Although perhaps little known in large parts of the winter sports resort community outside Turkey, Palandöken has in fact been one of the world's fastest growing major centres in the past decade. It has managed to combine the magic ingredients of a successful destination resort far better than most of the well known world top 50 resorts. For Palandöken today has firstly a sizeable network of well connected trails over a 1000m (3350ft)+ vertical served by a modern lift network that includes Turkey's only gondola, itself only a few seasons old. So far so good - next we have the resort itself - not a traditional village on the mountain but instead a selection of slopeside hotel complexes with all amenities and stretching up to a rare slopeside five star. If you do want a 'traditional' resort then there is the option to stay, or at least visit, the 6000 year old city of Erzurum that lies in the valley below, a few minutes away. So, already ahead of most of the competition, Palandöken has yet more Aces in its pack. Firstly there's the friendly service - OK so all ski resorts SAY the service is friendly but here there seems to be a genuine warmth. Then there's the value, some of the best for a 'proper' ski resort anywhere in the world. Access? …a few minutes from Erzurum airport; children's facilities? …free daycare in hotels and special attractions, shopping? …complexes in hotels and markets in Erzurum eating? …great restaurants in the hotels - centuries old traditional establishments down in Erzurum, and partying …well the Turks are famous for getting lively after midnight and the hotels have discos. There are also leisure complexes including indoor pools in the main hotels. So is there a downside? Well the answer seems to be happily, no, not really. The thing most likely to unnerve some potential visitors from Europe and North America is the resort's location, at the Eastern end of long thin Turkey, well into the Asian side. A few hundred miles to the south lies the northern border of Syria and Iraq, a similar distance to the East is Iran and Azerbaijan with Afghanistan beyond and to the north its Armenia and Georgia as the mountains rise steeply around the Black Sea into the Caucasus, and Europe's highest mountains along the border with Asia. The location of Erzurum gives it a rich heritage having been the most Easterly outpost of the Byzantine Empire and conquered at various times by the Romans, the Mongol hordes, the Russians and the Arabs, amongst others. English is not widely spoken. Some expert skiers claim there isn't enough for them, but the resort does have off-piste trails as well as FIS graded black pistes and heliskiing is an option; big expansion plans should further expand the options. Snow cover is not the problem that it is in other nations with only a few famous resorts - conditions are normally world class and there's snow making back-up. In short Palandöken is a very serious ski resort and has taken Turkish skiing into the 21st century - forcing the long established Turkish number one, Uludag in the West, to re-evaluate itself. Uludag had for decades been the only real option for Turkey's skiers and made it into quite a few European destination brochures in the late 1980s before skiers from abroad became disillusioned with the fragmented lift system and the fact that far more Turks descended to pose and to party than to get on the snow. Uludag is now reportedly looking to consolidate its lifts, build ones and try to recover ground lost to Palandöken.
One of the highest ski areas in Turkey with some of the country's toughest skiing, making it a venue for international competitions (FIS approved pistes). The resort stands above one of the world's oldest cities, 6000 year old Erzurum. Recently redeveloped with new chair lifts and Turkey's first gondola (new in 1998) greatly increasing the skiable area. There are gfour hotels slopeside, including four and five star options with all amenities and excellent value.