GREAT NORTHERN SKI ESCAPES
N a cheeky move, at least one ski operator is promoting the lofty Indian Himalayas as the ‘‘ new Japan’’ of powder skiing. ‘‘ The little-known and untouched resort of Gulmarg in the Kashmiri ski region is a gem . . . limitless deep powder across alpine bowls and gladed runs with no queues are attracting boarders and skiers alike for a true adventure with a cultural difference,’’ say the folks at Seven Descents. At 4000m, Gulmarg is the highest (and arguably one of the most exotic) ski locations in the world and apparently offers longer runs than Japan. Sounds as if the battle is on. Seven Descents’ cleverly named Curry Powder Tour to Gulmarg has a maximum of 12 a group and covers nine days (including a night aboard a traditional Raj-era houseboat on Srinagar’s Lake Dal) on five departures in January and February next year, from $3150 (includes guide). More: 1300 997 677; www.sevendescents.com.au.
Japan’s Rusutsu, on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, has dramatically cut its prices for the 2009-10 snow season, according to specialist operator Value Tours. It is offering seven nights at Rusutsu Powder Lodge from $508 a person, land only, which includes a six-day lift pass and transfers from Sapporo. Another good-value deal covers seven nights at Niseko’s Yuki Yama in a twobedroom apartment; $1373 a person, with sixday lift pass and transfers from Sapporo. For travel December 23 to January 22 next year. More: 1300 361 322; www.valuetours.com.au.
Also in Niseko, a seven-night stay at the Vale, a ski-in, ski-out property, is from $1344 a person. More: 1300 754 754; www.travelplan.com.au.
Skimax has a seven-night stay at the Australian owned and operated Phoenix Hotel Japan’s picturesque Wadano in Happo from $1539 a person. The hotel’s shuttle services the most popular ski areas: Happo, Hakuba 47, Hakuba Goryu and Iwatake. Includes breakfasts and a six-day lift pass. For travel from January 4 to February 28 next year. More: www.skimax.com.au.
Seven nights at Japan’s Furano staying at Pension Furanui is from $1299 a person with breakfasts, six-day lift pass and transfers from Sapporo airport. The pension offers Japanese
Snow way to go: Niseko, on Hokkaido Island, is among Japan’s most popular winter resorts and Western-style rooms, and there’s a small hot spring on site; for travel from January 4 to March 7 next year. More: www.skimax.com.au.
Travelplan has early-booking discounts and free nights at several big North American resorts as well as good-value family deals for two adults and two children. In Aspen, Colorado, for example, there’s a 25 per cent discount at the Gant, a popular apartment hotel; this discount reduces a seven-night family stay to $4787 (was $5045). There’s a special fifth-night-free offer at Aspen Square, or North of Nell has a stay 14 nights, pay for 12 deal. All are subject to early booking deadlines. Travelplan also has a seven-night stay at Greene’s Cahilty Lodge at Sun Peaks in British Columbia, Canada, from $882 a person. More: www.travelplan.com.au.
In Canada, seven nights at Whistler is from $1066 a person staying at Town Plaza; for travel January 2-25 next year. Or ski Big White, also in British Columbia, from $569 a person for seven nights staying at the Whitefoot Lodge. Both deals include a sixday lift pass. More: www.valuetours.com.au.
Ski Tours Canada has bonus nights and kids-ski-free deals. Stay seven nights, pay for six at Silver Star. From $2799 for two adults and two children in a one-bedroom unit at Silver Creek Lodge with six-day lift pass and Kelowna airport transfers; for travel January 3 to February 4 next year. There’s a similar stay for seven nights, pay for six deal at Lake Louise, staying at the Fairmont Chateau with eight-day lift pass and Vancouver airport transfers. From $3157 for two adults travelling January 3-31 next year. More: 1800 446 302; www.skitourscanada.com.
Skimax’s European deals include seven nights at Italy’s Cortina from $1176 a person at the Hotel Olimpia, breakfasts included; for travel January 16 to February 5 next year. Austria’s Innsbruck is from $574 a person with seven nights at Hotel Maximilian, breakfasts included; for travel February 2 to April 30 next year. More: www.skimax.com.au. Note: All deals exclude international flights. Barry Oliver