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舊 2012-04-14, 07:36   #1
cppoon
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作者: Mike 查看文章
According to their website, UCPA offers simple, hostel style living. Small rooms for 4 or 6 people with bunk beds.
Well, the accommodation they provide is certainly basic (the ucpa standard issue beds are awful by any standards) despite they are usually at prime location of the resort. The number of people in a room or whether the rooms are ensuite varies from centre to centre (there are private twin rooms in some centres).
However, the whole setup makes it really good for single travellers or mixed ability groups. You meet people you share the room with and ski in groups at your level as it felt 90% of people would be taking lessons. Unless you're really unlucky, you'd be skiing with people very similar to your levels and a instructor or guide for the whole week. But this can be a draw of the luck as the refinement of ability grading depends on the ratio of people taking full time or part time lessons, and the location of the centres (say if you are doing off piste in Chamonix centres, you'd probably be allocated in more appropriate group comparing with centres in other resorts, as there are more people sign up for off piste course there)
As you stay in the centre, eating your three meals + afternoon tea in the centre (at most packed lunch on the slope with your group), got all your gears from the centre, ski with the people from the centre (even the instructors live in the centre), and have your nightly entertainment organised by staff im the centre or drinks in the centre bar - you'd have a very institutionalise week with the UCPA. I guess that's the difference between the UCPA and just a hostel.
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舊 2012-08-31, 10:52   #2
Mike
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UCPA was mentioned previously in a number of threads in the forum.

Basically, as "cppoon" described above, the facility on offer is basic, but it is cheap. So it is worth considering if you are on a tight budget.

Take UCPA in Val Thoren as an example, accommodation was in dormitory style rooms for 6 people in three bunk beds. Each room has two sinks in it, a small locker each, some shelves by the sinks and some hooks about the room. The rooms aere quite small without much storage space. It is recommended to travel light and taking couple of hangers with you as there is only one in each locker.

Each bedroom is locked by a key and everyone in the room gets a key, and you can also lock your locker with a padlock. Take one with you, the reception rent them for €5.

The beds are comfy enough but the pillows were awful, very thin and lumpy. Recommend to take your own pillow if you like your neck pain free!

The bedrooms are on the bottom two floors, and there is a central circular common room and then there are three bedroom, two showers and one toilet. There are also a couple of toilets off the common room and upstairs in reception. The showers are in quite small cubicles but the water is very hot and the pressure is strong.

Wifi is available for €19.50 for 7 days. However be aware you can’t transfer this around between devices.

The bar is on the top floor and a circular shape with a big open fire place in the centre of the room. Drinks are very reasonably priced and most people hang out in the bar before and after dinner. There are some organised activities in the evenings (line dancing, karaoke, quiz etc.) but joining in is optional.

There is a big ski room by the front door with a key code access. Enough space for skis and boards, and, best thing of all - heated boot racks. However, there is no drying room.

For food - generally plentiful. Meals are served in a canteen style way, the food is out and you go and help yourself and then clear and wipe down your tables after you have finished.

Breakfast:
Coffe / hot chocolate / tea (drink out of bowls); Orange drink (not exactly orange juice); cereal; bread, jam, butter; plan yogurts; oranges

Lunch and Dinner were of similar types of things:
Salads, usually 4 or 5 different types; More bread and butter; 3 or 4 hot choices including meat, fish and veg; cheese board with about 6 or 7 different types of cheeses; flavoured yogurts; fruit & ice cream.

此篇文章於 2012-08-31 16:06 被 Mike 編輯。. 原因: Typo
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舊 2012-09-02, 13:56   #3
cppoon
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Hey Mike,

Interesting timing that you dug this post out now, as I'm seriously thinking about going to ski with UCPA again the next season and in the process of putting a trip together at the moment. I have been following Ryann's Japan tour groups updates last month. The tours during the period when I will be free were filled in an instant . I am taking it as a sign and think I'll go to France again.

I suspect the comfort level of a UCPA package is a bit too basic for most people on this forum.

As Mike mentioned, it can be a good option for those on a tight budget (and there are further discounts if you're under 25). For my case, the setup at UCPA is ideal as I found it difficult to get my friends to go skiing with me ("Skiing? Yeah sure, let's go. What? A week? You got to be joking, how about two days?"), don't mind a bed in hostels with good considerate room mates, and like taking group lessons (and I want to improve so I can join their speed riding courses one day - for those who don't know, speed riding is skiing with a parachute, and UCPA probably has the cheapest courses in the Alps by far).
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舊 2012-09-02, 14:43   #4
Mike
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It appears that UCPA are usually quite conveniently located. I guess level of comfort and price goes hand in hand, so don't expect too much for that price.
According to UCPA's website, it is catered for adults from 18 to 39 years of age.

