Club Med weekend
May 30 – June 12, 2018
This spring I had the opportunity to visit South Africa for volunteer work, site visits and a little vacation. Even better, I met my colleague, Travis, in New York and we boarded the South African Airways non-stop flight from JFK to Johannesburg. This is one long haul! 16 hours and nearly 8,000 miles to the southern hemisphere; we were very happy to have two seats next to each other in business class.
This was my second visit to South Africa. Huge thanks to Ryan De Beer with Adventures Africa for the assistance in setting up the perfect mix of business with pleasure!
After landing and clearing customs, we hopped on the Gautrain from the Johannesburg airport and took it to the Hilton in Sandton. Gautrain tickets are sold as one way, roundtrip and multi-pass at the airport. The train is a convenient option, especially during rush hours in Johannesburg. We had less than 24 hours in the city and we spent our time shopping and dining in Mandela Square.
The following morning, we packed, met up with friends and drove 5 ½ hours from Johannesburg to SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary in Gravelotte, Limpopo. (There are also non-stop flights from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and the flight time is approximately 1 hour.)
The SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary is a refuge for rescued and rehabilitated wild animals where they live under natural conditions in a fully functioning wildlife reserve. Animal species rescued include a wild variety from tree squirrels to African elephants. We met with the team at SanWild, participated in game drives, learned about the animals they have saved and their plans to open the sanctuary to the public.
During our time at SanWild, we interacted with the animals, learned the daily operations of the sanctuary and camped in tents. Some of my favorite animals were rhinos, wild dogs, hippos and lions… it’s difficult to choose just one!
Jennifer Viditz-Ward with Vail Resorts was a lead organizer for the volunteer work at SanWild. She’s pictured here with Reserve Manager, Andre Grobler, distributing bails of food for the rhinos.
Two of my favorite rescues, Aldo and Tongo, were once part of a circus and were unable to enjoy a natural habitat. They now enjoy their days hanging out in the water and roaming the sanctuary.
After saying goodbye to our friends at SanWild, we spent a day on a self-drive tour through Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.
Travis and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Sanctuary, as well as the drive through Kruger, and we were ready for luxury lodging, exquisite meals and ultimate relaxation at Lion Sands Tinga Lodge. Lion Sands is located in the Mpumalanga province, and they offer four lodges in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, and Kruger National Park.
Tinga Lodge is comprised of 9 luxury suites overlooking the Sabie River. Our suites had gorgeous baths, private plunge pools on the deck, air-conditioning and luxury amenities. We spent two nights here and simply put, it was not enough!
We participated in four game drives, two morning and two evening and we were excited we were able to see the Big Five at Lion Sands. My favorite animal that we tracked was a leopard that not been “spotted” at Lion Sands for months.
The prime safari areas in South Africa around Kruger National Park are best visited from June through September when the weather is cooler and dry.
Our final morning at Lion Sands ended with a beautiful breakfast and mimosas on the Sabie River. Huge thanks to the team at Lion Sands Tinga Lodge for all of their hospitality! Our guide at Tinga Lodge also escorted us to the Skukuza Airport – a quick and easy 25 minute trip and then we boarded our flight to Cape Town.
Our guide at Tinga Lodge also escorted us to the Skukuza Airport – a quick and easy 25 minute trip and then we boarded our flight to Cape Town. Two and a half hours later, we were enjoying stunning views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean! (Insert aerial shot of Cape Town)
6 Best Reasons To Ski Italy’s Dolomites
The Dolomites have long been a top destination for skiers traveling from the UK, and even draw lots of visitors from neighbors with their own great skiing, such as Switzerland and Austria, which is an impressive compliment, but only in recent years have Americans begun to discover the region in significant numbers. This is likely to greatly increase after the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina, the “Queen of the Dolomites,” and a town that has already hosted the Olympics once (1956) but is better known for a fictional ski visit by James Bond, driving his winter equipped white Lotus Esprit Turbo here in the Spy Who Loved Me.
