More snow in the Alps means fewer last-minute bargains
Sunday 19 February 2012
It's difficult to believe that only a little over two months ago we were worried that the Alps were heading for another winter of lacklustre snow.
With World Cup events cancelled, resort openings delayed, and even Scandinavia enduring its warmest autumn in a century, hopes were fading that 2011-12 would be the winter when, after three years of market decline, the British winter sports travel industry would return to the year-on-year growth of the previous decade.
Then, just as things began to look desperate for the crucial Christmas/New Year period, the snow came. It hasn't really stopped since. Resort base depths in the Alps are up to five metres, with many resorts in the northern French Alps reaching their season average snowfall total by the end of January.
"The season is shaping up into a record-breaker for us. We're 40 per cent up on where we were this time last year, and are absolutely delighted. I'd expect overall skier numbers this year to be flat at worst, or marginally up on last year," says Craig Burton of specialist travel agents Ski Solutions (020-7471 7700; skisolutions.com).
But all the snow hasn't been entirely good news for anyone wanting to book a last-minute ski holiday.
"The great snow means that there's been a lot less discounting than last year. Many people who had waited to the last-minute for deals were disappointed to find that what was left was not what they were looking for," says Xavier Schouller of French ski specialists Peak Retreats (0844 576 0170; peakretreats.co.uk).
So those last-minute bargains may be a little harder to find now that demand is back on the up. The first week of Easter (31 March departures) is reported to be selling out already; 7 April looks a better bet for bargains.
"Easter and late season has sold particularly well, with only small pockets of availability remaining," confirms Lydia Crisostomo of Inghams (020-8780 4447; inghams.co.uk).
The snow also caused practical problems with some resorts cut off from the outside world for several days earlier this winter. In most cases this occurred midweek rather than on change-over day, but some skiers hit problems.
"Austria has had really challenging change-over days. We saw over 1,000 customers displaced around the country and unable to get out of the resorts, or delayed due to avalanche danger and missing their flights once they got to the airports. We organised two 'rescue' flights to bring those customers back to the UK," says Marion Telsnig of Crystal (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk).
Having to deal with too much snow was an unlikely prospect at the start of the season.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
Is Moscow really the world's unfriendliest city?
Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
New Year’s Eve plans: the world’s best places to celebrate
Couple who left careers to travel the world reveal they fund it by scrubbing toilets
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...
£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...