I recently had a one-week ski holiday in the Italian Dolomites. We stayed in Selva Gardena in the Chalet Wiesenheim which is run by Esprit Ski. We chose Esprit ski as they are a child care specialist and we were taking our 18-month-old son with us. There’s got to be plenty of families in the same position: Former die-hard skiiers now with children in tow.
As he is too young to ski (according to my wife) he spent the week having fun in the creche which is also reviewed here.
Review Chalet Wiesenheim
When our transfer arrived in Selva Val Gardena, all the bags were loaded onto a mini bus by the Esprit Ski staff to take up a short but steep hill to the Chalet Wiesenheim. It took us about 5 minutes to walk up and we were welcomed to the chalet with cake and drinks.
Our apartment for 4 adults and 1 infant consisted of 2 very large bedrooms and a decent-sized living room/kitchen – a nice bonus for a catered chalet. All the decor was modern and fairly new with very comfy beds! There was more than enough storage space for all our ski gear and I rate it as one of the nicest ski apartments I have stayed in.
Chalet Wiesenheim is a catered chalet including a buffet breakfast, high tea and a 3-course dinner with all you can drink wine. On the whole I thought the food was excellent, although I would have preferred a bit more selection at breakfast – there is only so much porridge and boiled eggs I can handle!
Each evening the in-house chef cooked up a sumptuous 3-course feast, catering well for the vegetarian and fussy eater in our group. Even after our chef picked up a serious ski injury and was sent home the food quality was maintained by the rest of the chalet staff until a replacement chef arrived.
The Esprit Ski staff went above and beyond what I would expect. There was always someone available to answer questions and offer advice. Esprit Ski ran a daily shuttle service to and from the slopes; on the first day when the driver found out one of our group was not confident starting on a red run he went out of his way to take us to an area with easy blue runs.
Ski Holiday in the Dolomites
Selva Val Gardena is not exactly a household name, and although I knew the Dolomite mountain range had ski resorts, I was not prepared for how vast an area it is. The Dolomiti Superski area boasts over 1200 km of pistes, connecting 12 different areas.
Normally I get the hang of resorts very quickly, but here I struggled. This was because on the piste map the runs were numbered but on the slope runs were named… there was a key on the piste map but the signage randomly swapped between 3 different languages (German, Italian and Dolomiten) which took us a few days to realise!
The ski area is so big that this really is one of those resorts where you could never ski the same run twice! There are many different areas to explore that are resorts in their own right, including the Val Gardina, Cortina, Alta Badia, Marmolada and Arabba. There are gems such as the Olympic black run, Hidden Valley and the James Bond run, yet the jewel in its crown is the Sella Ronda circuit.
The Sella Ronda is a 40km-long circular route which is the longest ski circuit in the world – although the ski distance is only 26km. We set off at about 9:30 and were finished 1:30 and that included doing a couple of runs twice as they were a lot of fun.
I would recommend that anyone who visits does the circuit in their first couple of days as it gives you a good feel for the area. Advanced skiers will not find it a problem to get around in a day, however intermediates may struggle.
The only draw back of skiing in Selva Val Gardena is a lack of blue runs into the town. This meant starting off each day on red runs which all started off at their steepest. This is not a problem if you are a confident skier but caused problems for the least experienced in our group.
Esprit Ski holiday review: Conclusions
Would I stay in the Chalet Wiesenheim again?
Probably. The only reason this is not a definite is that it is not ‘Ski-in Ski-out’. The daily transfers were very good, but if you have people in your group that do not do full days, then there is a pricey taxi or a 10-15 min walk back to the chalet – which in ski boots is not ideal.
Would I visit Selva Gardena again?
Probably, but definitely the Dolomite Superski area! The lack of blue runs into town means it is not great for beginners. However, I would love to visit the Dolomite Superski area again as it’s a huge site perfect for those that like to ski different runs all the time.
Would I go skiing with Esprit Ski again?
Most definitely! I would say they are my favourite operator I have skied with – mainly due to the attentiveness of the chalet staff. They were always smiling, were very helpful and the childcare was amazing.