Amidst the challenges posed by the current cost of living crisis, planning a budget-friendly ski holiday might seem like an uphill battle. Rising expenses across various aspects of daily life have cast a shadow of financial uncertainty, making the idea of indulging in a winter getaway on the slopes seem out of reach. As families and individuals navigate economic challenges, the allure of a ski vacation might feel like an elusive luxury. However, with the right strategies, a little time and effort, and some smart thinking, it’s still possible to hit the slopes without breaking the bank. Keep reading to discover our top tips on how to plan a budget-friendly ski holiday this winter.
- Stay in a lesser known ski resort
While bigger ski resorts are often favoured for the diverse range of slopes, amenities, and après-ski options they offer, there are numerous smaller ski resorts offering a cost-effective and equally convenient option. These smaller resorts provide access to the same slopes as the larger ones but at a more affordable price. Choosing a smaller resort allows skiers to enjoy the same skiing experience while keeping expenses in check.
One of the resorts forming part of the growing band of ‘back door’ resorts (connecting directly to much bigger resorts) is La Tzoumaz in Switzerland. On the northern slopes of Verbier, overlooking the Rhône valley, and formerly known as Mayens-de-Riddes, the village of La Tzoumaz comes from the word ‘tzoumer’ in Valaisan dialect meaning ‘the place where you rest’. With a permanent population of just 300 inhabitants, it’s a far cry from its big sister resort. Connected to the Savoleyres ski area at an altitude of 2,200 m, La Tzoumaz directly links to the 410 km of pistes in the 4 Vallées. Thanks to two north-and-south-facing slopes, it offers some of the best snow cover, maximum sunshine, and a fantastic view of Verbier and the surrounding peaks. Papill’on in La Tzoumaz, opened in October 2023, offers great accommodation at a reasonable price. The hotel and restaurants also offers events and musical entertainment throughout the year including concerts and wine tastings featuring small local wineries. Room prices start from £97pp per night.
Similarly La Tania in France enjoys a strategic advantage due to its connection with the renowned Three Valleys ski area. La Tania sits at 1,400 metres altitude and offers a cheaper and quieter way to experience the large ski area. Skiers and snowboarders can relish in the convenience of swift connections to world-class skiing terrain, all while enjoying the welcoming atmosphere and picturesque surroundings of La Tania. It’s the place to be for easy skiing back to the chalet, with plenty of blue and green pistes. With a prime location just 100 metres from the La Tania gondola, Ski France’s Chalet Charmille is the perfect place to stay to explore this charming yet cost effective village. A week’s stay, at Chalet Charmille in La Tania, costs from £576 pp (£5,759 total for up to 10 people staying) on a Contactless Catered Chalet basis.
Ski France (0203 475 4756, www.skifrance-classic.co.uk)
- Avoid fashion fads and borrow from friends and family or even hire clothing!
While it can be tempting to jump on the latest ski wear trend and buy an expensive ski suit, borrowing ski wear from friends or family can offer many practical benefits. Ski gear can be costly, including items like jackets, trousers, goggles, and gloves. Borrowing allows you to access these items without the upfront expense. Additionally, skiing is a seasonal activity for many; the sporadic use might not warrant a full investment in gear. Borrowing ensures you have the necessary equipment without committing to a purchase that might not see frequent use. It can also introduce you to different brands and styles, helping to determine your preferences before considering a purchase, not to mention it’s a far more sustainable approach that reduces consumption.
Ski hire company, Intersport, is encouraging holiday makers to cut down on unnecessary purchases and not only rent skis, snowboards, poles and helmets but also hats, gloves, goggles, ski pants and jackets. This not only saves on spending money on clothes that will only be worn once or twice but will also cut down luggage costs.
Similarly, Morzine in Portes du Soleil, has its very own second hand store, Montagne Vert, selling preloved ski pieces in great condition for those looking for last minute extras or replacements for lost items – they even sell individual gloves for those who fall victim to losing a glove on a chairlift. Be sure to look at the former ski instructor’s jackets, where the logos have been replaced with quirky badges, adding a unique and playful twist to the classic design.
- Don’t miss the early booking discounts
Many Tour operators provide substantial savings on ski holidays for those savvy traveller who are ahead of the game and book early, ensuring plenty of availability at coveted accommodations and services at lower rates.
