mains averaging around £25, we agree that for our remaining nights we will sample the charming, more affordable restaurants in nearby Gex. The beauty of staying at Jiva Hill is that if you fancy a day off the slopes you are spoilt for choice; the hotel has a nine-hole golf course, two tennis courts, even a man-made lake for water skiing and wakeboarding (in summer). Off-site, you can go dog sledding nearby or – for a real adrenaline-kick – ride a luge. I loved sledding as a kid, but a proper racingstyle sled, down a proper man-made chute? That is something else. The luge track is located at the Col de la Faucille mountain pass, a short drive from Jiva Hill. We climb into the sledge, Christian in the driver’s seat (it has levers to control the speed). It slowly chugs up to the top of the track and I feel my hands
start to sweat. Turns out it goes rather high. Three, two, one and we are off, speeding full pelt 1,365m to the bottom, twists and turns and screams all the way. And I thought skiing steeps got the pulse racing. Best of all, we are the only ones there, so we go back up again, and a third time. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. That night, we catch a taxi to Gex and up, via the historic mountain pass road towards Paris and Dijon, to Le Refuge de Florimont. It’s a laid-back, traditionally decorated restaurant that is popular with European royalty (evident from the photographs that line the wall) who come here to pay homage to its proprietor, a famous mountain guide, and to dine on traditional mountain classics such as tartiflette, raclette and fondue. We opt for the
wshoeing experience costs SNOWSHOEING ... A half-day guided sno ; monts-jura-rando.fr). from €13.90 per person (+33 674 677 994 4 OTHER PLACES TO SKI THIS WINTER
FOR FAMILIES ... Val d’Isère in France ticks all the family-friendly boxes: a charming town, which is easily explored on foot; 300km of pistes that cater for all levels and are easily accessed from your hotel/apartment, great après-ski, including a cinema, ice-skating rink and new sports centre.
Book it Crystal Ski (01 433 1010; crystalski.ie) offers seven nights’ selfcatering in a two-bed apartment at the Jardins & Les Verdets Apartments from €887 per adult, €336 per child (second child free), including flights from Dublin to Geneva and transfers, from January 12 2013. FOR GROUPS ... Groups looking for a goodvalue, lively ski holiday couldn’t coul do any better than Arinsal in Andorra. Andorr With its link to neighbouring Pal, the ski area boasts 65km of snow-reliable snow pistes. In town, Arinsal has dozens of bars, most of which double as eateries, ideal for selfcatering ca groups. There are also lots of après-ski activities to keep groups gr amused. Book Bo it Direct Ski (1890 201 205; 20 directski.com) offers seven nights’ ni self-catering at the Daina Apartments Ap (sleeping up to six) from fr €443pp, including flights from Dublin Du to Toulouse and transfers.
FOR OFF-PISTE HOUNDS ... If you’re looking for powder stashes and endless off-piste terrain to play on, Davos in Switzerland is your resort. The options are huge, from short routes off the back of the Jakobshorn and Rinerhorn to all-day ski circuits to Arosa and Lenzerheide. Book it ActivityBreaks.com (048 9094 1671; activitybreaks.com) offers four nights’ B&B at Hotel Schatzalp from €450pp, including a free ski pass. Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to Zurich daily. FOR TRADITION ... The picturesque Tyrolean village of Soll is one of the most atmospheric in Austria, set around a splendid onion-domed church, with a friendly village atmosphere. Its slopes also boast Austria’s biggest snowmaking installation – so you can expect great onpiste conditions whatever the weather. Book it Topflight (01 240 1700; topflight. ie) offers seven nights on a half board basis at the three star Hotel Modlinger from €789pp, including flights from Dublin.