Great Skiing can be Cheap Skiing!
When it comes to planning your next family adventure, week away with friends or holiday with a loved one, a ski break can be the perfect way to learn a new skill or have fun together. Sadly ski holidays can often be overlooked due to the presumption they’re too expensive. In fact, a ski trip doesn’t have to break the bank at all, great skiing really can be cheap skiing or snowboarding. Here’s just a few hints and tips to make your amazing on-snow experiences more affordable.
1. Choose a ‘snow sure’ destination
Picking a snow sure destination, doesn't guarantee you perfect snow conditions or a cheap ski holiday, but it does ensure you’ll have snow to ski and make great conditions more likely. It’s also imperative to avoid spending money on a holiday, only to find there’s not enough snow and therefore few slopes open to ski on.
2. Take lessons before you go
Learning to ski before you head to the mountains, at your indoor real snow centre or dry slope is best done before you book your holiday. This way, you can avoid splashing out on expensive lessons on the mountain, only to find you should have taken up snowboarding rather than skiing or visa versa.
It’s also a great opportunity to get to grips with all the equipment! Learning before you go also allows you to spend more time exploring the mountain resort, instead of spending the week on the nursery slope. And if you really want to save the pennies on learning to ski or snowboard, you can pick up a half price Beginner Group Ski or Snowboard Lesson at The Snow Centre during the summer months.
3. Pick up a package deal
Package deals are normally the easiest way to budget a ski trip, but you’ll need to make sure the extra’s, such as lift passes and equipment hire, available through your travel agent are actually better value than picking them up at the resort’s lift pass office or at the local resort stores. They usually are, but always worth checking.
Sometimes you can benefit from shopping around to avoid a package deal and still come within budget, but you’ll need to do your research. Take a look at comparison sites, such as Travel Supermarket and Skyscanner for flights and car hire. However, you’ll often find ski specialists like Igluski or Crystal Ski actually sell off much of what larger travel operators haven’t sold at a better rate.
Whether you’re considering a package deal or not, you could save money by joining a ski or snowboard club, having a Ski Club GB or Snowboard Club UK membership can give you access to discounts on package holidays, equipment rentals, snowsports brands, car hire and more. Take a look at Ski Club GB’s discount calculator to work out whether their member’s savings could benefit you.
4. Work-out what your must haves are
Working-out what you can still have a smashing holiday without is an easy way to make your ski holiday more affordable. For example — Do you need accommodation that’s ski to the door or could you walk a few minutes to the slopes or catch a free bus? Alternatively, can you self-cater in an apartment or do you need full or half-board in a chalet or hotel.
5. Take a packed lunch up the mountain
Enjoying your lunch in a restaurant up the mountain is convenient and offers spectacular views, but the restaurants at the top of the hill tend to be a lot more expensive than those at the bottom. You can keep your holiday costs down by lunching at the bottom of the hill or still enjoy the best scenery at the highest points, by packing a flask and a picnic, weather dependant.
6. Look for lift pass deals
If you’re not picking up a lift pass deal through your package holiday company, look out for lift pass deals online. Many holiday companies will run offers such as Crystal’s 2 for 1 on Lift Passes to select destinations. So, browse the holiday companies websites to find a discount in your chosen resort.
If you’re planning to travel a little further, you can benefit from early bird offers on passes when you’re heading to the mountains from more than 7 days in the US. Great examples of an early bird discount is great rate on the Epic Pass, which covers North America’s, Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Araphoe Basin, available at a discounted rate when you book before the end of October. Alternatively, the Aspen SKI30 allows you to enjoy unlimited skiing and riding for 30 consecutive days in Aspen. Whilst you may not have the luxury of that much time to ski, this pass still saves money if you’re likely to ski Aspen for 8 days or more.
7. Snap up your winter wardrobe at the end of the winter season
It’s a little bit of an obvious one, but if you didn’t already know — ski shops such as Ellis Brigham and Snow & Rock have great winter clothing and kit sales at the end of each winter. So, with a some advanced planning you can pick yourself up great quality jackets, snow trousers, hats, goggles, gloves, socks, hats, helmets and maybe even skis, boards and boots at the end of a snow season. If you do decide to snap up your own boots, board or skis, don’t forget to consider the cost of transporting it to your destination, some airlines charge extra fees for oversized winter sports equipment.
8. Research accommodation and resorts — Find a hidden gem!
You might be looking to explore the vast ski areas of Les 3 Vallées in France or venture the slopes that stretch between four mountain villages in Switzerland’s Saas Fee, but you can enjoy some of the most famous ski areas without staying in the centre of these resorts and enjoy more affordable rates.
For example, if you’re thinking Les 3 Vallées in France, you naturally think of the famous resorts, Courchevel or Merible, but there are villages and ‘mini towns’ with prime access to these ski areas that won’t break the break to stay in. The small town, La Tania in Les 3 Vallées offers ski to the door accommodation and is conveniently located between Merible and Courchevel or Les 3 Vallées third valley, Val Thorens tends to offer more affordable accommodation with access to all the same slopes. This is true for many resorts across Europe, so plan your accommodation with a little knowledge of the surrounding villages and ski area access points. Look for the hidden gems!
9. Avoid February Half Term
Most of us know February half-term is a busy time in all ski resorts and it’s also one of the most expensive. Sometimes visiting a ski resort outside the school holidays isn’t possible, but often the Easter break can guarantee you more runs for your money, due to the smaller lift queues.
10. Book last minute
If you can hang on to the very last minute you can often get lucky with last minute ski packages at really great prices, but you’ll have to be willing to go wherever is still available. For last minute trips take a look at Laterooms or Last minute’s websites or visit a specialist snowsports travel agent and see what they have left. At least you’ll have the advantage of knowing the snow forecast in all the resorts!