On Site at MLTU: Selling Skiing in Europe

As much as we hate to see summer go, ski season is fast approaching and with that comes a slew of exciting new announcements. Travel Agent is on location this week at MLTUniversity in Minneapolis. Here’s the latest that sister company Delta Vacations has to offer in the ski sector.

This year MLT reports that it is really seeing the demand for winter vacations in Europe growing. Europe is a wonderful winter destination for skiers because it is so easy to add a pre- or post-ski vacation onto any itinerary. Travelers can tack on Milan, Paris, Venice and many other cities making winter a great winter getaway for those who do more than just ski.

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In Europe there is a ski resort for every budget, interest and ability. The key is to qualify your client to find out what is most important for them. Reasons people book ski resorts vary. Ask your client if he or she is most interested in a resort being family-friendly, or near exciting nightlife, or in a certain price range, on expert terrain or if it is luxury. 

There are two types of ski resorts in Europe. The first is purpose-built, and the second is one that is built around a historic destination. The advantage to a purpose-built ski resort is that they are usually built at higher elevations, which means skiers will have access to better snow conditions. Another advantage is because it is purpose-built, the lodging tends to be easily accessible to the slopes, meaning more ski-in, ski-out facilities. 

For ski resorts that were built around a historic village, the advantage is that travelers will have that Old World charm. For example, Bormio in Italy dates back 2,000 years. If clients are looking for that atmosphere, do not book a purpose-built ski resort because it will have more a contemporary vibe. 

Delta Vacations is adding a chunk of European ski resorts to its portfolio this year. If your travelers are interested in skiing Austria, fly them into Munich or Zurich. The new top resorts for families in Austria are in Lech and Kitzbuhel. Lech has family-friendly activities like a cable car ride to Oberlech. 

For nightlife, book travelers in St. Anton, Soelden and Kitzbuhel. St. Anton is home to the famous bars Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh (think tabletop dancing driven by ample amounts of beer and Jagermeister). 

Budget travelers will want to go Innsbruck, where the Olympia World Ski Pass covers nine different resorts.

Expert skiers will want to head to St. Anton, which has the steepest slopes. And for luxury? Look into Kitzbuhel, which is home to the five-star Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol and the five-star Grand Tirolia Resort

The Swiss Alps are among the most famous ski slopes in the world. If travelers are looking to ski Switzerland, here is what they need to know from Delta Vacations. Fly into Zurich or Geneva. Delta Vacations will book travelers via Swiss rail to their resort. The top Swiss resorts for families are in the Jungfrau Region, like Grindelwald and Wengen. Check out the Hotel Belvedere in Grindelwald, which has a large game room with table tennis, table soccer, Nintendo and a play area for younger children. Zermatt is also a top family destination.

Partiers looking for nightlife will want to stay in Verbier, Zermatt or St. Moritz. Budget ski resorts can be found in the Jungfrau Region in destinations such as Interlaken. Engleberg is also great for budget accommodations. Expert skiers can book Verbier, Zermatt or Engleberg. Good to know: Verbier has four connected ski valleys, 100 lifts and 400 km of skiable runs. The luxury traveler will want to go to St. Moritz, Zermatt, Gstaad or Andermatt. Top resorts to look into are the five-star Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz, the five-star Grand Hotel Park in Gstaad, the give-star Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in Zermatt and the five-star Chedi Hotel in Andermatt. 

Over in France the skiing is on par with Switzerland. Fly clients into Geneva or Lyon. With Delta Vacations, airport transfers are arranged by scheduled bus, private transfer or semi-private transfer. 

The top French resorts for families can be found in Courcheval and Val Thorens. Nightlife-seekers will want to head to Courchevel and Chamonix, where there is a casino. Budget accommodations are in Chamonix and Brides les Bains. Good to know: Brides les Bains is a quaint spa town with inexpensive hotels. There is a 25-minute gondola ride to the Meribel ski area in Les Trois Vallees. 

Finally Italy is another key destination for slope-seeking jet setters. Gateways are Milan, Venice, Geneva and Turin. Through Delta Vacations, travelers typically schedule private transfers, but some destinations also have scheduled shared shuttles. Italy is a great destination for combining a ski vacation with a pre- or post-city extension. For example, Bormio, Livigno and Madisimo are very close to Lake Como. 

Top Italian resorts for families are in Bormio and Cortina. All Italian resorts cater to families because family is centric to Italian culture. Extended families regularly travel together. Top picks include Cortina and Bormio. A vacation in Cortina can also be combined with a view days in Venice.

For nightlife, visit Courmayeur. The Bar Roma in Courmayeur made On The Snow’s list of top 10 best apres-ski bars in the Alps. Courmayeur and Bormio are also top for budget travelers. Bormio is known for its thermal baths as much as its skiing, with three hot springs and wiliness centers - Bormio Terme, Bagni Vecchi and Bagni Nuovi. The last two have hotels attached to them that are included in the Delta Vacations program. Tow of the area hotels that offer great pricing are the three-star Hotel Larice Bianco and the four-star Palace Hotel.

Experts on the slopes will feel at home in Courmayeur and Cervinia. Courmayeur, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, is considered to be one of the top Italian ski resort destinations. It is also a favorite for snowboarders looking for a nightlife scene. Cervinia on the Italian side of the Matterhorn, and connected to Zermatt, has miles and miles of runs. 

A-listers looking for five-star travel will love Cortina, Madonna di Campiglio and Val Gardena. Top properties include Cortina’s five-star Cristallo Palace Hotel & Spa, Madonna di Campiglio’s five-star Alpen Suite Hotel and Courmayeur’s four-star boutique hotel Romantik Hotel Novocento.

For more information visit www.mltvacations.com.

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