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The Clare Echo has teamed up with podcast host Fergal O’Keeffe to bring you his new series, Travel Tales with Fergal.

Skiing holidays are becoming increasingly popular with Irish people and February would traditionally be a big month for Irish ski trips to Europe. It now looks like the ski season this year has been written off with current European travel restrictions.

I would not recommend skiing this year but that doesn’t mean you have to postpone the planning for next year. Psychologists say that the anticipation of a holiday is almost as good as the holiday itself. We need something to look forward to more than ever.

Booking a holiday, no matter how far in advance will help break the pandemic tedium whilst helping to stay positive. With booking flexibility being offered by everyone now is a great time to book.

I would recommend that you sign up for a daily snow email by J2SKI, which will tell you great resorts for snow this time of year. It is also a great time to start looking at hotels or chalets on Airbnb. There are deals to be got now by negotiating with owners of chalets on that site or directly with hotels. Currently there is no high season and it’s a great time to get great savings.

The Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast second season is a Ski Special featuring 10 top ski experts and enthusiasts sharing their favourite resorts for skiing and regaling us with great Après Ski yarns. The podcast aims to provide some escapism during lockdown by conjuring up fond memories of past travels and to inspire the planning of more adventurous future holidays.

Ireland’s top ski journalist Catherine Murphy and the legendary ski instructor Warren Smith give great overviews of the best skiing in Europe, Japan, Canada and the USA.

We have some brilliant guests coming up and to give a flavour of what to expect we have ski enthusiasts David McWilliams, expat Annie Kennedy in Switzerland and Lahinch based Randy Lewis, tell us about their favourite resorts.

We also have great recommendations from Keith wood, Irish journalist Philip O’Connor who lives in Sweden and Taragh Lougnrey Grant.

Après ski is often as important as the slopes and I have our regular contributor Sean O’Neill back to share some fun Après Ski memories.

All the podcast contributors were asked to share their favourite ski resorts and the top five resorts are listed below.  

  1. Best Resort for Families

Going skiing as a family is a wonderful experience and is one of the few holidays older teens will gladly go away with their parents. A good resort should be able to cater to families of differing abilities, have town activities like skating, have good ski schools, be compact and have the slopes close to the town.  The French are great for family orientated resorts and the postcard perfect Alps town of Les Gets has all this and more. Les Gets is only an hour from Geneva and has access to Morzine and Avoriaz in the Ports du Soleil ski area with 650km of groomed runs linked by 209 lifts.

  • Best Resort for Apres Ski

Everyone on the podcast agreed that Austria is the country for the liveliest Apres Ski party scene. Ischgl and Soll are both famous for their nightlife but the winner for the Irish is St Anton. The biggest European daily beer sales are in this town in winter and this is easy to see when you go to the world famous Mooserwirt bar and the Crazy Kangaroo, where up to a 2000 people party outside every day. The only catch is you must ski down the rest of the run to the village in near darkness, which can be tricky after a few glühweins.

  • Best Resort for Experts

Verbier in Switzerland was the resort picked on the podcast for intermediate or above skiers. Verbier is famous for having the best and most accessible off-piste ski routes in Europe. The village is stunning and has a very lively Apres Ski scene. It is quite glitzy with prices to match and is popular with British celebs and the Royal family.

  • Best Resort for Beginners

Ireland’s top ski journalist Catherine Murphy recommended Andorra for beginners as it has great ski schools catering to the Irish, gentle runs and a great Apres Ski scene which makes the resort popular with Irish for their first ski trip.  

  • Best resort in the World

Canadian Randy Lewis, who owns Randaddy’s restaurant in Lahinch, spent a year in Whistler in Canada and says it is the best resort in the world. It has miles of great world class runs for all levels of skier. The town is stunning, and the streets are heated to melt the snow. He says the resort has everything and worth the trip.

The podcast will have a special interview next Tuesday with rugby legend Paul Wallace, who will be chatting about the Six Nations, the mystique of Lions rugby tours to South Africa and whether this year’ tour will happen.

This season will also feature David McWilliams talking about his time living in Russia just after fall of the Berlin Wall, pro climber Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll on wating out the lockdown in Patagonia, Annie Kennedy on working with the Ferrari F1 team, adventurer Manchán Magan and award winning Irish author Tim MacGabann on the expat life in Mexico city.

https://player.acast.com/travel-tales-with-fergal/episodes/ski-special

If you have any travel queries just find Fergal on Instragram @traveltaleswithfergal and his website is https://shows.acast.com/travel-tales-with-fergal

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