The ski season is getting closer and after booming sales in the summer, despite the cost-of-living-crisis, travel agents and tour operators are saying there’s been “a bit of a slowdown in bookings” as part of the aftermath of the infamous “mini budget”.
Most are saying though that they were already 60-90% booked before Kwasi Kwarteng took to his feet and that we shouldn’t expect many last minute deals…
Which Dates Are Cheaper?
A few factors are making weeks that are normally the most expensive of the season, not so expensive compared to the rest of the 22-23 season, this winter.
For New Year week the fact that New Year’s Eve /Hogmanay is a Saturday and that most schools go back on Tuesday 3rd, ruling the week out for a lot of families, has pushed prices down for this usually peak week. Similarly February half term is more spread across two weeks rather than concentrated on one as it is some years, again meaning prices aren’t so high in 2023 as they often are, comparatively at least.
Ski holiday travel agency Ski Line have a constantly updated chart showing which weeks have the most availability – which usually drives down prices, against those that are nearly booked up.
Other advice includes that March 2023 departures currently have a lot of availability and that Easter ski breaks are currently up to 25% cheaper, so expect some price adjustments.
With just a month until first departures, the first of the last-minute ski deals have now arrived, with up to 50% off some of the less famous resorts.
The difficulty can be working out where the real bargain are. However, ski holiday travel agency Sno.co.uk have a page you can sort to find the best deal for you by applying filters.
“The key tip when bargain-hunting, is to enter your nearest airport and then sort-by “biggest discount” to see the real bargains, rather than just listing holidays “cheapest” first.
Catered Chalets Can Offer Overall Value
Catered chalet holidays have long been a high-value option, especially when they include travel, transfers and most meals in the price. It’s important to check as more and more chalet holidays advertised are not catered and/or don’t include your travel.
“Skiing is never going to be a cheap holiday but compromising on elements of it can end up being a costly mistake and spoil the holiday experience too,” says Laura Hazell, Sales & Marketing Director for Ski Beat
…whose own best ski value comes in around £100 per day, (£717/week), for a 7 night catered and hosted stay at Chalet Papillon 1 in La Rosiere based on a departure at the start of the season on 10th December 2022.
This deals includes cooked and continental breakfasts, home-made cakes with afternoon tea, three course evening meals with unlimited wine, return morning flights and transfers, a sauna within the chalet complex, and slopes just 50m from the chalet door.
In a similar vein, ski holiday company Sno.co.uk say the biggest growth this year is bookings of all-inclusive ski holidays, with Club Med a big winner. They company includes not only flights, travel and accommodation in their packages but also all meals and drinks, your lift pass and ski or snowboard lessons. Sno.co.uk have upto 20% off some 2023 Club Med packages too.
If you’re not booking an all-inclusive package Sno’s boss Richard Sinclair recommends you buy the parts of your holiday not included in your package online in advance.
“With the pound so low, and inflation everywhere so high,. The top tip when booking holidays that are not ski-inclusive, is to add your extras at the time of booking, to avoid the risk of them having gone up in price before you travel.
All-Inclusive Christmas and New Year …Except Travel
Another variant on all-inclusive comes from Action Outdoors, the UK arm of the French not-for-profit UCPA organisation, with holiday centres across the Alps. It is offering Christmas and New Year family holidays from £721pp based on 7 nights’ accommodation in a family room (sleeps 4), full-board with three meals a day, 6.5 day lift pass, ski instruction (12 hours) and ski rental for the week. Arrival dates are December 24 and 31. The deal is available at the UCPA Centre in the French resort of Les Contamines, just over an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport, the weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays are dedicated to families only. The price does not include your travel to and from the resort though.
“However you look it, we don’t think it’s possible to beat the value of a family UCPA holiday over Christmas and New Year. When you add the amount up and look at what that includes, then even without the instruction and ski rental is still looks good,” said Managing Director of Action Outdoors, David Robertson.
Les Contamines is a snow sure resort, ideal for families with wide open slopes overlooking Mt Blanc and a short transfer away from Geneva. It’s also relatively easy to get to by vehicle from the UK, and it’s even possible to get a direct train from Paris to St Gervais, just ten minutes down the road”.
Self-Cater Self-Drive For The Lowest Prices
If you’re prepared to drive yourself to and from the mountains, fill a self-catering apartment and cook for yourself that’s likely to be the cheapest way to go skiing still. You can stock up on food en route in the “normal” priced hypermarché below the mountains, before driving up into the resorts, where shops are much more expensive. Your highest cost of the whole holiday maybe your lift pass so look out for early-booking online deals there. Some resorts now offer ‘dynamic pricing’ with bigger savings low season for advance buyers, others do one-off discounts, usually before the season has started.
Rail Packages Looking Good Value
The Travelski service from London St Pancras to the French Alps currently has some high-value packages on offer – when you consider the prices not only include your return rail travel but also accommodation in resort, a seven-day lift pass – so an extra day on the slopes compared to most air travel packages (with the exception of the 17th Dec departures which are 6 day passes) and even transfers between station and your accommodation.
“We currently have a week in La Rosiere over New Year in the la Troika self-catered apartments from £550 per person if you fill a six-bed apartment. Considering that includes travel, accommodation and lift pass for what’s generally one of the most expensive weeks of the season that’s pretty incredible,” says Daniel Woodley, Digital Marketing Manager at Ski Line.
If you can get a big enough group of friends or family together you’re likely to achieve a ‘free place’ or two from tour operators. Spread this discount between everyone on the trip and it brings the overall cost down.
For example… a fully catered ski chalet in Morzine, the Chalet Chamois d’Or, is fully available via Ski Line on March 11th 18th and 25th . It sleeps 14 people in 7 bedrooms. It’s currently on sale at £899 pp based on two people sharing a room, but book the whole chalet and you pay £11,687 and qualify for two free places, bringing the cost per person down to just £716pp if there are 14 of you, a saving of £183pp, the company says.
Well, one thing’s for sure, we all need our annual fix of snow and mountains so however you go about getting there, good luck finding the best deal and plenty of snow once you get out there.