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.
     
  • 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!!!
  • Brian mcvey From Scotland
    Sent on 20 February 2015
    Going to borovets for 2nd time this time with my son. Had a great time 4 years ago, now with park I expect it to be a lot better now and it was brill last time round. 20 days and counting
  • Lasse WP From Denmark
    Sent on 15 February 2015
    We just had a wonderful trip to Pamporovo. We were a group of 10 adults, and 3 small children (1 to 3 years old), who stayed at the Castle complex, in 4 apartments, for a week (7 days stay, 6 days skiing) Everything at the Castle was great, and the staff was very forthcoming and helpful in every way. The apartments were very practical, and equipped with all necessities. Not luxurious, but really good and adequate in size and layout. You should note though, that towels are not changed every day. Towels are not needed to bring to the spa area and treatments. The food at the Excalibur restaurant was typical for the area, and well prepared. The staff at the restaurant is also great. The Castle complex is situated 2-3 km. from Ski center 2 (Malina). It is of course easiest if you are driving, but there are shuttles from the hotel to the ski center and lift. Ski in-/out is possible at the backside of the complex. We had booked ski- and snowboard packages, and that worked out perfectly as well. The snowboard instructor was a true professional. Patient and very focused on making sure that all of us learned the moves, at our own individual pace. Everyone had a great time, and learned a lot. The area was perfect for us, as we are all beginners on snowboards. Had we been on skies, I suspect the terrain would not be challenging enough for an entire week. We can definitely recommend Pamporovo, and the Castle complex, and will be back next year.
  • james From england
    Sent on 05 February 2015
    Lovely apartments bang on yasterbets slopes. Great spa and swimming pool and cheaper prices than borovets for food and beer. Best hotel and facilites in borovets
  • Jayne Gay From England
    Sent on 25 January 2015
    Just got back from Bansko what a fabulous week. A party of 6 which includes our daughter's aged 20-24 and the night life for them was great. No long queues, food good and we cannot wait for next year!
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