Yes, its snowing in the UK again. And if you are anything like me the slightest hint of the cold is enough to send you into a big fat grump. Its at times like this that i'd like to fly off and enjoy a little bit of winter sun. I was speaking to a friend of mine at the weekend that spends 8 weeks of the Great British winter at his Villa in Tenerife.... jealous? Not, not at all...not a bit...I like the UK winter....did I mention that I now hate this friend after our chat?
Anyway, with this in mind I have been taking a look at some of the properties available in Tenerife in amazing places like Playa De Las Americas. Tenerife is one of the best winter/sun destinations in my opinion as its cheaper than a lot of the luxury destinations and it still great value.
Check out some of the villas available in Tenerife at Bargain Villas. You'll find great deals from private owners and major rental companies like Interhome and Hoseasons.
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Beautiful Javea lies close to the dominating Montgo Mountain in the north of the Costa Blanca. The town started attracting north Europeans more than 30 years ago and many of these visitors never left leaving a thriving ex-pat community. Javea is an attractive destination with plenty to offer visitors including some of Spain's finest golden beaches.
Javea is divided into three parts: Javea Pueblo (the old town); Javea Puerto (the bustling port area); and Playa de Arenal (the main beach area). Today the old town and the port are pretty much joined thanks to the property development which has gone on in the town whilst Playa de Arenal lies some 3km along a rocky beach from the Port.
Javea is protected from harsh winter winds of the north by the massif of Montgó (753 m / 2,471 ft) and it enjoys a unique micro-climate that the World Health Organisation named as one of the healthiest in the world. There are more recorded hours of sunshine per year in Xàbia than in any other place in Spain, making it a popular destination for Northern Europeans during the cold winter months.
- Average maximum temperatures
- Jan 16 °C
- Feb 17 °C
- Mar 22 °C
- Apr 22 °C
- May 26 °C
- Jun 29 °C
- Jul 30 °C
- Aug 32 °C
- Sep 30 °C
- Oct 25 °C
- Nov 22 °C
- Dec 17 °C
The nightlife in Javea is centred around the Arenal where there is a selection of bars and clubs. During the summer, several chiringuitos (beach bars) spring up along the seafront between the Arenal and the port area. The old town region also hosts a wide variety of nightlife options, ranging from the more traditional Spanish bars to modern nightclubs frequented by the locals.
The sandy beach area is an arc of wide white sand flanked by a promenade of shops, bars and restaurants. During the summer evenings there are a number of stalls selling handmade crafts. Many of the bars offer live music and stay open until the early hours. Sand artists and street entertainers work along the Arenal beach during the summer months. The 'Punta del Arenal' behind the Parador Nacional Hotel was once an important Roman settlement where the fish sauce Garum was produced. On the other end of the small bay once stood the Fontana Castle, built in 1424 and destroyed by the English during the Peninsular War in the early 19th century; the ruins of the castle now lie under modern apartment buildings but some of the castle's surviving cannons sit outside the Church of Sant Bartolomé in the old town.
The nearest place to the UK you can hope to visit (at low cost) for guaranteed heat during the winter months is the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and it has the most facilities, in contrast to tiny El Hierro and La Gomera, where tourism has had less of an impact. Gran Canaria has the best beaches, while Lanzarote is volcanic, so parts of the island are covered in lava and ashes, and many of the beaches have black sand.
The main Island Tenerife has an amazing climate during the UK winter months. Take a look at the graphic below where you can see tempretures are still in their 20's!
For you next winter sun break why not search Bargain Villas. We have hundreds of properties for Tenerife villa rental supplied by both large villa rental companies as well as private owners.
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It's easy to see why Cyprus has been one of the most popular locations for Britons to have a holiday home over recent decades.
"People feel it's a real home away from home. They love the weather, of course, low crime, as well as the fact that English is spoken fluently everywhere and they even drive on the left," said Eileen Hardy, a director of Paphos-based estate agency Hardy Estates (hardyestatescyprus.com).
But there have been spoilers to this island idyll set in the shimmering eastern Mediterranean. Firstly, there was the legacy of the island's painful division between the Greek south and the Turkish north. Displaced Greek Cypriots have a claim on land – which has been upheld in the UK courts – in the north of the island which has been subsequently resold to British buyers. In one case, the British buyers has been forced off the land and out of the dream holiday villa they thought was theirs. Whatever the rights and wrongs of such situations, the property business on the whole island has suffered reputational damage.
"We don't have the same situation here in the south as in the north, but buyers have to be aware of certain land ownership issues," says Ms Hardy. "Every bit of land is registered – as a legacy of the British. But when you buy a new-build property in particular you can be waiting a long time – sometimes several years – to get your hands on the title deeds. The development has to be completed before the title deeds can be applied for. If the developer has mortgaged the land, then that has to be paid off before the deeds are available. In most cases, there's no problem but you have to do your homework."
