Finding a Value-for-money Winter Sports Destination
Winter sports are never going to be a cheap holiday option. They have a reputation for being costly, and not without reason. Ski passes along can run to many hundreds of pounds, and prices seem to rise inexorably.
But this does not mean that winter sports should be out of everybody’s reach. You can cut the cost significantly by finding a destination that is good value for money – one that provides you with the facilities you would like, at a fair price.
Check the Small ResortsOften, the best deals are to be found in the smaller, less well known resorts. Many large resorts are more expensive not because they are better, but because they have marketed themselves well. All too frequently, visitors end up paying over the odds simply because they opt for the place they have heard of, rather than shopping around. Remember that there are many, very high quality resorts around – they just might not be the ones that have the swankiest websites.
Avoid the MountainsResorts on the mountain will always be more expensive. While it might be tempting to stay on the mountain, this can significantly inflate the cost of your accommodation. Instead, try looking for resorts nearby. These resorts will often run dedicated transport up to the mountain and back – and this is often included in the cost of your stay.
Consider TimingIf you can possibly avoid it, don’t go during peak periods. If you want to ski at the same time as everyone else, you will inevitably see increases not just in the cost of your accommodation but also in the cost of your ski pass.
Wherever possible, try to travel during out of season – but make sure that you check the snow situation first!
Book AheadOf course, it is true that there are occasionally fantastic deals to be had if you book a trip the day before you leave. But these deals are quite rare –and, perhaps more importantly, that sort of decision is simply impractical for the majority of people.
The best alternative is to book as far ahead as you can. Many resorts offer fantastic rates for those who book ahead. It is often possible, in fact, to secure prices that are just a fraction of the regular rack rate.
If you are booking your ski pass separately, you may well also find that you can get a good deal on this by booking well in advance. Many resorts offer ‘early bird’ deals for those who book near the end of the previous season – meaning that, even if you do choose to go during peak periods, you might still be able to get a decent discount.
Don’t Write Off Tour Operators...Some people presume that packages provided by tour operators will necessarily be more expensive, as they are paying someone else to organise their trip for them. This is not, however, necessarily true.
Remember that it is in tour operators’ interests to keep costs down. The larger operators will be able to secure dramatic savings from resorts and service providers, and good ones will pass some of these discounts on to the customer. The smaller operators, meanwhile, will hopefully know how to get the most out of every pound spent.
...but Remember DIYYou shouldn’t write off tour operators without investigating what is on offer. But at the same time, it is worth remembering the potential savings to be made by adopting a DIY approach.
The downside of tour operators is that many of them have deals that commit them to using certain airlines or service providers – and these are not necessarily the cheapest on offer. You can circumvent this by booking things yourself. Do remember, though, that there are often many hidden costs associated with a DIY approach. For example, have you factored in the cost of airport transfers? Do you know how much it is going to cost to park your car? Will you have to arrange your own transport from the hotel to the mountain? All of these costs can add up, and it is important that you budget for them.
Winter sports are certainly not cheap. But by making some careful choices regarding your destination, you can help to make the cost more manageable.