Today’s article on skiing in Georgia was written by guest author Tamsin Ingot.
Off the beaten path– Georgia’s undiscovered ski resorts
Most ski resorts come with extortionate price tags and a familiar, generic style which doesn’t leave a lot of space for variation from one resort to the next. There is nothing wrong with the familiarity of these resorts, and you can find a bargain here and there, but more and more skiers and boarders seem to be looking for resorts which are a little further off the radar than the norm. So while you may have thought you were straying far enough from your usual comfort zone by researching the ski hotels Slovenia has to offer, take that adventurousness a little bit further to explore skiing in Georgia, the up and coming ski holiday destination. As with any developing industry, the resorts of Georgia are bound to have their teething problems, but it’ll be worth it to find a new and exciting ski holiday destination where you won’t find anyone you know.
Bakuriani is a popular resort for families and beginner skiers in the Borjomi district of Georgia, but is perhaps not so popular among the more advanced thrill seekers. That is not to say that there’s nothing for anyone other than families, however, with a good selection of luxury hotels as well as those that cater more specifically for families. Many of the hotels offer free accommodation for children under the age of three and some can provide you with a nanny so you can go off and enjoy a break from teaching the kids to ski. There is also an abundance of conference facilities at the At 1,700m above sea level, the resort is below the tree line which means there are plenty of conifers to add to the picturesque beauty of a mountain resort. While you’re there don’t forget to try khinkali – a dish of meat dumplings traditional in east mountainous Georgia.
One of the newest resorts in Georgia, Svaneti is also one of the highest. It’s newness gives it an atmosphere that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Europe; it’s run by people who have lived in the region since before it became a ski resort, so they know the ways of the mountain and have made their livings there. Only time will tell whether Svaneti retains its individuality as it no doubt becomes more commercial and expands to meet the demands of the tourism trade, but until then it will remain an ideal destination for those who are not just looking to ski but those who are looking to experience another culture and to learn more about an interesting place while on holiday. If that sounds like you then head there soon to get the full effect of an authentic mountain town.
The Georgian resort of Gudauri sits at 2,196m above sea level, well above the tree line, and is perhaps one of Georgia’s best resorts for more advanced skiers. The high altitude provides great snow conditions for free riding and the resort offers heli-skiing throughout the season, which lasts roughly from December to April. The helicopters have almost an entirely free range of the mountains so can drop you off wherever takes your fancy with experiences guides. Another resort to get to quickly before the masses move in and discover the untouched powder before you do. Gudauri is one of the larger resorts and subsequently has many more hotels on offer, ranging from the fairly ordinary but luxury to the quirky and the individual.
The mountainous region of Bakhmaro may soon be a great place to ski if the investment opportunity is taken – as the European ski resorts get warmer, the heavy snowfall in Bakhmaro could present a very popular alternative with a season potentially lasting from October until May. At the moment there is just one, scary road to get there, but if investment goes ahead and the commercial developers move in, it could be one to look out for.
Georgia’s skiing tourism is certainly in its fledgling stages, but this just contributes to its charm and appeal. North American and West European resorts have got the traditional, commercial skiing holiday down to a fine art, but there is something lacking in the generic nature of it all. Georgia has a small selection of resorts which can offer you some of the best bits of a more developed resort without many of the negative aspects and can even offer you something a little bit more exciting with wolves and brown bears in the forests. So be brave and ski a little further off the beaten track.