Bulgaria: Where Bargain-Seekers Ski

Bulgaria: Where Bargain-Seekers Ski

The New York Times, BRIAN LAVERY, *with excerpts, 13.11.2005

BULGARIA may be known for certain things - its ancient monasteries, for instance, or the local habit of nodding one's head to say no - but skiing probably isn't one of them. That's beginning to change as the Bulgarian slopes, the site of Alpine World Cup races in the early 1980's, are increasingly being explored by bargain-seekers from the West. New chairlifts and hotels open nearly every year at the country's three main skiing destinations - Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo - while Mount Vitosha, outside Sofia, remains an easy and popular getaway. But the resorts are small by American standards, with just one expert slope each. The first substantial wave of foreigners has come from Britain, mostly via all-inclusive package tours that use inexpensive direct charter flights. Visitors from the United States may want to take advantage of the variety of ski packages offered by British vacation providers. Given Bulgaria's popularity with the British, workers in the tourism industry usually speak English as well as German and Russian. But it's not all smooth sailing. In Sofia, many shops and restaurants don't accept credit cards; in the mountains, tourists should prepare to hand over wads of Bulgarian leva, even for accommodations, unless they're staying at one of the major hotels. Paying with plastic is less of a problem in Borovets, Bulgaria's oldest ski resort, 45 miles from the capital. A double in the 300-room Samokov Hotel, a Communist-era behemoth. Situated at the foot of the tallest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, the 9,600-foot Mount Musala, the town is 4,600 feet above sea level and has trails at 8,500 feet. That altitude guarantees plenty of snow, while its southern location (at the same latitude as Rome) means even higher trails are through forest. Recent additions, like a snowboarding halfpipe with a 1,000-foot drop, have broadened its appeal. Borovets has less than 30 miles of trails. Off the slopes, Borovets caters to the tastes of its British guests - fish and chips is not native - and aprs-ski local flavor tends toward booming nightclubs. A sense of history can be found in the 10th-century Rila Monastery nearby. Pamporovo, 50 miles from the country's second city, Plovdiv, has less than 16 miles of trails. In the historic village of Bansko, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sofia, local people complain that hotels may soon outnumber their homes. The brand-new five-star Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena, charges five-star prices. Bansko's remote site promises a more rustic experience, highlighted by smoky taverns, called "mehanas," which serve up shopska, the Greek-style tomato and cucumber salad, and banitsa, a cheese-stuffed pastry, often with live music and folk dances.
     
  • 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 spa.food was good.ski 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 mentira.la 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!!!
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