The main concern is sharing the room with some young drunk night owls.

What is your ski plan for next year, I might be interested. Short trip is fine with me.
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舊 2012-09-03, 18:44   #5
cppoon
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The plan at the moment is Les Arcs in early January (travelling for a week before that and take the night train to Paris afterward).

Despite the age "restriction", quite a number of people were over 40 when I went. Apparently they don't mind taking your bookings if you've stayed with them before turning 40.

I'm usually quite lucky with rooms. I never shared rooms with noisy people (but I worn earplugs too sleep).

The rooms I was in this January was a classic though. All of us were self-professed night owls and yet all of us went to bed before 10pm (there were some 9pm nights) - definitely the most-early-to-bed room in the entire centre. Our room was actually quite roomy and much better than other rooms I visited during the week.

Some photos on the buffet and see if I can sway you.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

此篇文章於 2012-09-03 18:47 被 cppoon 編輯。. 原因: delete links to images
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舊 2012-11-23, 08:11   #6
Mike
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Read a discussion on facilities and conditions of some of the UCPA in various resorts recently, summarised as follow:

Argentiere - apparently the most dated UCPA centre, not the best nightlife and not the best place for a newbie. It is closed this winter for refurbishment.

Chamonix - not the best for newbie and intermediate, due to the logistics in Chamonix (lots of buses, separate ski areas etc), nothing to do with UCPA.

Flaine - quite comfortable for UCPA standard. Flaine has double rooms. It is an intermediate's paradise.

La Plagne - is in a great location, right above a piste and near the lifts. Not too sure about the nightlife and it's quite an ugly building.

Les Deux Alpes - at either end of the resort. Reasonably priced with decent nightlife, but won't say the same with the skiing.

Val Thorens - UCPA in Val Thorens has recently been refurbished but it is out of town, looked a bit far down the hill for the nightlife side of things. A bit of a trek up the hill from the UCPA which could be annoying.

Val D'Isere or Tignes - Tignes would have easier slopes back to the village, but Val D'Isere has really rowdy nightlife.
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舊 2012-12-04, 12:04   #7
popcorn
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Found this
UCPA is a non-profit association for persons aged from 6 to 39 years old.
A stay with UCPA is a human adventure made of sport and conviviality.
 
-  To practice sport, you must be in a good shape and be able to practice outdoor sports
-   Most of our customers are on average 25 years old:
    To book holidays with us, means you agree with their way of being and living
    If you are over 39 years old, you could be considered as their parents, and some of them may not appreciate
- Some of our places are pretty old and the accommodations are shared-bedrooms (3 to 8 persons)
- UCPA provides standards of group living ( you set and clear the table, clean your room…)
- and finally, the manager of the destination you chose must approbate your booking, once he is sure you took these features into consideration.
 
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舊 2013-02-07, 23:12   #8
cppoon
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Basically, as "cppoon" described above, the facility on offer is basic, but it is cheap. So it is worth considering if you are on a tight budget.
Was talking to my sister about how much I've spent on skiing in France in this the other day. She was surprised by how cheap it was (she and her friends are planning to go to New Zealand to learn snowboarding and was realising how expensive it is going to be).

Excluding the portion unrelated to skiing (I went sight-seeing in France for a bit more than a week before heading out to the Alps), this is how much I have spent:

Flight: Hong Kong to Paris return including all tax/charges (Air China): HK$5750
Transport: RER airport to Paris return: €9.5 x 2
Transport: Sleeper train (couchette) on from Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice return: €100
Transport: Funicular from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Les Arcs 1600 return: €12
Hire: Snowboard + boots (1 day): €14
Lesson: Private lesson for snowboarding with ESF (1.5hr): €60
Lift: Use of beginner's lift on weekend: Free
UCPA Les Arcs: 7 night accommodation, 21 meals, 6 afternoon tea, 6.5 days of ski hire, 6.5 days of Paradiski Discovery Pass, 4.5 days of group lessons: €612
(the UCPA part can be cheaper if taking only 5 half-day lessons or even no lesson; but off-piste lessons or those grand tour groups are more expensive. €50 off if you're under 25 and there are some ridiculously cheap student deals floating around)

With exchange rate of about €1:HK$10, it came in below HK$14000 departing from HK even if I include the extra breakfast, lunch and a couple of drinks I had in the resort.
It would have been cheaper had I not went for snowboarding on the 1st day and just hire ski/boot/pole and buy lift ticket (which would have include funicular).

