Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Ski Season Opens In Bulgaria

All around the Balkan Holidays office you can hear cheers of "THE SKI SEASON IS HERE!"  as the 13th December 2014 saw Bulgaria transform from summer's must visit beach destination to this winter's coolest place to ski. It is now officially ski season in the Balkans and what a week it has been! With snow already falling across all three resorts, there was definitely a reason to celebrate!

 All the stops were pulled out this season in Bansko on opening day with ski legends such as Marc Girardelli, Stephan Eberharter and Petar Popangelov providing the metaphorical "ribbon cutting ceremony" while guests enjoyed superb live entertainment all day and night long which included famous musicians as well as the apr├ęs-ski club "Happy End" which provided guests with an enviable reason to boogie way in to the night.
Not to be out done, Borovets provided its visitors with half price lift passes as well as free night skiing during their opening day celebrations.

Pamporovo has also officially opened its doors to the masses and hundreds of guests have already begun to enjoy all the excitement that Pamporovo has to offer which includes the resort's brand new “libraries” with over 200 books of various genres and in various languages, distributed among the busiest places in the resort.

Local media reports said that prices in the three resorts were largely similar to those of last year. Blagovesta Tomova, head of the union of owners in Borovets, said that the resort had not raised their prices this winter, even though their costs such as electricity had increased. Bansko also has 335 snow cannons ready to produce artificial snow, reports from the resort said. In Bansko, the price of a daily ski pass is the same as at the end of 2013.

Looks like things are only just beginning to heat up in Bulgaria this winter!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bulgaria Ski - Your Most Frequently Asked Questions...Answered!

As the number one tour operator for ski and board holidays to Bulgaria we at Balkan Holidays have had the pleasure of taking thousands of eager skiers and snowboarders to the slopes of Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo every year since 1973. With the new season just around the corner our friendly UK reservations team have been on hand this week to provide us with some of the answers to your most frequently asked questions when it comes to your winter holiday to Bulgaria...

1. Which Resort Is Best For Beginners?

The resort of Pamporovo offers beginners a wide choice of gentle nursery slopes and is host to the highly recommended ski school which makes it easy for beginners to learn quickly and correctly. The resort of Borovets provides an excellent mix of skiing for beginners and for the intermediate skiers making it an ideal choice if you are travelling with someone who has skied before. Our most popular destination - Bansko, offers some excellent skiing for intermediate, advanced and beginner skiers but overall, we would suggest Pamporovo if you're skiing for the first time.

2. Which Resort Has The Shortest Transfer Time?

With all our flights from the UK arriving into Sofia International Airport, the transfer time to your resort will vary. From the three Bulgarian resorts Balkan Holidays offered, Borovets has the shortest transfer time of approximately 1.5 hours compared with 3 hours to Bansko and 2-4 hours to Pamporovo, depending on snow conditions.

3. Which Is The Most Compact Resort?

If you're looking for a resort where everything is relatively close by then look no further than Borovets with the majority of hotels and apartments offered by Balkan Holidays situated within 150 meters of the ski lifts. Borovets is often considered the liveliest of our winter resorts and offers the perfect combination of skiing/boarding during the day before partying the night away at one of the many nightlife spots.

4. What Do The Ski Extras Cost?

As a non-euro destination, Bulgaria is able to offer holidaymakers the best value for money ski prices in Europe. With prices either the same or lower than last year, pre-booking your ski extras with us before travelling is the best way to save on your ski holiday. The prices for each resort are different so we have provided the details for each resort below:



5. How Far Is My Hotel From The Ski Lifts?

As we offer such a wide range of hotel and apartment choices for Bulgaria Ski Holidays, it would be impossible to answer this question for each and every property in this article. What we can recommend however is to take a look at the resort introduction pages for each resort in our Winter 2014/15 2nd Edition brochure (Bansko page 12, Pamporovo page 27 and Borovets page 36) where you will be able to see our resort map with all properties marked with corresponding numbers to show you exactly where each hotel and apartment can be found. You can also check out the individual hotel pages in our brochure or on our website where you will see the "Distance from Ski Lifts" information showing you the approximate distance in meters.

