CNN on Georgia: One of World's Most Underrated Skiing Destinations

Although Georgia's relatively flat lowlands can soar into the 40s Celsius in summer, its winters in the high Caucasus mountains are long, snowy and cold enough to offer the winter sports enthusiast plenty of play choices. 

Calling Georgia’s snow-capped Caucasus mountains the country’s “greatest asset” that offer multifarious skiing opportunities, CNN elaborates on three winter resorts that dominate the scene (Gudauri, Bakuriani and Mestia); all three of them with plenty of variety and supporting infrastructure to give skiiers both the activities and the rest afterwards.

Bakuriani and Gudauri are both close enough to Tbilisi to allow day trips. Due to this, they are very popular among people who don't have as much time to get away from the capital. Many years of popularity and operation have allowed them to build up the best selection of support facilities such as guest houses and hotels for every group, taste and budget. The CNN article recommends the ski in/ski-out Gudauri Lodge as a must-stay, calling the hotel a “retreat where the food -- think lamb and tarragon soup (chakapuli) and vegetable walnut pâtés (pkhali) -- is almost as sigh-worthy as the mountain views.”

Gudauri resort is in the Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) region, 120 km north of Tbilisi on the historic Georgian Military Highway, and is 2200 m high. Its runs range from 1500 to 4200 m in altitude, 57 km in total length, with 7 lifts. Its offerings include the above mentioned slope sports (lit until 10 pm on Saturdays for night runs), along with tubing, heliskiing, speedriding and paragliding for a full package of high-end adventure possibilities. “Even the parking lot here clocks in at 7,200 feet, higher than the summits of most slopes in the Alps (squint and you can barely make out the treeline below you)”, reads the CNN article.

The town of Bakuriani, situated two and a half hours west of Tbilisi, is at an altitude of 1700 meters, with its highest skiing point at 2200 m. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, snowmobile rentals and horse rides with or without sleds are available. Turning to where-to-stay recommendations, the author goes on to praise the newly opened hotel Rooms Kokhta, calling it “ the long-awaited ultra-modern luxury lodge by Adjara Group; ski in and ski out, and in-between, unwind in minimalist digs appointed with king-sized beds, vintage chairs, and wooden and clay furnishings made by local artisans.”

The last resort that the CNN article describes is Mestia, to which “only those with a taste for adventure should strike out; it is a tiny village in the far-flung region of Svaneti, known for its millennium-old tower houses and ancient, pagan-influenced mountain culture.” Hatsvali, completed in 2010 and 8 km above Svaneti's capital town, Mestia, takes you up to 2347 m on its Mt. Zuruldi ski lift, with three runs varying in difficulty from beginner to advanced. The restaurant at the ski lift's top is also currently Georgia's highest eatery. While the set of runs is more limited here, the views of Mt Ushba and the surrounding Caucasus are spectacular.

In short, the CNN article ones again highlights that the well established and near future winter sports possibilities all across Georgia mean that one can easily find one's niche for price, location, time and activities. 

Image source: CNN 

25 February 2020 13:07