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Learn to Ski holiday a bargain Bulgarian blast - straight out of Belfast International

TravelBy Jamie McDowell
Ski instructors make sure everyone hits the slopes by the end of the week
Ski instructors make sure everyone hits the slopes by the end of the week
A wide range of other activities are available in Pamporovo, including husky rides
A wide range of other activities are available in Pamporovo, including husky rides
From beginner to expert: Green, Red, Blue and Black slopes are available for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities
From beginner to expert: Green, Red, Blue and Black slopes are available for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities
On piste: Skiers arrive at the top of the mountain
On piste: Skiers arrive at the top of the mountain

As skiing trips become increasingly accessible, with the prices of flights to snow-capped destinations plummeting as well as ski equipment becoming cheaper to buy, a unique ‘Learn to Ski’ package is now available flying from Belfast International Airport directly to Bulgaria at a very competitive price.

For the absolute beginner, the exceptional ski resort of Pamporovo, which hosts the European Ski Cup this month coinciding with the resort’s 120th birthday, offers world-class tuition for those hitting the piste for the first time.

The oldest winter resort in Bulgaria, Pamporovo boasts a team of highly-experienced English-speaking instructors exclusively tasked to those who book with Travel Solutions flying out of Belfast.

The classes include ski fitting and groups remain smaller than with other ski schools in Pamporovo, providing focused and more personal lessons.

Instructors even offer one-to-one help for those who struggle with basic technique, ensuring that everyone skiing for the first time is able to ski on the slopes by the end of the week.

The package includes tuition for four hours per day, six days a week, with friendly instructors who take you to the top of the mountain and down the Green Slope, specially designed for beginners, once the basics have been learnt.

 Best start possible: Travel Solutions provide the most experienced instructors and ensure smaller groups, meaning all age groups ensure first-class, and fun, lessons 

From the top of the mountain, a series of different pistes are available for the beginner, while the intermediate and the expert can take their pick of challenging Red and Black slopes, with the opportunity for the most advanced skiers to test themselves on ‘The Wall’ – the resort’s steepest run.

A 25km cross-country run for the more endurance-orientated skier takes in the stunning scenery of the southern Rhodope Mountains, which enjoy mild sunny winters with large snowfall, providing ideal conditions for a long skiing season.

Lessons are also available for those who wish to try snowboarding for the first time, with taster sessions taking place throughout the week.

On-piste, Pamporovo lives up to its world-class skiing resort status with 17 slopes in total, a dedicated snowboard park and six chair lifts with nine drag lifts to get you to the top of your favourite run comfortably and quickly.

 Room with a view: Ski lifts with optional covers provide transport to the top of the slopes from every angle 

Food and refreshments are fully catered for at various intervals with bars and restaurants on the slope-fringe to the bottom of the mountain.

At the stunning Golden Eagle restaurant at the summit, a wide and very modestly-priced menu offers everything from traditional Bulgarian soups to, believe it or not, an Ulster fry.

For a well-earned rest between skiing sessions, the restaurant and bar boasts a bellowing open log fire which greets hungry skiers at the front door. There, rustic spiked wooden sticks along the mantelpiece provide adequate room for diners to hang their gloves, hats and helmets to dry and warm up in the heat of the fire.

A front balcony on the restaurant provides stunning views as far as the eye can see on sunny days.

Whether it be for a photo opportunity or a relaxing cup of traditional hot chocolate with brandy in a picturesque location, the vista of Bulgaria’s wild mountains is sufficient to render the most experienced of travellers breathless.

View from the top: The vistas from the mountaintops of Pamporovo are breathtaking 

Accommodation-wise, the three-star Hotel Snezhanka and Apartments (half-board) provides a friendly and relaxing base to unwind after a day on the slopes, with both rooms and apartments available for couples, families and larger youth groups.

The busy and vibrant foyer area lives up to the hugely appealing social aspect of a skiing holiday.

There, beginners share stories and compare notes with a drink or two before heading elsewhere for the evening.

At breakfast and dinner time a fully-staffed buffet menu is laid on with something for everyone’s taste; from Bulgarian dishes to western European food such as burgers and chips.

As Bulgarian food typically contains a lot of vegetables, vegetarians will feel spoilt for choice. Hotel facilities include free Wifi, an Irish pub, lobby bar, indoor swimming pool and gym, sauna, jacuzzi, pool table, shop and a bureau de change.  

Located just a short bus ride from the ski slopes, the hotel runs frequent shuttle buses to and from the ski school.

In the area surrounding the hotel, a litany of pubs and restaurants, as well as shopping centres, supermarkets, bowling alleys and casinos are all within walking distance of Hotel Snezhanka.

At night, the slopes are also open to other activities, such as night skiing, Skidooing (snow mobile riding), husky sledging and the ever popular (with kids in particular) bum-boarding.

Lessons at the ski school and ski rental, including boot hire, is included in the price of the Learn to Ski week run by Travel Solutions as well as airport transfer.

Prices start at just £499 per person, leaving in January 2017 for the week and flying directly to Plovdiv airport in Bulgaria.

Both local and Belfast representatives of Travel Solutions will be on hand throughout to offer advice and assistance and to provide information on and book any trips or activities.

For more information visit www.Balkanski.co.uk