Credit crunch ski holiday tips
Is the thought of gliding down slopes on perfectly powdery snow under clear blue skies occupying both your sleeping and waking hours but the cost of a ski holiday is putting you off this year?
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of Britons are sacrificing their holidays this year because of the recession, according to a recent poll by Eurolines.
Well don’t despair. Another survey by SkiingHolidays.com indicates that 80 per cent of skiers who dropped their annual ski holiday last season are planning to return to the slopes this season.
And skiers and snowboarders are becoming savvier at finding ways to cut costs in these credit crunched times.
We bring you some top tips on how to have an affordable ski holiday in 2009/2010. So there’s no excuse not to hit the slopes this winter!
Put together your own ski holiday package
Putting together your own ski holiday package can often lead to significant savings and booking online with internet-only ski companies allows you to avoid both the tour operator’s brochure marketing costs and travel agents’ commission.
Now there are a number of websites that promise to make the process of organising your own ski holiday that much easier and the independent ski holiday market is rapidly growing.
New ski portal Skiingholidays.com allows skiers to build their own ski holiday using low cost carriers, transfers or car hire with ski accommodation. Results have found skiing holidays are up to 35 per cent cheaper than their pre-packaged equivalents. The price is then compared to pre-packaged equivalents from tour operators.
Another new ski holiday website has been launched by easyJet, enabling customers to book ski hotel and apartment accommodation, ski transfers, ski equipment hire and lift passes online.
The new ski booking facility offers accommodation in over 1,000 properties in 216 resorts in Austria, France, Italy, Andorra and Switzerland, combined with easyJet’s services to 13 ski gateway airports.
Get a group together for a self-catering ski holiday
Booking a self-catering apartment in a ski resort is often inexpensive compared to hotels and catered chalets if you don’t mind doing a bit of cooking and making a few packed lunches rather than eating in the mountain restaurants.
Hire a ski apartment for six or more and the cost per person drops dramatically. Invite friends, colleagues or family, or set up a Facebook page. Everyone takes turns doing the catering and you’ve got affordable aprÃ¨s ski.
Ski resorts usually have good little supermarkets full of European delicacies so you it won’t be microwaved macaroni cheese every night. Save your euros for the beers and treat yourself to a few nights out – mustn’t miss out on the raclette!
A group of skiers travelling together can also save money by hiring a car as a cheaper alternative to often expensive transfers.
Go green and save – travel by rail to the slopes
Did you know you could go green and save money on your ski holiday this year? The carbon footprint of a trip by plane to a ski resort is typically eight to ten times greater than the equivalent rail journey, according to the new Snowcarbon.co.uk website, launched to encourage train travel to ski resorts.
And rail travel is often better value in terms of both time and money. Travelling to the slopes by train avoids the excess luggage costs charged by airlines for ski equipment.
The Snowcarbon.co.uk website explains exactly how to book rail journeys, how to get the best fares, and which resorts are easiest to reach by train. It features 30 resorts across Europe, including France, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra and Austria, all of which can be conveniently reached by train.
Travel to the heart of the French Alps on the Eurostar direct ski train running from late December to early April. Choose from the overnight service allowing you an extra day on the slopes, or the high-speed day service travelling on a Saturday.
Alternatively, take the Eurostar to Paris and connect onto a high-speed train to the French or Swiss Alps, the Pyrenees, Italy or Austria. Prices start from just £149 per person with Rail Europe.
Travelling by train from the UK to European ski resorts is comfortable and stress-free. Couples, groups and families love the space and freedom on board, and children under four travel free.
Coach travel for budget ski breaks
Probably the cheapest way to travel to the slopes this year is by coach, with Eurolines offering return tickets to the French Alps for a credit crunch busting Â£99.
There is an overnight service so you can save the cost of a night’s accommodation and wake up on the other side of the channel ready to enjoy the piste and aprÃ¨s ski.
Travelling by coach allows for almost six times lower carbon emission than if you travel by air. And there are no hidden extra costs, such as for transporting skis and snowboards. A wide variety of skiing destinations in the Alps are on offer, including Tignes, Argentiere and Aime.
Pre-book ski equipment hire
Pre-booking ski equipment, ski lessons and lift passes not only saves time once you get to your ski resort, it is also the way to make big savings on your ski holiday 2009/2010.
Ski Republic has revolutionised the ski hire industry over the past couple of seasons with their 2-4-1 ski equipment hire offers. That means half price hire of skis, sticks, poles, boards and boots when two skiers book equipment hire at the same time and saves around €120 per person compared with arranging ski hire in resort.
There are now 27 Ski Republic shops in the Alps, with two new shops opening for 2009-10 and new franchise outlets starting up. Locations include Val Thorens, Meribel, Les Arcs 1800, La Plagne, Tignes, Val d’Isere and Courcheval.
Ski Power is offering guests who pre-book a week’s ski hire 48 hours before their holiday starts a chance to pay €37.50 for the entire week, a saving of up to 50 per cent person.
Ski less well known resorts and countries
Skiing in eastern Europe has been a popular budget ski trip option for a few years now but the facilities and ski opportunities are becoming better value for money all the time.
For example the 2009/2010 ski season will see the opening of a new cable car and ski piste linking Slovenia’s Kanin resort and Italy’s Sella Nevea resort.
The ski area will be accessible with one lift pass, allowing skiers from both the Slovenian and the Italian sides of the mountain to enjoy the slopes at both resorts. The connected ski centre is expected to be called Kanin-Canin and will be one of the largest ski areas in Slovenia.
Kanin is Slovenia’s only resort with slopes over 2,000m. The resort has a good mixture of advanced, intermediate, beginner and cross-country trails. The link to Sella Nevea will provide an even greater choice of runs, particularly for beginner skiiers.
The ski holiday discounts are out there already
Directski.com only offer holidays online and have seven-day skiing holidays in the French Alps with return Gatwick flights and transfers costs from Â£209 this winter.
European ski accommodation operator Pierre & Vacances is offering a ski Eurobuster deal, with 15 to 35 per cent off all its ski resort accommodation throughout the winter season in the French Alps and Pyrenees, from budget apartments to chic hotels.
Tailor-made ski holiday operator Ski Power has reduced the prices of all its chalet hotels this Christmas and New Year’s, including some great family ski holiday reductions. Savings of up to Â£1,560 per family are still available.
So you’re going to do your canny ski holiday planning and save by pre-booking everything but what if there’s no snow?
Pierre & Vacances have ski holiday properties in all the top French ski resorts and this year they have launched Snow Guarantee insurance on all their winter ski holidays.
This basically means that skiers who stay in their accommodation can make a claim if they have taken out this insurance policy and don’t receive as much snowfall as they hoped on holiday.
You can cancel your ski holiday free of charge if the snow weather conditions in resort are insufficient, which is defined as where a lack or excess of snow entails the closure of over two thirds of the ski lifts normally in service, for a minimum of two consecutive days.
The insurance policy is being offered in association with Europ Assistance and costs from €30 per booking.