It's not hard to find a ski holiday bargain if you look at the right time of year. There are also many other ways to have a winter break on a budget.
It's a common misconception that skiing is the sport of the ultra-elite, and that in order to enjoy a fun-filled winter holiday you need to virtually take out a second mortgage to fund a week on the slopes. Not true! To prove it, here are a few tips to allow even the most budget-conscious travellers to enjoy a real ski holiday bargain.
The Early Bird Gets the Deal
The best ski holiday bargains are found early on. Some companies offer excellent incentives if you book and pay for your holiday well ahead. They can be in the form of monetary discounts, free childcare, equipment hire, and even lift passes.
And the Off Peak Bird Gets the Worm!
Even bigger savings can be made if you avoid peak times, as well. While not everyone can pick and choose when they can take holidays, half term, Easter and the Christmas and New Year period are obviously the most expensive. If you can travel either side (even slightly) of these times you'll save a fortune – and the upside is the resorts will be less crowded as well.
Stay in a Catered Chalet
Catered chalet accommodation offers a competitive alternative to expensive hotels. As well as being a far more family-friendly or group option (the larger the chalet, the cheaper the cost per person), the price covers two (and sometimes three) delicious meals a day plus snacks, meaning you'll save a bundle on eating out every night. There's everything from intimate studios right up to 12-person chalets with pool, sauna and Jacuzzi – and they can often be far more luxurious than your average hotel.
Depending on whether you're travelling with a family, group or as a couple will help determine which resort is suitable for you. But bear in mind that the larger the resort, the greater the range of cheap accommodation from which to choose. Larger resorts quite often have excellent (and sometimes free) public facilities as well, including a pool, fitness centre, ice-skating rink, discount supermarkets, and budget-style restaurants and bars. That's a world of savings right there without even trying.
Keep an Eye on the Currency
If you book far enough ahead, keep an eye on the money markets (sign up to a daily email alert) and pre-purchase your foreign currency when the exchange rate is good. Securing your holiday cash in advance means you won't be tempted to overspend on credit cards, and the savings during rate fluctuations can be significant.
In the Resort
Getting a ski holiday bargain package is one thing, but there are also plenty of other ways you can save money once you’ve arrived at the resort.
If après-ski features high on your list, keep an eye out for happy hours and stick to beer and wine rather than fancy cocktails.
Take a packed lunch or snack in your rucksack when you head out on the slopes. It can be very expensive to stop somewhere for lunch, and if you're staying in a catered chalet, even if they don’t supply lunch, nobody's going to mind if you stash a couple of bread rolls from breakfast!
Get a local SIM card if you're planning on using your phone. Even just a quick call to your mates to see where they are on the piste can rack up a hefty bill if you stay with your UK provider. Some UK companies offer discounted overseas rates, but you still need to keep an eye on the terms and conditions.
Check out the options for your lift pass very carefully. If you want to stick close to your resort, a multiple-day local pass is probably your best option, but for those who want to explore further afield, there are often extensions that give you access to a far wider area without having to pay for an entirely new pass.
Even if you’re on a fairly tight budget, it's entirely possible to find an excellent ski holiday bargain. Once you arrive, if you do your research and follow these simple tips, a snow sports winter break need not be out of your reach.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for a ski holiday bargain in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
Written by : Lisa Jeeves