Cross Country:78km of trails, mainly in Fiames area.
Hotel - Bed & Breakfast
9 December 2017 (7 nights)
7 nights | Guide prices per person
This traditionally historic hotel in central Cortina is just a few steps from the bell tower and within an easy distance of the lifts. It's charm and typically Italian style are prominent throughout and as a family run property, you'd be hard pushed to find a more local feel. Most of the rooms at the Ambra Cortina also enjoys wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, making it an ideal base from which to experience Cortina.
Rooms are decorated with antique furnishings and paintings, with most offering views over the Dolomites. Included: telephone, satellite TV, minibar, hairdryer and safe. All rooms also have bathroom with bathtub and most have beds with goose down pillows. There are interconnecting rooms if required.
Cortina is one of the most stylish and glamorous resorts in the world.
Cortina d'Ampezzo is the Queen of the Dolomites and easily Italy’s most glamorous and fashionable ski resort. Except that it is not really a ski resort as we know them. Rather it is an attractive, sprawling small town located at an altitude of 1,220m, surrounded by impressive peaks and about half a dozen more or less separate ski areas. (The local scenery featured in the film Cliffhanger and the Warren Miller ski movie Vertical Reality.) Much favoured by rich weekend visitors from Rome and Milan, many of whom have second homes here, this is a stylish and fashion-conscious destination that is Italy's answer to St Moritz, Courchevel 1850 and Aspen. It may not have quite the same range and quality of ski terrain as its international competitors, but it has a stylish ambience that none of them can match.
Unlike many of the resorts in the Dolomites, there is nothing remotely Germanic about Cortina (although it was just part of the Austro-Hungarian empire before the Great War) – this is a gloriously and uncompromisingly Italian destination. You see far more fur coats than ski suits in the Corso Italia, Cortina’s main street, which is at its most packed and exciting during the early evening Passeggiata around seven o’clock. You may have to struggle to find a ski shop, but there are plenty of boutiques selling designer clothes and yet more fur coats.
There are no official figures, but I would guess that fewer than a half – and perhaps as few as a quarter – of Cortina’s winter visitors actually ski. This is a place where skiers, boarders and non-skiers coexist happily. Many non-skiers actually make use of the ski-lifts to access some of the area’s excellent mountain restaurants, where they pass the day happily eating, drinking and sunbathing and having a lunchtime visitation from their skiing friends.
Food and drink play an equally important part in Cortina’s splendid nightlife. There are some wonderful little wine-bars for aperitivi, masses of good restaurants (including Michelin-starred ones) and several lively nightclubs and discos that keep going until nearly dawn in peak season and at weekends.
Most chalet holidays and hotel holidays packaged by operators other than ourselves include in the price return charter flights and coach transfers to the resort. Many regional departure airports are also available. Please enquire for details. Additionally, many tour operators offer the option of rail travel to French resorts either by daytime or overnight Eurostar or overnight Snowtrain.
For clients travelling on tailor-made holidays with Ski Solutions A La Carte we are able to offer a wide range of scheduled flights from a variety of UK airports to suit personal preferences with such carriers as:
Swiss for Geneva or Zurich British Airways for Lyons, Geneva, Zurich, Salzburg, Turin or Venice There are several low-cost carriers which have widened the choice of departure points and destinations in particular from Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh which we are happy to book on your behalf as well as other scheduled airlines.
Easyjet for Geneva, Basle, Zurich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Lyons, Grenoble, Turin, Milan or Venice Ryanair for Salzburg, Friedrichschafen, Basle, Grenoble or Turin as well as Globespan , bmibaby and Flybe.
Onward transfers to resorts are by hire car, taxi, train (Switzerland and Austria) or scheduled bus service as appropriate. For French resorts we are able to offer the popular daytime Eurostar service which runs weekly on Saturdays.
|Lower Depth:||10 cm||Piste Conditions:||Good skiing on firmly packed runs|
|Upper Depth:||25 cm||Runs to Resort:||Packed powder|
|Fresh snow depth:||10 cm||Off-Piste:||Limited|
|Best Snowfall week||24-Nov-2014||25-Apr-2016||16-Jan-2017 (8%)|
|Best Base week||09-Feb-2015||14-Mar-2016||16-Jan-2017 (8%)|
Cross Country:78km of trails, mainly in Fiames area.