Considering Les Arcs is a very nice resort (and other factors such as I don't own any gears and the instruction from the UCPA was very good), I think it's good value to ski for 7.5 days for that price. . Wholeheartedly recommend to anyone on a tight budget.
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舊 2013-03-13, 21:43   #9
gbertram
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I did UCPA in Chamonix in Jan - absolutely brilliant
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舊 2013-10-27, 22:09   #10
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I also joined UCPA skiing Chamonix in 2010. The instructor gave us lots of practical skills and I improved a lot and got more confident facing steep slope. The class went along well and I met people mostly from europe. But its a bit lonely coz I was the only one from Asia. I really enjoyed joining UCPA.
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舊 2013-11-15, 11:47   #11
KYL
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Thanks for sharing such a great bargain for solo travelers...
I'm looking at some of the introductory off-piste 7 day tours. This will be my first ski trip to France - Any particular suggestions or recommendations as to which mountain/course I should choose to get the best experience off-piste?

Tignes (Northern Alps)
Les Deux Alpes Venosc (Southern Alps)
Chamonix (Northern Alps)
Flaine les Lindars (Northern Alps)
Les Contamines (Northern Alps)
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舊 2013-11-16, 18:14   #12
cppoon
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So you're looking into UCPA or just resorts in general?
Assuming you're looking into UCPA:
Without other information, my first pick is Chamonix for introductory off-piste packages.
In terms of the UCPA, Chamonix centre is one of the comfy ones if I remember it correctly. According to the words on the street, its clientele is more international and thus you’ll meet more English-speakers. Chamonix is famous for its off-piste. As a result, there are more people signing up introductory off-piste courses at that centre. It's easier to get sorted into a suitable off-piste group.

As a resort, Chamonix is a proper town and it is relatively easy to get to. However, even though it has very good terrain and good range of skiing, I usually won’t recommend it to anyone unless he/she is a very good skier who enjoys skiing steep and fast off-piste for his/her adrenaline rush. There are much better places to ski in Europe for intermediate skiers as the ski areas in Chamonix are spread-out (need to catch ski buses), small (for piste skiers) and busy (long lines for the lifts).

As for other centres you mentioned:
Tignes – that would probably be my top pick if you’re happy with joining the confirme/expert groups (those groups won’t go too far from the piste and won’t carry transceiver/shovel/probe) instead of the proper off-piste group. Almost everyone I talked to like Tignes/Val d’isere as a ski area, the UCPA centre seems to be at a convenient location and Tignes is reasonably easy to get to.

L2A & Les Contamines – there’s no full time classes for off-piste at those centres so I won’t consider them.

Flaine les Lindars – the building used to be a Club Med and it’s more comfortable than the others centres. It’s easy to get to Flaine from Geneva. The off-piste is dangerous in the years with poor snow coverage (or early/late in the season) because of the crevasses and potholes in the area. I noticed that most of the people sign up for half time lessons in that centre when I went there a few years ago (not sure if this is connected to the “most comfortable centre” reputation).
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舊 2013-11-18, 09:01   #13
KYL
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First of all many thanks for the descriptions! Yes I was looking at the UCPA.uk website, and found these five choices which offered weeklong, fulltime off-piste courses in February. Honestly I was also attracted by the "most comfortable centre" at Flaine les Lindars, but if the tradeoff is relatively poor conditions I'll definitely pass!

