Exchange rates got you worried? We have your back: from last-minute deals to off-the-rader resorts, here’s how to get more bang for your Pound Sterling this winter
You can still access world-class lines without forking out for sub-standard accommodation in flashy resorts. Take St Anton, for example. A week’s half-board staying at a three-star hotel in town will set you back at least €900 in early February. But if you stay down the valley in Wald am Arlberg – gateway to the Sonnenkopf resort, also on the Arlberg lift pass – a similar hotel will cost around €500. Or save even more dosh and bed down at the caravan park at the hill’s bottom (from €14 per night/arlbergcamping.at. Other off-the-radar spots include Briançon for Serre Chevalier and Moutiers for Three Valleys.
It might not be as cheap as it once was, but the ski resorts of Eastern Europe are still home to sub-£2 beers and £150 weekly lift passes. Plus there are an abundance of bargain-bin packages on sale. Crystal, for example, have a week’s ski trip to Borovets in Bulgaria for £280pp departing on 7 Jan – that includes return flights from Birmingham, transfers and seven nights half-board in the three-star Hotel Lion. There’s even an indoor pool and spa. Not too shabby at all.
With the exception of school holidays and peak weeks, waiting to book your holiday last-minute can yield some seriously good-value ski trips, plus you can pick the spots with the best snow conditions. But you do need to go about your holiday hunting with an open mind – there’s no guarantee that your favourite resort will still have beds available. Alternatively, opt for ‘allocation on arrival’ accommodation. It’s the travel equivalent of Russian Roulette, but we’ve scored prime location chalets this way.
Go all in
Hedge your bets and book an all-inclusive ski holiday now, with as much paid up front as is logistically possible. You’ll hardly have to spend anything in resort, so should the pound slip any further between now and your departure date you won’t take too much of a hit. Action Outdoors offer all-inclusive trips to top-rated French resorts (Tignes, Flaine, Les Arcs et al), staying at UCPA centres. The accommodation is slightly on the hostelly side of things, but with an average price of £640 including all meals, ski hire, lift passes and guiding, it’s not to be sniffed at.
Take lunch up the hill with you, or ski back down to the village to avoid extortionate mountain restaurants. But whatever you do, don’t ever get caught mine-sweeping leftovers from mountain restaurant tables at lunchtime. It’s tragic, undignified and as we enter a post-Brexit era, Alpine waiting staff will be extra vigilant for it. Their withering glares will leave your cheeks burning hot with shame.
Fall-line’s top money-saving tips
- If you’re going on more than one ski holiday look at the possibility of a season pass – in some areas this is only worth it if you ski the same resort, but mega lift passes like the Tirol Snow Card, Salzburg Superpass and Epic Pass (worldwide) are also worth investing in.
- Embrace public transport. Remember that continental trains are not the shambolic mess they are in Britain (especially in Switzerland and Austria) and valley busses are often free or heavily discounted for skiers.
- Share a room. It’s like being eight years old again, with smellier feet all round, but cheap. Ask the hotel for the price for an extra cot if there’s three of you – this is especially good in North America.
- Bring anything that isn’t perishable with you (jam, tea, rice etc) and only buy fresh food in resort. The only luxury we buy in resort is wine and cheese – even with the current exchange rate, it’ll be both cheaper and better in France.
- You can also pre-cook meals, like freezer bags of chillies and stew, and take them with you – ideal for a bargain self-catering week in the mountains.
- Load up your ski bags; we always encourage a couple of pairs of skis into one shoulder bag, which makes carriage charges far more bearable. Bindings can sometimes even be slid off the skis and dropped into your normal luggage to create extra space.