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Easter Ski Inspection Visit 2018

17/04/2018 09:53:42

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Over Easter the Halsbury Ski team took a number of Group Leaders on one of our famous inspection visits to the Milky Way, to show them just what this incredible ski area can offer for their next school ski trip. Here they tell us what they got up to during the trip.

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Day 1 – The adventure begins!

All excited for what promised to be a great trip in fantastic snow conditions, we met at Luton Airport for the flight to Turin on the evening of Easter Sunday.

The flight was really smooth, arriving at Turin airport in good time. It then took just over an hour to transfer to the Olympic Center in Sansicario from Turin airport – very easy!

We were made extremely welcome upon arrival to the hotel. A range of bar snacks and complimentary drinks were waiting for us on arrival. After a quick beer (or two) it was time to hit the hay before a busy first day on the slopes.

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Day 2 - Sansicario

After our travel day we were really looking forward to spending some time on the slopes. We knew there was loads of snow and needed to experience it for ourselves!

So, after an Italian breakfast, we were kitted up by the ski shop in the hotel and headed out onto the mountains. Luckily for us, our hotel was right on the piste!

We jumped into our bindings and skied past the 2006 Olympic Biathlon and bobsleigh track to the gondola which links Sansicario and Sestriere with Claviere.

At the top of the gondola we split into our groups (based on skiing ability) and set out to explore and show our guests just what Sansicario and Sauze d’Oulx have to offer.

We had lovely tree-lined runs with perfect snow in Sansicario, and on the way to Sauze d’Oulx we had big, wide open snow fields and amazing views. It was fantastic and we really couldn’t have asked for a better start!

After a great morning of finding our ski legs, we headed to the lunch time rendezvous at the Penguin restaurant in Sansicario 1700m…if only there was a clue where to find it.

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Come the afternoon, we made the most of the sunshine and incredible conditions by skiing the long red runs in Sansicario. For the next day they were forecasting snow…and lots of it!

We all made it back to the hotel in one piece (just about!) having had a fine day on the slopes. Although tired, we were all keen to discuss our adventures over a cold beer!

After dinner, we took part in a blind tasting challenge organised by Team Halsbury. A great ice breaker, we think! 6 teams, 6 blacked out ski goggles and 8 tasty delights – baby food, capers, tooth pastes, caviar, cream cheese, liquorice, hundreds and thousands and duck pâté, delicious!

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Day 3 - Sestriere

Following the previous day’s blue skies and spring-like temperatures, we awoke to 10 cm of fresh snow having fallen overnight.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, before boarding the coach for the short hop over to the fabulous resort of Sestriere.

Sestriere is one of the best-known resorts in the Milky Way, having been home to the men’s alpine skiing competitions in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

We had all been looking forward to making the most of the fresh powder in one of Italy’s top ski resorts. And it did not disappoint!

After parking up outside the impressive Villaggio Olimpico, ideally located right next to two chairlifts offering access to different parts of Sestriere’s slopes, we split into groups for the morning’s skiing; Beth taking the lower-intermediates, Henry the upper-intermediates and James speeding around the mountain with the experts.

We all enjoyed a fantastic morning on the pretty tree-lined slopes above the village of Borgata. The skiing over on this side of the ski area is extensive and ideal for intermediates and above, with a range of challenging red runs.

By the afternoon the snow had really begun to set in, so we stuck to the blue runs above Sestriere before meeting at the slopeside bar, Gargote Fashion Café, for a bit of après-ski!

A little later, once we had all showered and changed, we enjoyed a tasty dinner back at the Olympic Center.

For the evening’s après-ski activity we were in for a real treat – our overseas manager, John Pinca, shared his passion and knowledge for wines by putting on a wine tasting evening.

On offer were a range of wines from the Langhe region, just south of Turin. Many famous wines come from towns and villages in this region; examples of which are Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera d’Alba. The Barolo was fantastic, I have to say!

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Day 4 – Claviere

We all awoke with the knowledge that our day in Claviere would be a goggle day, what with the snow that had been forecast. What we didn’t expect was the sheer amount of snow and bucket loads of fun we would have!

The coach journey from Sansicario was around 20 minutes and we were dropped off in the village centre to get togged up in our gear ready for the day.

We all separated into our groups and off we went to access the main chairlift, which is located right by the beginners’ area and ski school meeting point in the village.

The first run took us on to a stunning blue run, which is perfect for beginners’ progression. It’s also conveniently close both to La Coche restaurant and to another chair list that connects you to the top of Claviere.

We skied all morning, only stopping briefly for a warming hot chocolate. We really enjoyed the conditions and thoroughly enjoyed the protected tree-lined runs that Claviere has to offer.

We were soon in deep powder, having the time of our lives and, as Italians only tend to ski at the weekends, we pretty much had the runs to ourselves. It was total bliss!

