Ski holidays are not cheap, but it is possible to keep down costs and still have a great time
Let’s make one thing clear: ski holidays are never cheap. In order to experience the incredible feeling of standing atop a mountain peak, ready to ski or snowboard down, there is a shopping list of expensive items to pay for: travel, accommodation, ski pass, equipment, insurance, lessons (if required), clothing, food and drink. It adds up to a hefty outlay. But don’t despair; there are ways to save money and to get better value, as I shall explain.
Where to Ski
The choice of resort affects the cost of a holiday. Generally, it is more expensive in the larger, more famous resorts. For a start, there is the ski pass – and it pays to ask yourself whether you need miles and miles of terrain. “If you are a group of beginners or a family with young children, you aren’t likely to need to ski a big area,” says Xavier Schouller, managing director of Peak Retreats, a tour operator which has built its reputation on helping skiers to choose less well-known destinations. “Instead of paying for slopes that you won’t use, choose a smaller ski area.”
A six-day ski pass for the vast 600-kilometre Trois Vallées domain, for example, costs from €294 per adult. Yet for many skiers, particularly families, the 55 kilometres in Aussois would be enough – and the equivalent ski pass costs only €146.
But what about an advanced skier who wants a huge ski area to roam in? Money can still be saved, Schouller says, by considering where to be based. “There are plenty of smaller villages that share the same ski area as larger, more expensive resorts. A good example is Vaujany – a charming village in the Southern French Alps. It is part of the massive l’Alpe-d’Huez ski area, but the accommodation is significantly cheaper. You get a great village atmosphere and world-class skiing, for less.”
Go In a Group
Location also affects the cost of ski lessons. In Val-d’Isère, France’s most popular resort with British clients, a six-morning group lesson will cost 3D4 around €280 per adult; over in Les Contamines, close to Mont Blanc, the equivalent course costs a mere €130. Why such a difference?
“It’s simply choice and popularity,” says Mark Neville, UK business manager for the École de Ski Francais (ESF). “A pint of lager in central London costs around £5, but in Newcastle it’s around £3. It’s like that with lessons, so choosing a smaller or less fashionable resort can help those on a budget.”
Committing to group lessons is a good way of getting the most instruction time for your money. For example, about €200 will buy six consecutive three-hour morning group lessons in La Rosiere, whereas €150 would only buy a private lesson for up to three people, for two and a half hours.