Europe’s leading operator of self-catered holidays, Pierre & Vacances, is currently offering 20% off early winter bookings on selected mountain accommodation in the French Alps. The five-star Premium Residence Arc 1950 is located in the heart of the Paradiski area and comprises eight residences offering spacious, tastefully decorated apartments with wooden features and warm colours, creating an intimate and cosy Alpine retreat. Enjoying direct access to the ski slopes, guests benefit from a wide range of activities including snow sports, apres-ski facilities, and a fitness centre. A seven-night self-catered stay at the Premium residence Arc 1950 Le Village, in a standard apartment sleeping up to four people, arriving 6 January 2024, is priced from £998 total (was £1,248 – saving 20%). Flights and transfers extra. Book before 31 October 2023 to benefit from early booking offer.
Pierre & Vacances (0870 0267 145, www.pierreetvacances.co.uk)
Alternatively, VIP SKI has a wide range of luxury chalets across several resorts including Morzine, Les Arcs, Avoriaz and Val d’Isère and is currently offering discounted bookings (£100 off per person) for January 2024. No. 1 Bellevarde is the ideal chalet for a large family or group of friends, looking for ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Val d’Isère. The chalet oozes charm and character, with open fireplaces, floor to ceiling glass windows, and a terrace with an outdoor hot tub offering unbeatable views. A seven-night stay at No.1 Bellevarde, starting 14 January 2024, costs from £1,563 pp (was £1,663 pp – saving £100 pp), based on two people sharing a room. Price includes chalet board catering and transfers to and from Geneva airport. Book before 31 October 2023 to save £100pp on January ski holidays.
VIP SKI (0203 820 0030, www.vip-chalets.com)
- Look for flexible travel dates
Opting to avoid the busy Saturday changeover day when travelling to a ski resort can lead to more cost-effective journeys. Non-peak travel days often see reduced demand for transportation and accommodations, resulting in lower prices for flights, train tickets, and lodging options. Additionally, this strategy enables individuals to enjoy quieter slopes, less crowded facilities, and a more relaxed overall atmosphere.
As of last year, Pierre & Vacances introduced Sunday-to-Sunday travel options for the upcoming ski season, aiming to streamline travel for UK families. This innovative approach mitigates traffic delays, high flight costs, and transportation availability issues. By offering flexibility in travel days to popular Alpine destinations like Mêribel, La Plagne, and Avoriaz, the initiative also helps alleviate strain on Rhone Alps’ resort infrastructure.
Likewise, accommodation provider, Ski France, offers flexible arrival and departure dates in all its hotels and self-catered apartments; guests can travel on any day of the week (avoiding Saturday) and stay as long as they want, allowing them to avoid main travel times and busy weekends at the airport. With Ski France’s flexible travel dates, guests can customise their skiing experience to align perfectly with their schedule and budgets. Whether planning a weekend escape, a week-long vacation, or even an extended stay, Ski France allows guests to choose the dates that work best for them.
- Consider alternative methods of travel
Opting for train travel, or a combination of driving and ferry / Le Shuttle to reach ski resorts often proves to be a more cost-effective choice than flying. Airfare expenses, particularly during peak travel seasons, can significantly inflate the overall trip cost, whilst trains or self-driven vehicles can provide a budget-friendly alternative. Additionally, flying involves various hidden expenses, including baggage fees, booking skis, and transportation to and from airports. Driving also allows for stops on the way in larger towns with bigger and often more cost effective supermarkets, saving on stocking up on expensive goods at local resort stores.
Plus, those opting for a low-carbon ski holiday to Morzine-Avoriaz, in the French Alps, can save money when choosing to travel to resort by train thanks to the AlpinExpress Pass, a unique initiative from Montagne Verte (a non-profit association founded and funded by the community of Morzine). The AlpinExpress Pass gives skiers and snowboarders up to 10 % off ski passes, ski hire, accommodation, and eating out with its wide range of partners including bespoke chalet company AliKats, local brewery Bec Jaune, and transfer organisation Skiidy Gonzales. To receive the AlpinExpress Pass, guests need to email Montagne Verte with proof of purchase and train travel information, and in return will receive a personalised QR code unlocking more than 40 exclusive discounts in Morzine-Avoriaz.