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Reasons NOT to book European ski trips too far in advance

Discussion in 'Europe' started by XTREMO, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    There have been many threads on here re: booking European ski trips months (and in some cases years) in advance. I thought it'd be useful to post some of the current deals to illustrate why some of us recommend sitting tight, booking a flight into London, Munich, Geneva or Zurich and waiting to see where the snow is best and booking last minute.

    Bear in mind that Europe is having its best winter in a decade and many resorts have got their best conditions in more than a decade, so demand is high. Nonetheless, there are many absolutely cracking deals to be found, even at the most popular and desireable resorts.

    People often think that you get great deals by booking ahead of time, but the reality is you don't. You might get 5-10% off the rack rate. compare that with some of the savings below.

    Here are a selection of deals I found today, for departure on Satuday (4 days from now).

    4 pax in Meribel (3 Valleys)



    4 pax - Morzine



    2 pax - Courcheval




    2 pax Val D'Isere



    4 pax - Courcheval

     
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  2. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    I need to give work reasonable notice about taking time off. For this trip I gave them a years notice that I would be taking long service leave for a month. Happy that there's been plenty of snow so far and there's more on the way :)
     
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  3. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    And what about over the Christmas / New Year / early Jan period when the vast majority of Australian skiing families will travel?
     
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  4. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Booking the time off work and booking your flights to Europe is one thing. Locking in a resort is another. You guys struck gold this year but another year you could have been grass skiing!
     
  5. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I posted this a couple of years ago in another thread. Will paraphrase it here:

    If you're looking at a week other than Xmas or NY week then you'll always find a deal in a resort that has good cover. For Xmas/NY, the rules of logic and sensibility go out the window a bit. You have the double whammy; no assurance of snow in any particular resort + high prices because many affluent people quite like the idea of a white Xmas in a ski chalet. If you don't book anything in, then it is conceivable that you could find yourself staying in expensive and/or shoddy accomodation.

    Here is my cascading strategy for Euro ski holiday optimsation:

    A. In an ideal world, don't pre-book a ski holiday. Esp for only 2 people. You'll always find a deal, unless you're going at Xmas/NY. Even then you'll find a deal but it will likely be a lot pricier than normal

    B. If you have to pre-book, book in peak season (Feb/March) but outside of school holidays (be mindful of the region - ie. if you're going to FR, check when the FR holidays fall) to have the best chance of good value and good snow cover.

    C. If you have to pre-book outside of peak season then its a gamble with regard to snow cover. You can increase the chances of having good skiing by picking a super snow sure resort (think Sölden in Austria) or a hub town like Innsbruck or Bourg St Maurice. The problem with the hub town strategy is that you have to accept a few hours driving each day, which might not be what you want on your holiday. Then again, its a hell of a long flight from Aus to come on a skiing holiday with no snow.

    D. Bonus strategy: accept that as an Aussie, you probably won't get to do white xmas skiing. A white Xmas in a ski resort would be a great way to spend the holiday period. I haven't ever done it but I'm sure it must be epic. It does require a lot of luck though, especially if you pre-book. I don't think I would EVER fly 24 hours from Aus, hoping to strike it lucky in Xmas week. Hell - I haven't even had the balls to chance it while living in Europe although thats mainly cos I tend to spend the Xmas period in Aus.
     
    #5 XTREMO, Jan 31, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  6. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  7. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    I see a lot of "From" there. "From" is a word that worries me.
     
  8. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    We also chose a resort with 100% snow gaurantee- over 700 snow cannons , 9 reservoirs and 100 staff.
     
  9. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Seriously?

    From usually means their is rooms more superior from the base one... that is all. Your choice to pay that bit extra or not.
     
  10. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    It means dont forget to clock up a big bill at our Hotel Bar.
     
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  11. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Or you can have the cupboard under the stairs for this price. A room where you can actually lie down to sleep costs more.
     
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  12. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Byo toilet paper LOL
     
  13. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I see you've skied in France before.
     
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  14. 'H' Jones

    'H' Jones One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We just booked a chalet for 10 in La Tania, very very reasonable. I agree re deals available.
     
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  15. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I spent a month in Courchevel / Le Praz almost 20 years ago, we used to do the run down to La Tania as a warmup in the morning. I went back there a couple of years ago and the lift upgrades have been amazing, there used to be a rattly old bubble out of Le Praz now it's a swish covered high speed chair and snowmaking all the way down.
     
  16. 'H' Jones

    'H' Jones One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Awesome, it is my first real ski trip for a while (for various reasons) - can't wait, and the excellent snow conditions only increase the excitement !
     
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  17. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Some of you need to have more kids. ;)

    Being a single or a couple and booking a last minute trip in low season is a great idea, but that all changes once school age kids come into the picture. Unless you want to take your kids out of school for a couple of weeks every year it means taking a trip in the dreaded school holiday periods. Flight prices are higher and can often fill up all together if you leave it to late, and accommodation books out. The price of having kids.
     
