Our up-and-down winter of 2015/16 isn’t over yet, and with bases finally building past the 5m mark at some areas, and some of the biggest snowstorms of the season bringing powder to many slopes for spring, it looks like it could end on a high – in terms of ski conditions.
The added good news is that Easter week is at the earlier end of the spectrum this season, making it in March (albeit the last Sunday of the month) after several late April dates (and it’ll be 16 April again in 2017), so it’s that much earlier in spring, increasing the odds of better snow conditions.
I love Easter skiing – the sunshine, the laid-back atmosphere and of course the Easter egg hunts in the snow. But Amelia Warner at specialist French tour operator Peak Retreats told me she could name six reasons:
6 Reasons to Go Skiing At Easter
1) The weather is generally sunnier, meaning you can cut down on layers.
2) Warmer air temperatures (compared to January) are generally better for the kids.
3) Usually lots of “bluebird skies” with a mix of snow days (resorts often get their heaviest falls in March/April) … although no one can control the weather!
4) Due to longer days and longer opening hours for lifts, you can ski for that little bit longer.
5) Prices are much lower (especially when compared to February).
6) Easy driving conditions, normally no traffic at all, whether directly from the UK or from the airport.
Peak Retreats say they have just a few places left for the key Easter weeks departing 26 March and 2 April, but they also have some free lift pass offers in selected resorts.
Aim High (Altitude or Latitude)
Skiing later in the season means that the snow on lower slopes at many resorts may have thawed away completely or at best be a fairly lacklustre stodge that your skis stick to by late morning. So the advice, particularly this season which has been prone to warm temperatures at lower elevations even in mid-winter, is to aim high. That is over-simplifying things – some low elevation resorts can offer snow-sure slopes if they have shaded slopes or their own snowy micro-climate, but it gets a bit complicated to track them all, so aim high is a good blanket rule!
You can also consider aiming high in latitude, not just altitude, as resorts in Canada (particularly Whistler or ski areas around Banff) are snow-sure into May as are many ski areas in Scandinavia.
But for the Alps, take a look at altitudes of upper runs and at current depths – if the runs go high and the snow is currently lying a metre or two deep, you should be good to go there.
Otherwise, remember the old adage, “If it’s low with not much snow, just say no.”
Tour operators and ski resorts have bargains aplenty on offer over Easter whether you book direct or book a package. The larger operators like Crystal, Inghams, Neilson and Ski Independence (who are offering free skiing for under 12s at a number of French resorts this Easter) all have special “Easter Deals” pages if you Google their name and “Easter Deals” – as do most of the smaller operators.
Almost all resorts have special Easter deals, often with a family focus – just visit their website. Italy’s huge Dolomiti Superski region, for example, offers its Super Sun promotion from 19 March to the end of season 2016, when a seven-day ski holiday is offered for the price of six, and a six-day lift pass for the price of a five-day pass. There’s also “Super Kids” on the same date with free ski holidays for under eights, half-price for eight to 11-year-olds.
In St Anton from 2 to 16 April, it’s “Ski, Sun, Fun weeks”, when many hotels and accommodation providers offer package deals such as a week in a pleasant B&B with a six-day lift pass costing from €450 (about £350) per adult.
If you like the more luxurious side of ski holidays (and who doesn’t?), the good news is that as Easter is fairly unfashionable for the jet set, prices tend to tumble at the luxury end of the market, and a property your average oligarch would pay hundreds of thousands of euros for over New Year can be snapped up for a fraction of that cost at Easter.
Luxury travel experts The Oxford Ski Company have a wide choice of stunning accommodation on offer over Easter (and for the biggest savings, after Easter). For example, Fontanet in Verbier, Switzerland, is an elegant apartment which can sleep 12 guests and offers excellent access to the Medran lift and the resort centre. Guests can sink into the comfy sofas in front of a roaring fireplace while they enjoy some of the fine produce from the extensive wine cellar. After a day on the slopes, there’s an indoor swimming pool, steam room, hammam and massage room to enjoy.
A week’s stay from 27 March is CHF3,291pp (about £2,330) and includes a private ski instructor for the first two days of your trip. Guests are greeted with a champagne reception and the services of the host, experienced chef, concierge and 24-hour resort driving service during their visit. The cost also includes daily breakfast and afternoon tea, children’s supper, dinner on six nights and pre-dinner cocktails and canapés for six nights, as well as a menu of carefully selected wines. Nice.
Revise and Ski
With older teenagers often facing crucial exams soon after the Easter holidays, it can be a conundrum whether to take a family ski holiday or not. Even though your child may take all their work with them, the reality is it may all stay in the case (after you’ve paid for the extra baggage weight on the plane!)
This Easter, the leading ski tour operator Inghams, working in conjunction with Tutor House and Revise & Ski™, have a solution though, offering students and families a ski holiday which complements students’ revision.
The Revise & Ski™ scheme is run by experienced tutors in Val d’Isère, with study sessions aimed at GCSE, AS and A2 students as well as Common Entrance pupils. The sessions focus on exam technique and cover a wide range of subjects. Students will have 22.5 hours of formal lessons per week, leaving plenty of times to explore the slopes.
So there’s now no excuse not to go on a family Easter ski holiday, and sadly for those teenagers, there’s no excuse not to do the studying they said they would when you agreed to take them!
Revise & Ski™ is available on Inghams’ departures on 19 and 26 March 2016 or 2 April 2016.
Easter Deals and Info
Dolomiti Superski: dolomitisuperski.com
Peak Retreats: peakretreats.co.uk
Revise & Ski™: reviseandski.com/inghams/
St Anton: stantonamarlberg.com
Ski Independence: ski-i.com
The Oxford Ski Company: oxfordski.com