Alpine Adventures is a top U.S.-based ski vacation specialist that skews a little higher end, works with a lot of luxury travel agents, is a member of the prestigious global Virtuoso travel consortium. My husband has traveled with them to Japan and Switzerland and loves the company. Alpine Adventures is a very reliable and knowledgeable tour operator that has great package deals and some escorted group trips in other top ski regions across the world (including the U.S.), but in the Dolomites they do more custom itineraries. As a full-service travel agency, they can also do air and transfers and arrange for English-speaking ski instructors and guides, and basically handle everything from start to finish, while also offering a lot of rental chalet options in the region.
Continue reading on forbes.com
Zermatt, Switzerland’s Ultimate Summer—And Winter—Vacation Destination
…Looking for a quality stay at a lower price point…
I love(s) the Schweizerhof, but looking for a quality stay at a lower price point, I contacted Rick Reichsfeld, owner of Alpine Adventures, a top ski travel operator in this country that books a lot of Europe trips, and he recommended the hidden gem 4-star Hotel Albana Real. I stayed there for two nights, and you would never know from the outside that it houses a huge below ground wellness and spa facility, with vast marble clad indoor swimming pool complex plus sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, solarium and very well-equipped gym with the kinds of things most hotels lack, such as kettlebells, ropes and resistance bands.
Continue reading on forbes.com
WHERE TO GO IN 2019
Visit the gorillas in the mist, cruise the Mekong in a boat built for four, or just bask again in the Caribbean sun for starters. Here, all the places to see and be seen this year.
By Klan Glowczewska
Figuring out how best to spend your travel dollars is the most delicious dilemma of a life well lived. On the pages that follow are our suggestions, based on intelligence collected, insiders consulted, and cultural, gastronomic, and geopolitical trends considered. Want to bathe in wellness? Try the Berkshires—or Bhutan. Want to leave the world behind? Head for Namibia—or Norway. Fancy some time travel? Get thee to Romania—or a secret bit of paradise off Panama. Our 25 destinations include places near and far, hot and cold, laid-back and anything but. They all have noteworthy new hotels, and we provide the names of travel specialists who can help you book. Nothing like starting the New Year spoiled for choice. Contributors: fen Morphs Kevin Forbes, Lena Kim, Graham Boynton, Sarah Khan.
PARK CITY, UTAH A BECAUSE THERE’S A WHOLE NEW WAY TO WIN THE WEST.
There arc few ski areas in North America where a morning flight an have you floating on dry champagne powder by early afternoon. That accessibility has long made Park City a favorite winter playground. Auberge Resorts’ Lodge at Blue Sky, on a 3,500-acre ranch, will bring the mountains even closer: A helicopter can pick you up at the airport and have you skiing on untouched terrain before check-in. The 46-suite lodge debuts in May, and it will have daylong “teaser heli-ski packages, which include meals in a fire-warmed yurt. Once open, it will have Amangiri-level service and warm and cold weather activities (for kids, too) and a range of lodgings. Our favorite: the 500- square-foot tents. Park City’s High West Distillery already has a tasting room and restaurant on-site, so you can toast your achievements. TO BOON Direct or through Rick Reichsfeld, who an also organize a custom ski vacation for you, mixing Blue Sky with ski experiences elsewhere. RICK@ALPINEADVENTURES.NET
There is a lot to love about five-star hotels, deep powder, gourmet food, and entertaining apres activities in top ski towns like Aspen, Vail, and Jackson. But here are two invigorating alternatives that offer something different without any sacrifices.
The British Way
… “Alpine hotels had a reputation for being expensive, formal—and helmed by forbidding, non-English-speaking managers,” says Tom Robbins, longtime travel editor of London’s Financial Times and an avid expert who has skied all over the world. “But renting a chalet created a house-party atmosphere, and while nations with mountains on their doorsteps have always tended to ski for day trips or weekends, for the British, skiing has been done on weeklong holidays and usually in extended groups of family or friends. A ski holiday has always been an excuse for a party, and the chalet provided the perfect venue.”
