Skiing in Europe: Garmisch: Better than ever
Even if the snow gods decide to skimp on the powder this winter, there’s some good news for skiers planning to hit the slopes in Garmisch, Germany.
With the International Ski Federation’s Alpine World Ski Championships headed to town in 2011, town officials have been hard at work on numerous upgrades, including increased capacity to churn out the artificial stuff in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
"This winter is going to be a very special one," says Garmisch-Partenkirchen Mayor Thomas Schmid. "By launching the operation of our five slopes prepared by snow machines in December 2008, we not only accommodate the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships but also boost our tourist attraction."
Indeed, the valley runs can be fully snowpacked by machines within 70 hours, according to local officials.
And at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, which serves Department of Defense personnel and their guests, there’s easy access to those slopes. Resort officials say they are gearing up for what is expected to be a busy season.
"Last year was phenomenal, mostly because of the snow situation. It was much better than the year before. And this year we’re feeling good," said Leigh Plowman, recreation director at Edelweiss.
The Armed Forces Recreation Center complex starts its ski season on Thanksgiving weekend. The resort is offering its usual array of package deals for lessons and equipment, and the bookings are already starting to pour in, Plowman said.
"We’ve already got 400 more bookings than we had last year at this time," said Plowman, a month before the season started. "Christmas is already starting to book up."
As a result of the Garmisch upgrades, Edelweiss now has an additional run that funnels riders directly down to its lodge. "You can ski right down," said Plowman, noting that the lodge now has two such runs.
Situated next to Hausberg Sports Lodge, where Edelweiss customers store and change into their gear, is the supersized Hausbergbahn lift, which is in its third season of operation. The improved lift has helped to speed things up.
"There’s rarely any kind of line. It moves fast," Plowman said.
The lodge also has its own slope for beginners. While older novices graduate to steeper trails during the course of the week, youngsters are able to spend all their time within the resort’s friendly confines.
"They ski right out of our lodge," Plowman said. "They can go out for an hour and come back in and rest or come in for lunch and go back out. It makes it really convenient."
The resort’s staff of English-speaking instructors is trained to provide classes for all levels, ranging from beginner to expert.
Among the popular package deals are Edelweiss’ ski weeks, which include five days of professional instruction, transportation to and from the ski area and lift passes. Ski and snowboard rental equipment, including clothing, also are provided — all for $399 for adults, $309 for youth and kids. The first ski week is Dec. 15-19.
But there also are shorter packages for customers looking to spend a little less time or money on the trails. A one-day package, for instance, costs $99 and includes lessons and equipment.
"You can basically come in your skivvies and get everything you need right here. Though you might be a little cold getting here," Plowman said. "The prices are good and you pay in dollars."
Other ski deals and prices:
Just for Kids: five days $309; four days $254; one day $85.Daily lessons (two hours): group (six-12 people) $40; semi-private (two-five people) $50; private (one person) $90.Four-Day Holiday Programs: adults $329, youth $254, kids $254.Two-Day Holiday Programs: adult $179, youth $145, kids $145.The lodge also offers a regular schedule of tours and massage therapy.
For more information about ski deals and other services, visit www.edelweisslodgeandresort.com, or call 08821-9440.