Skiing & Snowshoeing Holidays

Winter Holidays in Europe’s most majestic mountains
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Winter in the Dolomites starts this weekend
Preparation for Collett’s Winter Season

Before the 4 month season of skiing, snowshoeing, sunshine and excitement (perhaps the odd cheeky grappa) kicks off, the enthusiastic winter team come together for a 12 day training period. It is a privilege to spend this time at Haus Valentin, the one chalet Collett’s offer in Badia, which I’m sure our guests will agree, is a wonderful introduction to such a fantastic Dolomiti superski experience.

Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama Dolomites
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama Dolomites
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama Dolomites Corvara
Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama Dolomites Corvara
Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's
Hotel Panorama, Corvara, Dolomites Walking Holidays with Collett's

What instantly brings the team together is the shared love for people, winter activities and the enjoyment of hard, yet rewarding work. To see so many returned faces amongst the group is a sure sign that taking part in one season, whether it be summer or winter, is just not enough for most. After a lovely evening spent at Tom Collett’s house, the convoy sets off in the early hours for a two day drive towards the mountains, giving everybody a chance to chat and exchange stories as to what ultimately brought them together for the experience ahead.

Arriving just before dark, the group enjoy the famous Enrosadira on the Fanes Massif – the returners smile at the thought of being back and the new faces feel a sense of honour to call this place their home for the next 4 months.

A traditional Italian meal to settle us in, we prepare for the training ahead. With little time before early bird week begins, the training is split between indoor and outdoor days. These indoor days, full of group interaction and presentations, bring to light the importance of chalet upkeep, office hour and the general home from home experience we, as a team, aim to create for our guests. When the crisp evenings hit, our hosts alternate to practise their high quality cooking skills whilst the staff help prepare, serve and keep on top of the dishes! Outdoor days, although minimal, give the group a chance to get their bearings of the area and familiarise themselves with some of the snowshoe routes and ski itineraries. For some people, including myself, skiing is a relatively new experience and so heading out to find their ‘ski legs’ is an important part of training – something that I’m sure everybody can relate to as a beginner once themselves.

As the days pass, the lifts across Badia and Corvara open as one or two tiny black dots turn into five or six as they zigzag their way down the piste. The weather so far has been kind, with stunning blue skies and not a breath of wind, but the upcoming forecast suggests a big snowfall which will no doubt create a winter wonderland, just in time for Christmas and the long-awaited arrival of our first guests of the season. Our teams will be split into their chalets in the next few days to set up and get the place ready – we hope to see you all next week to get the season started off with a snow-falling, mince pie eating bang!

Buon viaggio tutti! Have a safe journey.

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Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

by Tom Collett

The first Collett’s Ski Safari was a huge success and a truly memorable Dolomites experience for a group of 12 skiers. I was privileged to be one of them. (Occasionally one has to ‘up-sticks’ and leave the family in the name of product research!)

Skiing at San Pellegrino
Colin and I above Alleghe with Monte Pelmo (3,168m) behind

This unique ‘hut to hut’ skiing holiday in the Dolomites was made all the more special by a variation of sublime snow conditions and a delightful group of people – from Paddy and Carol in their late sixties (ex-members of the NZ ladies ski racing team) to Steve and Amy (a couple in their 30’s from Washington D.C .) As the week progressed, snowfall and fresh powder made way for immaculately manicured pistes and sensational panoramas set against cloudless blue skies. It was a great pleasure to witness people’s amazement as every turn revealed another staggering vista.

Skiing the ‘Hidden Valley’
Skiing down to Nuova Levante
from San Pellegrino

A Collett’s Ski Safari highlights the extent and sheer beauty of this vast ski network. The feel-good factor is immense and it is further intensified by the ability to ski from one beautiful valley to the next, covering miles of pistes (mainly intermediate, often easy and occasionally quite steep), starting perhaps at 3000m before descending into the lower tree-lined pistes that spill you out into picturesque, little-known resorts. From these you start your next ascent to another breathtaking launchpad, which, moments earlier, had been a distant speck against a backdrop of dramatic peaks. Sometimes ski buses and taxis were required to keep us on the move but these journeys were generally short and hassle-free.

