November 5th, 2014
As promised I have comprised a list of good ideas to minimise the costs of a ski trip this coming season.
Get a late deal
To get a late deal you need to be flexible with your holiday dates and sometimes where you fly into or from. Booking as late as a week before your desired date of departure can save you hundreds of pounds on accommodation because companies are eager to fill every empty bed. The biggest savings are commonly found on chalet accommodation and less so on hotel rooms. If you need to go on a certain date and want to go to a particular location, then waiting for a late deal is extremely risky. It pays to be flexible.
Book a chalet not a hotel
If you have a big party or even if you do not, a chalet can be very cost effective as most of the time they offer half board living. In every chalet I have stayed in I have received breakfast and a three course meal in the evening with a good helping of wine included. This is great value as restaurants in ski resorts can be pricey especially as the Euro is so strong. Chalets in my opinion are also much more comfortable than hotels as you have your own living area and not just a bedroom, plus it is a good way to meet other people.
Buy a Sensible ski pass
Use common sense and be realistic when you buy a ski pass. It will obviously be cheaper to buy a weekly pass over 5 or 6 daily ones, but also think about where you want to ski. Many resorts are huge and have hundreds of kilometres of runs in several valleys. Buy a pass which includes a couple of valleys but not all. It is unlikely you will get time in a week or be quick enough (unless you are a very confident skier) to get across to further valleys and back in a day anyway so save your money. In the unlikely event that you do tire of your current ski pass boundary, you can usually buy daily passes to other areas. Also, generally it is not cost effective to try and ski on the day you arrive as a lot of time is spent checking into accommodation and getting your equipment from the hire shop; there can be large queues for this especially on swap over days. If you buy passes through your tour operator you can sometimes get a discount so ask.
Slope cuisine vs packed lunch
Ski resorts can be quite snobby places and this is one of the reasons why the mark up on food is quite high. You will find a lot of eateries on the slopes but you can easily pay over the odds. The food is great but do not just stop at the first convenient place. Ski around on the first day or ask people’s advice for the cheaper restaurants/cafes where you can get a pizza, a sandwich or bowl of soup. I have experienced mountain restaurants at either end of the price scale so I know what it means to find a suitable restaurant. Alternatively you can take a packed lunch onto the piste. On a good sunny day you cannot beat it plus it is by far the cheapest option. Many chalets will offer a packed lunch to you for free or you can pick up supplies in the resort before you take the gondola up to the slopes.
Drinks and Apres Ski
A lot of money is thrown away in the evenings at ski resorts in bars and clubs. You can pay up to £8 for a beer at a bar and more for spirits so be sure to either pick up a crate before you get to the resort from a supermarket or get tanked up on free wine at the chalet if you are staying in one. I will add that nightlife in ski resorts is always good natured and very lively, often with live entertainment, but the drinks will burn a whole in your pocket.
Borrow or buy equipment
If it is your first time skiing or boarding then definitely hire your gear and take out the insurance. If you know someone with a pair of skis or a board then ask if you can borrow it as this will save you a packet. Alternatively, if you have been a couple of times and plan to go again, consider buying your own gear because it will be a very worthwhile investment over a 5 to 10 year period. If you do think this is the way to go then always wait until the end of the season before making a purchase. Ski shops generally have their sales then to make room for the new season’s stock. Many a bargain can be had.