Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Gran Baita Executive room with outside pool with jacuzzi. Photo: Gran Baita Hotel Courmayeur. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

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The Gran Baita Hotel is a four starts hotel, part of the Alpissima group of hotels in the Aosta Valley. It is located in Courmayeur, 15 minutes from the Armani funicular, 10 minutes from the Via Roma, the elegant pedestrianised shopping road in Courmayeur, and five minutes-drive with a free hotel transfer to the Dolonne gondola.

It is located in a quiet and elegant neighbourhood in Courmayeur, with amazing vistas of the Mont Blanc chain, and the characteristic Dent de Géant peak. I totally recommend it as a lovely hotel to go for your ski or summer holidays.

Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur
Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Decoration is all in the Valdostan style, with lots of wood and cosy interiors. The hotel has 54 well-appointed rooms, many of them with balconies offering magnificent views of the Alps, as Courmayeur is located just by the Mont Blanc and the views everywhere you look at, are amazing! From the regular rooms, many of which are being renovated for the next winter holiday, to the Executive Rooms, with a wooden rustic-chic feel and mini private outside pools with jacuzzi, you have a choice for your stay. Some of the rooms are connecting, to house families. I’ve recently stayed in Room 222, that does not look towards the pool, but has a lovely feeling, with two balconies, and you can see the Dent de Géant while in the balcony. Completely loved my room. Travelled with my mum and she said she wants to buy it!

The in-house restaurant is lovely decorated in wood with oozes cosiness and offers local and international dishes.  La Sapiniere, is their newest addition, a stübe, typical from the Alps, serving Valdostan cuisine in a super cozy ambiance. The American bar has a welcoming fireplace and a spacious terrace with amazing views of the Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains.

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Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

A stop for lunch at Notre Dame de Bellecombe. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

This past summer we went to have a holiday in the mountains. From Chamonix we were off onto Courmayeur. But it was a Saturday – what is considered here in the mountains as a Samedi Noir or Sabato Nero, meaning very long queues to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

This past summer was ridiculously hot – even in the mountains – with the temperature being 31 C in Chamonix in the morning – imagine staying a couple of hours in line to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel did not seem too much fun at the time.

How adventures start - with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.
How adventures start – with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

I’ve asked the evening before some friends I have in Chamonix on how other way we could go – and how about taking the Petit St Bernard Pass. Arnaud Jamson, the deputy director of the Chamonix Tourism Office suggested me to go all around and stop in Megève for lunch, then go to the Lac du Roselend and from there go up to La Rosière to cross into La Thuile through the Petit St Bernard. This is a typical road for motorcyclists and bikers alike – many of these roads have been used by the Tour de France!

As I have a memory of a mosquito, I’ve asked at the hotel’s reception where I could get a good map, and I was told to go into the main street in Chamonix. There is a wonderful books and magazine store – that I could stayed for hours just looking around, where I bought the IGN Map of Route des Grandes Alpes. I love maps and this one was a great addition to my collection.

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The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

My youngest son at Maison Vielle- with the majestic Mont Blanc behind. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

Our Family Half Term ski holiday is always decided one year in advance. Pretty much we always go to the Aosta Valley, as my youngest boy does not want to change location. I see it with my family, and I’ve seen it with many people over the years (even with myself when I’ve started skiing while much younger!)

You go to one resort, you get familiarised with it, and you don’t want to change! All is easy, and just changing to another resort, makes it too challenging. I see it as using an old pair of jeans, that you don’t want to change for something else!

So, we were set to leave the Friday before the half term- as my husband is the sole driver (for me it was too difficult changing sides of the road when I’ve moved from Argentina to the UK, that I daren’t do it again!)

Getting up early pays off - usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.
Getting up early pays off – usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

Our car has been acting funny since September, when the Turbo went off. Then it started revving between 2nd and 3rd gears and we’ve took it twice to the mechanics. The first time we were said it was solved, but it was not, and I’ve took the car back in the garage two weeks before leaving. I did not have the car until the Wednesday of the week we were leaving – we were leaving at 4 AM on the Friday of that week and I was already very nervous about it and seeing if we could rent a car in the UK to cross to the continent.

Apparently, you can do so with Hertz and Avis, but obviously these cars do not bring roof rack, nor winter tyres or chains. So, I was budgeting all that just in case. My husband was saying that if we did not have our car back, we were staying and cancelling the trip, and my kids and me were completely distraught at the thought of it.

The car came out off the garage so then we were going to be ready to go. The night after taking our dog to some friends to look after him, my husband told me that the revving was still there, but that I should not worry. He was sure that this was not going to be anything.

