At first sight, the choice of different skiing holidays can seem overwhelming especially if it’s your first time. The right decision depends on the type of resort and the size of your budget as well as a host of other variables, such as snow and travel conditions.
We reckon you’ll find everything you need here – to help you make that decision.
Choose a resort that is recommended for beginners. Can you pre book ski school and do the teachers speak English? Are the nursery slopes in the sun? Are they close to the resort? Don’t go to a resort with scores of advanced runs, as you’ll be paying for facilities you can’t use.
Unfortunately skiing is not a cheap sport. Accommodation, travel, ski pass, insurance, food and rental of equipment all add up, even without apres-ski drinks thrown in. In general, the larger and more extensive the resort, the more expensive it will be. To keep your costs down:
- Avoid peak season.
- Book a late deal.
- Stay a little further from the slopes or outside the village centre.
- Rent or borrow gear.
- If possible – use free beginners lifts to start with.
- Don’t eat lunch at the mountain restaurants.
A popular choice for British skiers is the chalet holiday. For a reasonable price, this offers flight, transfer from airport to resort, accommodation and food. Accommodation may be rudimentary and, unless you can fill the whole chalet with friends, you may have to share with strangers, but it’s a fairly hassle-free, cheap and cheerful way of organizing your skiing holiday.
Probably the cheapest option is to rent an apartment. In Europe, the purpose-built French resorts are best geared up for this, though the accommodation can be absurdly cramped. North American apartments tend to be much more comfortable. Rental periods generally run from Saturday to Saturday and you arrange your own transport.
Whichever option you choose, make sure your hotel, chalet or apartment is well located or is well served by public transport for access to the slopes or resort village.
When to go?
- Pre-Christmas – there may not be much snow, except at the highest resorts or those equipped with snow cannons. Prices are low, but all facilities may not yet be open.
- Christmas and New Year – peak season and expensive.
- January – low season, with quiet resorts and empty runs – usually the coldest month.
- February – usually plenty of sun and good snow conditions reflected in crowds and peak prices.
- March – longer days, sun and good snow.
- Easter – generally good skiing but with higher prices and crowds.
- April – late spring can see some wonderful skiing, but choose a very high resort. This is the end of the season, and resort staff may be bored and unhelpful.