Introducing Elenite - Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast Secret

Situated in a quiet private bay with a large beach and green meadows, on the southern slope of the easternmost Balkan Mountain, the resort of Elenite has always been a firm favourite with Balkan Holidays customers. Just 8.5 km from Sunny Beach and around 40 km from Bourgas Airport, the complex is positioned on the calm curved hills of the mountain which slope directly into the sea, designed to take maximum advantage of the surrounding natural beauty to offer visitors breathtaking views from every possible angle.

With all the amenities you would expect in a holiday centre, including its very own waterpark, the attractive EU Blue Flag awarded beach and the excellent range of sports facilities, Elenite is especially popular with families. There are also regular buses to take you to and from the famous resort of  Sunny Beach.

Elenite consists of a number of villas and hotels nestled amongst the greenery of the mountainside and as the number one UK tour operator to Elenite, Balkan Holidays have put together a selection of great value holidays to three of the resorts most popular properties, the 4* Elenite Villas and Hotel Royal Bay and the 5* Hotel Royal Castle.

There is also a full excursion programme available from Elenite including trips to the old fishing village of Sozopol with its famous wooden houses including a visit to the stunning Ropotamo River; tours to the breathtaking Blue Mountains; thrilling jeep safaris; leisurely daytime cruises; excursions to Istanbul, traditional "Bulgarian" nights at local villages; folklore nights at the renowned Khan’s Tent. 

A regular entertainment programme within Elenite resort including theme nights and dance shows adds some magic to your evenings in Elenite or alternatively, guests can enjoy a drink in any of the local bars or head for the nightlife of Sunny Beach.

Elenite is a superb choice for any families or couples looking to try a new destination this summer and with so much to do and see, this Black Sea Coast resort is truely a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

5 Brilliant Places To Eat Out In Bansko

As Bulgaria’s number one winter resort, Bansko offers a wide selection of restaurants and bars for you to enjoy during your stay. Finding something special amongst such a huge choice can sometimes be a daunting task, so we’ve put together this short list of what we consider some of the best places to eat out in Bansko and help make choosing where to eat out just a little easier...

The Irish Harp
Cuisine: Irish

Joining the Bansko restaurant and bar scene in 2012, Brian and the crew at the Irish Harp have stormed onto the Bansko pub scene and quickly established the Irish Harp as one of the places to try. Serving up a superb choice of value for money dishes including fine pork steak with mash and fresh salad as well as real Irish beef steaks and stews. All topped off with excellent service and a friendly welcome it's impossible not to be impressed by this TripAdvisor "Certificate Of Excellence 2014" winning restaurant.

Amvrosia Restaurant
Cuisine: International

Often described as "simply amazing" the Amvrosia is the gastronomic beacon of Bansko. With service standards that are amongst the best to be found in Bansko including a welcoming smile, the Amvrosia is the perfect choice if you’ve got a special occasion to celebrate. Find yourself tapping your feet to the live background music and humming a tune as you decide which dish to enjoy from the restaurants mouth-watering menu in the spacious and cosy Amvrosia dining room.

Come Prima Restaurant
Cuisine: Mediterranean

Although a little more expensive than most restaurants in Bansko, it is worth every penny eating at the Come Prima. This fine dining restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine and a 5-star service with Italian flair. Live cooking in the open kitchen creates an amazing experience for every visitor. Your meal will be accompanied by a rich selection of wines from every corner of the world served up in a romantic and cozy ambience.

Steak House Lazur
Cuisine: International

"Don't judge a book by its cover" has never been truer than with the Steak House Lazur, although it doesn't look like much from the outside, inside you will find a warm, cosy and friendly atmosphere that is hard to beat anywhere else in Bansko with friendly staff ready to offer you fast and attentive service. Offering a range of delicious, melt in the mouth dishes including Barbeque, Steaks, Pizzas, Pastas and Mexican, the Steak House Lazur is a must for any holidaymaker to Bansko.