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  18. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm just going to have to do Term 1in in France aren't I?
     
  19. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    How old will your bub be next northern winter ?

    We spent two months in Tahoe when our boy was 6 months old. But it meant lots of tag team skiing, a couple of nannies, expressing breast milk and a few down days for mother and baby. It can be done but it's a whole new world of challenges.
     
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  20. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I just got back from Austria. Numbers were noticably down from normal. Saalbach gets more visitors than any other destination in Austria after Vienna and at a guess 30% + less skiers were there this Jan. It was really noticable. Lots of Zimmer Frei signs out.
     
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  21. TOFF

    TOFF Im kind of a big deal Ski Pass: Gold

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    You have options ;)

    Its dumping at JH ;)
     
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  22. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep bub will be similar age, due date is June 1. We'd like to do 2 months as well but that depends on a number of things, though none of them are bub related but I'm sure when it arrives we will factor in the unexpected.

    The good thing about Cham is that it's a huge town with plenty to do so we would just aim to pick the eyes out of the weather. @piolet tends to be on that program when he is there with his young'uns, he also has in laws for babysitting help. Fortunately we both have mothers that would love to come to Europe though I don't think I'd want them there for the whole time!!!!

    We will hopefully start skiing in Oz mid-July so we will get some practice.
     
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  23. Hermannator

    Hermannator One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hear Hear...

    Further to the discussion, if one wants to go this weekend, say for 2 weeks and can cop slumming it back to Aus on a 40h flight (vs 22-25h incl stops/layover) Qatar can get you there circa $1300 return. Else many other flights ex-MEL for $2k which is pretty reasonable 4d out.

    Also if one books 3V chalets on the French version of those sites pictured above, one might find they are cheaper again...
     
  24. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Crazy considering how much better the conditions are this year than last. Any idea what could have accounted for it?
     
  25. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    There was great conditions during Dec. Perhaps a lot of Euro folks decided to take a snow break early.
     
  26. Zeroz

    Zeroz A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I booked our Chamonix chalet 10 days before we arrived. We are in it now.
    There were plenty of options, most at 30-50% off, but I'm more interested in booking accom in an area with lots of snow.
    Waiting until January to book gives us much more confidence we will be skiing on snow, rather than rocks or grass.

    I've done this about 10 times now. 2nd and 3rd weeks of Jan are always wide open and 4th week and early Feb easy.
    Xmas, New Year, and 2nd week of Feb onwards, are a very different story.

    Right now I'm booking accom for next week. Plenty of options and hard to go wrong with the amount of snow in the Alps
     
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  27. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    For those that are like myself and don't know the sites to look at for these package style holidays could you please give a few links to sites?
    I only know of Bergfex and Booking.
     
  28. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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  29. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Thanks.
    So let me get this right.
    About 900 pounds per person (so $1500 aud) is average for one of these holidays. That seems very expensive. I guess it includes airfares from London most times but if you're in another European city it's no use.
    Do you have the option of dropping the airfare and transfers if you don't need them?

    Seems getting accom on booking.com and going out for dinner would be much cheaper. Can easily get accom for the week for $2500 aud in most areas.

    Or am I missing something?
     
  30. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    What dates are you looking at?

    We booked for 250 pound per person with flights from the UK, breakfast. dinner and transfers...

    Good deal i think!
     
  31. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Not until next year. Main ski week will be the week after new year so commencing Saturday 5/1 I think.
    2 adults and 2 kids.
     
  32. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Those packages are probably at least half board (breakfast & dinner) and possibly 3 meals, plus a lift ticket.

    A few years ago I did some price comparisons looking at apartments and other options in France. Packages were good value.
     
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  33. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    If lift tickets are included that changes things value wise.
    Is it common to go to an establishment and be served rubbish food for a week?
     
  34. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Location and cost? If ya don’t mind :) just being nosey
     
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  35. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Generally good, I believe, but there are a lot of companies employing a lot of chalet girls/boys. Mileage may vary.
     
  36. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    To set some things straight about the package deals:

    - Most of them are halfboard (breakfasts and evening meals incl wine). Note that staff have one night off in the week and you need to sort your own dinner on this night.
    - almost none of them will include lift tickets.
    - You will normally get something in the vicinity of £50/75pp knocked off the price if you don't need the flights and transfers. You possibly won't get this discount if you're booking the day before and its an absolute firesale price.
    - Its completely possible to get average food for the week. Not likely but possible. Depends on the chef. If you go to a chalet mid season and their chef happened to break his leg and fly home and they were desperate and hired someone with no chef experience who is semi handy in the kitchen, then you probably won't get amazing food. Its happened to me once or twice.
    - You will almost always meet a great bunch of people in your chalet and make a few friends who you stay in contact with forever

    Google "Uk ski holiday packages" and you'l find lots of options.

