Family ski holidays that don't cost the earth

So, you’ve decided that you’re going to have a family ski holiday this winter and you start looking through the brochures – how can you afford to go, it is so expensive? By the time you’ve added your lift pass, ski hire and lessons to your accommodation, the cost is spiralling out of control.

The problem with most tour operators is that they go to the bigger, well-known resorts. These attract a premium in terms of price – everything is more expensive.

We have to look at what we want out of the holiday. In simple terms, we want a mountain with snow on it where we can ski and somewhere to stay for the week. So instead of following the herd and going to one of the bigger resorts, choose a smaller, less well-known ski area. The kms of runs will be less but, in reality, how much do you need for one week?

France has a good selection of smaller ski areas that make ideal destinations for a family ski holiday. One of my favourites is Chamrousse - although this is featured in mainstream tour operator’s brochures now. Others include, Valfrejus, La Norma, Val Cenis, La Joue du Loup and Super Devoluy. There are many others to choose from so a bit of research can really pay off. Have a look at Snowtrex and Sunweb as they organise trips to these resorts and lift passes are included in the prices.

If you have the option to go skiing in low season, January is the cheapest time to go. If you’re restricted to school holidays, Easter is a good alternative. You can get some really good deals especially if it’s the last week of the season for that resort. It is also warmer so better for smaller children.

My wife once said that she’d never go self-catering on a ski holiday. We tried it once and have now been doing it for years. It really isn’t that much trouble. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have meals out sometimes but it does mean that you can keep the costs really low. There are always small supermarkets in ski resorts where you get all the basics and if you’re driving, pack some pasta and pasta sauces. Have that two, or three times in the week and a couple of take-aways. Pop out to the boulangerie in the morning for some fresh bread and that’s breakfast and lunch sorted if you take rolls with you. Just make sure that your accommodation has a dishwasher (take some dishwasher tablets). It is worth mentioning that you should always go for an apartment with greater occupancy than you need as French apartments are typically quite small. For example, if there are four of you, go for an apartment for six. It is commonplace for there to be a sofa bed in the living area and it’s better if you don’t have to keep getting it out and putting it away every day.

If there are three or four of you then it’ll probably work out much cheaper to drive. The advantage of this is that you can take more-or-less what you want in terms of food (check Brexit rules on what you’re allowed to take). Factor in the cost of the ferry/tunnel, overnight stops, fuel and tolls. Another advantage of having your car is that you can drive to nearby ski areas that may be included in your lift pass.
Have ski lessons at your local dry slope before your holiday. If you have regular lessons before you go, you will learn the skills to be able to ski so much more of the mountain and get the very best out of your holiday.

These are just a few ways that you can save money on your ski holiday. By driving to smaller resorts and staying in self-catered apartments, we have been able to have two family ski holidays a year for less than what most people were paying for one. We have had some amazing deals too so look out for offers as they are always out there.

Terry Jeynes is a Snowsport England Alpine Development Coach Level 4 IVSI. He is based at Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre and has years of experience working with all levels of skier ranging from novice through to instructors.

For more information, please visit his website - or phone 07413 240925

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Red House Farm, Longdon Marsh, Longdon, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 6BD
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