We’ve talked SO much about skiing it’s ridiculous. Mr E went once, with friends who could already ski. They lent him the basic bits of equipment and he just kind of hurled himself down the slopes after them. I went a couple of times in my teens – not much skiing was done, as I recall, but rather a lot of apres ski.
The boys have never been and, as my cousin Moon lives in Slovakia, we’ve been talking about visiting them for ages. Then, weirdly, when I was talking at World Travel Market last year I met Rich, owner of Liptovsky Dvor, a gorgeous little resort in Slovakia. We got chatting – I told him about my cousin and he told me about his resort of chalets, nestling in a valley between the High and Low Tatra mountain ranges. Rich and his wife Jana invited us over, and after emailing and chatting for several months, we set dates and started buying skiing stuff.
Slovakia is SO easy to get to. We flew from our local airport, Luton, on Wizz Air – it’s literally a couple of hours to Poprad. We were really impressed with the whole journey – Wizz Air operate a really cool system where you can choose whether to have large or small cabin bags, meaning we took just two hold bags, plus two large cabin bags. We’d dropped our bags and got through security in about 20 minutes flat (which has to be a record) and soon we were landing in Slovakia. Rich was there waiting for us and after about a 20 minute drive we pulled up at Liptovsky Dvor. Wow.
The resort comprises a little cluster of these cabins, set in a snowy valley surrounded by mountains, plus another wooden building which houses the reception, bar and restaurant and a third with the leisure facilities: a decent pool, jacuzzi, steam room and fitness equipment.
The restaurant definitely surpassed our expectations, with an excellent selection of traditional Slovakian dishes sitting alongside great steaks on the menu, some really great wines and friendly, efficient service.
The cabins themselves are a delight: with two bathrooms, two bedrooms, and a generous lounge area with a log burner. They’re delightfully furnished and kept immaculately clean. We just couldn’t fault them at all.
We went skiing in two different areas (sadly the ski slopes directly opposite Liptovsky Dvor are currently closed) but it’s easy to get a taxi or bus to Opalisko, or the bigger, but slightly further away Jasna – home to the Women’s Ski World Cup this year. We were all beginners and had lessons at both ski resorts – the slopes at Opalisko are more limited but perfect for beginners and, as you can imagine, Jasna provides absolutely everything for the beginner right through to the experience skier. It’s well worth taking a trip right up the cable car to the Rotunda restaurant, high up at 2000 metres as well.
With only misty memories of skiing, I wasn’t holding out much hope of remembering how to ski, but happily it all started to come back quite quickly. As a family, we naturally formed two groups – the rather cautious, but eager to learn team (Sam and I), and the ‘hurl yourself down a mountain without much finesse but go really fast’ group of Mr E and Charlie (I new Chas would pick it up quickly – he’s great at aggressive skating and skateboarding), quickly nicknamed Team Extreme.
Rich skis really well, and he came with us to Tatra on the second day. I tried to keep up with Rich and Team Extreme (and actually really started to enjoy it, even though I felt it was slightly above my skill level), but later they headed off to try some red runs, and I went back to find Sam with his instructor on the blue runs. Later, we all met up at the Rotunda restaurant to try a local speciality called parena buchta – basically a pillowy soft dumpling filled with raspberry and blueberry jam and smothered in velvety vanilla custard. Sweet, stodgy heaven, and just what we needed after a day’s skiing.
What is there to do apart from skiing? Well the resort is smack bang in the middle of a gorgeous national park (there are bears, lynx and even wolves in the surrounding forests) and there’s loads of beautiful countryside to explore. The other thing that Slovakia does really well is thermal springs. We visited a local place called Tatralandia – an all year round waterpark with naturally warm thermal waters. There’s an amazing series of pools, some with swim-up bars. Our favourite was lit with alternating red and blue LED lights – there was music, and you could even sip a cocktail while swimming. For the kids (and the big kids) there are enormous water tobbogan rides and water slides (some completely petrifying. Then there are the outdoor thermal pools, which are just completely other-worldly. The water is thick with minerals, making it a slightly orangey colour, but it’s so warm, and delicious to be swimming around in warm water while the top of your head literally freezes in the frosty air!
We LOVED skiing. It’s completely absorbing, occasionally terrifying, physically really satisfying (you eat like a horse and sleep like a log), and can really track your progress as you improve and gain confidence. We’ll definitely be going back to Liptovsky Dvor, not just to catch up with lovely Rich and Jana, but also to get back on the slopes and have a bit more time skiing, but wow, what an introduction.
To stay at Liptovsky Dvor on a half board basis, prices start from 50€ per person per night. Children up to 12 years old go free but pay a half board supplement of €15 a day.
Massive thanks to Wizz Air, who started its UK flights over 10 years ago and now operates 50 routes at 7 UK airports. The airline offers 4 flights a week from Luton to Poprad/Tatry, with fares starting from just £19.99 (one way, including all taxes, non-optional charges and one small cabin bag). For more information about Wizz Air’s routes or to book, visit wizzair.com.