Review of Pila

14th September 2016 by daisycat 

I spent a week in Pila with my husband and daughter at the end of March 2016, travelling with Crystal and staying at the Hotel Etoile de Neige. I really liked Pila and we were very satisfied with our hotel. I think it was good to stay in Pila rather than in Aosta which would have necessitated a long gondola ride each day to reach the slopes. The snow was in good condition considering the sunny weather and high temperatures. Pila was recommended to us as good for beginners, which I would agree with. We found the resort size to be fine for our rather wobbly skiing, though if you are the type of skier who doesn’t like to ski the same run twice you will ski the whole resort in a couple of days. The other plus-point is the great value slope-side bars and cafes where you don’t need a second mortgage to buy a sandwich or a beer. I think we came home with unspent Euros, which is almost unheard of after a ski trip. Everyone we met was kind and friendly.

The lift system was a bit underwhelming. Consisting mostly of chair lifts (there aren’t any drag lifts), and just one of the large cable cars that hold about 50 people, the queues were quite long at times especially on Good Friday when the Italian holidays began and the resort was packed with local people coming up from Aosta. Also, whilst none of them actually broke down during our stay, some of the chairs were pretty worn looking with bits hanging off seat pads and so on. You could call this cosmetic, but it felt as though the infrastructure would benefit from some investment.

We had booked group lessons with the Italian ski school, which worked fine for my daughter but not at all for me. I observed that the groups were pretty large – maybe up to 12 pupils each – and to my surprise, a wide spread of ages (small children and adults in the same group!). I have never experienced this before and it didn’t work for me at all. Fortunately the ski school was able to exchange my pre-paid group lessons for a few individual sessions. I don’t think adults and little children should be taught together and have not seen this done in other countries.

My biggest criticism of Pila is the way the pistes are configured. There is one main run off the mountain, so all the other runs merge into it. This made things quite “interesting” at the end of the day with ski school groups meandering down and speed skiers going flat out seemingly oblivious to the potential for disaster. The main learner piste is blue 15 which until recently was a wide and gentle run ideal for practising on. Unfortunately a year or two ago they constructed a snow park at the top for boarders, effectively narrowing the area available for the ski school groups. Here again there were lots of fast skiers merging from higher runs and mingling with the slower learner groups. I felt that a separate “lane” should have been cordoned off just for the people who want to ski as fast as they can, to be able to avoid slower learners, reducing the potential for a nasty accident. A lot of people I saw were barely skiing in control and I saw way more collisions than in any other resort I’ve been to. Incidentally, I only saw a few people actually use the snowpark. Grrr!

Having said all this, I would definitely consider Pila again for a late spring ski trip, weighing up the pros of value for money and good snow versus the cons of chaotic pistes. And yes, this is a very popular resort with British school groups.

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