I wasn’t expecting great things from the Gran Bosco. The over Christmas break was booked just a week earlier and it was a bit of a panic booking as we were a party of 6 and pretty much everywhere we tried told us that there was no room at the inn. Not only did this hotel have availability, but it wasn’t especially expensive. Looking back now at the end of a decent week’s skiing it is clear that we could have done a lot worse.
My first impressions were fairly positive. The hotel is a kilometre or so from the edge of Sauze, on a quiet road. I decided to turn down the offer of a lift in the hotel’s minibus and walk the ten minutes or so from where the coach dropped us off. Upon first sighting it is clear that the hotel is fairly new, but it blends in well to the mountainous background and positively oozes rustic charm. The bar was fairly welcoming and homely, and at €4.50 for half a litre of beer wasn’t eye wateringly expensive, at least to someone who has spent his last two skiing holidays in Sweden and Switzerland.
Connecting to the wifi was a little bit frustrating. It is my firm belief that all hotels should offer free, easy to access wifi, and it is a topic on which I am easily riled. Most people managed to get most devices logged on in reasonable time, although it was a few days before I could get my iPad to connect. Once connected you need to enter all the usual personal information that you would rather not enter and pay €0.01 (or £0.01 if you do it through Paypal) to verify your account. This gives you 15 minutes of internet access per day. If you want unlimited access for a week you have to pay €4.99. On day two I paid the money.
We had a double room on the second floor with a splendid view of the valley and mountains beyond. The room was fairly basic, but clean and new. There was a small TV attached to a rather elaborate bracket hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately the only English channel available was BBC World and it was only possible to listen to that, as the picture was so poor as to be unwatchable. Still, one doesn’t go skiing to keep abreast of the goings on in Coronation Street or Albert Square.
One thing that did concern me about the room was the noisy fan heater that I could find no way of turning off. There was a small dial on the wall that I thought might be a thermostat, but didn’t seem to do anything no matter which way I twiddled it. When I got back from dinner it had gone off so I didn’t give it a second thought until it came on the middle of the night waking us with a jolt. This turned out to be a nightly occurrence that required the insertion of ear plugs (which thankfully I had taken, but never find especially comfortable). The two other couples we travelled with had twin rooms that faced the back of the hotel. They had radiators instead of fan heaters in their rooms and were very smug about it. What the engineers that designed the hotel’s heating system had been smoking is anyone’s guess. It's also worth noting that on windy nights, the decorative wooden shutters have a tendancy to flap about noisly.
The bathroom was small but functional and clean. Some complained about a lack of pressure for the shower, but ours was always fine. A larger cubicle would have been appreciated however as every time I moved I would knock the temperature leaver either scalding or freezing a buttock depending upon which way I had shifted.
Dinner on the first night was a memorably amusing affair, if not altogether for the right reasons. In many skiing hotels I would be concerned about the food in anything less than a four star. In Italy however bad food does not seem to exist, and a delicious meal can be had regardless of budget.
Starters were a selection of cold dishes (and some nights the option of a nice homemade soup), this was followed by a tasty pasta dish. It was after this that the trouble began. There was generally a choice of two or three main courses and these were served from large dishes by two or three waiting staff. The hotel had only opened for the season a week before and it was clear that the staff were new. Affable, friendly, polite, but a little bit clueless when it came to serving food. Often they would come over with dishes that contained just one serving. They would serve that and then disappear so that one person was sat there with their food getting cold and the other five were still waiting. Then someone would come with a different meal, serve a couple of people, run out of potatoes and then disappear. Five minutes later someone would return with the rest of the food. On the first night, this was comical, but it didn’t get a lot better as the week progressed. For the first couple of nights we all ate cold food, after that we just started immediately and let the rest of the table worry about themselves. Breakfasts turned out to be exactly as expected. Adequate without being exciting. The toasty makers are a useful addition, but the orange juice was terrible (it came out of a machine and tasted as though it had been made from a powder mix).
Getting to the slopes the next day was a doddle. The minibus driver Gigi was always at our beck and call, and never more than a few minutes away. I would worry what would happen if the hotel was full though. There is a ski room in the basement, but I found it useful to rent a ski locker at the base of one of the chair lifts (€30 per person per week). This meant that we could walk around town after skiing and gave us the option of walking back to the hotel.
What perplexed me when I returned from skiing was that the door in the basement with the word ‘sauna’ above it always seemed to be locked. After a couple of days I asked the lady at reception what time it opened, “2 o’clock” she said. The next day I tried it at 4.30 and it was still locked. I went to reception and asked the man whether it was open; he assured me that it was. I assumed that he was going to run down and turn it on, so I left it half an hour and then tried it again. Still locked. I went back to reception, getting slightly angry and explained that I had tried the door several times and that it was always locked. The man now explained that there was a charge for using the sauna of €10 for half an hour. I considered the matter.......... It occurred to me that saunas are social places. Somewhere to discuss the runs of the day, compare bruises, and hopefully get talking to the Dutch girls that are staying on the floor above. The idea of ‘privately hiring’ the place didn’t appeal at all. (Inghams do not mention this additional charge in their brochure, a point I intend to take up with them.)
I have considered long and hard as to whether to give the Gran Bosco a rating of 3 or 4 as this marks the cut off point as to whether I would recommend a hotel or whether I would stay there again myself. Ultimately I decided that I would. Staying at the Gran Bosco was like buying an Italian car. You know it’s going to let you down, fail to start, leave you standing on the hard shoulder in the rain, and that bits are going to drop off it, but you eschew its German rivals because it has character. Character goes a long way. The fact that the owners live at the premises, their kids are always running around, and everyone is so friendly results in a certain charm which renders flaws and foibles forgivable. If they could get rid of the noisy fan heaters and rethink their sauna policy, I would be back there in a flash.
Get a room with a radiator and not a fan heater if you want a good night's sleep.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.