It’s always nice to get in some slope time in before Christmas. This year I was lucky to head out on an early December snowboarding holiday in Tignes to review Skadi ski app. Skadi combines ski sat nav, personal ski safaris, tracking, stats, an interactive game and other useful features.
The plan was simple. Spend two nights staying at the Aiguille Percee chalet hotel with Mark Warner in Tignes Le Lac. To review the Skadi ski app we would snowboard for two days around Espace Killy testing the various Skadi features.
Getting to Tignes
We were flying Swiss Air out of Heathrow Airport on an early flight. Which meant either travelling up the night before and trying to sleep in the airport, paying a fortune and cutting it fine on the early morning trains – and relying on Southern Rail – or booking a nights accommodation in an airport hotel.
I have tried all of the above at different times, but for this trip I was offered a complimentary night at the Holiday Inn at London Heathrow. It is located at Junction 4 of the M4 so just a 10 minute drive from the airport.
As airport hotels go it is exceptionally nice. My room was large, well decorated with a very comfy bed and great bathroom. On arrival I had a couple of beers and some tasty food – I can recommend the salt and pepper squid and the burgers.
I still had to get up early, but getting out of bed at 6am is preferable to leaving the house at 4:30am and hoping for no train problems. I even had time for a full English before jumping on the airport transfer to Heathrow. I started the day feeling relaxed and fresh, well rested and well fed.
Swiss Air are great as they don’t charge extra for a snowboard bag, from past experience I have found they are quite relaxed about weight limits. They also still include drinks and food on the flight which is a nice touch. We arrived at Geneva Airport on time and met up with CoolBus for our eco-friendly airport transfer in a Tesla Model X.
CoolBus have been offering carbon-emission-free transfers for a year now and recently won the Travel Innovation category at the Telegraph Word Snow Awards. It was my first time in an electric car and I was amazed at how quiet the Tesla is – you don’t even know when the engine is on.
The Tesla Model X is powerful with great traction and 4WD, so is well suited to driving the mountain roads up to a ski resort. The only downside is the boot space is not suited to ski or snowboard bags. Fortunately, as we were part of a big group our luggage and half the team to review Skadi ski app were following behind in a minibus.
Aiguille Percee chalet hotel by Mark Warner
We arrived in Tignes Le Lac at around 3pm. We could probably have hit the slopes for a run or two but it would have been a huge rush. Instead I watched the sun go down from my room which had an excellent view across the lake to the mountains above Tignes.
My room was very nice, with three single beds and plenty of room, although it would be a bit cramped with it’s full occupancy. The only downside was a very small toilet, one of those where you can’t open the door without almost having to climb 0n the loo.
The bed was comfortable the room nicely decorated and a it had a big TV that I didn’t use. The bathroom was slightly dated, but had a very powerful shower and a bath which is always nice.
The spa area in the hotel is well worth using. There is a small pool, sauna, steam room and ice bucket – all of which helped relieve to of the first-day-of-the-season aches and pains.
The first night we enjoyed a very nice three course meal and plenty of wine at the Aiguille Percee. The Mark Warner staff were very friendly, for a few of them this was the start of their first ski season, but it still felt like a well oiled operation.
Breakfast was a typical chalet affair with a combination of hot and cold options. It was not the most inspiring breakfast, but it was filling so it did the job. Personally I’d have liked a better selection of fruit and cereals – but the hot option of bacon, scrambled eggs and beans was good.
Overall the Aiguille Percee chalet hotel by Mark Warner has a warm and friendly feel to it. The onsite bar was lively enough that I got fairly drunk, but not so lively that it impacted me getting to bed. The food was good – particularly dinner – and the staff were helpful and enthusiastic.
Review Skadi ski app
Much as the transfers and accommodation were lovely this December snowboarding holiday in Tignes was to review Skadi ski app. Skadi is a GPS app for both Apple and Android phones that is designed to enhance your time in the mountains.
Once the app, and the map for your current resort, has been downloaded Skadi does not use any data to run. So you don’t have to worry about racking up a huge bill as you ski.
