Tomorrowland Winter (Alphe D'Huez)
From the minute Tomorrowland announced there would be a winter edition our friends and we started talking of going there. As we succeeded in attending Tomorrowland in Belgium several times, and we like it very much, so we thought we should be part of this winter party as well. The day the packages were sold, we were in Kyrgyzstan, so we could not participate ourselves, but we were relying on our friends. As we also were disconnected from the world, we had no clue if they succeeded in buying tickets or not…
Luckily we got positive news when we came back on-line and within cell phone reach. One of our friends succeeded in obtaining tickets and was able to score a nice apartment close to the festival.
What is Tomorrowland Winter?
In short: A mix between hard music beats while skiing. There is a main festival area with a Main Stage, L’Orangerie, Eden, the Garden of Madness and the special Moose Bar. For the rest there are several scenes spread across the slopes where depending of the altitude and location first artists start at 10 AM and the last ones end by 4 PM. Most of the scenes are reachable by both ski and foot/lift, but some stages are only reachable by ski or snowboard. On the festival area the first performances start around noon time and go on depending of the stage till 2 AM.
Many people wonder what it costs. We paid approximately 1400 euro per person which covers: 7 overnight stays, 7 day ski pass & festival access. We also got vouchers for a 1 time pool access in the outdoor city pool, 1 time access to the gym & 1 time access to the ice skate ring including ice skates. There was also a goodies bag which included an Ice Tea, a Tomorrowland Winter sticker & a black Tomorrowland branded scarf. Knowing that we were in a 5 star resort, makes it quite affordable according to us.
Drinks on the festival area were affordable according to apres ski standards. Here is an indication
– 33 cl of water 1.50 pearl
– 33 cl can of beer (Budweiser) 2.00 pearl
– 33 cl draft beer (Stella) 3.00 pearl
– 4 cl spirit with soda 5.00 pearl
Off course, you have to multiply by the 2.15 euro unit price per pearl!
There were several restaurants on the slopes which were “taken over” by Tomorrowland where they served special dishes. We only visited La Cabana were we got roasted chicken (classic / provincial or Thai) with potatoes, a small salad and a small tiramisu as dessert. The portion was royal and tasteful, but this was sold for 15.00 pearls (32 euro) which made it extremely expensive according to us. Or it must have been exclusive French chickens 🙂
Anyway, we learned that food and drinks on the slopes in France are more expensive compared to Austria. This might have been linked to it as well. The other days we searched for non Tomorrowland branded restaurants a bit away from the festival area, which was a cheaper alternative. Many of these place were also less crowded than the Tomorrowland branded restaurants.
For dinner you had food on the festival, but we never ate on the festival square. We always went for local restaurants. We visited a couple of them by searching TripAdvisor and found great food for acceptable prices. Again, more expensive than in Austria, but it was not such a big difference. Think about 15 to 16 euro for a pizza where you would pay it 13 to 14 euro in Austria.
We stayed in the brand new apartments of Daria-I Nor which is a 5 star resort with spa and wellness area. It was a brand new building that only opened around New Year. Little later the first reviews started to appear on sites like TripAdvisor and the more we read, the more we got worried. The place got a lot of negative comments and conclusion was that they had to rush to open for the season and not everything was done…
But we can be short here, we had a great stay. The check-in was smooth and the people at the front desk were always helpful. We had apartment 402 and that one was in good condition. All amenities were present and the only 2 things we could find is that indeed, the toilet flush buttons are not well fitted in the wall (who cares?) and that the rooms have very strange sizes. Some are very small so they nearly fit your suitcase and others are so big they could have added an extra room in the apartment.
I only used the in-apartment sauna twice but the others went to the included wellness and were satisfied with the services. I can’t comment much on those, as I did not visit it.
The apartment ski locker room is next to the main entrance and from there you have to follow a small path (approximately 150 meter) and then a steep and annoying short stair to the Alpe Express middle station. That (new) gondola brings you to the main starting point where you have access to 4 lifts, one of them across the gorge.