It seems like the programs I'm looking at are somewhat different from what you are describing - ie full week program vs daily walk-in classes. Here are the ones I'm looking at:

http://www.ucpa.co.uk/sejour/SFADAVN...k~~DATE_DEBUT:[2014-02-02T00:00:00Z-3DAY%20TO%202014-02-02T23:59:59Z+3DAY]
(although this one is only partime instruction, so unless the hill is very good I'd prefer full time)

http://www.ucpa.co.uk/sejour/SFATIGN...k~~DATE_DEBUT:[2014-02-02T00:00:00Z-3DAY%20TO%202014-02-02T23:59:59Z+3DAY]

http://www.ucpa.co.uk/sejour/SFACHAN...k~~DATE_DEBUT:[2014-02-02T00:00:00Z-3DAY%20TO%202014-02-02T23:59:59Z+3DAY]

http://www.ucpa.co.uk/sejour/SFACNTN...k~~DATE_DEBUT:[2014-02-02T00:00:00Z-3DAY%20TO%202014-02-02T23:59:59Z+3DAY]

http://www.ucpa.co.uk/sejour/SFAFFLN...k~~DATE_DEBUT:[2014-02-02T00:00:00Z-3DAY%20TO%202014-02-02T23:59:59Z+3DAY]

I think given similar terrain and conditions, I'd prefer a quieter resort for better efficiency and personal attention - I'm not a big fan of apres ski anyway...

In terms of access, any thoughts on using their transport inclusive option from Paris?
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舊 2013-11-18, 21:08   #14
cppoon
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Honestly I was also attracted by the "most comfortable centre" at Flaine les Lindars, but if the tradeoff is relatively poor conditions I'll definitely pass!
It’s a difficult one. Apparently Flaine’s off-piste is not bad, it’s just a lot more snow coverage dependent comparing with other resorts. Flaine has pretty good snow record in general though so it’s probably fine if you’re not going too early/late in the season.

作者: KYL 查看文章
It seems like the programs I'm looking at are somewhat different from what you are describing - ie full week program vs daily walk-in classes. Here are the ones I'm looking at:
Pretty sure we’re looking at the same thing. In those typical UCPA lesson groups, everyone get sorted into groups on Monday morning and stay together for the rest of the week (of course people still move around a bit early in the week depending on what they want and what the instructors think). The groups tend to have a rough course plan drawn up (verbally) on late Monday and have an informal review on Friday evening before dinner. I’m looking at the same courses via action-outdoors.co.uk though. I have booked using both action-outdoors (the uk agent) and ucpa.co.uk (directly with UCPA) before. One can be cheaper than the other depending on your circumstances as different discounts apply.

作者: KYL 查看文章
I think given similar terrain and conditions, I'd prefer a quieter resort for better efficiency and personal attention - I'm not a big fan of apres ski anyway...
Les Contamines: I know nothing about this resort so I can’t comment. Need to catch ski bus every day to the slope though.
L2A: There’s a thread on this forum. http://www.hkssa.net/showthread.php?t=60034. HKS has a review on the resort and the transport from Paris on that thread.
Chamonix: As a piste skier, I think my time can be better spent elsewhere. However, this is different from you case. Need ski bus every day.
Flaine: Difficult to tell if the infamous crevasses are going to affect the off-piste at the time you’re there. The centre is ski-in but need to walk for about 50m or so to the main lift.
Tignes: Never been there but it’s one of those places that I want to visit.
作者: KYL 查看文章
In terms of access, any thoughts on using their transport inclusive option from Paris?
Never use their transport inclusive option before so I can’t comment. However, pay attention to the schedule for transport option they offer. You probably don’t want to arrive at Sunday 5pm and miss out on a whole day of skiing.
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舊 2013-11-22, 08:48   #15
Mike
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作者: cppoon 查看文章
Les Contamines: I know nothing about this resort so I can’t comment. Need to catch ski bus every day to the slope though....
One must remember that UCPA centres are not traditional 'hotels'. They are properties which are run by young people, for young people and the running and upkeep of these properties is largely sponsored by the French government. They are designed for young people from 18 to 38 to get out and see the world, go snow-skiing, go hiking...at an affordable price.

Les Contamines is not far away from Chamonix, an authentic village resort of Haute-Savoie. Smallish resort with 12 nos draglifts: 8 chairlifts and 4 gondolas serving the mountain.

According to some reports, for the UPCA at Les Contamines, the village is pretty and bus trips are free of charge. You need to walk (in your ski boots) to the road (about 200m) and then catch the free ski bus to the ski lift (about 5 min). The ski lifts are modern and well maintained. There are not many of those 'hut type restaurants and pubs' like you get in Austria. The rooms are small, UPCA does not have room service or restaurant service, but there is a staff compliment. They clean the property daily, man the reception, help with booking of various extras you might want, prepare and facilitate entertainment evenings (karaoke etc.) The bar area was lively and had a disco bar / night club in the basement.
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