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November 06, 2008

Affordable Skiing Article from Europe

Great Article from a new site in the UK--talkskiing:

The advice here is fairly obvious: choose a less well-known resort or one which has a reputation for being inexpensive. In other words, do not give in to the temptation of booking the penthouse suite at The Lodge in Vail, Colorado. Doing so would set you back over $6,000 per night and whilst the accommodation is truly magnificent, you can probably do without a massage centre and swish piano bar for a couple of weeks.

Quiet, inexpensive resorts which nevertheless offer world-class skiing include Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria. This resort is a less obvious choice than Les Arcs in France for example. If you choose to stay in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, you will be able to ski on over 120 miles of well-maintained slopes. The cheapest time of year to visit the resort is at the beginning of the season, although there are usually some good deals to be found towards the end of the season as well. As a general rule, avoid booking a skiing holiday over Christmas and New Year as this is one of the most expensive periods of the ski season. Similarly, the school holidays at Easter and February half-term should be avoided. If you are able to leave booking until the last minute you may be able to pick up a bargain, particularly before Christmas or in January, after the schools go back.

You should also try researching the ski resorts of Eastern European countries, such as Slovenia and Bulgaria. These resorts often provide great value for money as well as fantastic skiing conditions. If you don't fancy Eastern Europe then why not try Andorra? Although it is a country that you may not associate with a winter break it is a great, and, best of all, very cheap, destination for a skiing holiday. The resorts are much quieter than in other European resorts and you will find unavoidable extras, such as lift passes, surprisingly reasonable. At the time of writing, there was a lovely chalet suitable for up to five people on offer for under £350 per week, available in the beautiful village of Encamp, Andorra.

Lots more, but a quick rundown on European resorts is never a bad thing. Most of the article is directly applicable to the States.


Posted by Justin at November 6, 2008 11:50 AM


Good points in this article but there is a lot to research. There is so much resort capacity in the Alps and competition you can wait until the last minute to choose where to go following snow reports. Once you are in zoo-y London flights are dirt cheap to most cities in Europe. Even big resorts have cheaper lift tickets than most in North America. Food in restaurants though is the big hidden expense. Cafeteria style eating on the hill is excellent and cheaper than most village restaurants. You can pretty much snack on all kinds of goodies around a good on hill lunch. I think the St. Bernard valley pass that can include Brusson (across from Verbier), Les Marecottes, Champex Lac, La Fouly, Vichères and Super Saint-Bernard in Switzerland plus Crevacol in Italy is a steal. As a group you'd need a rental car to make all or some of those stops but they are not expensive. 2 star accommodation can be more than comfortable and if you get half board you get dinner and breakfast. Super St. Bernard is high altitude and almost always has lots of snow. There you can ski a 10k low impact run down into Italy on the back of the mountain and taxi it back. Speaking of Italy the Monte Cervino valley has a high altitude small family resort called Chamois (1800m) with no cars allowed and is primarily used by locals. A lift ticket there is less than $30! But it is really hard to get info on because it is promoted for locals. That is the big tip. Go where the locals go. From there you can back country it down to Valtournenche which is a beautiful Alpine village lift connected to Cervinia and Zermatt albeit on a different ticket. Some years the eastern Alps have better snow than the west and Obertauern near Salzburgh Austria almost always seems to have significantly more snow than most of the regional competition. Even in really lean snow years Obertauern gets big dumps. A smaller area with skiing in 3 countries is the Fruili Alps with Venice as the airport destination. A week there can take in Italy, Austria and Slovenia. Sella Nevea/Bovec (2 1/2 hours from Venice) will by next season be interconnected on one international ticket. In the eastern Alps snow often stays at much lower altitudes longer and they have a lot of off piste guided skiing. You cannot beat the European experience but in a tough economy staying closer to home and following the tips of this excellent article makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: Away visitor at November 10, 2008 05:07 PM