As we found on this December snowboarding holiday in Tignes, Skadi works in a few ways:
Ski sat nav
Tell Skadi your ability, how long you want to ski for, and anywhere you need to be – eg a lunch booking – and Skadi creates a personalised ski safari. It will direct you around the slopes, helping you cover as much piste for your ability as possible.
It directs you with easy to follow instructions just like a car sat nav. To listen you can either use headphones, or whack the phone volume up and put it in your pocket. The idea is this will give you the freedom to concentrate on skiing and enjoy the scenery, rather than worrying about where you are and where you need to be.
Although I found I could hear Skadi without headphones, it was not really loud enough to guide me. This is partly because wearing a helmet blocks some sound, but also traveling at 50 kph there is a lot of wind and turning a snowboard on an icy piste is fairly noisy. But headphones quickly solved that problem.
Just like road based guidance, Skadi ski sat nav adapts as you travel. So I you miss a turn, decide ‘it looks nice down there’, or want to repeat a run Skadi just adjusts the ski safari accordingly.
Although you can use it to plot the quickest route to a destination, in the ski safari mode rather than getting you there quickly it instead makes best use of your slope time. So if you ski quickly, rather than arriving at that lunch booking an hour early, it will adapt and extend the skiing.
Skadi uses live data to tell which runs are open, which pistes will be busy and what lifts have queues, with the ultimate goal of helping you avoid crowds. Although this is only as strong as the data Skadi gets from the ski resorts – as we found in Tignes some runs were closed, but because this had not been updated online Skadi did not know.
Overall I found that the ski sat nav element works really well, and would be very useful in poor visibility. The app showing where you are on the piste is good, plus knowing how long it will take to get somewhere is very helpful, particularly when arranging to meet friends.
It was slightly tough for me to review Skadi ski app sat nav function on this December snowboarding holiday in Tignes, purely because I know Tignes quite well. But the ski sat nav functionality is not designed for people who already know their way around. It’s for those new to an area, or people who can’t get their bearings (yes Mark I mean you!).
In this Skadi does a great job navigating you around the mountain. I would imagine beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders would love it. Knowing you can stick to suitable pistes, avoid drag lifts and not get stuck on the wrong side of the mountain will make some people’s time on the mountain more enjoyable.
Just like many other ski apps Skadi tracks how fast you have gone, distance covered and vertical etc. It also shows an analysis the data to tell you what portion of easy, intermediate and expert runs you have covered. You can also look at the stats by run to analyse your performance.
These stats are all great fun, however as with any ski app they should not be taken as 100% accurate. In fact, four of us all snowboarded exactly the same slopes in Tignes and at the end of the day our total distance worryingly varied from 42 to 61 km.
I spoke to one of the developers of the app about this. He said how Skadi uses the GPS data is constantly being adapted and improved, because the GPS data needs interpreting rather than just displaying. More established ski apps provide more accurate info because they have had many years of data to help refine their algorithm.
I can’t review Skadi ski app without saying I was disappointed with the ski tracking. I don’t expect it to be 100% accurate, but when you have skied the same slopes all day to find out your friend went nearly 50% further then it’s clearly not accurate enough. But I have been assured that this will improve over time.
The final and most innovative element to Skadi is that is turns the entire mountain into a game. You can collect virtual crystals, meet mythical beasts and encounter wildlife all of which gives you points. And we all know what points mean? Prizes!
You can collect points and use them to buy food and drinks (50 points gets you a small beer), and to get discounts with selected partners. The Skadi goal is to have a few partners in every ski resort.
You build up points by passing close to where crystals are virtually located on the slopes. The various other things you collect help to enhance or reduce your score. On my first day, I was doing fairly well, I’d collected quite a few crystals and bonus scores from marmots. But then I encountered a Dwarf who took most of my crystals from me and I ended with 21.
To be honest, collecting crystals and trying to find Skadi power, or virtual marmots is not really my kind of thing. If there is a chance of free beer I would leave it running in my pocket to see if I collected enough, but I would not go out of my way to do so.
Review Skadi ski app: Ease of use
Skadi looks very good and is intuitive to use, with one exception – switching it on. At first most of my group were unsure whether Skadi was tracking or not. It is clear if you select the ski safari option, but without having that activated you can’t tell.
