Something to declare: Economy-class ski resorts; Off the plane in Spain; Patagonia dreaming
Saturday 24 September 2011
Destination of the week
Economy-class ski resorts "In the four years from 2007 to 2011, costs for British visitors to euro resorts have gone up by 40 per cent; but in Swiss resorts the increase is 85 per cent."
The authors of the new edition of Where to Ski and Snowboard (NortonWood, £18.99) have expanded their Resort Price Index to include lift passes, ski hire and lessons as well as food and drink.
With 100 as the European average, the Balkan nations of Romania (40) and Bulgaria (50) are easily the cheapest – no more than half the price of the typical European resort.
Among established ski nations, Passo Tonale in Italy is most economical at 70. The cheapest resorts in Austria, Alpbach, scores 75, as do Puy-St-Vincent and St-Foy-Tarentaise in the French Alps. The only Swiss resort below the European average is Meiringen, with a score of 95 (compared with 150 for St-Moritz, the most expensive in Europe).
One hotel that might appeal to cash-strapped Brits: the Edelweiss in Kitzbuhel, whose restaurant, says the guide, "supplies bags for you to take food from the breakfast table to lunch – a far cry from the stern notices we've seen elsewhere".
Warning of the week
Off the plane in Spain?
Take care of your passport when you land at, or depart from, a Spanish airport. The Foreign Office this week amplified its travel advice for Spain:
"A significant number of Emergency Travel Documents issued by consulates in Spain are as a result of travellers having their passports stolen while passing through the airport. Special care should be taken to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and also while arranging car hire."
Bargain of the week
Cheap trains for 55+
Around 16 million Britons were born on or before 24 September 1956, and therefore qualify for the new Club 55 deal from FirstGroup. This is a "walk up and go" offer with flat-fare rates on off-peak for people aged 55 and over who produce proof of age.
The most straightforward offer is in Scotland: return travel between any two Scots stations (plus Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed) for £19 in standard, £26 in first. Start your outbound trip by 30 November and return no later than 29 December.
For First Great Western, First TransPennine Express, First Hull Trains and First Capital Connect, the pricing is based on a system of zones. London to Hereford, Exeter, Swansea, Doncaster or Hull costs £35 return, while Newcastle to Manchester and Penzance to Bristol are £20. Depart by 20 November, return by 19 December.
Plenty of trains are off-limits: mostly weekday morning rush-hour services into big cities, with some evening departures also excluded. See club55.co.uk for (rather confusing) details.
The million-plus Senior Railcard holders (available to 60+ travellers) receive an extra 20 per cent discount.
Tip of the week
Bariloche airport in Argentina's lake district has re-opened for the first time since the eruption of Puyehue volcano in Chile on 4 June. "October marks the start of the season to visit Patagonia," says Laura Rendell-Dunn of Journey Latin America, "so this is very good news for travellers who are planning an imminent trip to the region."
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