Ski Holiday Guide to Sestriere, Italy
Sestriere, Italy Resorts Review
Sestriere's architecture is modern and functional. Two round towers dominate the view; these were the resort's first hotels and were constructed in the 1930s. Club Med now owns the towers as part of its popular 'village'. But in spite of its unstylish appearance, Sestriere attracts a chic following and is quite popular with the Italian glamor set. The village has several swanky boutiques, and food and drink are typically quite pricey.
The ski slopes directly above Sestriere run down from the peak of Sises. The Cit Roc and Garnel four-seater chairlifts take you just over halfway up, from where several short but sweet reds and blacks whizz back down to Sestriere, or proceed to some uncrowded slopes in the Grangesises area.
The beginners' areas in Sestriere are plentiful, although they're primarily served by draglifts and are therefore no good to amateur snowboarders. Those wanting to progress and venture up the mountain shouldn't be put off by the reds marked on the map - these are generally quite gentle.
Sestriere's far-reaching and longest runs are mostly in the Motta area to the north-east of the main ski resort, on top the small satellite of Borgata. Above the treeline, a lot of the runs on this bare face are almost indistinguishable from one another, but good fun all the same. Lower down, there are some pretty segments through the trees, although these can be crowded.
Expert skiers ought to take the Chisonetto Banchetta chairlift, which gives access to several challenging black runs. After a day or two on these slopes, you may want to make the best of the rest of the Via Lattea (Milky Way) system, which is accessible through the Col Basset gondola. From here, the Sansicario and Sauze d'Oulx areas have all modes of delights on offer. The return to Sestriere is on a long red from the top of Col Basset that winds under the gondola, although the lower half is usually closed.
Sestriere is not the handiest base for skiing the whole Via Lattea, as it sits at one extreme of the area and so involves plenty of careful planning to cover ground without missing the last lift home. Though it is technically possible to ski over to Montgenevre, you would have to arise at dawn, manage about 27 different lifts, and start leading back the instant you've finished your cafe au lait in France. Travelling by road and having a whole day to explore Montgenevre and Claviere is a much better alternative - a return taxi ride would suffice.
II Ritrovo is a self-service restaurant and pizzeria adjacent the main ski school at the base of the slopes. Having a good selection of panini, crepes, pasta and traditional Italian dishes, the prices are not too exorbitant for its prize position. On the mountain, the Motta side has several decent restaurants in attractive locations, including the Raggio di Sole, at the base of the Anfiteatro chairlift, which has great food and a lovely sun terrace. Next to the Clos dei Fiori lift in Grangesises, Ristorante la Brua is a great place to hang out with cool jazz and Cafe del Mar-style beats floating over the airwaves, and tasty food grilled up on the outside terrace.
Snowboarders will find the terrain park next to the Cit Roc chairlift, although the snowpark over the hill in the Sportinia area of Sauze d'Oulx is much more challenging.
The Stadio del Ghiaccio outdoor ice rink is open every day from 10am-1pm, 2-5pm and 9-11pm. For the more adventurous, Sportnatura provides ice climbing, snow-shoeing and off-piste guiding. The Palazzetto dello Sport offers gym, squash and badminton, and Turkish baths, sauna and massage.
La Baita is a friendly restaurant cooking up traditional Piedmontese food. A similar style of food in a bit more upmarket (and expensive) surroundings can be found at the quite popular Last Tango. Over in Borgata, Antica Spelonca comes with a beaming local recommendation.
Nightlife generally is pretty quiet - especially midweek - but the Irish Igloo can be pretty lively and has regular live music. The Pinky Bar is a popular hangout right after skiing, while Tabata is a glitzy but fun nightclub that can get jammed on weekend nights.
They might not be beautiful to view, but their stature gives the Club Med towers some of the best mountain views in Sestriere. Club Med's all-inclusive packages are a popular choice, and the Mini Club facility for children is excellent. Completed in December 2003, one of Sestriere's newest hotels is the four-star Hotel Cristallo, right opposite the bottom of the slopes. The three-star Hotel Savoy Edelweiss is more traditionally furnished.