Mehana Momini Dvori
Cuisine: Contemporary

Mehana Momini Dvori opened doors for the first time on 1 May, 1970 . It was the first of its kind in Bansko and the region, and since the very beginning of its existence until today it has always had a power of attraction for true connoisseurs, people of exquisite taste. Serving up fantastic traditional Bulgarian meals (with a twist) in a wonderfully decorated restaurant, the Mehana Momini Dvori will be the cherry on the top of any holidaymakers visit to Bansko. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

When to go? Your Bansko 2014/15 Event Guide

With the new ski season fast approaching, there’s a good chance you’ve already brought down your ski gear from the loft and dusted off your boots ready to hit the slopes, the only problem now is deciding when to go. Besides the obvious snowfall, another important factor to consider when choosing your ski dates is what events may be going on in resort which could further enhance your holiday experience while you are there. With this in mind we have listed the full Bansko ski calendar below to help you choose a time to go skiing that is right for you…

13 December 2014
Bansko Ski Season Opening
This traditional celebration of winter sports annually attracts numerous ski fans, as well as former champions and legends of the white sport. The event always features fun and games for the crowd, plus great prizes and star presence. This year special guests include ski greats Petar Popangelov, Stephan Eberharter and Marc Girardelli!
22-23 December 2014
Ulen Cup, FIS races, 2 x SL
An official FIS calendar race which is also one of the most interesting in Bulgaria.
24-26 December 2014
Christmas Season
The preserved authentic spirit of many Bansko taverns, combined with the wonderful skiing conditions, turn the resort into a favourite spot for Christmas celebrations for many Bulgarians and foreign guests. Special promotions are always in place, plus cultural events and other attractions, so don't forget to book early!
31 December 2014
New Years Eve
New Year's Eve at any of the hotels, bars and nightclubs in Bansko is guaranteed to be a loud, joyful, often unforgettable party! Special music guests, DJs, numerous celebrities turn the resort into a pulsating place of smiles, snow and plenty of music. Here the warning is also in place – book well in advance.
18 January 2015
World Snow Day
World Snow Day, the wonderful FIS initiative, launched in 2009, is already a regular annual event in Bansko and becomes a true celebration of snow and winter sports, targeted mostly toward the kids and young skiers. The ceremony usually has a special guest – a ski legend and in the past here were names as Marc Girardelli and Alberto Tomba.
26-27 January 2015
KAPPY Cup, FIS races with GS, SL races
A popular, traditional race from the local calendar.
28 January 2015
“Bobby Mavrikov” Cup I
FIS children’s races.
18 February 2015
“Bobby Mavrikov” Cup II
FIS children’s races plus two more local challenges for the young ski enthusiasts.
28 Feb –1 March 2015
Bansko Ski World Cup 2015
Already a traditional and successful host of World Cup events, Bansko will welcome the best skiers on the planet for a fourth time. This time here will embark the ladies, who will compete in Super G and Super Combined in front of a packed grand stand with noisy and colourful fans.  Will Tina Weirather, Mikaela Shiffrin, Lara Gut or the Olympic champion Ana Fenniger grab the trophy this time in Bansko?
4-5 March 2015
National Alpine Ski Races , SC, SG, GS
The biggest event for all Bulgarian alpine skiers.
19-22 March 2015
Bankers’ Ski Race
They might be good in finance matters, but don't underestimate them on the ski run! The bankers' race also has its tradition, fans and... Always motivated and ambitious competitors!
28 March 2015
Bansko Closing Party
One more traditional show and fun party, which bids an official goodbye to winter and opens the doors to numerous spring and summer attractions in a year-round resort like Bansko. Special musician guests and prizes included.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Doctor’s Orders…Take a Holiday!