Our guide, Mario
Setting out for the day at Passo Carezza

If you stay in one of our catered chalets in the Dolomites on a conventional Collett’s winter holiday, you can certainly ski for miles, visiting several different valleys before heading back to your base. Indeed, this is one the key attractions of our winter holidays in the Dolomites. However, on a Collett’s Ski Safari you just keep going and going. And everyone in the group looked forward to sitting over a map and a beer in the late afternoons retracing the day’s route and marvelling at the distance covered. This particular tour took in Arabba, Pordoi, Canazei, the Val di Fassa (Vigo, Pozza, Moena & Predazzo), Carezza, Obereggen, San Pellegrino, Falcade, Alleghe, Zoldo, Cinque Torre, Cortina, the Hidden Valley, Corvara and the Alta Badia – but the sheer enormity of this ski area meant that we missed out on places such as the Val Gardena, the Marmolada, San Vigilio and Plan de Corones, all of which are gems and will surely be included in future Collett’s Ski Safaris.

Skiing at San Pellegrino
Skiing at Cristallo, above Cortina

Finally, a mention for the huts that accommodated us each evening. This aspect of the safari was certainly one of the most gratifying and heartwarming. It is a wonderful experience to ski to a hut in the late afternoon, take off your skis and settle in for the evening. It’s also a bonus to find your rucksack waiting for you. The first thing I did was to call the family and let them know where I was, describing the day and then the amazing winter landscape before my eyes. Some of the rifugios were perched high in the mountains just off the piste, some were lower down in wooded areas accessed by winter tracks. All were homely and provided more than adequate accommodation with en suite bedrooms and hot showers. We had such delightful evenings playing cards and other games. In one hut perched high above Cortina we were all on such a high that dancing and singing prevailed for most of the evening, admittedly fuelled by a drink or two. The hospitality in the huts was warm and welcoming. The staff fed and watered us very well and dinner was always excellent and an enjoyable focal point of the day.

Steve & Amy skiing Son Forca at Cristallo
Admiring the view and taking some photos of Monte Pelmo (3,168m)

After dinner we would usually stay at the table for a couple of nightcaps. Everyone seemed to have a recommendation in this department and our tired limbs would eventually hit the sack sedated by a certain grappa or amaretto – you name it, we probably tried it. But such was the camaraderie that inevitably prevailed on such a venture, no one really wanted to break up the party and be the first to bed.

Either way, every morning I woke up forgetting that I was in a remote mountain rifugio in the Dolomites, only to enjoy that realisation when I heard the voice of a room-mate that wasn’t my wife’s. Then I would throw back the curtains to be invigorated by the view, get dressed, enjoy breakfast and slowly but surely get excited about the day ahead…. the skiing, the scenery and the sheer exhilaration. I came home feeling 20 years younger.

Getting ready to ski the hidden valley
Collett's Dolomites Ski Safari Slideshow
Collett’s Dolomites Ski Safari Slideshow – Click to play

The next Collett’s Ski Safari is 16th to 23rd March and there are still places available. For Winter 2013/14 we hope to launch a more extensive programme of ski safaris, so keep an eye on our website or email or ring us on 01799_ 513331

The whole group!
Setting off for the day’s skiing

by Felicity Lee – Fun and frivolities in the Dolomites during the festive season

Well Christmas went with a bang here in the Dolomites where Collett’s guests and staff enjoyed six course meals, gluhwein and plenty of chocolate! Not to mention a few impromptu Christmas carol singalongs and a ski show or two.