To the English, the words chalet holiday have a very specific meaning far beyond the American notion of a home rental. A chalet ski trip is a weeklong stay in a fully staffed home that at a minimum includes a private chef, servers, and housekeeping, usually a chauffeur, and often private ski guides and masseuses as well. It’s an all-inclusive concept that leaves you a night or two to explore the town’s restaurants but includes gourmet meals and free-flowing wine, spirits, and Champagne, often served while you enjoy your hot tub and private pool, increasingly common features.
The model basically replicates the best elements of a luxury resort but privatizes them, and it is common for top chalets to have full gyms, spas, home theaters, and even features like bowling alleys, billiard rooms, climbing walls, or indoor golf simulators, along with 8, ’10, or ’12 bedrooms, all with private bathrooms. “You have more rooms than your family would in a hotel, it’s more personalized, and the staff members work just for you,” says Rick Reichsfeld, president of Alpine Adventures (alpineadventures.net), America’s leading luxury ski travel specialist, which often arranges chalet trips. “Many send a driver to pick you up at the airport The experience starts right away, and they take you around town, you never have to deal with driving. But the best thing is that everyone who goes skiing has essentially the same schedule, and no matter how nice a hotel is, they can’t give everyone spa appointments at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., but that’s when everyone wants them. Here you go back to your house and take turns getting massages from your therapist while sitting in your hot tub.” And when you do return from the slopes, you are greeted with trays of canapes, cocktails, and an already roaring fire.
Skiing in Europe can be logistically challenging, but this concept makes it a turnkey, hassle-free vacation from the moment you get off the plane. There are British-run chalet firms in almost every major European ski resort; chalet staff members are English-speaking, while private guides, sometimes included and always available, take the mystery out of navigation. Even lunch is better, as Reichsfeld notes. “European resorts have amazing on-mountain restaurants, it’s a big reason to go, but some of the better ones really require advance reservations, and Americans are not great about planning that The better chalets have prebooked tables at different places daily.” They are also usually ski-in/ski-out, which few European hotels are. …
Continue reading at LuxuryMagaxine.com (page 120)
By LARRY OLMSTED | SPECIAL TO USA TODAY
Nov. 30, 2018
If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere.
Every winter, more skiers and snowboarders pick Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb than any other resort in North America. It is stunningly large, with the most skiable terrain (8,171 acres) and highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) on the continent, and each of its two interconnected mountains is bigger than other top-tier destination resorts. The result is virtually every snow condition, level of challenge, and type of terrain you could imagine.
“If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere,” wrote the editors at Ski Magazine, who ranked it North America’s best for 2017 – for the third year in a row. Conde Nast Traveler, Global Traveler and Travel Weekly are some of the many other publications rating it North America’s best, while London’s skiing-obsessed Telegraph awarded it best in the entire world status.
So what’s the big deal?
Whistler Blackcomb claims 8,171 acres of designated in-bounds skiing, including more than 200 marked trails, plus expansive bowl and glade zones, with even more available to experts hiking its ridges (it is also one of the few resorts that operates on-site heli-skiing, with access to another 430,000-plus acres).
This terrain is served by a vast network of three dozen lifts, including three new ones for the coming season. The highlight is a 10-passenger gondola that replaces two chairs previously required to get from the bottom of Blackcomb to the top, now a much faster single-ride ascent – for 4,000 skiers per hour, the greatest capacity of any lift in the U.S. or Canada. …
Continue reading on usatoday.com
My Own Recent For-Real Adventure
I took an adventure trip last month and I’m still processing everything that happened.
As a life-long skier, I truly believe that every trip to the top of a mountain sets up an adventure to get down, whether you are skiing America’s northeast or riding in the high peaks of Colorado, Europe, South America, or Japan. Remember—our business name is Alpine Adventures. But my trip in October to Tanzania was about conquering a different type of mountain. I trekked up to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.
My decision to do this started in a bar in Las Vegas this past August. I was there with two travel industry friends and they were signed up to go with a group trek in six weeks. Something about that experience, at that moment, seemed like a must-do for me. I called to see if there was still space available, then checked for flights. It all came together seamlessly.
