Top Snowboarding Destinations for this winter

With the winter nights drawing in are you are looking to dust off the board for an adventurous weekend break? Or are you looking for a luxurious get away with excellent Après Ski for the winter period? Complete Ski take a look at the best places to visit this winter for snowboarders of all types; whether it’s for the chance to learn to snowboard, the best place to visit for early season powder or a family vacation read on for a look into the best in snowboarding destinations.

Ultimate luxury – Courchevel, French Alps

Courchevel, one of the most renowned luxury snowboarding resorts, has something for everyone including high pistes, with great snow almost guaranteed, four terrain-parks, and – being part of the Three Valleys area – you can easily travel between the other resorts in the area. There are four surrounding villages giving the upper hand in choice and the ability to cater to all tastes for accommodation; although not necessarily all budgets. If it’s exclusive yet lively Après Ski you’re looking for head to Courchevel 1850 (so named because of its altitude) where the exclusive night clubs and bars offer everything from fine food to live music.

For enthusiasts and experts – Verbier, Swiss Alps

With varied terrain and endless runs Verbier has to be top of the list for all enthusiasts. Recognized as one of the premier ‘off-piste’ locations in the world, this village in the Swiss Alps is a perfect destination for those adrenaline junkies among you. Alongside runs for the adventurous there are also seven different schools for the beginner offering private or group lessons and much more. After a good snow fall there are unmissable rides taking you all the way down Mont-Fort; these, however, are not for the faint hearted.

For beginners – Alpe d’Huez, France

Alpe d’Huez is a beginner’s paradise with an absolutely huge novice / green run area. This is easily accessible, never gets busy and is always in top condition. With the resort offering daily rentals for boards you can’t go far wrong for your first time boarding than to be treated gently with this well groomed multi-pisted resort. Offering varied terrain Alpe d’Huez has something for everyone not just the beginner making it perfect for groups with varied levels of expertise.

Get the early snow season at Val d’Isere, France

Because of its location in a remote valley at high altitudes Val d’Isere boasts a longer season than most running from November to May. There is something for everyone here with a lively resort and plenty of nightlife and restaurants on offer. Whilst not being the cheapest destination around it can offer you designer shops, bars to suit all tastes and hotels to suit all budgets. Freeriders and Freestylers are accommodated completely and will want to return time and again for the miles of piste and off-piste to play around with as well as the fun-park under Mout Blanc which surpasses that of Tignes.

Top Snowboarding destinations for families – Lake Tahoe, Nevada & Canada

With breath-taking views and panoramic beauty this resort is family friendly and offers a range of activities, with several exceptional resorts surrounding this hot spot for skiers and snowboarders alike. Diamond Peak, a family-friendly resort, offers kids under 6 free skiing and a reduced price for families. There are easy ways to keep your holiday inexpensive, like not renting a car as the resorts offer free shuttle services. Also keep in mind that Mountain Lodges are convenient but expensive so explore the budget lodges. There is the option for group and private lessons in snowboarding for beginners and while the children are learning there is the opportunity for the adults to take on the Diamond Peak Terrain Park – perfect for those looking to take on some extra thrills and excitement. Lake Tahoe has everything a family could want for a brilliant holiday without remortgaging your house.

Backpacking in Europe – Ten Must Visit Destinations

Europe remains incredibly popular as a backpacking destination as there is so much on offer and so much to see. There are some of the world’s most exciting cities, most beautiful scenery and incredible cultures and histories at every turn. You probably won’t be able to visit them all but they’ll definitely give you some food for thought when you’re planning your backpacking holiday. It’s incredibly hard to pick a definitive top ten destinations for a backpacking break in Europe so we’ve instead picked ten of our favourites.

10. The Baths in Budapest
Budapest is one of the most exciting cities in Europe but the thermal baths have to be one of the highlights. Built over 500 years ago the baths offer you beautiful warm waters in an incredible location; perfect for recovering from a night spent on the islands partying.

9. The Alps
The Alps are absolutely stunning whatever time of year it happens to be and you simply can’t get a more impressive landscape in Europe. Taking the Mont Blanc express from Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland is an absolute must and gives you views of beautiful mountains, forest, snowy landscapes and waterfalls.

8. The Reichstag
Germany’s most important building the Reichstag is an architectural splendour like few others anywhere in the world. The exterior may be incredible but it is the interior that will really blow you away with its incredible décor and amazing domed ceiling. Berlin is incredible as a city but this remains the highlight.

7. Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and boats some of the world’s most incredible architecture. The fairy tale castles are undoubtedly the highlight and this is an incredible destination just to wander the city streets and lose yourself in a very strange atmosphere and ambience. It’s also fast becoming a hedonistic capital of Europe with incredible parties and clubs on offer.

6. The Acropolis
Standing over Athens the Acropolis is one of the most important sights in Greek history and remains one of the best things to see on a trip to Europe. The Parthenon is the highlight but the whole area is alive with incredible remains of one of the world’s most important historical civilisations.

5. The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal in Venice is one of the most impressive sights in Europe as it really is the centre of everything that makes Venice what it is; an island city with incredible architecture and an atmosphere like no other. The Grand Canal really is one of the most romantic and exciting sights in Venice and well worth your time to explore – though you might want to skip the somewhat expensive Gondolas.

4. The Sagrada Familia
Barcelona and one of the world’s most famous churches the Sagrada Familia is perhaps the world’s longest work in progress. It was started in 1882 and still hasn’t been completed. Yet it remains one of the most beautiful and interesting Roman Catholic churches in the world.

3. Prague Castle
Prague is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and Prague castle is the highlight. This complex includes a beautiful church, impressive fortifications and some truly beautiful views. Prague castle is the highlight of any visit and really is one of the most interesting historical castles in Europe.

2. The Sistine Chapel
While the Coliseum in Rome is fantastic it palls into insignificance compared to the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. While Michelangelo’s work dominates the ceiling the whole chapel is incredibly beautiful with works by Botticelli, Perugino and Pinturicchio sprawled along the most incredible walls and ceiling the world has ever seen.

1. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is probably the most famous monument in Europe and it remains one of the best experiences for any visit to Europe. Set in beautiful gardens this towering iron monument stands as an incredible monument to French culture and history. It also provides access to some of the best views of Paris possible so you should definitely head to the very top!

The Best of Geneva Nightlife

Geneva by night
[Geneva by night by kevingessner]

Whilst Geneva might not seem like a typical spot for a cracking night out in the same way as London or Paris, the city has a huge amount to offer, whatever it is you’re looking for. There are smart cocktail bars, huge clubs, boho drinking dens, fashionable venues full of beautiful people and underground dance nights, all within easy reach of the city centre. One thing to bear in mind is that Geneva is an expensive city and the best of Geneva nightlife doesn’t come cheap. However, all it takes is a bit of planning to get the best of Geneva nightlife on a budget so if you are visiting on a shoestring, head for the student areas such as Plainpalais for great, cheap deals.

Bars

Le Francis Bar is a sophisticated piano bar that serves an excellent range of cocktails to a discerning crowd and makes a great start for any night out. Like most of the best venues in Geneva, Le Francis also has a club and a restaurant attached so you don’t even have to move from this spot to have a great night out. If you want to rub shoulders with Geneva’s beautiful bright young things then head to Arthur’s Rive Gauche and take up a position on the terrace with a bottle of something cold and crisp. Senso has great cocktails and a tasty menu of Italian style cuisine that is popular with the local sophisticates and Soleil Rouge (is an excellent wine bar with a fine selection of Spanish wines.

At the other end of the scale is La Clémence, favourite haunt of students of the nearby university and the kind of place that everyone who lives in Geneva has been to at least once. The bar has a pretty cosy atmosphere in winter and then opens up its terrace during the summer months. For beer aficionados, Brasserie Trois Dames is a great drinking spot, with plenty of carefully brewed beers to work your way through, from pale ales, to stouts and wood aged beers.

Mainstream Clubs

Macumba is a club complex only ten minutes drive from Geneva town centre that is mind-bogglingly big. There are six separate venues all under one roof here so plenty to choose from whatever the beats that you’re looking for, from dance to disco. If it’s glamour you’re after then it has to be the Griffins Club With sumptuous furnishings, low-level lighting and a range of international DJs spinning tunes for the champagne supping crowd, the club provides a glamorous place to spend the hours of midnight to 5am. Gold & Platinum is everything that you would expect from its name, with a sophisticated bar serving chic cocktails for you to drink on the white leather couches before heading into the cool club with its flashy interiors and international beats.

Alternative Venues

Moulin à Dance offers something a little less mainstream with an eclectic mix of everything from hip-hop to soul to dancehall to salsa. Weetamix is another great dance club in Geneva, working a mix of techno, house and electro. The club draws plenty of big dance names, as well as the more underground side of the scene.

