Skiing in Scotland – Cairngorms Ski Resort Review 2011

The Skiing Department recently caught up with Tania Alliod, marketing manager for Cairngorm Mountain on our trip around the Scottish ski centres.

We asked Tania some questions about the most famous Scottish ski area:

How has the season been in terms of numbers compared to 2010?

Very similar to last season, although we did start earlier than last year – we hope that with fair conditions over Easter we should end up with about 130,000 skier visits this winter compared with 140,000 last winter.

Panoramic view of the Cairngorm mountains, Scotland

Photo: Panoramic view south from the summit of Cairngorm Mountain. By Andrew Last (CC 2.0)

It’s been a good winter for snow conditions in Scotland, does this improve the profile of Cairngorm as a ski destination to UK wintersports enthusiasts?

No doubt that good snow winters and lots of news stories about cold conditions in the UK raises confidence in the Scottish skiing product throughout the country. There is still a perception in the South of the UK that no skiing exists in Scotland worth having but Scotland has never pretended to compete with Europe – you have to take Scottish skiing as you find it – it’s a rough diamond.

Does Cairngorm attract skiers and snowboarders from other countries (including England, Wales and Ireland)?

Cairngorm attracts 30% of its winter skiers over the Christmas and February half term holiday periods. 50% of these customers come from outside Scotland particularly the North of England – it’s a really important market for the whole of the area. It’s not just the skiing that visitors come to enjoy it’s the whole of the Cairngorms National Park. We hear more foreign languages being spoken on the mountain in winter but these are mainly visitors who are living and working in the UK.

What’s been the best thing about the 2011 winter season?

SNOW – lots of it! We’ve also used weekly conditions updates on Youtube which have been immensely popular with snowsports followers. We’ve also had a full programme of racing and events which has been great for the ski club network and kids who are committed to their racing. BASI has also been able to plan and run a number of instructor courses again on CairnGorm. Given that ski instructors are one of the UK ski industries biggest export it’s great to see these courses taking place again in Scotland. Biggest comment from customers has been the great condition of the White Lady – the new winchcat has made a big difference in preparing this area.

And what’s been the worst thing?

Digging out the tunnel and the train track (again and again)!

What is your favourite ski run at Cairngorm and why?

Depends what time of day and where we are in the season, but top to bottom at the end of the day when ski patrol are closing down is pretty special.

What makes Cairngorm different from other Scottish ski areas and why would you choose it over anywhere else?

The mountain skyline and location make Cairngorm iconic – the curved dome of the headwall and the view of the mountain from Loch Morlich makes it instantly recognisable. I’ve been lucky enough to have skied here since I was five years old so it’s home from home – no matter what the weather throws at you…It’s a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors with friends, with family and on your own. Cairngorm and its landscape has soul and attitude in abundance.

Are there any developments or plans for Cairngorm in the next 12 to 18 months?

Yes – a number of projects in early stages of development including a review of the Lower Ciste Chairlift and a family mountain bike park and hopefully with another good season we will be able to commit to some of these capital investment projects.

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Robert has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 20 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Robert is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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