In the following weeks I did try to train for this very physical event, but in hindsight, I would encourage anyone who is interested in doing it to find a way to train at altitude. Working from my company headquarters in South Florida did not have the same effect. I jogged, I walked, I used (and I recommend) the stairclimber at the gym. But in the blink of an eye, it was time to get on a plane and fly to the other side the world. It was wise to arrive early in Tanzania to begin to get acclimated, but it was unwise to spend a week diving off the coast of Zanzibar first. Don’t do that, I’ll just tell you right now.
A big thing that I did get right was to have the best gear for the endeavor. It gets cold, and I mean very cold. Take what you need to stay comfortable for the weather extremes. Our trip leader was a man named Dismas. He has summited Kilimanjaro 250+ times. The day before our trek began, he went to every person in his group to personally go through our gear. Some had to go out and buy different gear to get his approval to make the climb—it’s that important. It takes 5 days to go up and 2 days to get down. There is no running to the outfitter store 3 days into the climb.
Understand that you are required to have a guide and porters for your trek up and down, and that there are degrees of comfort you can sign up for depending on your budget. There are basic group trips where trekkers carry more of their own gear and they sleep on the ground rather than on cots. Some prefer their Mt. Kilimanjaro experience to be this way. There were 20 people in our group, and we had several porters to help carry our gear, and to port and set up sleeping tents, cots, the mess tent, shower tents, etc. Many prefer to do it that way also.
This journey starts at around 5500 feet above sea level, and in the first day you will climb to over 10,000 feet. You continue uphill for the next 4 days. For me, that first day was one of the hardest, but it’s the last day of this trek that is certainly the most dramatic. You go to sleep around 6pm the day before you summit. You wake for breakfast at 11pm. Then you finish your climb in the dead dark of night, with a headlamp for illumination. It’s steep. Remember that: dark and steep. The sun is rising when you reach the summit, and it’s recommended that you stay there only 6 minutes before you start your descent. That’s enough time to take your picture with the sign. Don’t look down until after you take that photo. When you realized by the light of day what you just attempted in the dead of night, it’s a good thing to be in motion going down as the enormity of your accomplishment sets in.
If you aspire to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, let me advise you to focus on the aspects you can control: what kind of shape you are in, how good your mountaineering gear is, and how much help you will accept. Don’t spend time fretting over things you can’t control like the weather, and the timeless majesty and dominance that is the mountain itself. September and October, by the way, are the best months for this lifetime experience.
This Adventure Doesn’t Have To End On The Last Day Of The Climb
When we were done with the trek, several of us went straight on safari, and I recommend that or moving into any activity that keeps you on a schedule of regular sleeping and waking times like you just had on your trek. Get up early and engage in something interesting. Sleep—you will be tired already. Stay at least moderately active and ease out of the intensity of your previous 7 days of bouldering in the thin air. Your body will take some time to readjust, and I can’t even guess how long it will take to get a handle on the mental challenge of this adventure. Now that it’s over, I think I am proudest of how I responded, inside my head, to the mental challenge. My body, of course, complained for days after about what it was put through.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you put together such a trip, at Alpine Adventures and Adventures Africa we are happy to talk to you about any kind of travel to Africa. Whether you want to see the continent from the top of Kilimanjaro or you want to know the wildlife from game drives and river trips, I can promise you that Africa will stay in your heart forever.
“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai’, the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcas of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Rick Reichsfeld is the founder and owner of the global travel companies Alpine Adventures, Adventures Africa, and Anywhere Adventures. These specialty travel companies offer soft adventures ranging from snow sport trips in North America, Europe, Japan, and South America, witnessing firsthand the Big 5 of lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant in southern and eastern Africa, group cultural and culinary trips in Asia and Europe, and adventures like whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, tango-learning intensives in Argentina, horseback expeditions through Patagonia, and any other life experience you can dream of.
When it is time for our annual group trip to Club Med, the anticipation and excitement are the same! We simply know our clients will have a great time! GUARANTEED
In fact, most of them are returning G.M (Gentils Membres) year after year!