Off we went with our skis, helmets, ski boots, all the paraphernalia you take when you go skiing. We set out in good time and at the Eurotunnel we were given a crossing one hour earlier, so we had time only to go to the bathroom and pick up some coffee and croissants to eat in the car.

We had a very good driving. Last year there was snow from home all the way to Folkestone and from Calais all the way to Italy. This time all the roads were clean, and the weather was beautiful, pretty warm too. This was not the best snow year for the Alps – (Austria and Eastern Switzerland got lots of snow, as well as other Eastern European countries like Romania), but for France, Italy and Western Switzerland the snow was ok, but just.

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Courmayeur Mont Blanc Funivie is opening two new slopes with amazing panoramic views.

Arp - Courmayeur Mont blanc Funivie - Photo: Lorenzo Belfrond. Courmayeur Mont Blanc Funivie is opening two new slopes with amazing panoramic views.

Courmayeur Mont Blanc Funivie (Courmayeur’s lift company), will be opening this winter season two new slopes with priceless panoramic views.

Guests will be able to ski down the new Arp slope, which overlooks the wonderful southern side of the Mont Blanc. After the dismantling of the Arpetta ski lift, for decades, the only people able to enjoy the magnificent panorama of the 2,750 Arp ridge were free-riders, who did the off-piste routes reachable via the Arp cable car.

Courmayeur Mont Blanc Funivie is opening two new slopes with amazing panoramic views.
Courmayeur is renown for its territory for free-stylers, usually accompanied by Alpine Guides. Now, there will be two new pistes for expert skiers. Photo: Courmayeur Alpine Guides.
Courmayeur Mont Blanc Funivie is opening two new slopes with amazing panoramic views.

The new slopes consist of a section of a path that can be skied of about 700 m., which gives access to a north facing slope where a very challenging 600 m. long black piste, with a gradient of 70%m, has been created in addition to the numerous off-piste trails already in place.

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Planning your summer holiday in the mountains and beach – our next trip

The view from the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco - Punta Hellbronner- Amazing rotating gondola that takes you up to the highest point in Italy to see the Mont Blanc and all the surrounding mountains. Photo: The-Ski-Guru.

The summer holidays are coming upon us and I am counting the days to leave this hot city and have some days off. I have been planning this summer holiday for at least half an year and cannot believe it is finally coming! We will be going to the mountains and the beach in one trip, to please all the members of the family.  Even though I will be having a couple of meetings here and there, it is still time to spend with the family and enjoy being and playing outside.

I love planning where we are going to go each year. For winter we always go to the Alps driving, and we have done already 5 years of going to Pila, just up from Aosta, one going to Madonna di Campiglio and one adding Courmayeur to the end of our stay in Aosta/Pila. We always travel by car, as we take all our equipment with us, and we are well positioned in SE London to get to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel station.

Start of the trip at the Eurotunnel - can't wait! Photo by The-Ski-Guru.
Start of the trip at the Eurotunnel – can’t wait! Photo by The-Ski-Guru.

Summer is not different. I find that purchasing flights for the family during the kids’ school holidays is very expensive, plus I do love our road trips. So off we’ll be going soon to Folkestone to board the Eurotunnel and get into another adventure.


One thing to remember is to get the car lights stickers that are obligatory for UK cars driving in the Continent, so you do not blind the cars coming the other way, the yellow vests per each person in the car, a triangle and I am not sure if the breathalysers are still requested in France. It was the case, then I’ve read that it was not the case anymore – just check online before travelling just in case! Have all these things inside the car, reachable if you are stopped by the police, not in your car boot, as you could be fined if you need to get out to get them!

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Last part of our family half term trip – Picture-perfect Courmayeur Mont Blanc.

Waiting for the funicular to go down into Courmayeur- Courmayeur Mont Blanc- Picture perfect Courmayeur. Photo by The-Ski-Guru

So we left Pila that afternoon, came down the gondola to Aosta, drove to our house in Charvensod and packed the car. Off we left when the sun was setting down and said goodbye to Aosta, ready for our next adventure on our family half term trip– Courmayeur Mont Blanc.

Picture perfect Courmayeur - Plan Chécrouit. Photo by The-Ski-Guru. Last part of our family half term trip – Picture-perfect Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
Picture perfect Courmayeur – Plan Chécrouit. Photo by The-Ski-Guru

We were not going to be long in Courmayeur, only a couple of nights. I have been there previously with the family every year having breakfast the last Saturday of the week, and recently visiting in November for a couple of nights during a working trip.