Very good overall, but rather spread out and fragmented with perhaps too many low and/or south-facing slopes.
Cortinas skiing is actually more impressive than the resorts reputation might lead one to expect, with lifts taking you up close to 3,000m in several places. But it's somewhat fragmented. Although there are shuttle buses, the service is somewhat limited and irregular so in theory a car is undoubtedly a great asset if you want to explore this region as efficiently as possible. You may well want to ski one area in the morning and another quite different one in the afternoon. However parking at the base of most of the ski areas is limited. Furthermore, a car can be something of a liability in Cortina in the evenings and you need to make sure in advance that you have somewhere to garage/park it. Some skiers have come to the conclusion that the best way to get around this region is to use the shuttle buses whenever possible (especially at the beginning of the day), but to resign oneself to spending money on taxis from time to time. (Find a friendly taxi driver and keep his or her card so that you can call them in advance on your mobile to avoid having to wait.)
(The Dolomites as a whole and Cortina in particular have a slightly erratic natural snow record and as a result the authorities have undertaken a massive investment in snow-making equipment. It is now claimed that 95% of the ski area, and all runs below 2,300m have snow-making - and the quality is often even better than that achieved in the USA.
The slopes of Faloria are accessed from close to the centre of town via a two-stage cable car decked out, in typically Cortinese style, with the livery of Paul & Shark, the Italian designer knitwear company. This south-facing area comprises mainly broad cruising pistes, best suited to intermediates. You can also ski across to Rio Gere (1,680m), which is the base of the Forcella Staunies/Cristallo sector. The first section of this is now served by a high-speed quad chairlift which runs up to Son Forca (2,215m). The final lift up to 2,930m accesses a steep black-rated couloir at the top of the run, but this is sometimes closed for safety reasons, when skiers can alight at a mid-station. The other runs in this area are mostly reds, but the neighbouring Mietres area, has lots of blue runs suitable for beginners and early intermediates.
The largest of Cortinas ski areas is Socrepes, which also links with Tofana. The slopes here can be accessed by a variety of lifts departing from different points on the road above the resort. There are lots of appealing red and blue runs, with the lifts running up to 2,340m at Pomedes on the Socrepes side and 2,830m at Ra Valles on the Tofana side. (Although there has been heavy investment in snow-making equipment in the Cortina area in recent years, the link between Tofana and Socrepes can still occasionally be subject to closure because of lack of snow.)
On the road up to Passo Falzarego lies the Cinque Torri area. This rises up to about 2,500m and has some very appealing north-facing slopes. The first lift is now a high-speed modern quad chairlift, which has turned Cinque Torri into an area that can now sometimes be skied out more quickly.
From Passo Falzarego (2,150m), a pylonless cable car runs steeply up to Lagazuoi (2,750m), giving en route fascinating glimpses of the tunnels in which ammunition was stored in the last war. Although you can ski back down the front face back to the base of the cable car, Lagazuoi is best-known as the starting point for the famous long Armentarola run. Scenically speaking, this must be one of the finest in the world, with the huge distinctive peaks of the Dolomites towering above you on both sides of this broad wilderness valley. From a skiing point of view, it can be accomplished by any good intermediate or above the steepest pitch on the whole run is the first. From Armentarola you can either take a taxi shuttle bus back up to Passo Falzarego the journey back up makes you realise just how far you have skied or venture into the Sella Ronda area, which is also covered by the Superski Dolomiti lift pass. In truth, Cortina is not the best base from which to explore the large but imperfectly linked Sella Ronda, but those with a car at their disposal will be better placed to penetrate it than others.
A new scheme to help people explore the Cortina region is based around the First World War battles that were fought by tens of thousands of Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops in the mountains around Cortina dAmpezzo. A day-long itinerary, visiting the most important sites of these battles, has been devised taking in skiing/boarding, ski lifts, cable cars, buses and even a horse-drawn sector. There is a special leaflet available in the resort and note that you need to make an early start to complete it all in a day.
Far from ideal
Although you do find snowboarders in Murren, this is a very traditional resort where two skis still reign supreme. Snowboarders will be irritated by the presence of old-fashioned T-bar drag lifts and will be unlikely to be very impressed by Murrens apres-ski scene.
