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Once popular only with the hardy, and those who saw life as one long experiment, old resorts are getting a facelift at a cracking pace, and new ones are being built. The latest, Bukovel, looks set to become one of Europe’s top resorts: and we mean it!
Prices remain low by European standards, however, both for ski passes and rental equipment.
Besides the big resorts there are also numerous smaller ski areas in quaint small towns that are still relatively untouched by modern civilization. Yaremcha, Slavske, Tysovets and other traditional ski resorts have hotels, cottages, and ski equipment rental shacks. Though services lack in breadth and the infrastructure may have seen better times, the Carpathian villages have a special charm that makes up for any inconvenience.
Bukovel is a new, large ski resort in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, 30 km to the west of Yaremcha. It is Ukraine’s first European-class resort, with a couple of high-speed chair lifts, meticulously groomed slopes and snow-making machines, and ubiquitous security personnel. Indeed, it’s rather unusual to see this degree of organisation in Ukraine. Bukovel has been carefully planned to make skiing enjoyable and convenient and to avoid long lift queues and congestion: lift lines longer than five minutes are rare.
Bukovel has major plans for expansion; supposedly over the next few seasons it plans to have 278 km of pistes and 35 (!) lifts, which would make it one of the 20 largest ski resorts in the world. Currently, before the start of this season, there were 14 lifts and 50 km of runs. The resort has its own website; visit www.bukovel.com/en/webcams for an idea of current snow conditions.
Bukovel’s ski slopes
Bukovel’s base elevation is nearly 900 m above sea level, and the highest ski lift rises to 1370 m, making Bukovel the second highest ski resort in Ukraine. All categories of slope difficulty are available. There is a very long gradual slope that is perfect for beginners, a couple of short tows for children and “super-beginners”, all levels of intermediate runs, and several black diamond runs for experts. Night skiing is available from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, but currently only on one slope that is an upper intermediate. Bukovel is growing rapidly, and new equipment and runs are being added each year. Check the piste map at map www.bukovel.com/en/map: blue indicates slopes for beginners, red is for intermediates, and black marks advanced slopes.
Bukovel lift passes
Prices at Bukovel are considerably higher than elsewhere in Ukraine. One lift ride costs 15Hr Mon-Thu and 18Hr Fri-Sun. Passes can be bought for half a day, evening skiing, a whole day, several days, or the entire season. For example, a day pass (good for all lifts) costs 152Hr during the week and 178Hr on weekends. About half of the lifts are chair lifts, and the other half are tows.
Lift passes can be bought in several places around the base of the mountain and can be used by anyone, so you could theoretically give your pass to someone else in your group while you take a break during the day.
There are two central locations where skis can be rented (see picture below). All skis are 2-3 years old or less and are in excellent condition. The cheapest (and most popular) set costs 55Hr on weekdays and 65 Hr on weekends (Fri-Sun). Each person who rents skis must leave a passport or driver’s license - or leave a deposit of $500. In addition, there are snowmobiles available for rent. At the base of the mountain there are storage lockers for boots and other belongings, nice bathrooms, and a ski school with group and individual instruction several times a day.
Where to eat
Bukovel has several restaurants next to the different mountains - including a pizzeria and an outdoor cafe part of the way up the central mountain. Prices are quite high by Ukrainian standards, but the service and dining are generally better than elsewhere.
From Kyiv you can travel by plane to Ivano-Frankivsk or Lviv, or take the train or bus to the same cities. From Ivano-Frankivs’k or Lviv you can get to Bukovel by taxi, bus or marshrutka (minivan).
The distance from Ivano-Frankivs'k to Bukovel is 110km, from Lviv to Bukovel - 245km.
If you drive, you should go via Ivano-Frankivs'k. Then you should drive through the towns of Nadvirna and Yaremche, and then through the villages of Mykulychyn, Tatariv and Polyanutzya, and follow the signs for Bukovel.
There is free parking at Bukovel.
The Bukovel Hotel
Bukovel Hotel is a modern three-star cottage complex built in 2001. It is located within a few minute’s walk of Bukovel’s main ski lifts. There is excellent security at the resort; parking lots are guarded, and security guards are posted around the complex. Excellent lighting at night makes Bukovel a perfect place for evening walks, and a number of fine restaurants and cafes are available for guests.
The complex has a fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool, tanning saloon, and playgrounds for the children. All rooms have comfortable furniture, a bathroom w/shower, cable TV, phone, and minibar.
Bukovel allows check-ins only on certain dates, and reservations can be made for 3, 4, 7, 10, or 14 days. Find out specific check-in dates by calling tel. 01 342 55 95