Interview with John Sutton from Bansko Tourist Information

Hi John and welcome to the Bansko Ski Blog hosted by Traventuria. Tell us a little bit about your background?
Hi, thank you for inviting to the interview, I have been in Bansko now for nearly 11 yrs and have been running Bansko tourist information since September 2008. In 2010 we moved into the management of apartments and complexes as commercial property management was my career back in the UK.
You are British. What keeps you staying and working in Bansko?
Basically, A love of the mountains… Summer and winter they offer everything for me in terms of work and pleasure. We are also close to the Greek coast so i am not far away from good quality seafood as well..
Why Bansko Tourist Information (BTI)? What kind of help and info are your clients mainly looking for?
At the time I set up the tourist information company there was no one really offering everything under one roof for visitors and or apartment owners. We have a good following via social media and many clients who return year on year.
Can you describe what are the main problems of Bansko and what are their feasible solutions?
A popular discussion is infrastructure and i am still amazed we do not have a simple bus service/park and ride system that runs around town moving tourists around and limiting cars around the resort. It would be cheap and easy to run and make things a lot safer. I like the concept coming out of the municipality about raising prices for a higher calibre of client…. let’s look at the major operator in resort offering cheap package deals… One and the other cannot go hand in hand….
Do you think a second gondola should be build? Are there any other ways to solve the issue with the queues occurring during the peak season?
It looks inevitable however, even if it is agreed it looks like being 2-3 yrs away. In the mean time these suggestions may help:
a, Open the ticket office until 8 OR 9pm every evening for following day purchases not just Thurs – Sun and again from 07:15 each morning.
b, Gondola operation to start at 07:15 am for loading from 07:30 am.
c, Breakfast bars/mobile coffee sales for early risers at the top gondola station and at the bottom station.
d, Half day ticket from 8-12 am not just from 12:30 am in the afternoon.
e, Chair lifts to be running from 8 am for those choosing to drive up and/or make use of the gondola buses
f, Gondola buses to operate from 07:30 during busy periods (from 24th Dec – 15th Jan & 10th – 28th Feb)
g, Season pass purchases via payment schemes for locals: 4 months starting Sept with collection on final payment.
h, Half season passes from End Dec – Mid Feb and again from mid Feb – End of March
I, Monday to Friday season passes as they now have in Borovets
J, Night skiing on the ski road until 9 pm
You are considering Bansko as an all season resort. Tell us a little bit more about the summer activities you organize from Bansko.
There are a few of us with a passion for mountain biking and this is one way to really see a different side to the resort, we run rides every Sunday free of charge from the main square… In addition we offer off road buggies, ATV tours, bike hire and guiding and of course hiking. We have a great tool on our website where people can download our hiking guide as a PDF offering 4 easy, 3 intermediate and 3 advanced trails all with photos to assist you along the way.
It is great to have a business with a cause. Now lets talk about the coming ski season 2017/2018.
Where is a good place to spend New Year’s Eve?
Ooooh there are a few good options, this depends of course on people’s taste and budget. I always say do the research and see where people have been before.. It is a common practice in Bulgaria to offer a set dinner and drinks for a set price, most people are happy with this. Just remember fireworks are an essential part of NYE and be in the square for around 11-11.30 pm to be sure of an unforgettable experience
What are your recommendations to the tourists coming to Bansko during the British mid-term break?
Plan your days, get up early and look in advance about alternatives to getting up the mountain. It is going to be busy as are most EU resorts during half term so prepare and plan is all you can do.
What are your advice for fun activities for families with up to 7 years old children?
Take a day out from skiing, head to one of the hotel spa centre’s and relax away from the mayhem, Astera hotel is a good spot for kids with their indoor pool and slides plus climbing wall.
Which is your favourite place for dining out in Bansko?
In no particular order: Irish Harp, Banski Han, Smokey Mountain, Opa Greek taverna, Casa da Papi (Razlog) Baryakova mehana, 5 points and of course the Log House.
What about your favourite bar?
For a relaxing night Wine Bar 25, Pirin 75 is also a great place and of course for the Guinness and sports the Irish Harp, I do not tend to get out much in the winter…. 😉
Is there anything people should avoid while in Bansko?
If you are in a Mehana watch for daily specials offered that are not on the menu and wines recommended by the bottle. Bar/restaurant Touts come with the territory so just smile and walk on by. Also the food on the mountain is not great unless you go to VIP or Bar 180. Go to Le Retro and get sandwiches ordered to take it up with you
Thank you for the interview. We wish you a successful winter season with a lot of snow and smiling clients.
Thank you very much, I wish you all the best as well.
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About Author

I have passion for the mountains! This blog gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and sincere desire to make Bansko and Pirin Mountains a more accessible and enjoyable place for foreign tourists. Some of my intentions are to shed light over small businesses in the area that are doing their best to preserve the local traditions and provide good and environmentally friendly services.

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