GREAT NORTH­ERN SKI ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

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

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