London-based InTheSnow Magazine (www.inthesnow.com) has released a free application available worldwide for ski and snowboard news from resorts all over the world. Visit an Apple Store to download. News comes from Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne (www.skiinfo.com) and last-minute vacation values are provided by SkiTracer (www.skitracer.com), a travel agency known for its "PRICEWATCH" service.
Southern Hemisphere Season Ends as Europe Ramps Up
Ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in New Zealand and Australia, enjoyed a gangbuster 2009 season, with late-spring skiing winding down at the end of September and beginning of October. European glacier skiing areas open all summer include Saas-Free and Zermatt, Switzerland; Passo di Stelvio and Val Senales, Italy, and Hintertux, Austria. In France, Les Deux Alpes is hosting a festival the Rock of Snowboard Tour, Oct. 24-25 as it prepares to end glacier operations as it expects new snow on the slopes. Additional areas operating early (or reopening after a late summer hiatus) to jumpstart the Northern Hemisphere winter include Tignes, France; Pitztal, the Stubai Glacier, Sölden, and the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun, Austria; Cervinia, Italy, and Diavolezza near St. Moritz and also Engelberg, Switzerland. A number of high Alpine areas received the season's first significant snowfall on Sept. 15, the same day that The Remarkables in New Zealand experienced a big spring dump.
St. Moritz Savings for Off-Peak Season Vacations
"Top Hit" packages in St. Moritz, Switzerland (tel. +41 81 830 00 01; www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/winter/en/) are priced per night during non-holiday seasons and include double or multi-bed accommodations with breakfast, lift pass, Upper Engadine bus transportation and 15% off Swiss Ski School instruction in the region. Top Hit dates are Oct 17- Dec. 23, Jan 9- Feb. 19, Mar. 6-Apr. 1, and Apr. 6-Mar. 30.
Val d'Isère's Early-Season Specials
Val d'Isère, France (tel. +33 4 79 06 06 60; www.valdisere.com/gb/) cranks up its lifts on Nov. 28 and offers a "First Tracks" package through Christmas. Price details are still being set at this writing, but the package includes hotel or apartment lodging, ski pass, guided skiing/riding with an instructor, opportunity to test new equipment and free après-ski with entertainment and vin chaud to take the chill off those early-winter afternoons.
Innsbruck's Nine-Area Lift/Lodging Package
Innsbruck (tel. +43 512 59850 123; www.innsbruck.info), the charming capital of the Austrian state of Tyrol, gives visitors an opportunity to combine urban liveliness with skiing on awesome nearby mountains. Lift/lodging packages start with two-night stays, but the most appealing to overseas visitors is the "Super Ski Pass" option. It includes lodging, a lift pass good at nearby areas (with such tongue-twisting names as Stubai Glacier, Nordkette, Patscherkofel, Axamer Lizum, Glungezer, Muttereralm, Schlick 2000, Kühtai and Rangger Köpfl) and also single days in St. Anton or Kitzbühel. Six nights' lodging (including daily breakfast and dinner) and a five-day list pass starts at €639 per person, double occupancy. It would take a two-week vacation combining two such packages to ski each area!
(Relatively) New Transatlantic Air Service to Geneva
Since the end of last winter season, United's (www.ua.com) the new transatlantic non-stop from Washington/Dulles (IAD) to Geneva International Airport (GVA) bring the slopes of the French Alps and western and southern Switzerland closer to American skiers -- or so it feels. United operates one daily flight in each direction.