The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered *(with excerpts)

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered *(with excerpts)

The Independent, 17 January 2004

Q I would like to take my family skiing over February half-term (we have three children aged between four and 16). We are all fairly novice, so the slopes don't have to be expert. Somebody suggested Bulgaria as offering good, relatively cheap skiing as we're not on a lavish budget. What do you suggest?

M Coe, via e-mail A Bulgaria would certainly be a viable option. This Balkan state has appeared in mass-market package companies since the Eighties. It is now gaining in popularity because of improving infrastructure and low prices (a three-course evening meal costs as little as ??5 a head), particularly compared with ski destinations within the euro area. Snow cover tends to be good, especially later in the season, and the weather is usually sunny. But don't expect the efficiency of Swiss or French resorts.

Power cuts after heavy snowfalls are not unheard of and hotel food can be, er, interesting. You should all enjoy the warmth of the local people, some great mountain scenery, and plenty of undemanding skiing but it is worth remembering that you are visiting a country still emerging from communism.

For a comprehensive, if slightly biased, overview of what's available, see, the website of the Bulgarian travel agency Silky Holidays (00 359 2 911 33). This has descriptions of all the resorts, up-to-date snow reports, and a message board with reviews from recent visitors. It's also a good place to save money by pre-booking your ski passes.

Typically, it charges ??54 for an adult six-day pass; buy in Bulgaria and you'll have to pay twice as much - around 55 Levs (??19) a day. I'd suggest two resorts for beginners.

The first is Borovets, 1,350m up the Rila mountain, with seven easy and 15 intermediate runs. With more than 50 hotels, it is large enough to have a lively, busy atmosphere. As in most Bulgarian resorts, the standard of ski instruction is high, and you will have no problem finding English-speaking instructors. Borovets is about 100km south of Sofia airport.

Going further south and east along the Rhodope mountain range, you come to Pamporovo, 1,600m high and with 11 beginner runs. It's a modern, lively village with plenty of après-ski in bars and restaurants, which all stay open late. The resort is usually accessed via Plovdiv airport, about 100km south. One final tip: take plenty of cash in sterling or dollars. Travellers' cheques and credit cards are not widely accepted, and ATMs are rare and often out of order. 

  • Liz From England
    Sent on 19 November 2017
    I went with my daughter January 2018. I was a cheap half board flights included and we wasn’t expecting much.... but what a fantastic week we had!! Stayed at the Lion hotel which is about a 10-15 minute walk to the slopes/town. A free shuttle is provide by the hotel. The hotel and staff are lovely. The food was always varied and hot. My daughter and I are vegetarians and in only two nights were we disappointed with the choice - but we heaped up on pudding so didn’t go hungry. Am lucky enough to be going back in 2018.
  • val From United Kingdom
    Sent on 15 February 2017
    group of us just back from borovets.we arrived 4th feb 2017 and departed 11th feb.had a great time.hotel rila was fab.great gym and was school was great.we had a really good instructor Martin Hristov.he was really good with everyone took time to try and learn everyone.we all had a great time thankyou.will be back next yearx
  • Alison From England
    Sent on 15 January 2017
    I wonder if the poor review is really about the Winslow Elegance. We have been going for years. It does not serve food and never has done. However, the spacious accommodation is for self-catering. We have always found it to be clean and we have always found that the reception staff can not do enough for you. We are looking forward to our next visit in February, 2017, Bring it on!!
  • RobJ From UK
    Sent on 01 January 2017
    Had a great week over xmas there - Hotel Lion was great, didn't see any lift queues but I did get there early. Easy blues for the most part, not loads for the advanced skier but great for beginners and families. I had more fun here than Chamonix last year at the same time. Bottom line ...manage your expectations... it is more than value for money but don't expect Whistler.
  • Pepa From Madrid
    Sent on 24 August 2016
    Un citio presioso pero todo lo demas comida,el personal muy mal.No lo recomiendo a nadie.Es una publicidad engañosa.Y de All inclusive nada.No se dejen engañar por las paginas web.Por desgracia en Bulgaria todavia el consumidor no es nadie.
  • Juglena Bankova From Bulgaria
    Sent on 13 May 2016
    Nie byakhme tam na Velikden i pisha malko kŭsno. No vpechatleniata sa ni poveche ot prekrasni! Velikolepna kuhnia (ne savetvat jenite na dieta, da hodiat za poveche ot tri dni, zashtoto yastiyata sa neustoimi, vkusni i ogromni)! Great stil! I mnogo priaten personal!(osobeno damata v restoranta) Pozdravleniya !
  • ger99 From turkey
    Sent on 01 March 2015
    We loved it. Had a perfect 2 bedroom apartment modern, clean new renovated With view to slope. Perfect location in pamporovo as central ski in ski out. Friendly staff, not ovr crowded relaxed athmosphere. our friends (group with total of 7 rooms) all very happy! It is away from city center but close to bowling and 2 nice reaturans.
  • ashley hensman From uk
    Sent on 01 March 2015
    Flora is a lovely hotel clean in a great location and the food was good just make sure you use the safes.
  • Enjoy ski From UK
    Sent on 27 February 2015
    Just came back from Sevlievo in Bulgaria. Drove up to Hotel Impulse in Uzana where I hired skis, boots and poles for myself and two children for just 17 levs for adult and 10 levs each child and used the hotel ski slope 5 levs each. Perfect for the kids first time as parking right at entrance to hotel and slope is 20m walk! Food in restaurant tasty and cheap. Perfect for beginners!
  • Charlotte Hennessy From england
    Sent on 23 February 2015
    WOW, thats all i can say about the previous week of my life. The snow conditions were amazing and the people were so friendly. The night life was always active and the rila hotel was especially fantastic. I loved the accommodation at the rila and i loved the way it is right on the slope. I wouldn't have changed a thing about the holiday and i would recommend this resort to everyone including beginners and experts. Overall, i had an amazing time!!!