Research conducted last year by leading experts at a Finnish University and presented to the congress at ITB Berlin 2013 proved that those who take holidays are not only healthier but also happier.

Doctor Jessica de Blum conducted the research to determine to what extent holidays have a positive impact on people’s health and well-being. Doctor de Blum discovered in her conclusions that not only do holidays have a beneficial impact on our health, but they also make us happier. According to the results, related to the experiences and personal happiness of groups monitored over a period of time, those who spent their money on concerts, family holidays and short breaks seemed to live their daily lives significantly more happily than those who preoccupied themselves with jewels, clothes and expensive gadgets.

The holiday itself which differs from the daily routine was also found to have a positive impact on health. Scientists and doctors involved in the Framingham Heart Study, discovered that people who tend to postpone their holidays are exposed to a higher risk of heart disease and could possibly die earlier than those who make sure that they take short, regular breaks. Short break holidays were shown to have a strong impact on our health with Doctor de Blum comparing the condition to the effect of our sleep. 
Doctor de Blum said “It’s not possible to postpone our need for some good sleep. Likewise, a long summer holiday cannot compensate for a year, full of work and stress. To remain healthy, we should regularly grant ourselves holiday leave.

Whether the holiday is a relaxing and happy one will also depend on a number of other factors. According to Doctor De Blum, 17% of people don’t feel completely happy during their holiday because of things such as stress or illness. The research also showed that some work during the holiday does not have a negative impact on the overall experience as long as work is a result of holidaymaker’s own choice.

The services and product offered by Balkan Holidays have been put in place to ensure a more satisfactory experience for holidaymakers with the positive aspects of a summer holiday and ways to reduce stress levels both carefully considered when assembling our summer programme. Secure your summer 2015 holiday to Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia or Montenegro today with the leading UK tour operator to Eastern Europe and enjoy a relaxing and memorable summer holiday.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Welcome to the Spookiest Building in Bulgaria...

The House of the Bulgarian Communist Party is the largest monument in Bulgaria and is without doubt one of the most bizarre abandoned buildings in the world. This huge concrete saucer is just one of many forgotten communist monuments scattered across Bulgaria and is located on the Buzludzha peak of the Central Balkan Mountains.

Erected for the 90th anniversary of the Buzludzha congress, where the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Workers' Party, the predecessor of the Bulgarian Communist Party, was founded, it took military construction units almost seven years to complete the monument. Altogether more than 6000 workers and experts took part in the construction work while more than 20 leading Bulgarian artists, worked for 18 months in order to complete the interior decoration. Verses of "The International" and "The Worker's March" were inscribed on the entrance of the memorial. The staircases were decorated with red cathedral glass. In the 15m high main hall of the memorial, a large fresco housed portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov.

The dome of the structure was covered with 30 tons of copper. Two 12m stars of ruby glass were built in to the top of the 70m high pylon of the monument that symbolizes a waving communist flag. These Buzludzha stars were made in the Soviet Union and were three times bigger than those found in the Kremlin. The monument was inaugurated by Todor Zhivkov himself where in a hole left deliberately in the building's walls, he laid a glass bottle that contained a message to the future generations, explaining the historical significance of Buzludzha. On 10th of November 1989 Zhivkov stepped down after 35 years in power. Immediately afterwards, Bulgaria's Politburo ordered the removal of his portrait from the memorial. In 1991 the monument, which still belonged to the ex-communist party, was ceded to the state and was abandoned, looted and left to self-destruct.

More than 150 communist monuments appeared across Bulgaria during the communist years, overlooking mountain lakes or rising in the hearts of cities. They stood in forests, cemeteries, parks or on the coastlines. Rich in symbolism, these structures were designed to represent ancient heroes, or to glorify the icons of Soviet ideology. One feature they all seem to share however, is their stark, brutal style and nowadays, many of Bulgaria’s communist ghosts have finally been put to rest. Of all the remains of this dead regime however, few present quite such a striking image as the spooky Mount Buzludzha monument.