Uludag (pronounced "oo-la-dar" and meaning 'Great Mountain') has been Turkey's leading ski resort since the sport began in this country and although it's leading status is now under threat in some respects, it is likely to remain the country's most cosmopolitan winter destination for the forseeable future. Dubbed the Aspen or St Moritz of Turkey it's a picturesque resort of lightly coloured Alpine chalet style buildings, surrounded by the pretty, woodland slopes of a National Park. The woodland has a better mix of trees than in most ski areas - chestnuts, pines, oaks and beech rub branches with one another at Uludag. The national park location has meant strict planning and development controls, which has generally been for the good of the resort over the years. The dozen or so hotels that make up Uludag are either slopeside or just over the road from the lifts. The resort began in the 1950s with a couple of hotels after previously being used as a winter training area for the Turkish armed forces as long ago as the 1930s. The first lift opened in 1959. There are (long standing) plans to add at least half a dozen more new hotels and a similar number of lifts. It's proximity to Istanbul to the North West and Turkish capital Ankara to the west helped to ensure its rapid success. Many well-heeled Turks arrive in their droves at the weekend, but the resort is usually quiet midweek, outside holiday periods. The busiest time is mid-February, with Easter week quieter than most Northern Hemisphere ski areas, thanks to the fact that Islam and not Christianity is the dominant religion here. Men apparently outnumber female visitors even more heavily than at most ski areas too. Prices are high by Turkish standards but for many international guests the value factor remains very good overall. Service standards are extremely high, the locals are "genuinely friendly" and English is more widely spoken here than at any other Turkish ski centre. Uludag is arguably more famous for its celebrity-spotting than for its skiing. As with Aspen, Italy's Cortina and St Moritz, more visitors come for the shopping, the nightlife or just to 'see and be seen' than for the snow sports. The resort doesn't do itself any favours with its mountain experience either, with the 13 lifts owned by nine separate companies who neither operate a joint lift ticket nor, apparently, do much to ensure they work in cooperation with one another. So it is that two other Turkish resorts, nearby Kartalkaya and over in the East of Turkey, Palandoken, have managed to challenge Uludag's status - by offering consolidated, modern and well organised lift networks. So it is that whilst a few international tour operators from countries in Northern Europe still run tours to Uludag, the return of UK tour operators to Turkey - who went to Uludag in the late 1980s and early 1990s for a few seasons, have opted for Palandoken - a good and easy skiing and boarding experience rather than a lot of Turkish celebrities being the main attraction for British clients apparently. Some Brits do return however, and Dutch, Germans and increasingly Russians make up the normal international clientele here, although that remains less than 5% of the total. Uludag is reportedly fighting back against its new competitors with new lifts planned as well as, equally importantly, a real multi-lift ticket to enjoy the existing ones as well as the new ones. Besides, the resort's popularity isn't suffering with long time Uludag fans reporting that it gets ever more crowded. Uludag stands at around 1800m (aprox 6000 ft) above sea level, with the ancient city of Bursa below. Bursa, about 5000 years old, was once capital f the Ottoman Empire and has been ruled by Alexander The Great. Today the city has a population of around a million and is linked to the resort by road or cable car. Its presence gives an added dimension to a destination resort holiday in Uludag, with the shopping, sightseeing, dining and other leisure experiences it brings. Bursa has been famed for its thermal springs and resulting curative baths since pre-Roman times.
Pronounced "oo-la-dar", the biggest resort in Turkey is close to the sea and historic sites and is surrounded by a 600-year-old national forest. High-value skiing with the option of heli-skiing on the Zivre Peak (2543 M ).