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Helped to make the magic of winter mountain experiences truly inclusive and accessible

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Disabled Ski Holiday Val d'Isere

Val d’Isere does appear to be a destination suitable for disabled skiers and non-skiers. Says Catherine Cosby director of Ski 2 Freedom: “we are seeing an increasing number of requests for information on Val d’Isere, both from independent sit-skiers and first-timers either with a physical, intellectual or sensory disability. I have made a number of visits and each time discover more of what the ski resort can offer – great skiing for all the family; a flat resort with a few small inclines but great wide walkways and good for access (a few steps but with a bit of help not really a problem); fantastic sports centre; amazing restaurants and bars – sometimes a compromise is needed in getting around but most people are used to adapting themselves and a ski resort such as Val d’Isere is probably no different to their home town!”

In light of this increase in enquiries Catherine made another trip down to Val d’Isere this week and found even more to attract clients. Staying at the Auberge St Hubert was a pleasure – this hotel is situated on the Avenue Olympique with easy access to the many restaurants, bars and hub centre of the village. However, the Auberge St Hubert does not have a lift and so not suitable for wheelchair users but would be a great place to stay if stairs are not much of a problem. There is a comfortable seating area in the bar with access to the restaurant (steps up to restaurant). A good place to stay for a group of friends, family or even someone on their own. Downstairs is a cosy bar with fire and what a great place to have a post ski drink and work out where to go on and party!

A 5 – 10 min easy walk brings the skier to the front of the snow and meeting points for the various ski schools.

There not being any snow in the village it was an ideal opportunity to walk round all the chair-lifts, looking at access and making a good idea of what the resort can do for disabled skiers. There is an easy walk to the Aqua Centre – sadly it was not open but looking through the windows there appears to be an amazing swimming pool and a great place to hang out when not skiing.

The skating rink is easily accessible. The whole village really is pretty good for getting around and for those not skiing all day I really can see that being in Val d’Isere can give someone the joy of being in the mountains and experiencing the whole fabulous atmosphere. Several of the gondolas are accessible to non-skiers and limited mobility. (please note that we will be going back to do an even more comprehensive assessment on all these features once the snow is really in place and the resort is fully open).

There is an amazing selection of hotels which are wheelchair accessible including the Hotel Christiania, visited last winter, and highly recommended – although we have not looked at them all yet as some were closed, another reason to have an excuse to go back! What is lacking is accessible and adapted apartments and chalets. However, if budget is not an issue, then there are a number of extremely high class chalets which do have lifts – but not fully adapted bath/shower rooms.

Like any ski resort there is a compromise and it is difficult to make anywhere totally wheelchair accessible, but we believe the spirit of those living and working in Val d’Isere who have a real understanding of wanting to encourage anyone with a disability or special need to have that magic winter holiday is enough to ensure that now and in the future it really is a place to try!

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