Usually, the problem of title deeds can be avoided by buying a second-hand property rather than a new build, Ms Hardy says. However, even in this instance there are some homes which have been standing for 10 or 20 years yet still don't have a title deed.
"If you are considering buying property in Cyprus, the key is to get the correct legal advice. Fortunately, documents should be in English," said Rob Wilson, the overseas property director at Rightmove.co.uk. "Don't go with the lawyer the seller suggests or the developer – source your own. Check out the Association of International Property Professionals to find a suitable lawyer."
On top of such knotty legal problem came the credit crunch, subsequent global recession and the pound's crash against the euro which hit the buying power of all those Britons. This hit the Cypriot property market for six. "If you bought three or four years ago, you'd be very lucky to make your money back selling now," Ms Hardy said.
However, Cyprus is on the way back. Ms Hardy reports activity comfortably up on last year. Developers are building again in a still sparsely populated island. At a top-end development, Aphrodite Hills, near Paphos in the beautiful south-west coastal area of the island, the sales manager, Yiannos Panayides, says they have reported a return in buyers from the UK, making up 60 per cent of the total purchasers, with Russians the next biggest group making up 30 per cent of new home buyers.
The resort, owned by Lanitis Development and Marfin Laiki Bank, the second biggest bank in Cyprus, is selling 44 villas and apartments to be completed in 2012. The Alexander Heights has stunning sea views and nestles next to the resort's 18-hole PGA championship golf course and within a short walk of the on-site tennis academy. The villas all have pools, extra basement space, underfloor heating, smart home technology and landscaped gardens. Prices start at ¤1.09m (£925,000). Apartments have terraces or gardens and prices start at ¤598,500 for two bedrooms. Owners get a free two-year membership of the golf and tennis clubs, which can be transferred to guests. In addition, owners get a 10 per cent discount on the site shop and the wide range of site restaurants. The jewel in the crown of the resort is the spa with massage and facial treatments as well an extensive infinity pool. In 2008 it scooped the the European spa of the year award at the Professional Beauty awards. Lanitis's links to Marfin Laiki bank mean that financing a purchase can be relatively straightforward, with mortgage rates not too dissimilar to those in Britain. "Mortgages are available at a loan to value of 75 per cent at a euro base rate plus 3.75 per cent [equivalent to 4.75 per cent]. Most buyers take this option," Mr Panayides said.
Cryprus also remains one of the most popular villa rental destinations. Why not choose a Cheap Cryprus Villa rental from Bargain Villas the next time your thinking of flying off to catch some beautiful sun.
Looking for a Chamonix Piste Map?
Check out the following link for a huge selection courtesy of Google Maps - Chamonix Piste Maps from Google Maps
EXTENT OF THE SLOPES
There are several low beginner areas dotted along the Chamonix valley but there are five main areas.
The gondola for Le Brévent departs a short, steep walk or bus ride from the centre. There are runs on open slopes below the arrival point and a cable car above takes you to the summit. There is lift link to La Flégère, also accessible via an inadequate old cable car from the village of Les Praz. Both of these sunny areas give stunning views of Mont Blanc.
Up the valley at Argentière a cable car or chairlift take you up to Les Grands Montets. Chairs and a gondola serve excellent steep terrain above mid-mountain, but much of the best terrain is accessed by a further cable car of relatively low capacity, not covered by the basic valley pass (Chamonix Le Pass). This shady area can be very cold in early season.
A little way further up the valley, the secluded village of Le Tour sits at the foot of the Balme area of mainly easy pistes. A gondola goes up to mid-mountain, with a mix of drags and chairs above. The slopes are also accessible from Vallorcine (right by the train station). It is also the starting point for good off-piste runs, some ending in Switzerland.
Les Houches is the only major area down-valley of Chamonix. This low, wooded area is accessed by a gondola or cable car from the village. The lifts are not covered by the basic pass.
Cable cars and gondolas serve each sector, but many need upgrading to be fully efficient. The handful of fast chairs are widely scattered.
Ancient lifts, serious queues
The overdue replacement of the Brévent gondola a couple of seasons ago was very welcome, and reporters find it a huge improvement. But this was only one of the valley’s problem lifts. The ancient Flégère cable car can generate queues of an hour or more – to go down as well as up. The lifts out of Argentière build queues, and the chairlift appears to be on its last legs – it no longer operates from the main station, but starts a short way up the slope. At mid-mountain, the top cable car is a famous bottleneck. You can book slots in advance (at the ticket office or online) and it’s ‘best to do this the day before as places tend to sell out early’, says a reporter. Instead you can join the ‘stand by’ queue, which we’ve found to be an effective alternative. A 2010 reporter suggests going to Vallorcine and taking the gondola to miss queues at Le Tour if skiing La Balme.
At Les Houches the two access lifts are widely separated, and it’s worth going for the modern gondola rather than the inadequate Bellevue cable car. Both of these lifts build queues in poor weather when woody Les Houches gets crowded. Expect queues on the hill, too – all the chairs here are slow.
