Travel notes

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RESORTS IN THE ALPS: Alpine Answers (081-871 5100) is a ski advisory service with no connections to any tour operator. It advises waiting for expected drops of pounds 100 or more off most brochure prices. Alpine Answers suggests prices of around pounds 249 for last-minute deals on the weeks of 9 April and 16 April, even at top resorts. Crystal (081-399 5144) has reduced prices for 16 April in Alpe d'Huez, from high season pounds 519 to pounds 199, and in Saas Fee, from pounds 449 to pounds 209, for chalet parties.

OTHER RESORTS IN EUROPE: Sierra Nevada in Spain, with one of Europe's longest seasons, is currently offered on Crystal's latest scheduled flight on April 10 for pounds 299. The resort is also offering lift-pass reductions of pounds 56, and some even more attractive offers are likely to appear in the next few weeks.

RESORTS IN AMERICA: Alpine Answers (081-871 5100) suggests booking now for North America. The new Ken Read ski programme to Canada, with a day's heli-skiing and a very competitive pricing in the Banff area, is already all sold out for this spring, for example. Alpine Answers still has April weeks in both Vail and Breckenridge from pounds 549. Crystal (081-399 5144) has April departures for seven nights in Breckenridge, Banff, from pounds 449, and in Vail half-board chalet accommodation is available from pounds 649. Both Crystal offers include free car hire.

OFF PISTE IN THE ALPS: Powder Byrne (071-223 0601), the only British operator to limit skiing groups to four skiers per

mountain guide, recommends high-altitude itineraries and day heli-skiing in Zermatt, from pounds 601 for the week of 10 April, not including guide fees. As UK agents for the Chamonix mountain guides, Collineige (0276 24262) can book ski touring trips to the top of Mont Blanc or day trips down the Vallee Blanche, as well as B & B accommodation year round from pounds 20 per person.

OFF PISTE IN NORTH AMERICA: April is the cheapest month to try Canadian wilderness helicopter skiing; 16 April and 23 April at Mike Wiegele, which is the world's largest heli-skiing concession, cost a full thousand dollars less than in high season. And long days mean that you can enjoy spring powder sunshine skiing of up to 47,000 vertical feet per day. Skiing, meals and accommodation for seven days Candollars 3,676 ( pounds 1,866). Booking in Britain with Ski Scott Dunn (081-767 0202).

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