This year we chose Club Med Cancun for our 4-night getaway. We used to make it a 3-night getaway but people complained that it was too short.
This recently renovated property (and still getting a “facelift” at the main buffet restaurant and boutique) is beautifully located at the tip of Cancun peninsular and is known for its coral reef. It is secluded from the hustle and bustle of the main strip and therefore extremely safe but also quieter.
On the first day and after a perfectly coordinated and personalized check-in we wasted no time enjoying the brand new infinity pool at the Aquamarina building. Gorgeous! Although this area is more dedicated to families everyone can certainly enjoy the view and the bar from this new pool.
We then met by the main bar for our one-hour private cocktail party arranged by Club Med Groups before enjoying our first dinner at the Taco Arte Buffet. Then we all headed to the show as this is an important part of your stay at Club Med and G.O’s (Gentils Organisateurs) talents never stop to impress me. Next day was jammed packed of water sports activities (snorkeling, kayaking, sailing) but also our group met up for a great initiation to archery. Fair to say we all enjoyed it!
And for the less active clients, “farniente” on the beach was the day’s theme! We were up for a treat when dinner came as our group had pre-arranged reservations at the Argentinean steakhouse of the resort “La Estancia”. Gorgeous setting and great food including for clients who prefer a vegetarian option.
Saturday part of our group headed to the beautiful Mayan ruins in Tulum for a private visit that included some free time to pick up a few local souvenirs.
While the rest of the group continued enjoying the village and its numerous activities. We all met for an introduction to salsa and got our groove on!
Sundowners were served at Taco Arte followed by our buffet dinner.
Sunday was another busy day: after burning off some calories at the gym we all participated in a fun ping pong tournament. Although a tropical storm was going through our area it didn’t stop our group from having some fun under the rain and enjoying our farewell dinner at La Estancia.
Soon enough it was time to say goodbye but not before reminiscing about our fun these 4 days had been and starting planning for our next year’s getaway! Club Med Turks & Caicos it will be and we hope to see all of you there.
OCTOBER 5, 2017
By LARRY OLMSTED
Chalet Sagarmata, Verbier, Switzerland
Chalet Sagarmata comes with one of Verbier’s largest indoor pools, measuring 75 feet long and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the snow-covered region. The property also includes seven bedrooms (for up to 13 guests), a full spa (including a sauna, steam room, plunge pool, and treatment room), and a ski room. Priced from $64,000 per week during peak ski season, the chalet comes with two days of private ski instruction, daily housekeeping, a stocked bar, equipment rental delivery and fittings, and most meals. Book with Rick Reichsfeld, founder of the luxury ski travel outfitter Alpine Adventures….
Continue reading on robbreport.com
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) July 06, 2017
Alpine Adventures has expanded its already-global destination network and now offers customized safari and cultural trips to Africa. It’s meaningful travel that can include daily game drives, South Africa wine country tours, and other combinations of life experiences.
Alpine Adventures, a global travel company that focuses on cultural and active travel, has announced their new division, Adventures Africa. Adventures Africa is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is directed by the Alpine Adventures tour operation’s owner, Rick Reichsfeld. “I first visited in South Africa five years ago, and was absolutely enchanted,” recounts Reichsfeld. “Since then I have been back at least twice every year, and I have now traveled in six African countries. Our goal is to make this lifetime travel experience easy to customize for each traveler’s expectations. Once you’ve seen the land and the wildlife, you are somehow changed and you understand the importance of conservation.” Adventures Africa works with travel agencies and with consumers directly.
To facilitate both agent training and creative booking, Reichsfeld brought in consulting expert, Ryan de Beer. De Beer is a native South African who has been a safari guide and lodge manager for over a decade. He has worked at such major private game preserves as Ngala and Sabi Sabi. “Because I have lived in the African bush for so long and because I’ve seen so much of the native wildlife close-up, I am passionate about conserving those natural lands and the native species who have lived on them for millennia,” says de Beer. “I am delighted to be working with Adventures Africa to get people traveling there and to see for themselves the incredible beauty and majesty of this still-wild continent.”…
Continue reading on benzinga.com
By JANEEN CHRISTOFF
JANUARY 03, 2017, 2005
“[Reichsfeld] saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible…” writes Olmsted.
