The snow cover in Pamporovo is now 80 centimetres deep, and the people operating the tourist facilities there are overjoyed there are so many tourists at hotels, restaurants and on the ski slopes. This year nature has been good to the Rhodope winter resort. Unlike ski centres in other parts of Bulgaria, and even Europe, in the most critical of times when the almost summer temperatures brought staff and skiers to the brink of despair, in Pamporovo temperatures were comparatively low, there was even a dusting of snow. Because of this, it was possible to make artificial snow for some of the ski runs in the resort. That is the reason why this year, many skiers have been opting for Pamporovo instead of the Alps, and it is now among the most popular destinations in Europe. And now, after so much snow over the entire country, all ski slopes in Pamporovo are working at full steam, says Kostadin Belenozov, tourism expert at Chepelare municipality:
“The occupancy rate of the hotels in Pamporovo is over 80%, with guests coming mostly from Turkey, Ireland, and quite a lot from Bulgaria. Conditions are excellent and everyone is very happy. The resort handled the situation in the best possible way. Even though there was no snow anywhere in Europe, skiing conditions in Bulgaria were top-notch. In the most critical of times, skiers were able to use the ski slopes because the staff at Pamporovo was able to make a sufficient amount of artificial snow for them. The prices of the half-day and day skiing passes are the same as last year, ranging from 52 to 85 Leva.”
After winter finally made a comeback in Bulgaria last week, the resort town of Chepelare nearby quickly filled with skiers, eager to make up for lost time. 90% of the guests here are Bulgarian. The so-called red ski run at Mechi Chal ski centre above the town is now open. Sabi Madankov, chairman of the Association of Hoteliers, Restaurateurs and Traders in Chepelare says he is relieved:
“It started snowing, and skiing conditions are good. The Mechi Chal ski centre has been open since Friday. There is something new this year, and it is the construction of a new children’s ski centre which the municipality is funding. It is in the town of Chepelare itself, with a mini platter lift, and lots of different activities for the children, all of them free of charge. When skiing conditions are good, people come back. Temperatures have gone down, so artificial snow can be made. Weather forecasters have promised there will be more snow during the week, and so the other ski runs at Mechi Chal can open too. There are cross-country and snowshoe slopes in the area as well. Usually, the season peaks in Chepelare in February, and up until 10 March. So, I am hoping to see good results.”
Besides the new children’s ski centre, which will open at the beginning of February, Chepelare has two brand new marked trails. The fist starts from the town itself and leads up to a centuries-old water mill, and the other – from the first stop of the Mechi Chal chair lift, and crosses a locality called Yanchovitsa, where remains have been found of a cave dwelling from the Copper-Stone Age. “The trails can be used in winter as well,by hikers on foot as well as by sled,” Sabi Madankov says.
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