For my first snowboarding trip of the season, I headed over to Tignes in France to try out the new Skadi App. Being the first trip, our group was already in good spirits when we landed at Geneva airport, but when we were picked up by the transfer company Cool Bus in a Tesla, we couldn’t believe our luck.
Airport transfers are usually mundane, but being in a Tesla is certainly an experience. Being electric, it is completely silent and certainly shifts! Cool Bus has invested in a Tesla (they are not cheap!) for environmental as well as economic reasons. Whatever the reasons, it beats being picked up in a mini bus!
Mark Warner Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee
We were staying at the Mark Warner Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee in Tignes Le Lac. As soon I entered my hotel room on the 5th floor I was treated to the most amazing view of the ski resort through the floor to ceiling windows at the far end. I was just in time to go out on the balcony and watch the sunset.
The room was modern and very spacious. In fact, it even had an upper level with two more beds, while I had a double bed to myself. The bed was more comfortable than my own at home, and if it wasn’t for the glorious slopes beckoning me from my window, I could easily have stayed in bed for a few extra hours each morning.
The hotel has a modern spa and swimming pool area. A sauna followed by a session in the steam room, then a dip in the pool is a great way to relax those aching muscles at the end of a hard day’s shredding.
If you are really brave, you can have a bucket of ice cold water tipped over your head – but not for me thanks!
The Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee has a great restaurant where we enjoyed a three course evening meal. The breakfast was classically French, being a basic buffet with hot and cold options. The combination of it being the beginning of the season and a lot of new staff, meant it was a little disorganised, but the staff were friendly and helpful.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee and would be keen to stay again on my next visit to Tignes.
The Skadi App
On our first morning the sun was shining so we were keen to hit the slopes and test out the Skadi App. Skadi is available for both Apple and Android, and is designed to be the only app you will need on the mountain.
It certainly packs a few punches. Firstly, Skadi can be used as a Satnav for the slopes. Input where you want to go, your ability, and let Skadi direct you. This is done by voice prompts and it will inform you which slopes and chairlifts to take. Depending on your ability, it can be programmed to avoid red and black slopes.
I was wearing a wireless earbud so I could hear the voice prompts very clearly, but the rest of my group had their phones in their chest pockets so had difficultly hearing without ear phones.
But this is where it gets interesting, the app also has a feature called Skadi Trophy that turns the slopes into an interactive game.
Scattered all around the slopes are virtual crystals and mythical creatures to collect. Crystals are only worth one point but the mythical creatures are worth a lot more. They can be a bit elusive to find and very fickle as I found out – a dwarf can give you points or take points away if it is in a bad mood.
The key to success is Skadi Power! Skadi Power is an artefact that can be found on the slopes that will boost the crystal points that you collect. It is very hard to find but is a real game changer.
I had fun with the game and changing the slopes into a virtual playground is a unique idea. To be honest, I think the Skadi Trophy feature has more appeal for kids and young adults.
Like other apps, Skadi can track your speed, distance and location. I am not sure how accurate the distance tracking was as our group all skied and snowboarded together, but had vastly different results for distance covered. I think this feature will improve as the app grows.
It is also worth mentioning that the Skadi App works using GPS, so will not eat away at your data allowance. It also uses live data so you are informed of any ski lift queues or piste closures. Of course, this feature is only as good as the information it is fed.
Another incentive to rack up those points when playing the Skadi Trophy game is that the points can be redeemed at certain retailers and bars in town. For instance, you may have enough to get a free beer from a bar, or a discount at Danisport.
The Skadi App is a subscription based service, but you do get a day’s free trial to try it out.
December Snowboarding in Tignes
Tignes is a high-altitude resort formed from a group of villages. The Mark Warner Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee was situated in Tignes Le Lac which is centrally sited and considered the hub.
Tignes neighbours Val d’Isere and they both form the Espace Killy ski area with a whopping 300Km of slopes to explore.
Considering it was the beginning of December the snow conditions were not that bad. It had snowed heavily a few weeks beforehand but we enjoyed hot bluebird days. This did make the snow a bit interchangeable between hard packed (especially in the morning) and slushy where the snow had been baked for a few hours.
I really enjoyed the long sweeping runs from the top of La Grande Motte Glacier. This is easily accessible from Tignes via a Funicular. I have never been on one before and it was quite an experience. It is like a very large train that shoots you up through the mountain at a steep angle at breath-taking speed. The journey, which would have taken ages with a ski lift or even a gondola, only lasted seven minutes.
It was decidedly more chilly at the top of La Grande Motte, but we just had to stop to take photos of the incredible views.
I also enjoyed taking the chairlift up from Tignes Le Lac in the opposite direction towards L’Aiguille Percee. From the top of the chairlift there is a lovely long sweeping, east facing, blue run all the way back down. This was perfect for snowboarding with a load of natural features such as side hits to take. The east facing slopes are also a lot quieter than the other areas.
La Folie Douce
Another highlight was briefly visiting La Folie Douce. For those of you who don’t know, La Folie Douce is like an Ibiza-style nightclub on the slopes. The wild partying starts mid-way through the afternoon and carries on till the last lift down.
Think of thumping music from a DJ booth, people dressed as cowboys, kings and whatever else they can think of, playing instruments or hyping the crowd up from the roof top or from standing on the bars. Everyone dancing wildly on tables in ski boots. It is not for the faint hearted and the music can be heard from several slopes away.
We were invited into the VIP area and enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly while watching the high frolics unfold below. It was great fun and I highly recommend a visit.
La Folie Douce is situated between Tignes and Val d’Isere. Just be aware that the last lift back over towards Tignes is a bit of a scramble with large crowds jostling for position in the queue.
The Loop Bar
The Loop bar is ski in/out at the bottom of the Trolles run in Tignes Le Lac. Both days we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the Loop Bar, soaking in the atmosphere and enjoying the sun with a cold beer on the terrace.
Their burgers are irresistible and my favourite was the chilli with large nachos. The chilli has a real bite to it and the best I have ever tasted.
The Loop Bar is also popular for apres-ski. It got really busy but had a friendly atmosphere, with everyone dancing to the tunes that the DJ duo were pumping out.
The price of a pint was about 7 Euros, which compared to neighbouring Val d’Isere, is quite reasonable.
Tignes Le Lac Resort
Tignes Le Lac is centrally positioned at the bottom of a bowl, with easy access to the whole area. The landscape is vast and treeless so can be susceptible to extreme conditions.
It is a purpose-built village and certainly not the most pretty architecture I have ever seen, but everything is convenient and accessible.
I thought Tignes had a good atmosphere and is better value for money than Val d’Isere. The Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee is in an ideal location for both the slopes and village.
I really enjoyed my first snowboarding trip in Tignes and it was the ideal location to test out the app. The Skadi App is one of the most interesting ski apps I have on my phone and is loaded with features.
I really like the idea of using my phone as a SatNav with the Skadi Safari. If anyone knows me well, I am prone to going in the wrong direction on the slopes and this would help. The only downside is that to get the most out of it, you would need to wear an earbud to fully hear the commands – and not everyone likes to do that!
As for the Skadi game, I can see the rest of my family loving this, although not the feature for a forty-something dog-eared snowboarder like myself. Although, if gathering crystal points gets me a free apres drink in Tignes, I am sure I can be persuaded!
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)