The ski season ahead in 2011-12

Patrick Thorne has the rundown of all this year's news

Do we have lift off?

Today should have been a big day in the new 2011-12 ski season. Europe's highest resort, Val Thorens (00 33 479 000 808; valthorens.com) in France was due to open with – it was hoped – 10,000 skiers and boarders in resort to celebrate and test out the new season's gear. But warm weather and limited snowfall in the Alps has led to the opening being postponed by a week; the same decision has been made at Switzerland's Andermatt and Davos.

 

How's the snow?

So are we looking at the start of another poor snowfall season? Hopefully not: colder weather is expected imminently. In Scandinavia, where some resorts had expected to be open over a month ago, Finnish resort Ruka (00 358 860 0200; ruka.fi) finally opened on Wednesday – a positive sign. Parts of the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees had healthy snowfalls earlier this month too, allowing some areas to get a good base of snow built up ready for fresh falls.

Across the Atlantic it's a much better story. Revelstoke (001 250 814 0087; www.revelstokemountainresort.com) in British Columbia is opening a week early next weekend after nearly two metres (193cm) of snow has fallen so far. All three ski areas at Banff are already open, too.

 

American beauties

There are changes afoot in New England, which seems to fluctuate in popularity with British tour operators but where the ski areas are generally easy to reach with a flight in to Boston and the use of a hire car to drive north on the I-95. Here the ski areas are smaller than those further west, but they're still adequate for those who appreciate the upside: a shorter flight and less jet lag.

Maine's Sugarloaf (001 207 237 2000; sugarloaf.com), pictured below, is expanding and has spent $3m (£2m) on a fast new chairlift, opening up more terrain in its plan to overtake giants such as Killington (001 802 422 3333; killington.com) and become the largest ski area east of the Rockies by 2020.

More remarkable still are the fruits of $240m (£160m) spent by Vermont resort Jay Peak (001 802 988 2611; jaypeakresort.com), a chunk of which has gone on an indoor water park that opens on 12 December. This vast facility brings a whole new angle to après ski, including a 60ft freefall chute that sends its users into an upside-down loop at speeds of 45mph. Suddenly the terrain park seems passé.

 

Back to the Club

In France, another large sum, the equivalent of £75m, has been spent in Valmorel by Club Med (0845 367 0670; clubmed.co.uk) on what the firm is describing as its greatest village yet. Club Med was the European company that pioneered "Western" ski holidays in Japan at Sahoro in the 1980s, long before everyone else caught on. More recently, it was the first Western company to open in China, at Yabuli last winter. But with Valmorel, pictured right, Club Med has returned to its roots. The village's importance as a revenue-generator is underlined by the fact that the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, will be carrying out the official opening next month.

The pedestrian-only resort has, we're promised, been meticulously integrated into the local landscape and has a traditional Savoyard atmosphere thanks to the efforts of architect Pierre Diener, who used local wood, stone and slate in the construction. Featuring four- and five-"trident" accommodation (the rating used by Club Med), it also has the company's complete range of children's clubs, for youngsters from four months to 17 years old, and there's ski-in/out access to 150km of piste.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week