Booking.com

But I wanted to be feeling what is to be there, staying overnight and sharing it with my family. We arrived in Courmayeur and we had a reservation in the Edelweiss hotel, a 2* hotel right in the middle of town. As this was carnival week, it was extremely difficult to find a place where to sleep, more for only two nights, when the hotel owners could sell the full week. But thanks to some contacts within Courmayeur, I’ve got this hotel, which is very simple, but really nice. I would say it is more a 3*. Maybe the breakfast is simple and that gets it down to a 2*, plus the restaurant does not open for lunch and dinner (it opens for all meals only in the summer), and that might affect the star count.

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Are you ready for the Mountain Gourmet Experience of 2018? Courmayeur Mont Blanc is waiting for you!

For the second year running, Jason Atherton (now 4 Michelin stars worldwide) and Claude Bosi (straight at 2 Michelin stars with his new venture, Bibendum), join inaugural genius Sat Bains (2 Michelin stars) for an incredible experience curated by Heston Blumenthal in Courmayeur, Mont Blanc, from 20 to 23 March.

Heston Blumental curates the Mountain Gourmet Experience 2018 in Courmayeur
Heston Blumental curates the Mountain Gourmet Experience 2018 in Courmayeur

The added twist is the unexpected presence of Marcus Wareing, who enjoyed the first 2 experiences so much, he has come back for more!

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Guests from the UK, Canada, Dubai, France and Ireland will converge on Courmayeur for 3 days of epicurean alchemy provided by the stellar chefs and their support team composed of 10 chefs from the UK.

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The family road trip ski holiday started – a trip to Italy via France

France was all covered in snow during our trip to the Alps - Photo: The-Ski-Guru

Finally the day for our annual family ski trip started, and we’ve left home at 4 AM in the morning to take a 7 AM Eurotunnel. It was freezing cold and the motorway seemed a bit icy. We made it in great time to the Eurotunnel in Folkestone and we were allowed to board in early – Just a quick coffee and porridge for me, a bacon butty for my husband and some croissants for the boys with some good coffee before boarding on the train.

The Eurotunnel Folkestone roof was decorated with a ski theme. Photo by The-Ski-Guru.
The Eurotunnel Folkestone roof was decorated with a ski theme. Photo by The-Ski-Guru.

We were before 8 AM in Calais -first thing to do is to remember to drive on the right! I dare not drive on the other side of the road, I needed to learn how to drive on the left side in the UK and it confused me a lot. Luckily, my husband is better for doing so.

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I have been away on holidays – will post about it in the next few days

Mum and kid riding the chairlift together- Pila Ski in the Sky, above the city of Aosta - Photo - The-Ski-Guru.

I am back from holidays with backs full of dirty clothes, have done three full loads and I am not ready yet to put all away…. but promise that will make a report of our fantastic trip… when I feel human again!

Going up the gondola, one happy child - Photo by The-Ski-Guru - Pila, Aosta Valley.
Going up the gondola, one happy child – Photo by The-Ski-Guru – Pila, Aosta Valley.

I need a holiday from my holidays! More soon!

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Featured Image: Mum and kid riding the chairlift together- Pila Ski in the Sky, above the city of Aosta – Photo – The-Ski-Guru.

In the meantime, you can keep on reading more ski news at The-Ski-Guru

Follow us through our hashtags #theskiguru and #skinewsatyourfingertips in social media.

Or you can read more on driving to the mountains tips here.

If you want to choose where to go and ski in Europe, you can start by comparing the resorts’ ski passes rates.

Packing list for your family ski holiday

Skiers Over New Year Prepare for a £450 Wipeout at the Car Hire Rental Desk. Photo by Adrian - Unsplash - taken in Mont Saint Helens, USA.

Going skiing with the family is great, but you need to plan your bag ahead, and be sure that your little ones will not be suffering from the cold, or if not, your holiday might be jeopardised if they are too cold for skiing.

A stop in the way when driving - Photo by Easton Oliver - Unsplash - Estes Park, Colorado
A stop in the way when driving – Photo by Easton Oliver – Unsplash – Estes Park, Colorado

When you are packing, I suggest thinking on your ski clothes first, and doing the normal clothes later. You will not need too many normal clothes if you are self catering, a couple of trousers, shirts or t-shirts and warm jumpers if you are planning to dine outside, unless you are staying in a hotel or chalet and you have to go out for dinner or you have included half or full board, that you might want to look smart every evening.

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