Passo Tonale ski review – Italian resort the perfect place to get back on the slopes
After a somewhat stuttered start to the season, the ski resorts are (almost) back in full swing.
The slopes of Passo Tonale in Italy were ready and calling me as I returned to skiing with Crystal Ski after an extended break.
Located in the Dolomites, the snow-capped 1,883m resort is popular with families and beginners with miles of rolling blue runs that made it the perfect place to rediscover my love of skiing after more than a decade away from the slopes. .
Passe Tonale is a purpose-built resort, with the majority of hotels, bars and shops along a road, which sits at the bottom of a row of ski slopes. It is therefore easy to navigate with everything within an easy walking distance of about 3 km.
The small town center is quaint and charming with traditional Alpine-style buildings housing hotels, restaurants and quaint souvenir shops, including a fabulous chocolate factory with chocolate fountain and artisan ice cream that is not to be missed.
Passe Tonale straddles the mountain pass that connects Italy’s Trentino and Lombardy regions, and at over 1,800 meters it’s high enough for good snow conditions all winter long, usually until the end of April .
The town is linked to neighboring Ponte Di Legno – a larger town with a more traditional European layout around a main square – by ski slopes, a road and a gondola.
With 100km of mainly intermediate and easy runs, including half a dozen shorter runs just opposite the town centre, Passe Tonale is an ideal resort for families and beginners, or those regaining their ski legs after a pause like me.
In total, there are nine easy blue runs, 25 intermediate red runs and seven black runs in the resort. With long rolling and scenic blue runs, including a glacier blue run, there were more than enough easy runs to fill several days of skiing before I felt confident enough to try a red run.
With half a dozen trails ending in front of downtown, the trails never felt crowded, even at the end of the day to get off the trails. There were also no queues at any of the chair lifts while I was there the last week of January.
After a few hours with a ski school instructor I was ready to make my own way and found the resort very easy to navigate using the piste map in the Crystal ski explorer app.
A five minute walk from the main ski area is the gondola to the glacier ski area at 3,000m. For non-skiers, it costs €22 to get to the top and back via two different gondolas and is well worth it for the view alone.
At the top of the glacier is a long blue run, two red runs, three restaurants and gondola stops, with a black run joining a red run leading to the more challenging Ponte Di Legno ski area.
As a returning skier, with less than expert skills, the runs offered the perfect balance of scenic and enjoyable easy routes, with challenge and improvement options for intermediate skiers.
I stayed at the Grand Hotel Paradiso which oozes chic, with a modern neutral color palette and huge floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the uninterrupted mountain scenery that surrounds the hotel.
Set slightly away from the main hotel strip, the stylish hotel is on the side of town closest to the gondolas (less than a five-minute walk away) and has ski-to-door access to the top of the mountain. a staircase outside the hotel.
The neutral, unstated chic decor continues into the huge rooms, which have floor-to-ceiling windows with balconies to take in stunning sunset views.
The hotel has a boutique spa area in the basement with a swimming pool, steam rooms and a sauna which was delightful after a long day on the slopes. And in keeping with the family resort, the hotel has kids’ clubs and a game room
Food and drink
Prices at Passe Tonale were far more reasonable than at other ski resorts I’ve visited, with hearty lunches in mountainside restaurants costing between €10 and €15 including a drink.
Of the half-dozen bars and restaurants at the foot of the downtown slopes, La Baracca is the pick of the bunch. The glass-enclosed restaurant offers great views of the slopes, especially on the sunny day we visited, and offers table service for just a few Euros more per course than the more typical self-service restaurants nearby.
The Grand Hotel Paradiso offers a generous buffet breakfast – perfect to get you ready for a full day of skiing – and a generous evening buffet. Away from the hotel, La Torretta Cucina Pizza is an excellent choice for traditional Trentino cuisine – think Italian meets Germanic gastronomy, with meat stews, dumplings, polenta, pasta and antipasto se jostling for space on an expansive menu. For an extra special treat we enjoyed a four course Trentino tasting menu in a former 12th century monastery at Hotel La Mirandola which was spectacular.
Although the après ski is still not as lively as before the pandemic due to covid restrictions, there are still a number of bars at the bottom of the slopes playing loud music and a large Aperol Spritz for skiers happy. The Italian skier’s reward of choice is a bombardino drink made with Advocaat or eggnog mixed with rum or brandy served hot and I can vouch for its popularity
It should be noted that all bars and restaurants require you to scan your covid “green pass” on entry. An NHS covid pass confirming that you have received a dose of vaccine (either a booster, first or second vaccine) within the last six months is valid as a green pass in Italy.
Looking for an après-ski activity away from the bars? I can highly recommend night snowmobiling. A guided tour takes you speeding down the slopes in the main ski areas, along the tree-lined road to Ponte Di Legno before a quick climb back into the town center and it’s great fun.
Selected Passe Tonale ski passes include a day of skiing at another resort in the area and after a few days in the resort we went skiing to Madonna di Campiglio. After a 50 minute drive we arrived at the resort’s main gondola station and were able to spend a full day riding wide tree lined blue runs on both sides of the resort which was a real highlight travel.
Book a stay
Crystal Ski Holidays (020 8610 3123) is offering a seven-night half-board stay at the four-star Grand Paradiso Hotel from £642 pp when booked online (based on two sharing), including including flights from Manchester to Verona and transfers (price given is for departure on March 26, 2022).
Direct flights available from all major UK airports.
Prices quoted are correct for passes at the time of Crystal Ski Holidays issue on 07/02/22. Prices provided are subject to change and have limited availability. Terms and conditions of application.