Our outdoor activities programme continued as normal with out days including Father Christmas taking guests from here in Chalet Haus Valentin to Arabba and the Portavescovo Ridge where he and his skiing elves had a boogie at the Fodom Rifugio to some Christmassy oompah music. Festivities continued on the Pralongia Plateau as the Badia based snowshoers went Rifugio hopping and enjoyed a few festive Bombardino’s in old favorites Bioch and Pralongia.

Guests staying in our hosted apartments in Arabba had a fun ski day on the blues and reds around Colfosco, relaxing into the Christmas spirit at the cosy Edelweiss Rifugio, where the snowshoers from Chalet Verena also called in during their day out walking the Edleweiss Terrace route. Meanwhile Chalet Verena skiers had an epic ski day out in Alba.

There were some bleary eyed skiers on the orange route around the beautifully powdery Sellaronda on Boxing Day, working off their dinner from the evening before. Meanwhile, snowshoers were getting above the clouds on the Runch Hut Round.

Snow is still falling today in the Alta Badia ready for a white New Year’s Eve. Best wishes from everyone at Collett’s for the coming year, we hope 2013 is a prosperous one filled with mountain goodness!

Late availability in early January – Click here

Beat the January blues with a last minute skiing or snowshoeing holiday in Arabba or Badia. Click here for more information about our late availability prices.

by Felicity Lee – Ski & Snowshoe Host, Chalet Haus Valentin (Badia)

As our first guests were greeted by a spectacular sunset over the beautiful peaks of the Dolomites and staff were busy beavering away making final touches to the hosted chalets and apartments in Arabba, Corvara and Badia, the FIS Ski World Cup Grand Slalom took place in the Alta Badia on Sunday. Guests staying in our hosted apartments in Arabba who arrived the previous day were able to see American Ted “Ligety Split” Ligety take the top spot on the podium with a combined time of 2:37:27 for his runs on the Gran Risa. Ligety also had the fastest single run at 1:17:10 – not a speed we would suggest any of our guests try to match! Ligerty, whose favourite event is the Giant Slalom, beat his closest rival, twenty year old Marcel Hirscher of Austria, by just over 2 seconds while two time former Giant Slalom winner Davide Simoncelli of Italy had to settle for 5th place.

Snowshoeing the Pralongia Ridge Ramble

Here in Badia, the week kicked off with some great snowshoe itineraries including favourites Runch Hut Round and Lake to Lake. One of our new snowshoe routes was trialled for the first time with guests and received rave reviews from returners, who enjoyed visiting a new valley and seeing the impressive Fanes massif from a very different angle. Our organisers have plans to research more new routes throughout the season and so watch this space for updates.

Skiing the Sella Ronda
Cross Country Skiing
Christmas decorations

Jo, who is joining us for her first winter season having spent the summer as a Collett’s walk organiser with myself and Dan in the Pyrenees, took a group of guests from Haus Valentin out to nearby Armentarola for a day of cross-country skiing. The result being smiles and achy muscles all round!

Skiers in all three villages have had some great itineraries as well, including the Sella Ronda, Marmolada and play days on the Pralongia Plateau. Conditions are tip top both on and off the piste after a foot of snow fell last Friday, making for some stunning days out on the mountain.

All the chalets are adorned with lovely Christmas decorations ahead of next weeks’ celebrations and everyone is getting into the festive spirit. I’ll let you know next week how it all goes providing I’m not too full of turkey to write!

Merry Christmas from Flee and all the Collett’s staff in Italy and the UK!

Corvara at night
Arabba at night

Late availability in early January – Click here

Beat the January blues with a last minute skiing or snowshoeing holiday in Arabba or Badia. Click here for more information about our late availability prices.

Preparation for the Winter Season
fresh snowfall and colder temperatures
Last minute space left on our Early Bird Week – Click here

Based at Haus Valentin, Collett’s Mountain Holidays training week in the Dolomites has taken shape nicely with the help of all the snow that’s fallen over the last eight days (over 1 metre – see here to see live webcams of the Dolomites). Cristina and Rainer of Haus Valentin are getting into the Christmas spirit hanging decorations around the chalet in preparation for our first guests arriving on the 16th December.

