For this years winter holiday we decided to try an Italian Dolomites snowboarding holiday and booked a weeks holiday with Esprit ski staying in Selva Val Gardena. Selva Val Gardena is part of the Dolomite Superski area encompassing 12 ski areas and a vast 1200km of runs.
The Dolomite mountains are located in North Eastern Italy close to the boarder with Austria. The highest point is 3343m as Marmolada. They look very different to the Alps with steeper more jagged peaks and wider flatter valleys.
I consider myself an expert snowboarder and like to ride all mountain. I enjoy some time in the park, I love going fast but also like to slow it down to try tricks. But if there is fresh snow I will barely touch the piste.
The rest of the group consisted of an advanced snowboarder, and 2 intermediate skiiers so plenty of time would be spent riding slowly with them. The 5th member of our group was our 18 month son who would be entertaining the Esprit Ski nursery staff for the week.
The fundamentals of our Italian Dolomites snowboarding holiday
The coach transfer from Innsbruck took about an hour and a half and dropped us a 5 min walk away from the Chalet Wiesenheim which would be our home for the week. Our luggage was loaded onto a mini bus and ferried up to the chalet by the Esprit Ski staff to save us the short but uphill walk with bags.
Check in was painless, we were just told what apartment was ours and headed upstairs to be pleasantly surprised by the size and quality of our rooms. There was ample storage throughout and more than enough room for a cot at the end of our bed for the little man.
It was a catered chalet providing a buffet breakfast, high tea and 3 course dinner with unlimited wine. The food was very good, the chalet staff were amazingly helpful and they always went the extra mile to make you happy.
With the fundamentals of our Italian Dolomites snowboarding holiday covered so well by Esprit Ski all that remains to be reviewed is….
…the snowboarding in the Italian Dolomites
The week was predominantly spent riding under sunny blue skies admiring the incredible views. Unfortunately this meant no fresh snow but the pistes were in great condition and are very well maintained.
I was very impressed by the size of the area which to be honest we barely touched. But if you like to ride different runs all the time you could pick a different area each day and never ride the same piste twice.
There are famous runs such as Hidden Valley, the Olympic downhill and the James Bond run. However the region is most famous for the Sella Rhonda Circuit which at 26km (40km including lifts) is the longest ski circuit in the world. I recommend doing this early in your week as it gives you a great feel for the area.
There are an incredible 24 snow parks to be found in the Dolomite Superski area including a few boarder cross courses and halfpipes. Jumps in the parks range from blues for those just beginning to get air to black jumps the size of houses.
There was a great range of boxes and rails for all abilities. Plus some unique obstacles such as a car to jump and what I can only describe as a cross between a loop-the-loop and a helter skelter. The parks were never very busy although if you wait for normal dropping in etiquette people will push in – after all it is Italy!
On the downside the piste maps and sign posts are not very good. This is because 3 languages are spoken in the region and signs vary between them. The piste map covers such a large area that it is labelled with numbers which are not used on sign posts. There is a key but it is not in numerical order and only shows names in Italian where as the signs were also in German and Dolomiten.
Despite often not knowing where we were on the piste map we never got properly lost although I did take my wife who is an intermediate skiier on a knarly black run when I had promised a blue…..
Would I go on an Italian Dolomites snowboarding holiday again?
It was not my first time snowboarding in Italy but it was my first time in the Dolomites. As with other resorts in Italy they are considerably cheaper than France for food and drink. I asked a local about this and he told me if the prices went up the locals would rebel.
The riding in the Dolomite Superski area is very good and snowboarders are well catered for with all the parks. There is more than enough to keep any snowboarder happy and I am sure if there was fresh snow the off piste would be epic.
I was very impressed with Esprit Ski and would look at them again next year as they provide a very personal and friendly service and the child care is very good. I would also love to go back on an Italian Dolomites snowboarding holiday again. After all there are a lot more mountains that need riding in the Dolomite Superski area.