With four resorts less than 40 minutes drive from the airport – and several only about 15 minutes – Slovakia and the High Tatras mountains are now a viable option for UK skiers looking for an alternative to the Alps and Pyrenees.
The new flights, departing four times a week, will serve the best-know resort Jasna, in the Low Tatras, as well as Tatranská Lomnica, Starý Smokovec and Štrbské Pleso in the neighbouring High Tatras, which together offer 70km of pistes.
The combination of low-cost flights and seriously short transfers make Slovakia a great option for families. The beginner-friendly resorts are good for families learning to ski and snowboard too, with plenty of indoor and outdoor parks to play in, and in Jasná, Slovakia’s largest winter arena for kids to learn in.
A big factor will be the low cost of living, as eating and drinking out is significantly cheaper here than in any of the other usual European ski destinations.
As well as a 200m Euro investment of the last seven years in infrastructure and facilities, there are now three thermal aquaparks for extra family fun: the Tatralandia and Gino Paradise in Liptov and Aquacity in the Poprad, High Tatras.
In terms of skiing, Jasna has 46km of groomed pistes and a five-month snow guarantee thanks to snow-making facilities. It also has 12 lift-accessed freeride zones to keep the powder hounds happy.
Štrbské Pleso is the highest resort, whose lower cable car station is located at an altitude of 1,400m. The resort has only 9km of slopes, including 2km of new ones, but all have snow-making facilities and this is the only resort in the High Tatras to offer night skiing.
The most modern ski resort in the High Tatras, Tatranská Lomnica, offers 11 slopes of various levels of difficulty, including the highest and steepest slope in Slovakia, the Lomnické sedlo (the saddle on Lomnické at 2,190m). The 6.5km descent from here to the resort 1,287m below will keep even the most advanced skiers and snowboarders on their toes.
Underlining its growing freeride credentials, Jasna will be hosting the world’s top freeriders at one of the qualifying events for the Freeride World Tour at the end of February. The World Snowboard Tour will also make a stop here with the Sony Xperia Snowboard Fest, as will the Winter Universiade 2015, and the FIS World Cup in 2016.
Besides these important sporting events there is also the Tatry Ice Master, an Ice Sculpting World Championship and in Jasna a huge event will be Snowster, with fashion shows and pop concerts.