“Unlike cruises or safaris or complex itineraries, many never consider using a travel agent or specialist when planning a ski trip. That’s a big mistake, especially if you are headed someplace like Europe or Japan – skiing’s hottest destination – but it also applies if you are doing your annual trip to a place you think you “know,” like Vail or Aspen,” writes Larry Olmsted.
Travel agents can save travelers a significant amount of money on ski trips.
“[Reichsfeld] saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible – like booking a dozen rooms at the swank Montage in Deer Valley for Matt Damon at the worst possible time, during the height of the Sundance Film Festival,” writes Olmsted. …
Continue reading on travelpulse.com
For The Best Ski Trip At Any Price, Use A Ski Travel Expert
If you could get a better version of the same vacation without spending more, you’d be silly not to.
Yet when it comes to skiing, thousands of American travelers do just that. Unlike cruises or safaris or complex itineraries, many never consider using a travel agent or specialist when planning a ski trip. That’s a big mistake, especially if you are headed someplace like Europe or Japan – skiing’s hottest destination – but it also applies if you are doing your annual trip to a place you think you “know,” like Vail or Aspen.
“In general you save 8-10% over what you would pay doing it yourself,” said Rick Reichsfeld, co-owner of Alpine Adventures. And just to be clear, Rick isn’t in the bargain vacation business – his company is the official ski travel supplier for the Virtuoso network of the nation’s best luxury travel agents. He saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible – like booking a dozen rooms at the swank Montage in Deer Valley for Matt Damon at the worst possible time, during the height of the Sundance Film Festival…
Continue reading on forbes.com
Boots and All
Whistler Blackcomb elevates the family ski vacation.
By Justin Paul
GO Alpine Adventures plans ski trips for groups of any size. As an example, a getaway for a family of four in Whistler might include five nights in a 1,100-square-foot suite at the Four Seasons, with four days of lift tickets and ski rentals, and round-trip transfers from Vancouver Airport. “We don’t recommend car rentals,” says Alpine president Rick Reichsfeld. “The airport companies don’t provide snow tires, and you don’t need a car in the village.”
At the risk of rousing the Nutrition Police, I’d like to advocate for a steady diet of pizza and french fries. It’s a binge program – let’s call it the Peak Plan – one that’s best administered in multiday bursts. And when introduced at an early age, it results in increased coordination, enhanced confidence, and lifelong family fun.
Five out of five Whistler Blackcomb ski school instructors agree – or so I learned after dropping my daughter off for her first time on skis and hearing their code words to form snowplows (Pizza!) and parallel skis (French fries!). “See you at the end of the day,” one said, waving my wife and me off as a handful of puffballs weeble-wobbled around him. Though it was hard to picture the bunny-slope buffet ending in anything but an unsightly mash, who could argue? The previous night had brought a fresh dusting of snow, and skiers with more advanced palates were carving arcs like strands of angel-hair pasta high above.
Rising from the Coast Mountains about 75 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler sits directly in British Columbia’s winter storm track and averages 450-plus inches of snow per season – not the fluffiest powder, but nearly five feet more than the big Colorado resorts. Sizewise, the two-mountain behemoth bests its closest North American peer, Utah’s recently merged Park City/Canyons Resort, by almost 900 acres. Whistler earned fame with seasoned skiers and snowboarders drawn to its exposed faces, free-skiing terrain, and some of the more thrilling intermediate runs around. (Peel down big-mountain-style “Saddle,” and, once the butterflies settle, tell me you don’t agree.) But since hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, the resort has focused on its family appeal, with expanded beginner and family ski areas and terrain parks for skill levels ranging from “just learning to jump” to “now seeking sponsorships” – some lift etiquette signs even read “Please Don’t Curse in Line.”…
Continue reading on virtuoso.com
By Anne Z. Cooke
Globe Correspondent / January 16, 2005
“Most of our staff come from the ski industry — resort employees, former ski instructors, snowboarders, people like that,” said spokeswoman Martina Reichsfeld. “They’ve visited the hotels and the resorts we represent. What we’re selling is knowledge and service.”