Crowded pistes are also reported to be a problem in places – most notably at Lognan on Grands Montets.
In outlying areas
The experienced HO5 crew, responsible for parks in several other French resorts and headed by ex-international pro Nico Watier, has been working hard to fine-tune the 800m long Snow Bowl park on the Grands Montets. It features a good range of obstacles including eight tabletops, four rails and a step-up, step-down feature. The Fun Zone is designed for beginners wanting their first taste of air time. And there’s a boardercross too. You can check the latest details at www.ho5park.com.
There are also two terrain parks at Les Houches, one of which is floodlit twice a week.
One of the great resorts
Chamonix is renowned for its extensive steep terrain and deep snow. To get the best out of the area you really need to have a local guide. There is also lots of excellent terrain for ski-touring on skins. See the feature panel for more on off-piste possibilities.
The Grands Montets cable car offers stunning views from the observation platform above the top station – if you’ve got the legs and lungs to climb the 121 steep metal steps. (But beware: it’s 200 more slippery steel steps down from the cable car before you hit the snow.) The ungroomed black pistes from here – Point de Vue and Pylones – are long and exhilarating. The former sails right by some dramatic sections of glacier, with marvellous views of the crevasses.
The Bochard gondola serves a challenging red back to Lognan and a black to either Plan Joran or the chairlift below. Shortly after you have made a start down the black, you can head off-piste down the Combe de la Pendant bowl (‘excellent, so much space, always great snow’).
At Le Brévent there’s more to test experts than the piste map suggests – there are a number of variations on the runs down from the summit. Some are very steep and prone to ice. The runs in Combe de la Charlanon are quiet and include one red piste and excellent off-piste if the snow is good.
At La Flégère there are further challenging slopes – in the Combe Lachenal, crossed by the linking cable car, say – and a tough run back to the village when the snow permits. The short draglift above L’Index opens up a couple of good steep runs (a red and a black) plus a good area of off-piste.
Balme boasts little tough terrain on-piste but there are off-piste routes from the high points to Le Tour, towards Vallorcine or into Switzerland.
Plenty of better resorts
Chamonix is far from ideal for intermediates unless they relish challenging slopes and trying off-piste. If what you want is mile after mile of lift-linked cruisy pistes, go elsewhere.
For less confident intermediates, the Balme area above Le Tour is good for cruising and usually free from crowds. There are excellent shady, steeper runs, wooded lower down, on the north side of Tête de Balme, served by a fast quad. A lovely blue run goes on down to Vallorcine but it is prone to closure.
The other areas have some blue and red runs. Even the Grands Montets has an area of blues at mid-mountain. The step up to the red terrain higher up is quite pronounced, however.
If the snow and weather are good, confident intermediates can join a guided group and do the Vallée Blanche (see feature panel).
A day trip to Courmayeur makes an interesting change of scene, especially when the weather is bad (it can be sunny there when Chamonix’s high lifts are closed by blizzards or high winds).
Head for Le Tour
Chamonix is far from ideal for beginners too – there are countless better resorts in which to learn. There are nursery slopes either side of Chamonix itself, but they are limited, low and (in the case of Les Planards) dark and cold in mid-winter. They are separated from the other sectors of slopes, so moving on to longer runs is a major upheaval. La Vormaine, at Le Tour, is a much better bet: extensive, relatively high, sunny and connected to the slopes of the Balme area, where there are easy long runs to progress to. But it’s 12km from Chamonix itself.
The undisputed king of freeride resorts, Chamonix is a haven for advanced snowboarders who relish the steep and wild terrain.
This means, however, that in peak season it’s crowded and fresh snow gets tracked out very quickly.
The rough and rugged nature of the slopes means it is not best suited for beginners, but for more experienced adventurous riders, willing to try true all-mountain riding. If you do the Vallée Blanche, be warned: the usual route is flat in places.
Check out former British champ Neil McNab’s excellent extreme backcountry camps at www.mcnabsnowboarding.com. Most areas are equipped mainly with cable cars, gondolas and chairs.
However, there are quite a few difficult drags at Balme that cause inexperienced boarders problems – though you can avoid these if you can hack the cat tracks to take you to other lifts, says a reporter.
There are terrain parks on Grands Montets and at Les Houches.
FOR CROSS COUNTRY
A decent network of trails
Most of the 40km of prepared trails lie at valley level in and between Chamonix and Argentière. All the trails are shady and often icy in midwinter, and they fade fast in the spring sun. Catch the bus rather than ski between the Chamonix and Argentière areas, suggests a reporter, as the link is by ‘steep and difficult trails’.
Chamonix Piste guide source
Chamonix is one of the most beautiful Ski resorts in Mont Blanc France. search Bargain Villas for a bargain Ski Villa in Chamonix
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