Im a no frills traveller when it comes to skiing so I'm going to base this review on exactly what I expected.
Location: The Dafovska hotel is based directly in the middle between the resorts two main players, the hotel Perilik which dominates the whole town centre and the hotel Orlovetz. It has a tiled floorspace for the reception, small bar and restaurant. It also provides hotel wellness facilities in the form of a masseuse and sauna, jet spa and steam room. Directly beside the main entrance and forming part of the structure is a fur coat seller and an Alaska "Spar" type shop offering a legitimate foriegn currency service.
Rooms: I was very impressed with my room indeed, I had a twin room which was exceptionally spacious and very clean, I had a balcony overlooking an exceptional view. The room had a single radiator which served the room adequately. The room was very warm on arrival and continued to be throughout the entire holiday. The bed linen was clean and the beds were turned down daily. The room has no kettle and an empty mini bar fridge. The television played a selection of free-sat programmes, english channels include national geographic, various news including bbc 24hr, Turner classic movies and a selection of music channels. There is no hotel tv film subscription service. The room also has a telephone enabling outside calls " at a hefty price tag" of about a GB pound a minute.
WC: The en-suite was large, tiled and very clean, no chipped tiles. On arrival a small dirty towel was in the bath but this was a cleaners oversight and it never happened again. Complimentary toiletries are provided, as is a hair drier and the towels are changed daily. The only downside was that the toilet seemed to amplify the noises of the toilet upstairs, make of that comment what you will but it was minor and sometimes amusing.
Bar: The hotel had the cheapest bar in the resort, at 2.5 lev for a pint of the local brew compared to 4 to 5 lev everywhere else. An extra 0.5 lev is added if the waiter gets your drinks during dinner. The bar isnt exciting and consists of a tiled floor and some sofas. Around the wall are pictures of Ekatrina Dafovska and her various successes including olympic gold, these provide a talking point along with the stuffed skiing fox. The bar also has a selection of childrens toys and a tv so if youre wanting a quiet drink before 10pm forget it.
Restaurant: Sadly this is the only reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5. Bulgarian food is well..... not very nice to be quite frank. If it can be fried then it is fried. Breakfast consists of eggs any way you want them, usually fried, Dinner had frankfurters and Chicken every night and salads are a pile of chopped veg covered in yoghurt usually. However Dinner was served hot and thats its only saving grace. I wont harp on about the restaurant food because I fully expected it to be this way. There are a number of restaurants dotted around the resort all serving the same slop which ill comment on later. The Dafovska was better than some, worse as others and thats the fairest I can be.
Wellness Facilites, In the basement there is a sauna, steam room, jet spa thingy and a masseuse. A full body massage costs 45 lev( £19 ) the masseuse I had was male and I can fully recommend him, it took an hour and was done properly and professionally. The other facilities cost 12 lev.
Miscellaneous Cons: The hotel is very family friendly which results in a lot of noisy kids running around the corridors screaming and shouting and doing what kids do, this extends to the bar. However it may not be a con to some people reading this so I never let it affect the judgement of the hotel rating.
A power cut stopped the whole resort having water for 3 days, whilst some holiday makers screamed and yelled blue murder demanding this that and the other, an engineer actually died that day trying to serve their fat overprivilaged demands. The hotel dealed with the situation amicably offering bottled water for drinking, the heating stayed on but washing was difficult due to no kettles but generally applause to the hotel owners for their professionalism . Originally I blamed the lack of water for the food but when i came back on the only change was the addition of a soup choice and the fried food remained the norm.
Hotel Summary: A very clean, warm hotel with friendly staff, pity about the food.
Resort Survival Guide. The skiing we had in Pamporovo was very good indeed for the week of 8th Jan however every local we spoke to said this was an anomoly and there is usually no snow to February so take heed. Skiing during Jan for the last 10 years has been restricted to the slopes covered by snow cannon.
Snow cannon coverage, some sites say 90% dont believe it, 3 runs are covered by cannon one of them being the main black "the wall"
Runs: with so much snow, terrain was varied, well pisted and the signed blacks were very good indeed with variation and moguls. The main black " the wall" isnt really a black. In comparison its actually a slightly easier version of "the Goose" at Nevis Range Scotland however its convex whilst the goose is concave. The other black runs are nicely challenging freeride type runs especially after a good dump of snow. There is enough reds to just about cover 6 days. I wont remark on blues and greens.
