Number one Disco Party at the Syndicate Penthouse, Bansko

Posted on Friday 15th March, 2013 Times Viewed: 3015
Our first run found us knee deep in super fresh powder, but completely lost, with not even a lift line in sight. We had no idea where we were, with trees on every side, a pretty steep drop in front, and a petrified Bulgarian kid in tow who had accidentally followed us in the whiteout.

Words - Kaz Willmer
We attempted, and failed, to work out from the map where we could possibly be, to the sounds of the snapping twigs as we pushed through the trees, and the Bulgarian kid whimpering on the phone to his mum. But at the same time, we were enjoying first tracks through some pretty awesome powder.

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It took us a while to follow a route out of the forest, but eventually a lift line appeared like a mirage in the white. After a very relieved sigh from the Bulgarian, we followed the line down and were led to a bar banging out the cheesiest dance tunes known to man. We were drawn in, enchanted by the ridiculous tunes to join the dancing Bulgarians, and to down cups of strong, sweet, delicious coffee. From then on we knew the rest of the week would be awesome – and somehow, no matter which route we took, we still ended up out at that same enchanting disco bar!

We were a bit disconcerted when we first arrived in Bansko to be welcomed to a completely flat town – with no mountains in sight. But once making it through the survival-of-the-fittest gondola queue, you reached a whole different world to what you left at the base – and we were not only surprised, but stoked on what we discovered.

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The resort itself is pretty mellow, but through the week we found some awesome lift lines, super powdery tree lines, and some pretty fast groomed piste. When the sun blitzed the clouds away, the views were pretty damn sweet, down to the valley below and right across the Pirin mountains. Some of the tracks could get pretty busy, especially around lunchtime when lessons ended. But we spent most of the week sticking to the higher tracks which were wide, fast, pretty much empty, and had plenty of natural hits to play around on, or tree lines to snake.

As a group of riders who love hitting freestyle features, the ‘park’ was pretty much non-existent - mainly used for Bulgarian picnics or skiers to pose on in unflattering positions. But this didn’t really bother us as there was plenty of trees, bowls, lift lines and powder to keep us entertained for six days riding.

The mountain prices were far cheaper than you’d find in most mainstream European resorts, but still slightly higher than you’d find in town. The answer was to head back into town for après, via gondola or ski-out, where pizza slices bigger than your face are about £1, as are tankards of amazing local beer. Lift passes also worked out around £17 a day, and full evening meals with drinks in very posh restaurants worked out at under £10 a head. What’s more, the food was generally incredible!

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We particularly liked the Penguin bar, not just for the amazing food, but for the rad magician who kept us entertained while waiting for the food, and the live band who played all evening – not to mention entertainment from the resident restaurant pimp (found outside all bars and restaurants to entice punters inside) who had an open unrequited love for one of the waitresses.

It you’re there for the nightlife then drinks are always cheap, with generally a round of 6 drinks coming to around £7. It’s worth making the pilgrimage to the Motorhead bar slightly outside the centre, or just believing the bar pimps in the street that their party is Bansko’s ‘Number One Disco Party’!

But when we weren’t riding or eating, we were up at our pimping pad – the Syndicate Penthouse – part of the very posh 4-star Vihren Resort and Spa. So posh that the lobby has its own Chesterfield sofas and giant Romeo-and-Juliet-style fishtank!

The Penthouse is kitted out for 6 people, and is spread across two floors in the residence, right in the centre of town. The location was awesome for us – just a few minutes’ walk from the main gondola, and what’s more the views from the apartment were pretty damn sweet. We had everything we needed, including a massive balcony, and a huge lounge area with flatscreen TV, cinema surround sound, and PS3. There were also stocks of shred flicks and rad movies for when the cat-whisperer only English-speaking TV channel (the animal channel) got a bit too much. It was a proper luxury pad for a bunch of snowboarders, kitted out to make everything perfect for a week’s chill pad off the slopes.

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It that wasn’t enough, the spa area was super lush – complete with gym, pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, plunge pool and treatment rooms.

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Bansko was different from any other place I’ve been, but I wouldn’t take that trip back for the world. The buildings may have been half finished, pavements crumbled, and an erotic show set between the supermarket and rental store, but to be honest it was an incredible week exploring a whole new place. We enjoyed some epic snow, sweet views, great hospitality, and an incredible location, with an awesome group of people. It was a week all about having fun with your friends with those laps of the mountain where you can’t stop grinning. And thanks to the guys at Syndicate Clothing and As You Like It, Bansko provided us with just that.

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All I knew before we arrived was that tour operators offer super cheap packages there, drinks were cheap, and the gondola queue might be long. I didn’t know what the currency was, or how to say hello in Bulgarian, let alone where in the country Bansko actually is. But what I did know was that if it’s good enough for the Syndicate Clothing crew to host a gleaming Penthouse, then Bansko would provide us with a rad week for sure. And it sure didn’t disappoint any one of us.

Thanks to As You Like It for organising every step of the trip – including the cheeky packages of sweets and condoms delivered before we left! Massive thanks also to Sketch at Syndicate Clothing for trusting us with his epic pad! If anyone wants to stay at the Syndicate Penthouse, get in touch with As You Like It for some incredible prices it’d be rude to turn down.
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