Top tips for cheap ski holidays
Ski and snowboard holidays can cost a fortune, what with ski hire, lift passes and ski school - not to mention flights and accommodation.
But there are some great deals to be found if you shop around, and lots of ways to cut the cost once you are there. Here are our top five tips for ski holidays on a budget.
Go early - or late
Everything in ski resorts gets more expensive during the school holidays - particularly the February half term. So avoid the middle of the season, and Christmas and New year, if you can.
January and March are popular with people without kids as they are generally cheap, snow sure months.
However, there are also lots of last minute, early season bargains on offer at this time of year (and towards the end of the season in April).
If you can head off on December 13, for example, Pierre & Vacances is offering a week in a four-person apartment in a five star block with heated outdoor pool in the French resort of Flaine for just €477 (£375), down from €795 - although there is a bit of a risk there won't be any slopes open unless it snows in the French Alps.
Cheap deals starting on December 20, meanwhile, include a week in a Crystal Ski guesthouse in Soll, Austria for just £299 per person, including breakfast.
Try a lesser known resort
Holidays in less well-known – and much less expensive – resorts can be just as much fun as those in the big-name ski destinations such as Chamonix in France and Whistler in Canada.
Cheap options include Bansko in Bulgaria, Andorra and smaller Italian resorts such as Livigno and Sestriere.
Iglu Ski has self-catering apartments in Bansko at under £300 a week. And for as little as £519, you can get a package deal to the Hotel Montane Arinsal in Andorra including flights, airport transfers, half-board accommodation and a lift pass.
Shop around for ski and snowboard hire
It makes sense to shop around online for rental equipment such as skis or a snowboard.
And while you can do this once you arrive in resort, the best and most convenient option is to book in advance.
This usually works out cheaper than turning up at a hire shop on arrival. Ski rental service Slide Candy in Meribel, France, for example, gives those who pre-book online a 30% discount - and delivers your equipment direct to your accommodation.
Check what lift pass you need
Buying a pass to access the ski lifts is often one of the biggest expenses of a winter sports holiday. However, the good news is that you might not even need one.
Nursery slope lifts are often free, which means that beginners can often get by without a ski pass at all. And even early intermediates may only need a mini pass.
Available in many resorts, these are aimed at people who only ski green and blue runs and work out much cheaper than a standard pass.
Avoid mountain restaurants
Eating overlooking the slopes can be lovely. But it's definitely not a budget option. In some mountain restaurants, even a lemonade can set you back about £10!
A much cheaper alternative is to make a packed lunch and eat it either on a bench in the sun, in one of the indoor picnic areas provided in most resort - or on the lifts so that you can get even more skiing in while everyone else is eating.
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