Some of the best in the Alps
Lunch is taken seriously in Cortina dAmpezzo and the resort has a fine selection of mountain restaurants probably the best in the world after Zermatt. The Rifuigio Pomedes and the Rifugio Duca dAosta are both excellent establishments on the Pomedes/Tofana sector. They both have huge sun terraces, but are equally attractive as cosy places in which to hole up inside on a stormy day. Service is formal but friendly and, incidentally, the Pomedes seems to be the preferred hangout of Cortinas substantial force of skiing policemen. Lower down in this sector, the Baita Pie Tofana is cosy establishment in the forest with an attractive sun terrace.
In the middle of the Armentarola run lies the splendid Rifugio Scotoni Hutte. This place is an amazing sun-trap with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. A tiny chalet beside the main building serves wonderful char-grilled sausages. At the top of the Cinque Torri area lies the remarkable Rifugio Averau the restaurant at the edge of the universe. You used to have to walk a few minutes uphill from the top of the chairlift to reach this place, but there is now a rope tow to haul you up the last few metres. The south-facing terrace has phenomenal panoramic views and the food and service are both exceptionally good try the smoked roast beef with rocket and a balsamic vinegar dressing or any of the pasta dishes. Exceptionally for Italy, the interior of this restaurant is a no-smoking zone. Advance reservations are recommended at this and indeed most of Cortinas mountain eating places.
Just the one, but standards are good.
Murren has a small but competent branch of the Swiss Ski School. There are plenty of young, enthusiastic instructors and English is widely and well spoken.
There are some playgrounds and adventure parks available for your children. Be sure to make a reservation before your arrival at the resort.
Some Recommended Kindergartens:
Adrenaline Park and Junior Park
Obstacle courses of varying lengths and levels of difficulty set in 3000 square meters of larch forest.
+39 0436 881811
+39 0436 867333
Playground and sun terrace. Open daily from 10.00 to 18.00
Playground Col Tondo
+39 0436 3244
Slides and inflatable toys.
Covers Wengen, Murren, and Grindelvald, trains betweem them and Grindelwald ski-bus, day pass price is for Murren-Schilthorn area only.
6 day lift passes: -Under 16: SF154 -16 to 19: SF246 -20 to 61: SF308 -Over 62: SF 277
A wide choice in all price brackets
Most of the best restaurants in Cortina lie outside the main town. The Michelin-starred Tivoli is the best place in the region and has a very talented young chef. El Toula is a three-storey barn-like building with a great atmosphere, but it seems to rely on this rather than the quality of the food or service to attract customers. On my last visit entertainment was provided by a musician who attempted to play the piano, sing and chew gum simultaneously the results were not impressive.
Leone e Anna is a friendly rustic restaurant which specialises in Sardinian food and wine. It is very popular with the villa owners who come up to Cortina from the cities for weekend breaks. (Alessandro Benetton is but one of the famous names who have villas here.)
For more basic Italian fare of pasta and pizzas, there is an excellent choice of good value establishments dotted around the centre of the resort. For fast and incredibly efficient service it is hard to beat the Croda Caffe, a large bustling restaurant where they turn over the tables very quickly, partly thanks to a sophisticated electronic ordering system.and partly thanks to waiters who simply run around the floor. Cinque Torri has a good, friendly atmosphere and is recommended, as are Al Passetto and Il Ponte.
More lively than you might expect
Much of the apres-ski life in Murren takes place in hotels. The liveliest bar is certainly the Tachi Bar of the Hotel Eiger (which has had a stylish make-over), but the Balloon Bar of the Palace Hotel is a good place for an aperitif, although the service can be lousy at times (Closed for renovations - Winter 09/10). The Stagerstubli Cafe is the place to stop off for a beer with the locals. This used to be one big fug-up but now there is a no-smoking zone. Later at night the locals are to be found drinking and dancing in the Bliemlichaller and there is usually a lively disco back at the Tachi Bar. The Inferno, beneath the Palace Hotel is a surprisingly modern disco, but it is only open for business during the second half of the week. At the foot of the slopes there is sometimes an igloo bar outside the Jungfrau hotel.