes just a day after a big snowfall. Also, what a feeling of achievement after a whole day in the complete wilderness and quietness of the mountain. You’ll come back so much more relaxed, proud and exhausted from a day splitboarding that this beer at the end of the day will be even tastier.

    The sport has nonetheless few drawbacks. First, it requires quite a lot of additional equipment, and thus additional costs. On top of the splitboard (you can DIY if you are a bit handy), skins, bindings, poles, crampons, avalanche/safety equipment and water/food supplies are the bare minimum. Of course you can rent most of those, though it’s not as mainstream as hiring a snowboard. Last but not least, you must hire a guide so you stay safe.

    Overall, while the equipment requirements can deter some, the sense of adventure, the terrain accessed and the additional flexibility provide amazing feelings and are worth the efforts.

    In Bansko, the splitboard festival is a great chance to discover the sport and try it out, will be held the 21-22-23 of February 2015: more info here. Also, Ride Bansko is able to offer tours catering all levels.

  10. 5 Family favourite skiing resorts in Europe

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    Are you a family that loves to ski? Have your children caught the skiing bug? Well, you’ll be curious to know where the best skiing resorts in Europe for families are.

    The life stage of your family can often affect which resort you choose. You may need to cater for young children who want entertaining, or you might be concerned about the size of the slopes for your overly-ambitious teenager.

    Below are five of the top family favourite skiing resorts in Europe that can keep everybody in the family happy.

    1. Val d’Isère in France has gained a fierce loyal following of visitors over the years. Neighbouring Tignes, together they share 300km of skiing areas and luxury chalets, making up the Espace Killy. The chalet architecture makes the area particularly recognisable and the towns and villages create picture-postcards images.

    The slopes are situated in a unique area and house free-ride itineraries and a snowpark, making it perfect for children through to advanced skiers. It’s an area that has attracted huge sporting events and supplied the successes of many competing skiers, such as for the Olympic Games, Criterium de la Première Neige or World Alpine Ski Championships.

    Val d’Isère is number one on the list for a reason! To find out more why, read this ski guide to the best of Val-disere.

    1. Filzmoos in Austria has gentle runs for children, as well as ski lessons and a kids club. It’s the perfect family location, situated near Salzburg. Salzburg has grand baroque architecture and well-respected restaurants to add to your family skiing holiday. Also consider the castle, wildlife park, Dachstein Glacier and Salzburg Natural History Museum excursions alongside your skiing.
    2. Bulgaria is becoming a favourite as a skiing destination, and Bankso is a great place to take the children. It’s a really affordable option while retaining the charm and top-notch skiing of other European skiing destinations. Bankso in particular has beginner’s slopes and a ski school, making it perfect for families who are new to skiing. Also, the nearby town centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, adding another activity to your holiday to-do list.
    3. Another French ski resort that makes the list is Avoriaz. It’s perfect for those with young, excitable children who want to run everywhere as much as ski. With a no-car policy, parents can rest assured that their children are safe. Children and teenagers can go to the water park, Aquariaz, to break up the skiing holiday. Then there’s the skiing itself. With a ski school specifically for 3-16 year olds, the ‘Village des enfants’, Avoriaz has become known as a top ski resort for families. Plus, the school is happy to entertain the children should a blizzard disrupt the skiing.
    4. Passo Tonale in Italy has high altitude, guaranteeing snow and a winter family skiing holiday atmosphere. There are a wide range of pistes, from the gentle for beginners to more challenging for advanced. The resort is incredibly friendly and welcoming and attracts loyal visitors every year. Children and teens will no doubt make friends during their stay.