Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:49 PM
From the lift passes and ski lessons to lengthy transfers and extortionate mountain restaurant prices, skiing holidays are notoriously expensive. However, there are ways to cut corners on price without compromising on quality, fun and value. Follow these simple tips to bag yourself a ski bargain.
Stray far from the maddening crowd
Smaller resorts may not have the impressive infrastructure, variety and wealth of facilities of larger resorts, but seeing as they don’t have all the crowds, you actually get better use of the facilities they do posses. The Good Ski Guide lists resorts all over the world, small and large, and gives insider info on the terrain, lift system and accommodation. Instead of looking at the big resorts in well-known ski destinations such as France and Switzerland, look at more low-key or new resorts in Andorra, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Bulgaria.
Although flights with the main low-cost airlines may seem cheap, once you’ve added luggage, possibly including ski and snowboard carriage, transfers to your resort and airport parking in the UK, you might as well drive. Driving to France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy is doable and particularly appealing to group travellers who benefit most from shared travel costs. However, you may need to get winter tyres and/or snow chains if you are going to be driving at altitude on mountain passes.
Travel in January
Once Christmas and New Year are over, ski resorts across the world take a breather before February school holidays. The last few weeks in January are generally characterised by good snow conditions and clear, crowdless pistes. You may have to deal with mighty cold temperatures but it’s worth it for the peace and quiet. You won’t get cold standing in lift queues anyway, because there won’t be any.
Cater for yourself
Although no one really wants to cook and make their own beds on holiday, it is the most obvious way to save money on a skiing holiday. You can make all your food at ‘home’ including your lunch, meaning you can completely bypass those expensive mountain restaurants.
Don’t overdo the lessons
Although ski lessons are an important and necessary part of learning to ski, you don’t need to be reeled in by all the advertising ‘talk’ from the ski school. Instead of buying a full week of full day lessons, purchase just three half day lessons for the start of your trip. Spend the afternoon after your lesson practicing on your own so you can get the most from you next lesson. The last three days are then about fun and putting what you’ve learned into practice.
By Sarah Benton