    I like aggregators like Interactive Resorts - http://interactiveresorts.co.uk/search-results and Iglu - https://www.igluski.com/ski-deals

    Sometimes operators put deals up on their own site slightly earlier than giving them to the aggregators so its worth keeping an eye on sites like Skiworld and Inghams
     
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  37. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    By first week of March, school hols are mostly over and deal hunting is a good strategy for the remainder of the season. Its really only Xmas/NY/most of Feb that needs another approach.
     
  38. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are exceptions to the advice given in this thread.

    If you have a big group (over 6 people) AND you want to stay super central (quick walk to shops, lifts, town) AND staying together in the same chalet is a deal breaker, then pre-booking might be your only option. Most of the year in advance bookings come from people who have their regular chalet that they know and love and they wouldn't want to spend their holiday anywhere else. Each to their own. They get only a very small discount for booking in so early, and sometimes they do get advantageous skipass deals (2 for 1 in less popular resorts, and 50% off every 2nd pass in the more popular resorts)
     
  39. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The point of starting this thread was not to say that this is the ONLY way to do things. Often it isn't possible to follow this strategy. It was more to illustrate on the fly in real time, in a bumper season, how readily available these deals are. One can have this discussion in April or May or June but with no real time deals to look at, there's aways some doubt about whether people are talking shit and whether its really such a safe bet to leave booking 'til later.
     
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  40. sn0wbunny29

    sn0wbunny29 One of Us

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    We went through an aggregator a couple of years ago and got into a chalet at Belle Plagne. Flights, transfers and catering all included. The food was great but the wine was average to say the least but a quick trip to the supermarket sorted that, it is France after all! On the chalet lads night off we booked for the night ski which included a raclette supper at the top of the mountain, copious Eau De vie and a head torch to ski down with. Best first tracks ever and a mulled wine waiting at the bottom. Thoroughly recommend it to everyone!
     
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  41. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    That raises another point; the chalet staff are usually financially incentivised to book you on additional things like sledding and restaurants. They get a couple of € per booking. Sometimes the restaurants are good, sometimes they're the tourist traps that need to utilise chalet staff to get paying customers. Do your research before committing.

    The chalet staff make SFA and its nice to support them, but rather give them a generous tip (10-20€ per guest) at the end of the week than forking out 45 EUR per head on sub-standard raclette
     
  42. sn0wbunny29

    sn0wbunny29 One of Us

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    I always check everything out and tend to avoid tour company trips. Our night ski was òrganised by Oxygene, the local ski school. I booked as soon as we arrived and the rest of the chalet were a little green as it was fully booked by the time they were looking for places to eat. Just do your research before you go and you'll find all sorts of fun things to do!
     
  43. Zeroz

    Zeroz A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I know you know the deal, but for others the chalet structure is usually standard. Varies in quality from 3-star to 5-star.

    La Praz, Cham. Usual deal for a 4 star chalet - 7 nights accom, half board (full cooked bf of whatever we want, 4 course dinner, wine, tea/coffee and cakes each afternoon) van+driver to go to and pickup at any Cham resort, GVA transfers, etc.

    We have a guide and don't use the driver service but the price is the same. It's a combo. Use it or lose it.
    We paid 550 GBP pp, single occupancy. Usually insist on double occupancy but ask and can be waived if booking late.

    Note this isn't the way to experience the local culture. Most chalet package destinations are in the big resorts of France . It's designed for Brits to have a ski holiday without interacting too much with the French (or Swiss or Austrians, if there).

    Last few weeks we were in a traditional Swiss hotel eating Swiss food. Sure "i don't get the complexity of Alpine cuisine" but IMO, the traditional food of the Alps is stodge that was originally designed to sustain the population through 5 months of harsh, isolated winter. It's what my mother often made so I am not unfamiliar with the style.

    So there are 100 combinations of cheese, potato, veal, cheese, grilled cheese, pork with cheese, bread (with cheese). Disguised as raclette, fondue, Älplermagronen, rosti, etc. I just can't eat it for weeks on end. Chalet food has more variety and actual use of vegetables. Obviously depends on the cook and ours is genuinely excellent. Not always the case.
     
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  44. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    So I can be pretty confident of find lodging from Saturday the 5/1/19 for one week even if I leave it until a couple of weeks before to book? At this stage I intend to be based in Venice on the 4th so Dolimites and Austria will be the preferred options.
    There will be 4 in my group - 2 adults and 2 tweens.
     
  45. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah January is quiet as.
    I love it.
    If anything, smaller towns may be problematic but there should be options aplenty.

    Thx @Zeroz sounds great, enjoy. And..... Picsorban
     
  46. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    True-ish. 99% anglo occupants and due to included meals, you won't experience local restaurants at dinner. Can still enjoy the local culture tho, to the extent it exists in ski resorts.
     
  47. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Only about 754% certain.
     
  48. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us

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    Thinking of using this strategy for my next Euro ski trip. Book my leave and flight to London early then decide where to go once the snow falls.
     
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  49. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    we had full board in Sankt Johann last year
    didn’t mind that all, and what I saw of the alternatives didn’t look at all tempting
     
  50. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I prefer to avoid anglo groups in Austria..
     
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