Ski news: Gatwick airport in disarray

It's not just us

Gatwick airport, the UK's leading ski departure point, has been in disarray this week. Indeed, senior executives from Neilson – the winter sports and adventure operator that is part of Thomas Cook – were on duty at Gatwick at 4am last Sunday to help out with early departures.

For once, the problems were at a continental airport – and the most popular ski arrival point, too: Geneva. The airport was closed for six hours because of extreme weather, and 70 flights were affected. The airport operators, though, were quick to point out that it has been 25 years since the last closure of that length.

Rich pickings

After an inauspicious start to the 2009-10 ski season, tour operators are reporting a surge in bookings, which they're putting down to the snow in the UK whetting people's appetites. Marion Telsnig, of TUI (0871 231 5659; ), which owns Crystal, Thomson and First Choice, said: "This season seems to be the opposite of last year when the first half was sold early, but the second half caused us some problems. This winter February to April are well sold due to less flights, less accommodation, and an early Easter."

Cheap beer and coffee

Once skiers reach the mountains, they're up against higher prices in resort due to the weak pound. However, the world's largest ski region, the French Three Valleys, has listened to clients' feedback, says Xavier Schouller, of French resort specialists Peak Retreats (0844 576 0170; ), with many bars and restaurants cutting prices. Eighty-five per cent of establishments in Val Thorens will be charging €2 or less for a coffee, and two out of five will be charging €3 or less for a beer. So far the detail of who-offers-what is in complex spreadsheets, but a more user-friendly data presentation should be provided shortly.

Appy landings

If you're an iPhone owner you'll find new ski resort apps have been falling like snowflakes from the ether. Following the InTheSnow free ski news app, resorts lsuch as Snowbird, Jackson Hole and Val d'Isere have launched their own apps, often making use of GPS to pop you on to a "live" piste map and suggest routes and so on from where you are. A new guide to more than 1,000 ski areas, the PeakLocation app (£1.79) provides live weather data and allows you to mark your location in multiple resorts.

Highland flings

The upside of the snowy chaos in Britain is that Scotland is reporting its best skiing for 14 years. CairnGorm (01479 861261; ) has done particularly well, reporting four times as many skiers visiting by New Years Day as last season. The 5ft of snowfall was compared favourably to Utah's "greatest snow on Earth" by ski patroller Colin Matthew.