The countryside is gradually changing colour and is cloaking itself flake by flake in a soft white coat, thicker and thicker. There’s no doubt, winter is coming.
In order to organise your ideal holiday and hit the ground skiing, so to speak, here are some tips and hints.
1) When to go ?
2) Choose your resort
3) Reserving accommodation
4) The journey
5) Where to hire equipment ?
1) When to go?
In December you’ll get to experience the magic of Christmas and the New Year, but in March, for example, it’s a period that brings together good snow, milder temperatures and longer days.
If you’re lucky enough to have the possibility of avoiding the school holiday periods, you’ll be able to make the most of the domains with complete freedom.
2) Choose your resort
To fully enjoy your holiday, ask yourself in what kind of ambiance you want to spend your time, in a little village with wooden chalets? At a resort with a vast skiable domain?
It also depends on the type of skiing you intend to do, alpine, Nordic or cross-country, snowboard, freestyle…
Information about equipment and infrastructures available at different resorts is easily found on the respective tourist office websites.
If you’d like to take advantage of additional activities, many resorts offer snowshoe routes, dog sledding rides, aquatic facilities…
All these different criteria can help you choose and organise your ideal holiday.
Check the opening and closing dates for resorts in our latest news section. Some open as early as November and close at the end of May, but most will be open from mid-December through to April.
In line with your budget: Skiing holidays are among the most expensive. The website hometogo.com will help you to get a clearer picture, it compares the prices of more than 400,000 accommodations throughout Europe for the period between December 1st through to March 31st, as well as the cost of ski passes. It gives an indication of the daily rate based on a stay for 4 people.
In France : the resorts that offer the most attractive prices are often located in the Pyrenees, such as Mongie or Cauterets.
In the Alps, it’s resorts like Le Grand Bornand or La Plagne that have some delightful surprises in store. At Grand Bornand, situated in the heart of the Aravis mountain range, you’ll discover all the atmosphere and charm of a mountain village. At La Plagne, you’ll find a vast ski domain that caters to all skill levels with close to 225 kilometres of pistes. In fact, it’s a part of Paradiski, a ski domain linked to the neighbouring resorts of the Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry.
Expect to pay approximately €900 for a week’s rental for 4 people at Le Grand Bornand, with a ski pass of €170. At La Plagne, count about €790 for accommodation and €265 for the pass.
In Austria : the resort of Ischgl offers overnight stays at an average price of €198 and a pass at €53. Ischgl enjoys 230 kilometres of pistes and most of the resort is situated at an altitude of between 2,000 and 2,872 metres.
There’s also the resort of Mayrhofen, a small mountain village with typical Tyrol architecture, located in the Zillertal valley, that offers accommodation for an average of €166 per night for 4 people and a pass at €51.
In Switzerland : situated right in the middle of the Alps, the country combines many little mountain villages, that present excellent conditions. The cost of stays at the resorts remains higher than in other countries. However, the resort of Gstaad offers overnight stays at an average price of €190 (accommodation for 4) and a pass at €53.73. This resort is made up of almost a dozen small villages and offers one of the biggest ski domains in Switzerland. It also means that you can ski from December to May thanks to its glacier.
In Italy : For an average budget of €106 per night and a pass of €46, you can take a break in the resort of Bormio. With a ski domain whose altitude ranges from 1,222 to 3,012 metres, it comprises about 50 kilometres of alpine ski pistes.
At the foot of the Mont Blanc, for a stay of approximately €126 per night and a pass of €57, you can enjoy the resort of Courmayeur, one of the worldwide capitals for mountaineering and skiing. Thanks to its location, it offers an exceptional panorama.
3) Reserving accommodation
The resorts offer a multitude of possible types of accommodation. It’s up to you to choose what suits you best.
A hotel, a chalet, an apartment, a youth hostel.
Decide whether you prefer a comfortable all-inclusive package or a stay where you’re free to cook or discover the resort’s high altitude chalets and restaurants at your own rhythm.
Go for a hammam on your return from the slopes or just a hot chocolate on the sofa, anything is possible!
4) The journey
By train, convenient if you don’t have too much luggage, but plan your arrival. We advise you to reserve your taxi of shuttle bus before you leave. You’ll benefit from better tariffs and you’ll travel trouble-free.
By bus, several companies now propose departures from major towns to different resorts.
By car, the advantage of being able to travel well-loaded, but be prepared, the journey can reserve some unpleasant surprises:
Regulations concerning snow tyres vary from one country to another:
- In Switzerland, There are no specific regulations concerning winter tyres, they’re not obligatory. However, if your vehicle isn’t equipped for snowy roads (neither winter tyres, chains, nor studded tyres) and you impede circulation, you may be liable for a fine.
- In Austria, as in Germany, winter tyres are obligatory on all 4 wheels in wintery conditions.
- In France, although winter tyres or chains aren’t compulsory, they may be imposed coming up to certain ski resorts. Should this be the case it’ll be indicated by a signpost.
- In Italy, there’s no obligation for snow tyres, but chains may be required depending upon the region.
Prepare a small survival kit: every year travellers find themselves stuck on the roads, and it’s far better to have a blanket and something to snack on.
By plane, it doesn’t always spring to mind, but airports like Geneva, Munich, Innsbruck… aren’t actually that far from certain resorts. Travelling by plane, contrary to popular belief, could be more economical and certainly faster.
5) Where to hire equipment?
Getting the most from your ski break is also about having proper equipment and impeccable service.
MySkirent provides you with a selection of rental stores, recommended by our community, in many resorts. Their staff will be able to help and accompany you with your choices.
Don’t hesitate to plan in advance for your equipment hire, anticipating your rental means ensuring the availability of material, not wasting time on your first day and often implies better tariffs too.
Now it’s up to you !