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The Ski d’Or, in Tignes, is a 4* hotel suited to ski weekends. It’s a longer transfer but worth it!
Ensconced within the depths of winter. Working that proverbial 9 to 5 can be a solemn lifestyle. So grabbing a short break on the snow is often all we need to lift our souls and carry on with the daily grind; but a quick fix for snow starved, ski-mad Brits is not as cheap or accessible as it used to be. So is the ski weekend a thing of the past? Now a preserve of just the wealthy hard working folk who can afford such privileges? Or can we all still grab an Easyjet flight and hop over to the Alps on a budget?
With fewer British Tour Operator beds in the market and pressures on accommodation providers preferring to fill a week than a short weekend, along with new regulations for transfer companies and fewer airlines flying regular hops to mountain fave’s like Geneva, Ski Weekends are becoming more expensive than ever before.
We don't think that the good old ski weekend, that much needed break to the Alps, is completely out of reach for those of whom have a sensible eye on spend… You may just need to take a few early measures, be flexible with your dates and plan a little ahead. And if you ‘DIY’ your travel - and make use of cheaper low cost fares (which are still around) then it’s all still doable for a budget. Here’s how.
Fortunately there’s still some options for the snow-starved skier and boarder who doesn't wish for a life of financial penury just to ski; or restrictions to the amount of snow-fixes they can enjoy in a season.
Number one is a bit of a moot point, but if it’s a ‘short break’ you’re after (and work allows) then why travel over a weekend? It’s the most expensive time to fly and stay in any hotel. Our favourite option for the sheer ‘value-for-money’ of it, are what we call ‘Midweek breaks’. They run during the middle of the week when flights are significantly cheaper.
With iGOSKI we run ours from early Sunday morning to Wednesday evening (every week of the season) to the weekend super-resort of Morzine. You can join a shared transfer which runs at a set time from Geneva airport, allowing you to book your own flights - and make use of off-peak and/or early booking flight discounts - while we take care of the rest and take you straight to the door of your hotel. Our packages include half board hotel and return airport transfers. Budget on about £350 to £400 for your hotel, transfer and catering. Then just add a flight and lift pass and you could be ‘all-in’ for a little less than £650 for three and a half days skiing. That’s £185 a day which pales in comparison to Tamworths’ Snowdome which is £48 for a two hour pass.
I can't think of a more appropriate idiom than this. Travel in late January, February or early March and be prepared for busy slopes (almost over crowded, in fact) and the highest flight and accommodation costs. Even booking early these days can’t guarantee you the cheapest deals of the season as hoteliers and airlines factor in full capacity to their early prices.
However, travel in early Jan or late March (when snow is historically better) and enjoy crowd-free pistes, smaller lift queues and cheaper hotel and flight prices. Certainly avoid February (French regions spread their holidays over all of Feb) and early March which seems to be a standing fave’ with the British contingent of working professionals.
There’s not a lot you can do with the cost of a lift pass. It generally is what it is, but there’s a few savings to be made. If you intend to ski more than 20 days in a given resort you may find it cheaper to get a season lift pass. And earlybirds (pril / May of the previous year) can get 20% discounts. An early bird season pass in Morzine this year was around €599.
For those less fortunate to afford 20 days on the snow, then if you book passes online and recharge your old card you can look out for small savings and control your spend more than making rash decisions in a lift pass queue. We’ve all been there!
Transfers can be a big cost. With iGOSKI we include them for free on a shared coach which really keeps costs down.
It almost goes without saying that some resorts will be cheaper (overall) than others. Be aware of cheaper hotels or apartments in resorts which are further away from the airport or not serviced by the larger transfer companies. You can quickly see your budget double if you pick a resort like Tignes or La Plagne (3 hours from Geneva) rather than Chamonix, Morzine or Les Gets (1 hour away). A typical transfer cost can range from £80 return to £300 return (p/person) so find your transfer before you commit to your accommodation.
It may sound contrary, but driving to the Alps for a short break rather than flying could in fact save you some money and especially if there’s a group of four or more. Taking a car both ways can cost less than £650, including tolls and ferry or tunnel. You save on transfers, airport parking and you can take your own skis and boards - the carriage of which costs more than £70 on Easyjet these days. Calais to Morzine or Chamonix is less than 8 hours and with four drivers and you can travel overnight and still be relatively fresh on arrival.