TRAVEL & TOURISM

Ski season kicks off in the Tatras

THE HIGH Tatras are now covered in snow but the only ski resort in operation is Štrbské Pleso. Higher altitude ski centres in Tatranská Lomnica and Starý Smokovec are closed until December 22.

Štrbské Pleso is already attracting winter sports enthusiasts.
photo: Roman Millan

THE HIGH Tatras are now covered in snow but the only ski resort in operation is Štrbské Pleso. Higher altitude ski centres in Tatranská Lomnica and Starý Smokovec are closed until December 22.

Part of this has to do with seasonal maintenance. Tatra Cableways is busy ensuring the safety of its cable cars in Tatranská Lomnica and Lomnické sedlo as well as its funicular trains in Starý Smokovec.

"[Ski resorts with] cableways cannot be compared with those with ordinary ski lifts. The latter are dormant all summer long and therefore easily available for maintenance and repairs," said Tatra Cableways' Marketing Director Danka Velecká.

She added that while some ski centres like Štrbské Pleso have already started operating their lifts, most resorts in Slovakia - especially those situated in the higher altitude regions - kick off their season with the arrival of Christmas. Come late December, "all the lifts and cableways operated by Tatra Cableways will be fully operational," according to Velecká.

Tatra Cableways in Tatranská Lomnica and Starý Smokovec ferry passengers all year long. Scheduled maintenance, necessary to ensure the cable cars' safety, takes place twice a year: after the summer and winter seasons. "The technical difficulty of the operation does not permit fast checking," Velecká explained.

The temperate autumn weather of 2005 prolonged the Tatras summer season until November 7. This season, Tatra Cableways transported more than 765,000 visitors.

A partner of the J&T finance group, Tatra Cableways acquired several new ski lift facilities this year. In Tatranská Lomnica, the company took over the Jamy lift. In Hrebienok (Starý Smokovec), it added Horná and Jakubkova lúka to its list. Apart from the facilities in Štrbské Pleso, Tatra Cableways will manage all of the lifts and cableways in the High Tatras, making it the largest ski centre operator on the mountain.

Igor Rattaj, chairman of Tatra Cableways' board of directors as well as a partner at J&T, says that having the lifts under one operator has several positive aspects that are beneficial to winter tourists to the High Tatras.

"It will soon be possible for visitors to purchase lift tickets comfortably and easily at one location. This will be an overall improvement to the region's services," he said.

For guests at hotels in the Tatras the venture should also result in additional discounts - for skiing, sledging or bathing at the nearby Aquacity Poprad. Tatra Cableways will also offer a joint six-day ski-pass with the Štrbské Pleso lift operator, 1. Tatranská.

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