Piste maps: Do yourself a huge favour and print yourself off half a dozen before you go because trying to find one with proper info on in the resort is a losing battle.
Toilets etc: At the bottom of the slope its 1 lev or 0.5 lev to go for the toilet and these toilets are guarded by women who ration the toilet paper. Up the slope toilets are free if you use the cafes etc.
Ski Lifts, the bottom station gets really busy so get to the middle and dont come down the mountain untill at least 11 am, however saying that, the 3 man lift usually had a huge queue whilst the single man lift was empty.
Food on the slopes: My mid morning request was only one thing. A cup of tea with a slice of lemon... I got bowls of honey, packets of sugar depicting a lemon and all sorts of bizarre concoctions. Only one cafe provided a simple service and actually went out of their way to accomodate their patrons. On the plateu above the middle station where red , 10, 13 and blue 1 meet there was a wood hut cafe called "the Irish Pub". the workers would come out with cushions if you were sat outside, they spoke good english, inside was warm due to the central log burner, the food was good, and you felt like your custom was appreciated enough said.
Ski Hire: My partner hired skis through crystal.... dont is all i can say. The skis were dry, rusted at the edges and pitted, they were about 3 seasons old. When I went into the shop to say "oi service your skis" they tried to charge me so obviously they just let them rot till they dont move and charge joe public to service them.. Anyway i took my tuning kit the next day and done it myself making sure i applied enough liquid teflon to stuff up their wax machine mix.
Other shops supplied a far better quaiity of ski hire and service..... avoid crystal on that front.
Ski Shuttle service: Check with your hotel repeat check with your hotel. Each hotel runs mini buses, the whole ski shuttle system is a complete shambles, the drivers are rude and offensive, they wont let you on the bus wearing ski boots and if youre carrying your own skis you may as well have the plague. Orlovetz and Perelik rule the roost here, and although they are 3 steps away from our hotel they actually chucked off people from an empty coach leaving them stranded because they werent from that hotel... you have been warned
Resort food... terrible full stop. The irish cabin on the slopes was the only one to serve anything edible and we would stock up on carbs there during the day. Dont believe anyone that says there are nice restaurants in pamporovo town centre because theyre really not food wise. Think ibiza beach front cafe eating and you get the jiist "italian " means they serve pizza and open a bag of pasta. Spam, frozen peas, and mince served in a bowl with a huge chip in it is not italian. Our friends dined there and the waiter shouted abuse at them as they left for not leaving a tip.
In another eatery, which was ok there were more traditional fast eats and a good band playing however i did laugh at my chicken nuggets being served with tartare sauce and a slice of lemon because they looked like scampi. Food is rubbish full stop.
Bars; avoid the spider bar in the perilik as its a brothel, the crystal team had their leaving do for the beginners classes there which did make me laugh at a bunch of oldies in a bar with poles and nosh pits if you get my drift on the spelling. All other bars seem ok. The bowling was quite fun, again in the perilik, everything is in the perilik.
Transfer times. Sofia to pamperovo in snow ...6 1/2 hours return to sofia from pamperovo 4 1/2 hours with a stop at Maccy d's which you will be thankfull of on the return as you crave for any food with a hint of taste no matter how junk filled it is.
Total round up. I went to teach my pal skiing and the skiing was very good, the hotel was very good, the food is rubbish, piste maps are non existant and the ski shuttle system is a complete failure with added rubbish sttitude. Transfers are a nightmare. It is very cheap and basic and fulfills the bargian skiing criteria with no frills.
Would I return, personnally no, it the Dafovska was a hotel in Austria then absolutely so ( but sack the chef) Very good skiing marred only by the terrible ski buses, terrible ski hire from the holiday reps and rubbish food, but mostly the ski buses. Ultimately, did I enjoy myself, yes I did, I was skiing!
One last thing............... Buy a bell, just buy a bell, theyll hound you to the earth just succumb to a barter and a haggle and pay 4 quid for a bloomin bell
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