By Nick Dalton
In years past, ski resorts in Eastern Europe might have been cheap because of poor lifts and food that was always running out (apart from the potatoes). But all that has changed – huge investment in hotels and lifts, and even the construction of whole new resorts, means they’re worth a visit – and still great value. The mountains are very different from the craggy Alps, the resorts are colourful in a mid-European way, the ski schools are proudly English-speaking, and transfers tend to be short.
'Poiana Brasov in the Transylvania region has child-friendly evening fun such as rustic barbecues, Romany music and sleigh-rides.'
You won’t find huge ski areas as in the French Alps, but they can be perfect if you like to potter about pleasant slopes, and if you want the kids to learn at a modest cost. There are very cheap lift-passes, and through tour operators you can get learner ski packs (lift pass, lessons, skis/boots) at a price way below what you’d find for the component parts elsewhere.
Skiing and Dracula – a perfect combination for ghoulish-minded but sporty kids! This is where the count is said to have lived, and children love the trip to his supposed home, spooky Bran Castle. The resort of Poiana Brasov in the Transylvania region has limited but pretty slopes that are perfect for youngsters to learn on. Of an evening, there’s child-friendly fun such as rustic barbecues, Romany music and sleigh-rides. The Sport Hotel & Spa, right by the nursery slopes, has a free children’s club for ages 3–7 afternoons and evenings five days a week. Note that the transfer time from Bucharest airport is not far short of three hours.
This country has entered the fray as an international ski haunt. The resort of Tatranska Lomnica in the High Tatras Mountains invested millions in adding pistes, including Slovakia’s longest run (6.5km), a chairlift, snow-making, a children’s ski school and slopes, rental facilities, night-skiing and bars. There are pretty runs through the trees and a good learning area. It's just a 20-minute drive from Poprad airport and has budget flights, so it’s easy to do it yourself with a hire car.
Just south of the border with Austria, and little more than an hour from Ljubljana airport, the pretty resort of Kranjska Gora, Slovenia’s biggest ski area, sits in the beautiful Julian Alps. Its hotels are right on the slopes, which are geared towards learners, though there’s a World Cup run for better skiers. Hotel Kompas has an indoor pool and children’s pool, a playroom, a games room and a free mini club for 4-12-year-olds.
On the edge of the historic town of Bansko in the south-west of Bulgaria, the fairly recently developed resort of the same name has a growing selection of smart hotels and apartments, almost all of them slope-side. Alternatively, Borovets is a popular modern resort with runs for all levels and some great ski schools.
Read more about family ski holidays.
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