Snowshoeing above Falzarego
Haus Valentin, Badia – 10th Dec. 2012
(formerly Pedraces)

Christmas in the Dolomites

Likewise, new and returning staff are preparing for guests by being shown some organised snowshoeing routes including Cinque Torri and Edelwiess Terrace. Some new snowshoe routes around the La Valle area have been successfully trialled by returning staff Charlie, Rich, Dan and Flee. We also had a staff trip to Innsbruck on Saturday, where we sampled some excellent strudel and some lovely coffee!

Snowshoeing above Corvara and Badia
Snowshoeing at Cinque Torre

Collett’s Organisers moved over from Chalet Haus Valentin in Badia (formerly Pedraces) to the other two villages of Corvara and Arabba this morning to prepare the chalets for their first arrivals at the weekend. There are a number of familiar faces in each village as well as a few new ones for you to get to know. Sarah and Nick will be hosting in Chalet Verena with Rushy managing the chalet. They will be helped by Joanna, Alice, James and Owen.

Snowshoeing at Cinque Torre
Snowshoeing at Cinque Torre
Finding a lunch spot

Lynne will be looking after all three villages as our area manager and Dan will be taking care of Chalet Haus Valentin with the help of Charlie, Flee, Terry, Sarah and Ric.

Tom Coulthard is going to be looking after things in Arabba and is looking forward to some great days out skiing the Pralongià Plateau, the Sella Ronda, the Marmolada and the ‘Hidden Valley’! He will be joined by George and Tom R.

On the weather front, the forecast is looking cold and sunny across the Dolomites – perfect conditions for great pisted ski runs and glorious views on snowshoes (also good for the odd snowball fight!).

On a ski training day, Charlie made great use of his GoPro head cam to take some excellent footage of our first run out of the Piz La Ila gondola above La Villa. This was at the start of our first ski day out on Pralongia Plateau, where all the runs are open. The wonderful Sella Ronda is also open for skiing and the conditions are fantastic all the way round.

Our Early Bird week starts on the 15th & 16th December (Due to a last minute cancellation, we still have a couple of places left for Early Bird and Christmas Skiing – click here for more information).

Edelweiss Snowshoe & Ski Touring in the Dolomites
Preparation for Collett’s Winter Season
Over a metre of snow has fallen in the Dolomites during the past week, allowing our organisers to get out and enjoy some snowshoeing and skiing in preparation for our winter holidays and the upcoming ski season. Our Early Bird week starts on the 15th & 16th December (Due to a last minute cancellation, we still have a couple of places left for Early Bird and Christmas Skiing – click here for more information).

Skiing on the Pralongia Plateau
Skiing in the Dolomites above Corvara

Click here to see live webcams of the Dolomites.

Yesterday we went out on the Edelweiss Snowshoe which starts from Colfosco. It is easy to catch the bus from Corvara or Badia to the start point, just ask one of our organisers at office hour – click here for more information about planning your days at office hour.

It takes a cable car to the start of the route from Colfosco, where on a clear winter’s day you can get a superb panoramic view across the whole of the Dolomites. The snow conditions are excellent for snowshoeing and skiing.

The route starts with a steep but easy descent down a natural gully. Way marking is easy to follow and the route. It arrives at the Utia Edelweiss where we took a break for lunch. Then we continued down to the bottom of the Col Pradat gondola lift and caught the lift up to Col Pradat before descending steeply down the well way marked path 4a to Corvara and a well-earned cup of tea.

Deep snow on the Edelweiss snowshoe
On the Edelweiss Snowshoe

We look forward to meeting our first guests next Saturday and can’t wait for the season to get into full flow.

Buon viaggio tutti! Have a safe journey.

We have a couple of late availability dates and offers for our Early Bird week (starting 15th & 16th December) and for Christmas week (starting 22nd & 23rd December)- Click here for more details.