Brits looking for cheap ski holidays should head for Bansko in Bulgaria, the cheapest ski destination in Europe according to a cost-comparison survey by TripAdvisor.
The eastern European resort was found to offer the best value when compared with 40 other ski destinations, based on typical one-day-visit ski costs plus food and drink.
The costs amounted to just £104 at Bansko. A similar day on the slopes at Courchevel in France - the most-expensive destination - was as much as £432.
Other bargain resorts included Sochi in Russia (where the one-day costs were £137), Ordino Arcalis in Andorra (£138) and Arinsal in Andorra (£141).
In contrast costs were as high as £428 in St Moritz in Switzerland and £404 in Meribel in France.
The ninth least-expensive resort was the Cairngorms in Scotland where a one-day trip would set visitors back £173.
The survey covered the cost of one night's hotel accommodation, one day's ski pass, one day's basic ski hire, a meal and a bottle of beer for the ski season from December 15 2013 to April 15 2014.
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said: "Eastern European destinations and Andorra offer the best value and, for those wanting to stay closer to home, it's great to see a Scottish ski resort among the 10 least-expensive destinations."
Best value ski resorts
The cheapest ski resort in Europe is...
With its tax-free status, Italy's Livigno is a superb option for snow sports fans in search of excellent value. The friendly ski resort is nestled between two easily accessible mountain faces with a charming town. This winter, visitors to the resorts have the chance to get out on the Italian pistes with a free ski pass in their pocket if they spend at least four nights in a hotel or seven nights in an apartment. The offer runs from 1 to 20 December and 5 April to 1 May. As over 80 per cent of Livigno's slopes can confirm coverage from their snow-making system, it's also a risk-free option for early and late season visits, meaning you can also save on your flight by avoiding peak travel dates.
Post Office tells us that Bulgarian ski resort Bansko is still the cheapest resort around for bargain hunters and is ideal for families who are looking to cut the cost of their ski break. The Post Office Ski Resort Report revealed that prices for ski equipment, lift passes, ski school, meals and drinks are £885 for a family of four - 23 per cent less than in runner-up resort Kranjska Gora in Slovenia at £1,154. Low-cost airlines easyJet and Wizzair fly to Sofia from the UK and there's affordable accommodation available. AlphaHolidayLettings.com has a selection of chalets and apartments in Bansko, including luxury apartments with full hotel facilities from £99 per person per week.
Cheap flights from London Stansted to Carcassonne with Ryanair make Soldeu in Andorra one of Europe's best ski resorts for budget travellers. What's more, Andorra is well-known for its duty-free status which helps when it comes to the après-ski fun. There's no shortage of bars, restaurants and hotels and drinks are served by the amount you want, not in uniform measures. The village of El Tarter is also home to one of Europe's most respected ski schools so if you're serious about skiing and want to be taught by the best instructors without the price tag, Soldeu is the resort for you. Inghams offers seven-night family breaks in Soldeu from £594 per person on a half-board basis.
Ok, so you probably didn't imagine jetting off to North America on an affordable ski break but a transatlantic trip this winter offers better value than you think. In Canada, you'll find low resort costs for ski passes and equipment, plus the weak Canadian dollar. This winter, the Canadian ski resorts are offering great value packages with plenty of deals to be had. For the best value, head for Banff where you can enjoy seven nights' skiing with return flights, resort transfers from Calgary airport and accommodation at the Inns of Banff hotel in January from £859 per person with Canadian Affair.
Of the Big Four (Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy), family-friendly Ellmau in Austria offers the best value ski resort costs for a family of four with an average price of £1,201. Post Office research found that Ellmau's resort costs were 16 per cent cheaper than Morzine in France, 20 per cent less than Cervinia in Italy and 30 per cent less than Saas Fee in Switzerland. Located in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol, the attractive village combines fantastic skiing options, beautiful scenery and excellent value. Prices can start from as little as €5 (£4) for a hearty Gulasch Soup and you can expect to pay about €3 (£2.40) for a half litre of beer. The SkiWelt links eight resorts and boasts 280km of pistes – the largest linked ski area in Austria – all available to explore on one lift pass, from £155 for six days. Inghams offers seven nights' half-board accommodation at Alte Post from £685 per person, including return flights from Gatwick to Salzburg and resort transfers.
A hidden gem of the Aosta Valley, Pila is the ideal choice for families looking to avoid the hustle and bustle and lift queues of the popular French resorts of Tignes and Val-d’Isere, and get the most from their money. The Italian resort has over 70km of well-groomed pistes catering to all levels, including wide blue runs for beginners. The high altitude means that the resort enjoys a sunny position by day and a good covering of snow throughout the season. Dining out in Pila is reasonably priced, with even the slope-side restaurants offering exceptional value for money, while the après ski scene is laid back. Located just a six-minute walk from the slopes, La Chance is a beautiful boutique hotel in Pila featuring stylish bedrooms and a luxury spa with Jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath. Ski Solutions offers seven nights' accommodation and flights from £920 per person, based on a 3 January 2015 departure from London.
The most expensive part of a ski trip can be getting there and with spectacular mountains on our doorstep, who needs to head for the Alps? Scotland's Cairngorms are just a cheap flight away with easyJet and while the actual skiing may not be that much cheaper than the Alps, you won't be paying £5 for a hot chocolate (and The Ptarmigan Restaurant makes the best hot chocolate around!). Plus you might get lucky and see the Northern Lights, making it one affordable Aurora Borealis holiday. Visit cairngormmountain.org to buy ski passes and hire equipment.
As Bulgaria offers such terrific value, it means you can experience luxury without the price tag. Beautiful Pamporovo is set among pine forests and dramatic mountain scenery. It's the second largest ski resort in the country and is situated in the picturesque Rhodope Mountains, with an average 270 days of sunshine a year, offering clear and sunny conditions. For a luxury ski trip at an excellent price, stay at Villa Gella, one of the top chalets in the county with Alpine Guru. Prices start at £7,200 per week, compared to a property in the Alps which would cost no less than €25,000 for a low season week. The chalet spans over one thousand square metres across four floors and offers superb views over the surrounding mountains. There are six bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a Jacuzzi and spa for relaxing after a long, hard day’s skiing.
In Winter Park, Colorado, prices have reportedly fallen 10 per cent since last season to £2,105 and the Post Office tells us the cost of a family meal on the slopes (£33.35) is lower than Bansko, Bulgaria (£34.75). Winter Park is Colorado's best kept secret and happens to be one of the largest ski areas in America. It receives more snowfall than any other US ski resort, offering great value for money and a huge range of activities for beginners and expert skiers. Virgin Holidays is offering seven nights in Winter Park from £945 per person, including a stay at The Vintage Hotel and flights from Heathrow.