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Bulgaria’s Bansko Named World’s Best Value Ski Resort

24 October 2011

Bansko, Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort, is the cheapest resort for British skiers in the world, according to new research by the Post Office.

While last year it ranked second, preceded by Romania’s Poiana Brasov, now Bansko has emerged as the most attractive winter resort for Britons on a budget since prices have fallen by 5% in comparison with 2010.

The total cost for ski equipment, lift passes, ski tuition, drinks and an evening meal for two came in at £263 which was still £100 cheaper than at the runner-up resort of Arinsal in Andorra, whose prices have also fallen by 5%, according to the Ski Resort Report 2011, carried out by Post Office Travel Money in association with Crystal Ski.

In third place, making its first entry into the list, came Slovenia’s emerging resort Bohinj.

"Skiers on a budget have great value resorts to choose from if they head east to Bulgaria and Slovenia or west to Andorra. Italy is also looking good for those skiers who prefer skiing in one of the long-established favourites," head of Post Office Travel Money, Sarah Munro, commented.

Last year Bansko was named the winter capital on the Balkans at an international tourism exhibition in the Serbian town of Novi Sad.

The little town bordering Pirin National Park, about 160 kilometers south of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, offers a stark but nice contrast between the cobbled streets and churches of the old town and hundreds of millions of euros poured into hotels, ski runs and bright blue gondola bubbles in its modern part.

Supervising all this is the roughly 2,800-meter Todorka peak.

The formerly off-the-beaten-path destination has recently gone mainstream, but it is very rarely that tourists see the vistas doom-sayers warn against – construction cranes and gaudy mutrobaroque hotels, favored by the nouveau riche and organized crime mobsters, known as mutri, with which they try to prove their wealth.

Tourists need to spend no more than 25 euros a night in those hotels, which exemplify Bansko’s ambitions best – quite chic, but without the ridiculous attempts to be consmopolitan often found at Bulgarian resorts.

The old town, where the prices are lower even than the capital Sofia, is a collection of ski and souvenir shops with cozy, dimly lit taverns and restaurants. It is not unusual to see an entire lamb or pig roasting on a spit in front of one of the eateries.

The alternatives are the pubs, frequented by British, Irish and Greek tourists, who, together with the Russians, have until recently been the driving force of Bansko’s prosperity.

Critics say Bansko was built to meet the standards of not that wealthy tourists, who do not bring lots of money to the country. As the global crisis bit, however, the number of these tourists, who out of fears for their jobs, decided to skip the holidays altogether, drastically decreased.

Bansko’s long-term attraction will be limited, unless what is on offer complies with the highest standards, they say.


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