On my first day it worked fine, but on the second I didn’t realise it wasn’t tracking until lunch time. When you first open the app there is a big button that says ‘Start’, but this does not start the tracking, games or ski sat nav, it just loads up the resort. It’s a small thing but clearing this up would be a huge improvement to the app usability.
Beyond that it worked seamlessly. I really liked browsing the piste map, finding out the name of runs, lifts and points of interest. Being able to navigate to them and estimating how long you’ll take is also useful, as will be the find a friend functionality when it is added soon.
December snowboarding holiday in Tignes
Of course we were not only there to review skadi ski app we were also there to snowboard. Our early December snowboarding holiday in Tignes was from the 5th to 7th – just before it received a masses of snow from the 8th onwards. In some ways we felt a little unlucky, however conditions on-piste were excellent and we had two days of blue skies.
Off-piste snow cover was fairly thin, but I still got a few powder turns in up high where the snow from November was still in good condition. Along the edge of the pistes there was plenty of little hits to get air and try tricks. So despite us arriving between dumps we has a lot of fun.
Tignes is an excellent ski area. It is linked with Val d’Isere creating Espace Killy with 300 km of runs and loads of off-piste. Plus there are two big snowparks, a boardercross track and a full size half pipe. It is rightly one of the most popular ski areas for us Brits.
Reaching up to 3100m at Grande Motte Tignes offers guaranteed snow – you can even ski on the glacier in the summer. The runs down from the top are long, fun and in places motorway wide. Unfortunately, many of the glacier runs were closed on our visit, so be sure to check before you get the Funicular up as a round trip would take about an hour.
I thoroughly recommend a snowboarding holiday Tignes. It has great slopes for everyone from beginners to experts and freeriders to freestylers. If you want to know a little more about the Espace Killy slopes, then check my Tignes freeride snowboarding holiday review from a couple of years ago.
Tignes Le Lac off the slopes
It’s not just on the slope that Tignes delivers but also off it. With a Folie Douce located between Tignes and Val d’Isere there is an excellent piste-side party that begins from at around 2:30 each day.
We popped in for a drink and ended up in the VIP area drinking champagne. The place was banging, with a heaving crowd of revelers really going for it. If staying in Tignes be sure to leave by 4:15 at the Tommeuses chair lift back over the mountain closes at 4:30.
Being early December, Tignes Le Lac was not at its most lively. However, the Loop bar had a good vibe and a nice crowd of people dancing to some semi-famous DJs. We also had a lovely lunch there two days in a row – I recommend both the burgers and Nachos.
One evening we got a bit civilised and tried wine tasting at L’Embuscade, which is a nice bar in Tignes Le Lac. I don’t normally drink wine, but it was a very enjoyable and informative experience run by a fun, knowledgeable British lady who had studied wine at a French university.
Ultimately we had a great time on this early December snowboarding holiday in Tignes to review Skadi ski app. The ski area is excellent, the Mark Warner accommodation was really good and the food and drink was great.
Review Skadi ski app: Conclusions
It was a first to be discussing crystals, dwarfs and virtual marmots on chairlifts, but Skadi certainly made this trip different to most. I think my wife would love the ski sat nav offered by Skadi and my kids would enjoy the game.
As for me, I liked some features and can see Skadi being useful in certain situations – such as getting somewhere specific on time when you don’t know an area. But I felt Skadi’s tracking of speed and distance etc was not accurate enough to compete with other ski apps on that basis alone.
Using Skadi to avoid busy pistes and lift queues is great but it wasn’t busy enough to see it working, and finding friends will be useful when it’s added soon. If I was snowboarding on my own in a big ski area I did not know, then I might use the ski safari guiding, but most of the time I can glance at a map and find my own way.
The game element didn’t really grab me, but then I don’t think it’s trying to appeal to over 40 year old expert snowboarders. I find looking for a lip to do a trick, or finding some untouched powder more interesting than collecting crystals. Having said that, if I can win free beer while it runs unobtrusively in my pocket then I am all game!
To find out more about Skadi ski app go to: www.skadi.guide, to learn more about Tignes visit: www.tignes.net, and to book a stay at Aiguille Percee with Mark Warner (one week from £779 inc flights, food and transfers) then check out: www.markwarner.co.uk