Resort in focus: Avoriaz
Kate Thorman discovers a few new developments in one of France's award-winning resorts
View from P&V Les Crozats apartment
Horse and sleigh-ride (photo credit: Pierre & Vacances)
First established in the 1960s, Avoriaz is a purpose-built, ski-in, ski-out resort at the heart of the Portes du Soleil. After recently investing more than 200 million Euros, this season you can really benefit from the new facilities that it has to offer.
The architecture in Avoriaz is certainly different to the traditional mountain chalets found in most resorts, with the buildings perched on a sheer rock face, designed to blend into the mountain. Nevertheless the resort still has a certain amount of charm to it, especially with new developments including the 5* Pierre and Vacances apartments, and luxurious indoor swimming complex. This, along with the fact that it’s car-free, with horse drawn sleighs to transfer you across resort, helps keep Avoriaz up-to-date whilst not diminishing from its 1960’s architectural roots and environmental focus (including a new recycling facility).
Having won ‘Best Family Resort’ at the World Snow Awards held in London last October it’s one to consider if you’re looking at escaping to the mountains for a last minute February half term trip or in the Easter holidays. Avoriaz hosts various events throughout the season such as the annual Rock the Pistes Festival, and there are a wide range of activities on offer including iceskating.
With the Portes du Soleil covering up to 650km in ski runs (the largest in Europe), and spread across 12 resorts in both France and Switzerland, the ski opportunities here are endless. Avoriaz is the highest resort in the region (1800m), with both Morzine and Les Gets in easy reach. The views are extensive across the Portes du Soleil, the area is generally snow-sure, suitable for all abilities and the runs lower-down the mountain are lined with trees.
Avoriaz is well known for its snow parks, and as with the ski area they cater well for beginners through to the advanced. If you’re travelling with children, you may be interested in visiting the Burton Kids Parkway and the smaller version of the well-known Stash – a snowsports playground which sweeps through wooded areas.
Fondue lunch at Restaurant Le Fangle
Eating and drinking
From traditional Savoyard cuisine to a quick portion of pomme frites, there are some fantastic restaurants both up the mountain and in resort. Restaurant Le Fangle does a very tasty fondue and traditional Savoyard salad. On the other hand if you’re looking for something a bit more elaborate then head to Le Bistro in the centre of the resort or alternatively the new restaurants at Amara, including Le Grand Café.
In terms of après ski there are a few bars and a nightclub where you’ll be able to sample your favourite tipple(s), but nothing on a similar scale to the Folie Douce!
New for 2012/13
With a short transfer time from Geneva airport, Avoriaz is already a popular choice with British skiers, and is used by many tour operators, but there are some new developments this season that make the snow-sure resort more appealing than ever. Here are a few of the highlights.
New 5* P&V apartments, Amara district (photo credit: Pierre & Vacances)
Pretty much all of the accommodation in Avoriaz is in the form of self-catered apartments, which is perfect if you’re looking for an independent holiday. Most Tour Operators and ski companies offer accommodation in Avoriaz at differing rates, so you should be able to find something suitable depending on your needs. Companies including Neilson (receive 10% off as a Ski Club member), Pierre and Vacances (5% off), Inghams (5% off), Crystal (5% off), Erna Low (5% off) and Ski Total offer holidays to Avoriaz. Visit the Tour Operator discount pages to find out more about Ski Club member discounts.
New developments for Pierre and Vacances this year include the new Crozats residence, which has a mountain loft feel to it and exceptional views over the resort. These apartments are ideal if you’re looking to go away with family or friends as they’re pretty spacious and make your stay a bit more luxurious. In addition to this, the Amara district now has 204 apartments in its 5-star rated residence and offers several amenities including an indoor heated pool, sauna, hammam, Jacuzzi and gym. Both of these developments combine the traditional alpine chalet-style interior but bring them up-to-date with a modern finish.
Aquariaz (photo credit: Avoriaz Tourist Office)
The Tree House, Aquariaz (photo credit: Avoriaz Tourist Office)
One of the main highlights in terms of activities would have to be the newly built Aquariaz. It’s a must to visit after being on the slopes, or perfect for any of your party who don’t ski. Aquariaz is a tropical paradise; over 1570 plants, 180 trees, and the water temperature is a constant 30°C. The first of the three areas known as the ‘tree house’ contains a large paddling pool, slides, swings, and is ideal for smaller children.
The second zone isn’t for the faint-hearted. The ‘Slidewinder’ as it’s known locally is a structure similar to a 10m halfpipe, where you (and a friend if you like) slide down on an inflatable ring. If you love an adrenalin rush then it’s a must try.
The third zone comprises of a lazy river, a 1.5m swimming pool, climbing wall and various jets and Jacuzzis. There’s even an outdoor hot tub, which has some impressive views over the slopes.
Learn to snowboard courses
After the success of similar courses in the US, the concept was brought to Avoriaz. A new park designed especially for children who are learning to snowboard is now in place in the centre of the resort. Lead by instructors, younger children can practice their snowboarding technique and try tricks on ramps, mini-rails and halfpipes (all of which are on a smaller scale to those found in the other terrain parks). It’s a great way for children to have a go at the freestyle side of snowboarding but in a safer environment.
New ski lift system
On 15 February a new cable car system will open between Morzine and Avoriaz with 3S technology, which can carry between 2000 and 2400 passengers per hour. The journey will only take 4 minutes so it’s ideal for transporting you to and from the ski areas.
Just back from a great week's skiing with all kinds of weather.
Unfortunately I had to keep an eye on emails so spent a lot of time running round the resort looking for WiFi. It's worth noting that there is no WiFi available at Manie Brioche as mentioned in the Ski Club info. The easiest thing was to buy an hour for 5 Euros from the tourist office - this signal could be picked up within quite a wide range in the resort.
- Snowboard equipment for beginners
- A guide to the equipment and clothing needed to go snowboarding for the first time.
- Using Lifts
- A guide to the different kinds of lifts found on the mountain and how to tackle them on a snowboard.
- Handling the Steeps
- This clip offers technique tips on the best way to tackle steeper slopes on a snowboard.
- Turning with the Legs
- Here are four exercises that will help your snowboard technique by encouraging you to steer and control speed with the lower body.
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