If you look at a trail map of Mribel and its neighbors, you’ll see that the Three Valleys, connected by a network of gondolas and lifts, are pitched north to south and divided by parallel mountain ridges.
Mribel is in the middle valley, tony Courchevel is eastward, and Val Thorens and Les Menuires are to the west. You might think people have always skied here, but the resorts were built specifically for recreational skiers on holiday.
The hotels and lodges, climbing the hillsides beside the slopes, look like traditional chalets, each with chestnut-brown siding, sun-facing balconies, and gingerbread trim, though the newer hotels are built of well-disguised cement.
The ski slopes, too, were planned for holiday visitors; death drops are in plentiful supply, but here they are often found beside alternate, and easier, ways to the bottom.
Though we originally asked Alpine Adventures for their lowest prices, we soon realized that some features were worth the extra cost. Alpine’s cheapest Mribel package, for example, was about $999 per person, but was limited to the basics: air fare from East Coast airports, bus transfers, trip cancellation insurance, seven nights in a comfortable but ordinary three-star hotel, ski lockers, and breakfast…
Continue reading on boston.com
Jan 18, 2004
By DEVLIN BARRETT – Associated Press Writer
COURMAYEUR, Italy — A thumping helicopter hauled us up alongside the menacingly close stone cliff. Suddenly, the rock face dropped away, and the chopper perched lightly on a snowy peak in the Italian Alps.
‘‘Go!” the guide Gianni screamed over the din, and our dazed group of six flopped out the door into white, blinding wind, grabbing our skis from the leg of the helicopter as we went.
Dizzy from the altitude, I thought first of the fireplace-toasty ristorante back at our regular mountain, where they served penne bolognese and an array of red wines to shame most gourmets.
But the adrenaline surged as a day of heli-skiing stretched before us in miles of deep, untouched powder. We stood gawking at the startlingly still and inviting terrain, the engine’s roar fading over a far mountain.
As a lifelong Northeast skier who worked a couple seasons as a ski instructor in high school, I was chomping at the bit to take the plunge.
So I plunged. And plunged. And plunged.
The great thing about a ski vacation in Italy is that no matter how much powder you carve or choke on, there is always a wonderful meal waiting for you, and you need not wait until the end of the day to enjoy it.
In Courmayeur, a small ski town near the French border, the restaurants on the top, middle, and sides of the mountain are very good, very Italian, and very easy on the wallet.
The mountain I’m most familiar with in the states offers hamburgers, fries, and hot chocolate at the base lodge. Courmayeur served up fettuccine and merlot on a hilltop terrace. And charged less for it. …
Continue reading on helenair.com
By DEVLIN BARRETT THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted Jan 18, 2004
“Once you get out there, the price of things like lift tickets, food, even a beer in a bar, is about half of what you would pay at a lot of resorts in the (American) West,” said Rick Reichsfeld, who has been running tours to Courmayeur for years, and married a local.
The picturesque Italian village offers visitors a gondola within easy walking distance of most of the hotels, and well-kept cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, shops and more gelato vendors than one small town should rightly need.
Courmayeur is reached by flying into Milan, then arranging a bus or van ride of a couple hours into the mountains. With the right driver to point out nearby landmarks, jet-lagged visitors can also catch a glimpse of medieval castles scattered along the route.
Lift tickets are good for the entire valley, so you can use the same pass to try out a number of mountains like nearby Cervinia, where you can ski Switzerland and Italy in one day under the shadow of the world-famous Matterhorn, or take a quick side trip to France.
Exiting the gondola at Cervinia’s peak, skiers immediately cross a yellow line in the stone walkway indicating they have entered Switzerland. As two bored Swiss policemen watch, each skier must choose: turn right, toward the Italian side, or left into Switzerland. Or just ski down, then climb in a car for a quick drive to Chamonix or another French mountain….
Continue reading on heraldtribune.com