In the evening we took the Alpe Express in the opposite direction getting out in the middle station. There you have to take a stair down, pass under the gondola, take the stair up, leave the premise of the gondola, and go back down the steep annoying stair of the morning followed by the path of 150 m back to the ski locker. This is acceptable, but it would have made more sense to have the ski locker next to the ski shop in the building, so you could avoid the annoying steep stair. But don’t be afraid, the hotel is still good located and you are really in the middle of the action, certainly for Tomorrowland Winter.
The ski locker for apartment 402 is not big enough. Not all our material fitted. We were with 9 people skiing and 1 snowboarding and that clearly did not fit. We ended up storing the snowboard on the balcony during night time. Another issue with the ski locker room was that the first day it was probably 40 degrees in there, which was very easy to get in your boots, but the following 2 days the heating was not or nearly not working leaving us with cold boots. After reaching out to the front desk staff it improved for the last days, but certainly not to the level it should.
The strong point of the apartment is that they have a morning bread service so you can find your pastries or bread at the door around 7:30. Like this the experience is very close to an hotel as you don’t have to fetch it yourself. With the fully equipped kitchen (fridge, small freezer, microwave oven, cooking plate and dish washer) you can easily prepare breakfast. We did not use it for lunch or dinner.
About the infrastructure of the ski area I can be short. Compared to Austria it is outdated, slow and inconvenient. Only an exceptional lift has a bubble and in the most of the gondolas you have to either stand up or you have a very small sitting area. Most of the times you have to take your gear inside the gondola where we are used to store it outside the gondola. The lifts where you have to sit are most of the times old ones which do not slow down, so getting on and off can be tricky and painful if you are not very careful. Maybe it was linked to a lot of beginners or getting more people on and of the lift without skis, but to our impression the lifts were way more stopped during the ride compared to Austria. At some lifts it is sometimes hard to get to the slope. Sometimes you still have to climb a short distance before you reach the actual slope. Things we are not used to in the domain in Austria where we go. But off course, I don’t want to generalize too much. We are comparing 1 resort in France to top resorts in Austria.
If you read our experience about the infrastructure you might expect the worst for the slopes, but that is not the case. The slopes were in good condition. The slopes were each morning in good condition and even if it had snowed during all night, most of the slopes were prepared in the morning. Certainly the lower areas. There was a seldom one where you really had to go through 30 cm of fresh snow. But then again, although I don’t really like this, it’s just another challenge to overcome.
I was told that black in Austria is only red in France, but I can bust that myth. The coloring is the same and there are plenty of blue and red slopes in Alpe D’Huez, so beginners do not have to fear. The more experienced skiers can find several black slopes on Pic Blanc. In total they claim to have 249 km of slopes. It is enough to explore during 6 ski days. You will not feel bored here. And we like it to do several slopes multiple times, certainly if we like them.
The world famous Sarenne, was marked on our to do list, as it is legendary and they state it’s one of the longest prepared slopes in the Alps.The expectations were very high and they are partially met. We went to the top with good weather and the views are indeed really beautiful. In the beginning there are a few steeper parts which are in combination with the buckles quite hard to overcome for inexperienced skiers. All the others will do just fine. We can imagine that in the morning this must be a race track 🙂 Towards the end you come in the gorge which is almost flat and does not bring any added value according to us. You can either take the lift at the restaurant or continue a few hundred meters further where you can take the middle station of Alpauris lift.
So, after spending a week on Alpe D’Huez during Tomorrowland Winter, exploring all scenes and dancing during famous DJ sets, we can now conclude on how it was.
Although we were delighted to be present during the first edition of Tomorrowland Winter, it will most likely be the only time we will attend Tomorrowland Winter. The main reason is that as passionate skiers we concluded you cannot combine the both. The concerts on the slopes start already at 10 am and go on till 4 pm, but during daytime we are skiing, and only stop for a quick coffee or a lunch, and then move on quickly to cover more kilometers on the slopes. Secondly, mostly we were not yet in the mood for techno or hard beats in the morning. That only started to come towards the end of the day.
In the evening we are used to apres ski between 4 PM and 21 PM, grab some food and go to bed so we are ready for an early start the next day. Now the DJ sets continued till 2 AM and often we only went to bed after midnight. Towards the end of the week the constant short nights are getting heavy.
So it was a great experience but most likely it will stay with this one time incredible experience. If you ever have the chance, go experience it yourself. You won’t regret it.