Whichever way you look at it, with the credit crunch forcing many people to forsake their annual summer holiday in favour of the ‘staycation’ and the dismal British weather washing out those who had had hoped to save their pennies by holidaying closer to home, the summer of 2008 has not been a great time for travel. As autumn approaches, now is the time that many people traditionally start turning their thoughts to their annual winter holiday and planning their time on the piste. But will the gloomy economic forecast cause people to think twice about clipping on their skis and heading for the slopes?
Skiing is not known for being the cheapest of holidays – a week away for a family of four will rarely give you much change from £5,000 once all the equipment, tuition, lift passes and other extras are paid for – will the ski holiday become a luxury that many can no longer afford?
Fortunately, there are ways to cut costs and still have a great time on the slopes if you know how. Nina Hasinski of Austrian based ski company Redpoint has these top tips for those who are eager to get on their ski this season, but want to watch the pennies.
Nina’s top ten tips for skiing on a budget
1. Avoid the jet set. We’ve all read about glamorous ski resorts in the gossip pages, but if you opt for a famous resort favoured by royalty and celebrities you will be paying prices that may make your eyes water. Many of the lesser known ski resorts offer great skiing at a fraction of the price. Not only that, but when you are in resort, you’ll find the food and drink prices much more reasonable too. For example, in the Austrian resort of Fugen, prices in the ski areas are the same as in the village and roughly equivalent to UK prices. Here, a beer will set you back around €3. Compare this to prices in one of the more famous French resorts, such as Tignes or Val D’Isere where you could be paying more than €10 just for a beer. A high price to pay simply to mingle with the stars.
2. Be an early bird. Look around for flights and book as soon as the season’s flights are released to get the best deals. For a family of four, flight savings can seriously discount your holiday.
3. Go it alone. There are so many great deals to be had with low cost airlines so it often makes sense to book your flights independently, and then add on a ski package which includes transfers, as well as hotel and resort services. This way you get the services of a tour company during your stay – but at a price you can afford.
4. Kids go free. Some companies offer child discounts which means that you can stay in a hotel half board for the same price as self-catering so it’s worth doing your homework to find out what’s on offer. For example, some Redpoint hotels give free child places for up to 6 years old and a free lift pass thrown in.
5. Consider self-catering. This is usually a cheaper option – especially if you take note of tip 1 and choose a resort where the prices are reasonable - so you can still afford to eat out when you get there. Plus you get the freedom and flexibility that is often lacking in a hotel.
6. Watch out for the haidden costs. Many holiday companies lure you in with promises of cheap prices – but when you look closer, the extras can really mount up. Don’t just look at the starting price: check what’s included in the package and what will cost extra. Ensure that you get a full quote including all the things you will need for your holiday so you don’t get any nasty shocks when paying your balance.
7. Go all inclusive. Your hotel might look cheap, but remember to add the cost of a lift pass, hire and lessons before weighing up the true price of the holiday. However, pre-booking a ‘ski pack’ means you can be sure of the full price and avoid paying more for the same items when you get there. Some companies run special ski packages such as learn to ski weeks which may appear more expensive upfront, but can actually prove much cheaper in the long run.
8. Cutting it short. Consider a short break. Time the flights right and you will be able to ski on your arrival and departure day. This enables you to make up the same number of skiing days, but save on the expense of extra nights at the hotel. Some companies offer flexible short breaks so that people arriving on a Thursday morning can ski 4 ½ days, returning on a Monday night.
9. Go off peak. As any parent knows, prices soar during the school holidays. However, there are times within the school holidays that are cheaper than others. Try checking the dates that schools finish before Christmas so you can take advantage of early pre-Christmas ski offers. Alternatively, consider skiing over the Easter holidays rather than the peak half term week.
10. Get it together. Skiing as part of a larger group is not only good fun, but saves the pounds as well. Groups will often qualify for free places making it a more economical proposition. You may even be able to negotiate a better deal with the travel company, so get your friends together and look out for the group discounts on offer.
Redpoint organise ski holidays to the Ziller Valley in Austria including family learn to ski, women only, return to ski and solo ski weeks plus short ski breaks. 0845 680 1214 for more information.
Te: 0845 680 1214
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