Lunch time bought us all together at La Coche restaurant – in our opinion the best in Italy! We enjoyed a hearty, warming, traditional home cooked lunch, with many of us having soup or pasta.

The afternoon took us to the bottom section of Claviere, where we soon met up with other groups enjoying their last runs of the day - it was certainly a highlight for many.

We made a brief stop in the village to visit our favourite family-run hotel, the Miramonti, where Fulvia made us welcome while we had a look around.

We travelled back to the Olympic Centre to change and travel to Cesana, just a short 10-minute drive into the valley for a perfect pizza evening.

We were offered selections of pizza to share, which just kept coming - there was so much pizza! No one was left waiting as we tucked into slice after slice.

The restaurant cooked on traditional wood fired ovens and we received the typically warm Italian welcome – it was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

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Day 5 – Montgenevre

After 48 hours of heavy snow we could see the sun again and there was literally powder everywhere. It was time to ski the French side of the Milky Way!

We boarded our coach and headed for France. Passports checked, we arrived to ski this awesome area and it did not let us down. Fresh powder and bright sunshine – it doesn’t get any better!

Everyone skied their socks off and skied right until the end of the day – we didn’t want it to end!

As we were in France, we took our guests to visit the historic city of Briançon, which is actually the highest city in France!
And then later, after a stunning drive back to Italy, we enjoyed dinner at the hotel and settled in the hotel bar for what turned out to be a highly competitive quiz!

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Day 6 - Bardonecchia

Our last day of skiing, and everyone was very excited to visit Bardonecchia, home resort to the 2006 Olympic Freestyle events.

We were dropped off at Campo Smith, and off we went in our groups to explore.

We all skied right the way across to Melezet and traversed the mountain back to Campo Smith for our lunch in Howards, the mountain restaurant.

The sun was shining and it was a perfect way to end the week. Bardonecchia is stunning, and the views from the top of the Melezet sector are just amazing.

We were all blown away by the skiing and how beautiful the tree-lined runs were. Bardonecchia is mainly blue and red runs, so very well suited to school groups in terms of the opportunity for progression over the week.

After lunch we took the coach to Jafferau, which is just 10 minutes from Bardonecchia and is also served by a ski bus. The Gondola took us up over 2000m and we had the best afternoon skiing.

The skiing was all above the treeline and was 2800m at its highest point. It was perfect conditions – the sun was shining and we really enjoyed skiing the long runs back down to the Gondola.

We were thoroughly spoiled. Many of us hadn’t skied here before and were really impressed with Jafferau and the quality of the skiing here. By the time we went to meet the other groups and the coach we were all buzzing from the skiing. It was certainly a very good decision to end the week here!

We were all invited to have a look around the Villaggio Olimpico, a purpose-built youth hostel-style accommodation, which was built for the 2006 Olympics.

There is every facility you can think of for your groups, from Wii rooms, to swimming pools, as well as a space that’s available to book for evening entertainments. There’s even a theatre, disco rooms and a lounge cafe.

The dining room is inviting too and, with a self-service system, you can be assured that your group are getting the quantity and choice they need.

After our final dinner at the Olympic Centre, for those who wanted to, we then headed over to Claviere for the end of season party. There was a disco there, so we were able to celebrate the week’s skiing by busting out a few dance moves!

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Day 7 – Time to say goodbye…

It’s amazing how quickly the week went by and it was already time to travel home, but not before a day trip to the beautiful port city of Genoa. On the itinerary was a visit to the city’s famous aquarium; the second largest in Europe.

The transfer to Genoa from Sansicario was a little longer than travelling out, taking just over 3 hours with a couple of stops. We arrived at the aquarium, located spectacularly in the middle of the old harbour area, just before lunchtime.

John had arranged a guided tour for us around the vast building. Our tour guide took us to see all kinds of marine life, from dolphins to seals to all kinds of tropical fish, it had it all. We were even treated to a behind-the-scenes look at some injured sea turtles in the process of being rehabilitated back to health after suffering injuries in the wild.

After exiting the aquarium we had an hour and a half of free time to wander around the charming streets of Genoa. The centre’s busy winding alleys, packed with cafes and restaurants, were beautiful and very typically Italian. Of particular note was the restored home of Christopher Columbus in Piazza Dante.

En route to the airport we stopped off at Restaurant Lamuri to sample some typical Genovese cuisine. The generosity of the restaurant was astounding and plates of tasty food did not stop coming. Our bellies full, we boarded the coach to continue to the airport.

After a slight delay on the flight home due to the French air traffic controllers’ strike, we arrived back at Luton where it was time to say goodbye.

It had been a great week and the goodbyes were the hardest part. We all have some great memories of top quality skiing in near-perfect weather amongst friends. Here’s to next time!

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