Le Chat Noir provides a sophisticated stream of jazz, soul and live acts in a cellar bar environment, as well as club nights at the weekends. The hugely popular L’Usine is an arts space/club/venue and offers an interesting range of activities and entertainment, with more of an underground flavour than many of the other venues in Geneva.

Whatever it is you’re looking for from nightlife, there’s a good chance you will find it in this sophisticated and open minded city, particularly if you have a decent sized budget. Best of all, Geneva is relatively small – with a population of around 200,000 – so you’re unlikely to find yourself queuing all night to get in somewhere. You can fit in lots of nightlife into one evening here as most of it is within easy reach – this makes it one of the best cities in the world for bar crawls!

Amy is a guest blogger from Easyjet who provide flights to Geneva from more than 30 airports across Europe. See more of her Geneva tips in this post on the top hotels in Geneva.

Holidaying in luxury: The world’s most extravagant hotels

If money was no object and you could choose any destination in the world to head to for a luxury holiday, chances are you would opt for one of the amazingly luxurious hotels that command rates of thousands of pounds a night and regularly attract some of the biggest celebrities on the planet.

Despite the economic downturn, demand for high-end getaways continues to soar, especially in locations where guests can stay in accommodation that goes above and beyond the usual remit of the average five-star hotel.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

The spectacular sail-shaped Burj Al Arab in Dubai measures over 1,050 ft high and is comprised entirely of 202 lavish duplex suites equipped with everything you’ll need to make your holidays special.

Jacuzzis and rain showers can be found in every room, while 24-hour butler service and private shopping come as standard. Accommodation ranges in price from around £600 a night for a basic set of rooms to somewhere in the region of £12,000 per night for a stay in the ultra-extravagant Royal Suite on the 25th floor.

Select the most expensive suite and you will be able to take advantage of two bedrooms – one of which is home to a rotating four-poster bed – and a private cinema and lift, as well as lounge, library and dining areas, all decorated to the highest standard.

High-profile figures who have stayed at the seven-star hotel since its opening in 1999 include supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell, the latter of whom famously hosted a £1 million birthday party there in 2006 that involved the hire of 18 floors and attracted guests such as the Beckhams, Linda Evangelista and Eva Herzigova.

President Wilson Hotel, Geneva

The most expensive room in the world is the eighth-floor Royal Penthouse Suite at Geneva’s President Wilson Hotel.

This establishment regularly draws global leaders preparing for meetings at the nearby UN headquarters and caters for this elite clientele with some impressive features behind its relatively understated exterior.

The 18,000 sq ft Royal Penthouse Suite commands a nightly rate that can be as high as £40,000 and occupies the whole of the hotel’s top floor with 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, along with a Steinway grand piano, a private lift, a terrace, a fitness centre and understandably high security levels.

Combine these amenities with superb views across the scenic Lake Geneva, and you will quickly see just why the hotel is able to charge what it does.

Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, Las Vegas

For a more outwardly glamorous holiday in the lap of luxury, the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas is the place to be.

This is likely to be the closest you will get to experiencing life in the Playboy Mansion with more than 9,000 sq ft of space encompassing a huge round rotating bed, a poker table, a gym with a spa treatment room and sauna, a full-sized bar and pop-up TVs, as well as enough room to invite 250 of your friends over for an unforgettable party.

Designed by Hefner himself, the accommodation also includes use of a private lift, an outdoor terrace and a cantilevered Playboy Jacuzzi pool from where you can enjoy amazing views of the Strip thanks to a glass wall.

Compared with the President Wilson Hotel, a one-night stay here is a snip at just over £24,000. Of course, it’s still very much a haven for the extremely rich and famous – celebrities reported to have splashed out on a break at the Sky Villa in the past include George Clooney and Britney Spears.

If you can’t quite manage the cost of a night or two here, there are other so-called Fantasy Suites to choose from at the Palms Resort that are unlikely to make quite as large a dent in your bank balance, including the very pink Barbie Suite and the Kingpin Suite, which has its own bowling alley for the ultimate laidback night in.

Four Seasons Hotel, New York

New York has many hotels available to choose from, however if you’re looking for the most luxurious hotel to stay in, then the Four Seasons Hotel is for you.

