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Discover The Best Short Ski Breaks For 2019

 

Are you planning a short or weekend ski break in 2019/20? Learn everything you need to know before you book.

 

 

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This article is for you if you are looking to orgnaise a short or weekend ski holiday

In this article we will guide you through chosing the perfect short ski break whether is for a couple, small group of friends or a large corporate group. We will help you consider what is important when considering a short ski break, which resort to chose, how to put all the elements together to make the most of your time in the resort and on the slopes.

We're going to show you...

1. Section 1 When to Travel

2. Section 2 Which Resorts to think about

3. Section 3 Matching your budget

4. Section 4 Getting to the resort from the Airport

5. Section 5 Choosing your Accommodation

6. Section 6 Ski Passes and SkiHire

7. Section 7 Where to get Expert Advice

Section 1 - Chosing when to travel

The first thing to decide is how many days you want to be away for. 

Do you want to maximise your time on the slopes by taking an early flight out skiing on your arrival day and then skiing all day on your last day and a late flights home.

For example flight departs at 06.00 lands at 9.00, airport transfer to the resort arriving at your hotel by 11; then on your skis for 12 to 12.30. Ont he last day, pack your bags, vacate your room - the hotel have somewhere for you to keep your bags and get changed, ski for as long as you can, get changed then airport transfer and flight back home lading between 10 and 11pm.

Or do you want to make it a relaxed experience; civilised flight times and skiing on the days in between the days you travel for example - lunchtime flight, arriving into the resort by 4pm, Checki in to your hotel, then sort ski passes, ski hire out before dinner. Ski the next two or three days. On your last day a leisurely breakfast, mid morning transfer for an early afternoon flight back home.

Some of our guests want to minimise their time off work so they take a late flight out to the resort on the first day - this allows them to work most of the day, getting to the airport by say 6pm for an 8pm flight. Arrival in to the resort by mid-night. The ski hire shops tend to open between 8 and 8.30 so they can be on the slopes by 9am.

Ok, so you now know how many days you are going to be away. Now think about the dates you want to travel. 

As you think about the actual dates bare in mind some resorts prefer a Saturday arrival or departure - eg arrive Satirday leave Wednesday or Arrive Tuesday and leave Saturday - as a rule of thumb resorts in France and Austria adopt this approach. 

Some resort accommodation prefer a Sunday arrival or departure - eg arrive Wednesday leave Sunday or arrive Sunday and leave Thursday. 

Now the actual dates:

Before Christmas - some resorts open at the beginning of December and offer great uncrowded skiing right up to the Christmas week (this year 22/23 December). 
Christmas and New Year are high season weeks and the resort will all be busy. 

Janaury is fabulous, generally great snow conditions, empty slopes but it can get quite cold

Februay comes into high season and you need to chose your resort carefully (see section 2). March offers long days, sometimes the temperature rises a little and the snow on the south facing slopes can get a little soft towards the end of the day.

The ski and snowboard season generally ends at the end of April, but April does offer some fabulous skiing - get out early, then take a long lunch around 2.30 gently ski back to your hotel and enjoy apres ski activities in the late afternoon.

 

Why not ask us for the latest snow resports?

Section 2 Which Resort?

We all have your favorite resorts, but sometimes weekend or short break skiing means thinking outside of the box. Val d'Isere, Tignes, Lech for example are wonderful ski resorts but all are quite a way away from airports with poor transfer connections outside of the weekends.

We recommend looking at resorts that are no further than 2 hours from the arrival airport. There are some resorts that are much much closer which also offer world class skiing. 

Think about the size of the ski area. Do you really need miles and miles of pistes for a few days skiing?

