I recently spent my ski holiday in Sauze D'Oulx. I have to say that I thought it was very good, not excellent, but very good. The slopes were empty, which was a massive bonus, as there was no waiting for lifts and you could go hell for leather on the runs. Not sure if this was a direct knock on effect of the credit crunch, but to be honest I was not complaining. However, the consequences of this were that the town was also pretty quiet, so the apres ski was a lot more subdued than I have usually experienced. But then the apres ski is always what you make it yourself!
Sauze D'Oulx is part of the milky way (via lattea in Italian!) ski resort, which is a massive area that stretchs all the way across to Montgenevre in France. We did attept to get there one day, got quite far, over to Claviere, which is beside Montgenevre, but time was against us. We did ski though Sansicario and Sestriere and the skiing was great.
Some other reviewers criticised Sauze D'Oulx as not having enough difficult runs. Granted there were no cliff face double black diamonds to contend with but there were plenty of runs to get the speed up on and go flying down! There is over 400km of runs to keep occupied with in the whole milky way and I know I only scratched the surface. The snow conditions were fabulous, especially considering we were there at the beginning of March. Very few bald patches and in fact it snowed heavily again when we were there.
Sauze D'Oulx used to be synonymous with lager louts and was supposedly a real party town. I have already said that it was quieter than usual here, but to be honest I am not sure where the partying would have gone on. Yes there are a lot of bars, but clubs were conspicuous by their absence. We drank in Paddy McGintys and the Lounge was good for watching the football. Also a few other bars that I can't remember their names!
We stayed in Jouvencaux, a smaller village that is basically joined on to the side of Sauze D'Oulx. We stayed in the Etoile des Neiges hotel and would thoroughly recommend it - Fabio the owner is a star. They also own a pizzeria of the sam name which has some of the nicest pizzas I have ever had. Was 45 euros a night for bed and breakfast.
We flew into to Geneva, hired a car and drove down to Sauze D'Oulx. The drive took about two hours. I would recommend doing this in the future, rather than doing it through a company. We then had use of the cars which were very handy. We also just walked into one of the two hire shops and got ourselves skis, poles and boots for 15 euros a day - these were the intermediate level skis. Advanced were a little more expensive. Also just walked up to the little hut at the bottom of the run (our hotel was right beside the lift in Jouvencaux) and bought our ski pass which cost 170 euros.
Overall I would recommend Sauze for great skiing, no queues, wide open runs. It was a little disappointing that the bars were not packed, but then maybe that was a good thing- no queueing there either! And it is a ski holiday after all....
This site is an overall fantastic one for the average skier, skiers who prefer more of a challenge should look elsewhere. however the red runs are fantastic and the few black runs leaves a lot to be desired but are truly black runs and are a tough challenge for a weaker skier. My experience of the area is on a school ski trip ( 4 times in fact to this area) the local shops are rather traditional and the whole village is a true beautiful alpine area. the staff at local bars and ski schools are extremely friendly. there are two main ski schools at Sauze. if i were you i would go with the group with wooden huts further away from the restaurant with a painting of a polar bear on the side. The only reason for this is that our school used the services of this group and the staff spoke english well and were all very friendly. If you choose to go to this location and use this ski school you will be very lucky if your placed with NANI the ski instructor , he has a huge beard and mustache and calls his group the mountain lions and pretty much speeds down the slope roaring like a mad man. you cant help but love him. a recommended hotel is the Gran Bosco, yet again friendly staff and lovely rooms ( tv has over 30 channels also) it is also close to the lift that takes you to the main slopes and the ski schools.
