DEALS OF THE WEEK: APRES MILLENNIUM SKIING

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The Independent Travel
January is traditionally a great-value month at European ski resorts. The respite between the millennium scrum and the start of the half-term holidays in February is likely to provide visitors with some excellent skiing conditions on near-deserted pistes. January also means getting the best tables in the mountain restaurants without having to bribe the maitre d' and avoiding the long lift queues of high-season weeks. Self- drive packages are also exceptional value in January, with a good choice of holidays still available to resorts across Europe.

Avoid Sloanes in Slovenia

It may not be chic or stylish but many first-time skiers will enjoy the Slovenian resort of Bled, where Crystal Holidays (tel: 0870 8487000) has seven nights in the four-star Hotel Park from pounds 176 per person. The trip is based on four people travelling in their own car and includes ferry crossings and half-board accommodation in this lakeside hotel where facilities include a spa and indoor pool fed by natural springs.

Meriski 'Taster' Week

Meriski (tel: 01451 843100) has a scheduled flight departure on 16 January to the popular French resort of Meribel (where the English language prevails in the apres-ski bars) from pounds 595 per person based on two sharing, including a six-day Trois Vallees lift pass, daily transfers to the slopes, full- board chalet accommodation and a champagne reception.

Cosy in Les Arcs

Erna Low Holidays (tel: 0171- 584 2841) has cut 20 per cent off brochure prices on departures to the rather ugly, but functional French resort of Les Arcs on 15 and 29 January. If you don't mind sleeping in close proximity, a minimal Pierre et Vacances self-catering studio is available, based on four people sharing, at self-drive rates from pounds 199 per person per week, including ferry crossing.

New Year in Norway

If you are still looking for a different millennium holiday experience, Crystal (tel: 0870 8487000) has cut more than pounds 100 off brochure prices to the Norwegian ski resorts of Geilo and Hemsedal. Seven nights' half- board in traditional Scandinavian accommodation is available from pounds 449 per person for departures on 26 December, including flights from London Gatwick and transfers.

Trois Vallees Weekends

Freedom 2 Travel (tel: 01375 396688) has weekend breaks by coach to the resorts of the Trois Vallees in France from pounds 99 per person based on two sharing including return coach travel and two nights' b&b accommodation in a two-star hotel in Brides-les-Bains.

Gorgeous Grindelwald

Powder Byrne (tel: 020 8246 5300) has seven nights half-board in Grindelwald, one of Switzerland's most traditional picture-postcard villages, staying at the Hotel Fiescherblick from pounds 770 per person based on two sharing, including flights and transfers, for departures between 8 January and 5 February.

Snowshoeing in the Pyrenees

Inntravel Winter Inn-Active (tel: 01653 629010) has a week's snowshoeing across the beautiful wilderness of the French Pyrenees, departing on 8 January for pounds 642 per person. Accompanied by a qualified English-speaking guide, the trip includes return flights from Gatwick to Toulouse, seven nights' half-board accommodation at four different hotels, picnic lunches, equipment hire and luggage transportation between hotels.

Kids go free in Bulgaria

A week's half-board in a three-star hotel in the Bulgarian resort of Pamporovo, departing 8 January, is being offered for pounds 235 per person by Crystal Holidays (tel: 0870 8487000) including return flights from Gatwick. Children travelling with their parents go free (one child per adult with a minimum of two adults travelling). There are no single-room supplements and the "single-parent saver" offers up to 25 per cent off children's places (standard rate pounds 49-pounds 99 depending on departure date).

Discounts from Ski Beat

Ski Beat (tel: 01243 780405) has cut up to pounds 100 from brochure prices for departures on 8 January to the French resorts of La Plagne, Tignes and La Tania. Including flights and transfers, prices start at pounds 299 for one week's stay in catered chalets with free ski passes for children aged nine and under.

Royal Coach

Snowcoach (tel: 01727 833141) has bus departures on 2 January in its Royal Class (with extra leg-room), with one-week holiday prices from pounds 158 per person for self-catering in France, pounds 142 per person for b&b in Austria and pounds 178 per person for half-board accommodation in Andorra. Schedules enable passengers to enjoy six days of skiing in selected resorts.

Signature Week in Val d'Isere

The Ski Company (tel: 01451 843123) has cut pounds 247 per person from the brochure price for its "Signature Week" departing 9 January to Val d'Isere. Reduced price is pounds 749 per person and includes accommodation at the luxurious Chalet La Marsa, scheduled flights from Heathrow, private transfers, champagne, canapes and gourmet meals each evening.

STEPHEN ROE

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