Here are some of our favorite short break ski destinations

Fly in to Geneva Airport for:

Morzine, Chamonix, Les Gets, La Clusaz, Chatel, Verbiers, Crans Montana, Champery, Flaine, Les Carroz

Fly in to Malaga for Sierra Nevada

Toulouse for Baqueira, Andorra, St Lary

Salzburg for Saalbach/Hinterglemm, Maria Alm, Zell am See

Innsburck for Ischgl, St Anton, Mayrhofen

Zurich for St Anton, Engleberg, Andermatt

 

Ask for our resort recommendations 

Section 3 Budget

You've decided when you want to ski, how you are going to get there and the resort. Now its down to budget. In a way budget should perhaps come before the resort but lets see how we get on.


So what effects your budget:

  • cost of the flights - everyone wants to fly out either later on a Thursday or Friday and back late on a Sunday - esepcially to Genevaso the cost of these flights are generaly much more expensive than flying mid day for example. Or choice airports that arent really associated with ski resorts but serve some great areas - for example Toulouse for Andorra resorts of Soldeu, Pas de la Casa and Arinsal, or the fabulous Spanish resort of Baqueira. Or travel Sunday to Thursday - mid week flights are sometimes half the cost of a weekend flight
  • How do we get to the resort - some resorts are served by trains - eg Geneva to Champery, some have regualar bus transfer serves, if there are a few of you a hire car makes alot of sense. Taxis and minibuses tend to be the most expensive but then they are also the quickest
  • The actual resort - some resorts in the same ski area can be alot more expensive than their neighbours - get the same ski experience but satying in a less fashionable resort or perhaps a cable car ride away. Eg - Avoriaz int he Portes du Soleil can be quite expensive but Champery just over the hill and down in the valley is a much more cost effective village to stay in.
  • Accommodation - prices rise with star ratings! Self catered apartments are always the cheapest option but it means you end up having to find supermarkets and perhaps more often than not you end up eating out. A 4 star ski in ski out hotel in Andorra is often better value than a 2 star hotel in the French or Austrian Alpine resorts
  • Ski Passes - resorts often offer a limited area ski pass but you need to ask yourself if you will be happy skiing the one area? Booking your pass in advanceo often saves a little money but also saves alot of time - ski passes can be ready and waiting for you when you arrive at your hotel
  • Ski hire - is always cheaper to book online before you trave. BUT make sure you chose a ski hire location close to your hotel - its no good finding ultra cheap ski hire only to find that the shop is 5kms away from your hotel!

 

Click here for our guide to saving money on the slopes!

Section 4 Getting to the Resort

You have your flights and resort sorted out. Now we have to work out how you are going to get to the resort and there are a few options depending on what time you land:

1. Rail transfers

Some airports (eg Geneva andZurich) have mainline rail stations attached to them. Regular rail services connect to resorts such as St Anton, kitzbuhel, Zell am See, Champery, Villars. Let the train take the strain! Not the quickest transfer but perhaps one of the most relaxed. May involve changing trains and also waiting for the train. The other downside is that if you are getting the last train of the day and your flight is later you will potentially miss the train and be stuck at an airport waiting for the first train out the following morning. Tickets can all be pre-booked

2. Scheduled resort transfers 

Some resorts (eg Trysil in Norway, Andorra resorts, Chamonix) operate a regular airport transfer bus. Generally the most cost efficient way to get to the reost but the buses run to a set schedule that don't sometimes match flight arrivals - this means that there may be some waiting at the airport for the bus up and often a longer waiti at the airport when you leave. The transfer times can also be slightly longer because the buses will often stop at resorts ont he way up to your destination. Tickets can be pre-booked though

3. Shared transfers

Geneva airport is the spiritual home of the shared transfer service. These services support resorts such as Morzine, Les Gets and Chamonix. Shared transfers are generally minibuses. More expensive than the resort transfer bus butthey will wait for you if you flight is late. Transfer times vary depending on where the minibus hasto drop off on the way to your resort and accommodation. Generally they drop you directly at your accommodation.

