Review of Bansko

24th January 2010 by donlane 

Just returned from my 4th visit to Bansko, so now seems a good time to dispell some myths, and to confirm some others.

During my visit 16-23 Jan I experienced good skiing conditions - some pistes were icy in places but as in the past piste grooming was good.

Queues for the gondola were minimal all week. This is not always the case, however, and at busy times there have been queues of 1 hour or more reported. The knack appears to be to get there early - 0815 is a good time during busy periods.  A local company does offer a minibus service to the gondola top station which is popular during busy periods (Xmas to 2nd week in Jan and half term in Feb).

On this visit I again used the Ulen Ski school, group of 10 intermediates, super instructor, very good English and very good instruction; used own equipment but noted that those with rental kit from Ulen thought it to be average quality and below that generally expected in the Alps.

Much of the building work in the town continues.If this continues at the current rate, more slopes and an extra access gondola/chair onto the mountain will be required.

Prices both on slope and in the town remain competitive, and only seem to be higher due to the exchange rate. It is still possible to get a beer in town for around 2 lev (95p).

Food in the traditional restaurants remains good value and food on the slopes although basic is reasonably priced.

Snow reliability was an issue at the start of the season due to an unusually mild spell during the Christmas and New Year holidays. This - linked to high wind lift closures and other resorts with no snow - has led to some very long queues. This appears to be the exception rather than the rule, as on my previous visits I have not experienced long queues for any lifts.

Once on the mountain most of the lifts are fast chairs less than 6 years old, and therefore travel around the mountain can be quick.

Most of the major hotels are new or newly refurbished and generally have good facilities, food is normally buffet style if on half board and can be fairly basic, I have never gone hungry during my visits, however.

In conclusion Bansko can provide a week’s skiing at a reasonable cost; it is important to choose the time of visit carefully to avoid queues; it has a reasonable variety of runs for beginners and intermediates but is quite limited for experts.

There is a large amount of snowmaking, but it can only be used if the weather is cold enough. This could be a problem early and late in the season.

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