Sauze Doulx was disappointing for us. We had been to Livigno twice and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we decided to stay in Italy this time also. The resort doesnt come near to matching the delightful Livigno. Firstly, it is a disastrous resort for beginners and advanced skiers. For beginners, you have to take a long and steep chairlift before you even reach the snow. This can be intimidating, particularly if you have never taken a chair lift before. The blue runs are very basic and few and far between. For intermediates there are a lot of red runs, which is great if you are of that grade. For advanced skiers there is only one black run on the Sauze DOulx side of the mountain, which is very poor. The ski-lifts are antiquated, with no carousels in sight, just old chair lifts and some very steep button lifts. This is in a resort which is expected to host the Winter Olympics next year!! One positive is that there are relatively small queues the week I was there only half the lifts were open, yet the queues were still short. If you are taking ski-school, go with Sportinia, they are far better. The restaurants and bars on the slopes are of an average quality, with the Powerade sponsored restaurant probably the best. The first chair lift is at the top of a long hill from the town centre. Ski buses are irregular, so unless you are very fit or get the bus, prepare for a long walk up the hill.
Apres-ski, the bars and restaurants arent great. A lot of the bars are tacky and the toilets are disgracefully bad. The best are probably Scatto Matto and the Cotton Club. Expect to pay 5 for a beer. The night clubs are basically dumps. Good restaurants are hard to find, and the good ones are very expensive (40-50 per head). The shops are quite expensive, particularly Besson Sport. We stayed in Hotel Gran Bosco, which is a good hotel. Taxis are impossibly hard to get past 12:30 am. Prepare yourself for a walk home after that time.
I had a great week and I really enjoy skiing and I am an intermediate, and the company was very good, but there are better resorts out there than this one. Livigno for a start is significantly better, despite the long bus journey.
Sauze d'Oulx is absolutely delightful at the moment! The snow is lovely and soft and the runs are very nicely looked after. If you are looking for a cheapish destination to have a smooth ski then this is certainly the place to be! It is within easy access of a lot of other skiing locations. I stayed in a place called Claviere which is either a 20 minute coach ride or a 1 hour ski to Sauze d'Oulk. It is also a gondola ride away from Sestriere, which is being lined up as a winter olympic ski resort in the not too distant future. It is also near the Milky way which is a small cluster of resorts pushed together for a very nice ski. The quality of skiing in Sauze d'Oulx is backed up by the chherfulness and the politeness of the residents. The cafes and restaurants are good and there is a wide selection of places to dine. An all round generally nice place to be.
Sauze d'Oulx forms part of the Milky Way ski area, which includes Sestriere and streches all the way to Montgenevre in France. As a ski area it's huge and you probably won't get to see a fraction of it in a week. If you are lucky your tour operator may run a day trip to Montgenevre which is worth visiting, if only for a change in scenery. The slopes immeadiately above Sauze are predominantly red (intermediate) runs varying between long sweeping cruises and plunging drops with plenty to keep an intermediate happy. Experts need to go a bit further afield to find decent black runs and even then there aren't a great number of them - it's not really ideal for experts. If you do go further afield try not to get caught on the wrong side of the mountains when the lifts close - you will need to get a taxi back and that's not cheap. The ski school I used was staffed by Italians and while the instructor was always friendly and helpful his english was patchy which made things a bit more difficult. That said he was always able to get the message across in the end. During the week the slopes are not too crowded and the queues for the lifts are reasonably short. The italians obviously have a different approach to queuing from the british so prepeare to be a bit more easy going when queuing. Things get much busier at the weekend - because the resort is so close to Turin it is popular with the natives as well as tourists. There are plenty of mountain cafes scattered all over the resort - usually close to the lifts with pasta and a coke available for about £5/6 -it's not haute cuisine but it's hot, tasty and more importantly quick. Fresh off the slopes you can try out lethal fresh orange and vodka (and I mean fresh, squeezed from ruby oranges and served with bits and all) at Andy Capp's near the main chair lift. Overall there is no shortage of watering holes and night clubs, everything from ka
reoke to Irish theme bars. Unusually for a ski resort the drink is pretty cheap, so expect a few drunk people to be about later on. The resort has, as a whole, a bit of a reputation as a party town - but there are quiter parts and once you are on the slopes you probably won't notice the difference. The resort would benefit from being a bit higher up - while you can ski into the resort most of the slopes are much higher up the mountain and the lower pistes leading to the resort can get a bit slushy. Overall a great resort for intermediates, whether you choose to party on or not.