Fancy seeing the beauty of the Alps in winter, but put off by the crowds at the big resorts? If so, Italy’s Champoluc may be for you. It’s got great pistes for all abilities in a much quieter, less well-known region. Read on to learn more about this secluded wonder, and for some tips on how to get winter sports insurance before you go.
Part of the large Monterosa ski area, billed as Italy’s answer to France’s famous Three Valleys, Champoluc is perhaps the most underrated resort in the Alps. It’s got 180km of pistes, although staff are currently reviewing this and looking to expand. The town is 1,560m high and still feels like an authentic, old-time village. The top lift goes to a staggering 3,250m high, giving a large vertical area to explore. What’s more, its relative seclusion means there are few big apartment blocks or commercial chalets. If you want to feel like you’re staying in a mountain village, Champoluc is for you.
Champoluc is something of a bridesmaid when it comes to ski resorts – it’s always on the verge, forever ‘the next big thing’, but never the main attraction. This means that its piste network is still relatively undeveloped. There’s none of the unlimited, linked-up skiing you might find in the bigger resorts. Still, a combination of snow cannons and expert piste grooming ensure that the area is usable all season.
Advanced skiers are well-served by both a good number of challenging reds and blacks and some great off-piste options. There’s also a lot here for intermediates, though those closer to the ‘beginner’ end of the spectrum will find themselves spending much more time around Champoluc, while the more experienced winter sports enthusiasts are recommended to explore further afield. Still, there’s a lot of great runs in this area, and there are English-language ski schools available for absolute beginners.
On top of all this, Champoluc boasts a great reputation for heli-skiing, often regarded as one of the best resorts in the Alps for the sport. Just make sure you’re covered with a winter sports insurance policy before trying anything too adventurous!
As it’s in Italy, Champoluc has a truly excellent food scene. Far from the mass-market fare found elsewhere, it embraces Italian culture on and off the slopes. Gondola trips are available to secluded village restaurants, while almost every eatery in the area has a world-class wine list.
There are also options available for evening entertainment – though not the heavy, hard, dance-all-night clubbing you might find at other resorts. Rather, Monterosa focuses on laidback bars and cocktails. Places like the Hotel California offer live music fairly regularly, while quieter, off-the-beaten track bars sometimes erupt in impromptu acoustic guitar concerts from hardcore Scandinavian skiers. Other options include Lo Bistro, which offers occasional discos with free pizza, and the Crest beer bar.
Finally, souvenirs are on offer from a variety of craft shops. Try picking up a pair of traditional sabots – a local form of wooden clog. It’s a great gift to amuse your friends back home. Especially if they’re the type to wear wooden shoes out in public just to show you they appreciate your present.
Before you Go
After all this, you might be champing at the bit to book up your holiday and get out on the slopes. Be careful, though: even the most forgiving runs can be dangerous if you trip and fall, and overseas medical costs can be a real shock. Avoid this by sorting out your winter sports insurance before you leave. Do your research, compare rates and pick the policy that works for you. Then you can throw yourself down a mountain to your heart’s content.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family, annual and comprehensive insurance. If you’re looking for the best winter sports insurance to any destination worldwide, InsureMore has the best policies to suit. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.