Sensational Cervinia!

STORY BY
Andy Taylor
14th February 2017

Zermatt and its mighty Matterhorn mountain is a big favourite among British skiers, but it’s so in demand prices are driven almost as high as the lifts, the highest in Europe.

You can however base yourself in Italy’s top resort of Cervinia instead and ski all that Zermatt has to offer from this lift linked resort, you may even find you like the Cervinia side more, and not just because the prices are a lot lower (unusually, even the lift pass for the same shared area costs much less if you buy it in Italy).

In fact although Cervina is known by some as the cheaper place to stay when skiing around the Matterhorn, this is one of Italy’s very best resorts in its own right and  a popular spot for Italian weekenders from all over the country.  Indeed it is common for people from Milan and other large cities to buy holiday chalets here.

The area therefore has maintained its local charm and traditions. Being close to France and Switzerland, there are also quite a few French and Swiss visitors, and of course a lot of UK visitors with a good mixture of all age groups and families in resort.

On my visit, organised by leading tour operator Inghams earlier this year we flew in to Turin after a short 1 hour 40min flight from Gatwick airport.  I was met by the Inghams representative who accompanied us on the transfer up to Cervinia, taking less than 2 hours in the coach.

So I was checking in to my hotel only around four hours after taking off from London, and as I arrived at my hotel I saw the ski lift was just across the street.

I was booked in to the Chalet Hotel Dragon in Cervinia a cosy hotel/chalet style operation with generous sized rooms which is run by Inghams. The hotel, once owned by a Scotsman, has a very strong Highlands theme about it with many decorative references to Scotland.

The hotel staff are there to meet you at arrival taking your bags and ski gear to your room and settling you in with a complementary drink.

Once organised, it’s around lunch time and there were sandwiches and soup waiting for us in the restaurant. When you are ready to organise your ski hire, the closest shop is just across from the hotel entrance so it’s all very easy.

The Skiing

The skiing was superb set against a backdrop of long reaching mountain peaks including the famous Matterhorn, (or Monte Cervino as it is known on the Italian side) standing at 4500 metres. There is a vast choice of runs including skiing for all levels.

When snow coverage permits, this area is famous for its extensive off piste skiing for the more adventurous For those who want to stay in the sun and brush up on their technique there is ample choice of red, blue and black runs where you can avoid the shadows of the mountains and ski all day in sunlight.

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This area is also renowned for being very quiet, especially mid-week, so no worries about avoiding hundreds of others on the slopes. If you feel energetic, there are over 180km of piste to cover spanning 3 valleys on the Italian side alone, and double that if you buy the full regional pass that includes Zermatt’s skiing too.

There are several restaurants spread around the mountain which all offer very reasonably priced meals, including local specialities and international cuisine. Every meal we had was excellent and truly memorable in the way that only the Italians know how to prepare good home-made food.

At the end of a day on the slopes, Cervinia village offers a selection of fine dining and après ski pubs, hotels and restaurants.

Chalet Hotel Dragon

The Chalet Hotel Dragon is in an excellent location just across the road from the first ski lifts and also close to several equipment hire shops.

The main street in the village hosting all the bars restaurants and a couple of night clubs is also just around the back of the hotel, so everything is extremely close to hand.

In terms of catering I enjoyed a full skiers’ buffet breakfast every day, afternoon tea/coffee with a selection of cakes from 4.30pm. Complimentary tea and coffee are available all day

In the evening there is soup and other snacks as well as a complimentary aperitif and hot finger food delivered to you by the hotel staff then dinner is served around 7.30 in the restaurant where you have a choice from two starters, two mains and two deserts as part of your three course meal in addition to a selection of local wines and beers, also included. To finish off there is a choice of cheese platter.  For me, the food was amazing! It was top star rated food with every meal and the staff were very helpful, friendly and attentive.

Along with the attractive dining-room the hotel has a residents’ bar and lounge area and all bedrooms have en suite bath/wc, free Wi-Fi, Sky TV, and most with balcony or terrace

This is a really good value ski holiday where the hard work is taken out of it for you and where you never feel as though you have been over charged for anything. As well as good value, it’s a great place to improve your skiing with a huge variety of terrain, and heaps of room to spread out as the crowds are very minimal.

Summary

I was lucky enough to enjoy great weather and snow conditions during my stay so as the skiing was therefore great, as the travel was fast and seamless and as the food and everything else about the Chalet Hotel Dragon was great, I can happily report that everything about this holiday was excellent.

It’s worth noting that this is an extremely good value for money ski destination. Not just the travel and accommodation, but local eating and drinking was cheap compared to UK prices, even with the weaker pound.

The main thing I heard often repeated from the ski guides and people working in the resort was, “I think the region of Italy goes un-noticed as a top ski destination”, and from my experience I’d strongly agree with that.

 

Visit Cervinia with Inghams

Inghams offer a 7 night holiday on a catered board basis (including buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and cakes and 5 course evening meals with complementary wines for 6 days) at a 3 ½ diamond chalet Hotel Dragon from £789 per person departing in March 2017. Price includes return flights to Turin and airport transfers. Ski and snow board tuition is available to pre-book for 3 or 6 half days from £101 pp. For more information on the Aosta Valley visit aosta-valley.co.uk

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