4. Rental Cars

My personal favorite. Rental cars are often the best value when shared between 4 or 5 short break skiers. Quick and flexible but there are downsides - you have to drive yourself, sometimes the Sat Nav may take you the wrong way - (we had some guests a few years back who ignored our paper directions and ended up on a short cut over a mountain pass that was unfortunately closed for the winter. What should have taken then 2 hours took 9!!) so you need a map and directions. Some airports don't offer winter/snow tyres with their rental cars (eg Barcelona or Malaga) and some airports chanrge these as extra (Toulouse). It may be worth buying a setof snow socks - an alternative to chains and taken them with you (£35.99 on Amazon). Parking in the resort may be an issue or expensive.

4. Taxi

Ordering a private taxi or minibus is the the easiest, quickest but most expensive way to get to the resort. The driver is waiting for you in the airport arrivals hall and drops you right outside your hotel. Essential to pre-book though if you just pitch up there wiil be plenty of airport taxis willing to take you to your resort - agree the rate before you leave though!

 

Click here for the best way to get to your chosen resort

Section 5 Choosing your accommodation

So now you have worked out which flights you want to book and how you are going to get from the airport up to the resort (and unfortunately back down to the airport for your flight home!) you now have to think about what type of accommodation you want to stay in.

Unfortunately not every accommodation provider likes short breaks - but if you look at it from the accommodation providers point of view the winter season lasts aroun 16 weeks - they only have these 16 weeks to make enought money to see them through the rest of the year.

Prices tend to rise for Friday and Saturday nights then lower for Sunday through to Thursday

You only have a few days so we would suggest that you would want to be as close as possible to the resort centre and if possible be able to ski back to your accommodation.

Self catered apartments in the high altitude resorts work very well and often offer a cost effective solution. But often an apartment to sleep 4 maybe an open plan studio - perhaps with a set of bunk beds in the hall way and a double sofa bed. NOT all apartments are like this the newer ones are much more luxurious with separate bedrooms. 

Hotels and catered chalets work very well - you don't have to worry about where to find breakfast or dinner - unless of course you can't find the dinning room!! The standards vary enormously. As a rule we only offer 3, 4 and 5 star hotels.

Our favorite ski in ski out hotel that seems to tick most boxes is the Hotel Nordic in El Tarter, Andorra - 4 star with a swimming pool, spa and best of all ski in ski out - walk out of the ski room pop your skis on and explore the 210kms of marked piste on the hotel doorstep! 

The Scandinavian ski hotels work very well with short breaks and the quality is right up there, the downside perhaps is smaller ski areas. 

Why not check out some accommodation deals here?

Section 6 - Ski Passes and ski hire

Two essential items needed to complete your short ski break but often forgotton about in the booking process!

Firstly ski passes - there is rarely any saving prebooking your ski pass - 'so why bother then?' I hear you ask? There are a few reasons you should pre-book your ski pass:

  • in many resorts the ski pass will be ready and waiting for you at the hotel reception when you check in.
  • saves any queing up on the first day - often at 9am there will be a queue at the ski pass office as day trippers and locals rush to buy their ski pass for the day
  • You don't have to worry about buying the wrong ski pass or any additional add ons the resort lift company may try and sell you.

Secondly ski hire - we always recommend pre-booking your ski hire - often there are substancial savings to be had on line - sometime rent one rent another free, 30%, 40% off the resort price. When you book your ski hire make sure  that the shop you book the equipment at is close to your hotel. The last thing you want to be doing is trapsing to the other side of the resort when there is a ski shop right next door to your hotel.

Simply put prebook ski passes and ski hire - save yourself alot of time and a little money in the process!

Click here to save 15% on ski hire in ALL our resorts

Section 7 - Where should you go to for some advice and booking?

We have been arranging short break and ski weekends for the last 30 years in some way shape or form. We have made most of the mistakes and learnt from them! We know what works and how to put it all together to make your short break as effortless as possible.

We feature most resorts throughout Europe and offer advice (sometimes not un-biased becase we have our favorite resorts and airlines!). Our online booking system is unique - it is one of the only systems that lets you book your flights, transfers or car hire, accommodation, ski passes and ski hire on a completely flexible basis - do it all online or just give us a call on 01248 712567 

Go online here to check our our short break offers

 

 

 

 

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