The classy five-star accommodation here includes the breathtaking Ty Warner Penthouse, which takes up the whole of the top floor of the tallest hotel in Manhattan and costs just over £21,000 a night.

Guests can enjoy nine rooms, a private lift and cathedral-style ceilings suspended 25 feet above the floor.

Magnificent 360-degree views of Manhattan can be taken in through floor-to-ceiling bay windows, while entertainment comes in the form of TVs capable of receiving every channel in the world and a Bosendorfer grand piano.

Other features include a private spa room and expensively embellished surfaces and furnishings – the walls of the living and dining area are covered with mother of pearl, while the Thai canopy bed has been threaded with gold.

It cost billionaire Ty Warner an astonishing £30 million to build the penthouse suite, so it is perhaps little surprise that the Four Seasons Hotel describes it as the most exclusive accommodation in the country.

Grand Resort Lagonissi, Athens

Finally, for wealthy travellers whose idea of the ultimate luxury holiday consists of a glamorous hotel combined with sun, sea and sand, the Royal Villa at the Grand Resort Lagonissi in Athens, Greece could be the perfect option.

This seafront accommodation comprises 4,413 sq ft of interior room and 7,211 sq ft of outdoor space. Guests can take advantage of two master bedrooms and two stunning marble-lined bathrooms, along with butler’s quarters, a separate bar, poolside barbecue facilities, a full gym, a massage area and a private path to the beach, where you can enjoy your very own ocean-level deck.

Of course, all of this extravagance comes at a hefty price. At around £31,000 a night, holidaymakers will certainly expect their money’s worth. Bearing in mind the sheer size and prime location of the villa, plus the fact that it has both indoor and outdoor pools, guests are likely to feel that it is cash well spent.

Chapel Bridge And Water Tower, Lucerne – Switzerland

Location: Lucerne (Luzern) – Switzerland
Photo: Chapel Bridge And Water Tower

Chapel Bridge And Water Tower, Lucerne - Switzerland
[Chapel Bridge And Water Tower]

The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and Water Tower (Wasserturm) in Lucerne (Luzern) is one of the most photographed landmarks in Switzerland. The bridge was built in 1333 and much of it was destroyed in a fire in 1993. The landmark bridge was quickly rebuilt.

Travel Photo Gallery: Lucerne Photo Gallery

How to enjoy Geneva in the summer

It doesn’t have to be the ski season to enjoy Geneva. You can still get a great sense of the outdoors at this lakeside city. Geneva may be synonymous with huge organisations such as the UN and the Red Cross but residents know how to relax and they have some of the best countryside anywhere in Europe.

Geneva is world famous for its skiing, being just a stone’s throw from fantastic resorts like Chamonix, Gstaad and Verbier. But these places are just as rewarding to visit in the off-season. If there is no snow on the slopes don’t let it deter you from driving up there and experiencing gorgeous Alpine scenery.

Day trips from Geneva

There are many attractive towns within easy driving distance. At Gstaad you can ride the cable car for an exhilarating view or the more active among you can choose to hike over a snow capped glacier. Normally catering to the Après ski scene, Gstaad has some great restaurants and coffee shops too so you will be able to sate your appetite after all that bracing mountain air.

Another good day trip is to Chamonix. While this has challenging skiing for all abilities during the winter season, in the summer you can also enjoy mountain-biking and picnics in the most breathtaking surroundings.

Lake Geneva
If it is walking you like you could do worse than taking a stroll around the magnificent Lake Geneva itself. This huge freshwater lake forms the centrepiece of the city and is also adorned with an impressive fountain which shoots water high up into the air.

The Jet d’Eau is best scene at night when the lake is lit up for full affect. The scenery around Lake Geneva, whether you choose to see it by car or foot, is stunning and half of the lake is officially in French territory as part of the Rhone River Valley.

Geneva City
Although it is unlikely you will ever tire of the lake you can then turn your attention to the city itself. One option is to take a tour and a bus which can bring you to all the best destinations including the Cathédrale St-Pierre whose intricate architecture mirrors its complex history. The cathedral dates back to pre Roman times and there is also a nearby museum of the Reformation which chronicles the life of the famous Geneva thinker Calvin.

Today Geneva is most renowned as a centre of international diplomacy and the Palais des Nations was one of the early examples of this, having been built to house the League of Nations after the First World War. If you want to find out more about Geneva’s humanitarian role why not visit the Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross?

Guest Post by Rhinocarhire.com – providing low cost Geneva car hire.