Picking the right resort is key to saving money – and we’re talking a hefty sum – on a ski or snowboard holiday and will require some research. It all depends on what level of skier you are, and how big an area you want to access. Smaller resorts are often much better for beginner or intermediate skiers as you’re not paying for large swathes of the mountain that you’re not ready to use yet. In some smaller resorts, beginner lifts are free, and you’re likely to pay less for ski hire and tuition.
Generally, package deals are the best option for novice skiers – you’ll most likely be able to make the most of a Learn to Ski offer that will include everything from tuition to ski hire and a lift pass (if you need one), and enjoy peace of mind that all the important stuff has been taken care of by someone in the know. However, for the experienced skier who can be flexible on dates and take a mid-week flight, there are often savings to be made by booking everything directly.
If you’re travelling independently, be aware of the airport transfer costs as these can add up to more than the flight itself. It can often be cheaper to hire a car at your destination airport if you have the right number of people and enough space for everyone’s luggage.
This depends on if you are prepared to cook, and how much you plan on eating and drinking! Most chalet companies offer free wine with dinner, and an afternoon tea, which should keep you going until dinner, saving you buying food on the mountain where even a bag of crisps is notoriously expensive.
Just in case you didn’t get the memo - eating on the mountain is expensive! If you’re driving to the resort, stock up at a supermarket on the way so you know there’s always something waiting for you in your room – and avoid perusing the pricey room-service menu late at night. Can’t wait till you get back? Taking hungry kids with you? Ski with a backpack and carry a sandwich and some water.
The best deals can be had if you book outside school holidays, but the best deals are to be had at the end of the season. If you go to high altitude resorts with glacier skiing then you can find great snow right up until the end of April.
Gear can be divided into hard-wear such as skis, snowboard, boots, helmets, etc and soft-wear like jackets, gloves, etc. If you are a complete beginner, it’s best to hire your hard-wear, but you might want to buy your own helmet – there’s nothing worse than a smelly second-hand helmet that’s been worn by hundreds of people over a season. Once you’ve been skiing a few times, your first big hard-wear purchase should be ski or snowboard boots, as finding the right pair for fit and function is the key to happy skiing or snowboarding. A good pair of ski socks really helps with the fit of a ski boot, so make sure you have a pair with you when choosing your ski boots. It’s also very easy to opt for a pair of boots that are too big, as they feel comfortable in the shop – just make sure your heel doesn’t lift up inside the boot when you flex forwards.
When you’re buying soft-wear, you should look for layering options and if you want to get more value from your ski jacket, chose one that can be worn in the UK without looking out of place.