PARK SNOW DONOVALY - STATISTICS:
Bottom station elevation: 902 metres
Top station elevation: 1,370 metres
Lifts: one four-person chair,one three-person chair, and 14 surface lifts,
Total uphill capacity:12,900 persons per hour
Kilometres of skiing: 11
Number of trails: 17
Adult ski ticket for one day: Sk640 (?15.70)
PARK Snow Donovaly is one of Slovakia's best-kept secrets. Set in a deep valley just thirty minutes north of Banská Bystrica, this resort offers something for everyone: expansive snow fields for beginners, intermediate runs over 2,000 metres in length, and excellent off-piste skiing for experts.
Like Jasná, Donovaly has both tree-lined slopes and bowl skiing, making it an excellent venue for skiing during low visibility conditions or on clear days. But what one might like best about this resort is the new fixed grip quad chairlift to Nová Hoľa (1,370 metres). Nová Hoľa is your ticket to big mountain action at Donovaly. The red runs down from this peak cover 447 metres of vertical, but ski alpinists can bag even more by hiking to Mount Zvolen and skiing some of the back bowls at this resort. In good snow conditions, it is even possible for telemark skiers to ski from Donovaly to the nearby ski area of Nižná Revúca - a Nordic ski safari rivalled only by the famous Krahule to Skalka run.
The drive from Bratislava to Donovaly has never been easier now that a new stretch of highway has opened between Rudno and Nová Baňa. Expect the 250-kilometre trip to take just 3.5 hours. An express train also runs from the Slovak capital to Banská Bystrica, where one can take a city bus to Donovaly.
Donovaly's season runs from December to March thanks to extensive snowmaking along most of the resort's major trails. There is also night skiing - daily from 17:00 to 21:00 - and several snow bars right on the slope to keep skiers warm with hot mugs of Slovak grog. Full meal service is available at numerous area restaurants, where a lunch menu typically costs between Sk150 and Sk250 (?3.6-6).
Overnight visitors have over 1,500 beds to choose from in accommodations ranging from hotels to private houses. A hotel room at the three-star Sporthotel Donovaly costs Sk3,000 (?73), but rooms can be found in guest houses for as little as Sk600 (?15).
Non-skiers will not get bored at Donovaly. In addition to many kilometres of cross-country and snowshoe trails, the resort offers ice skating next to the Yeti Bar from 9:00 to 22:00 every day. The resort also offers paragliding and dog sledding, and will host a World Cup biathlon competition on February 13 and 14. The nearby city of Banská Bystrica is one of Slovakia's greatest gems, with an expansive central square and shop-lined streets. With a car, it is also possible to make a day tip to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage mining town Banská Štiavnica - some 43 kilometres south of Banská Bystrica.