Track a bargain: Be prepared: Do your homework online
Sunday 06 November 2011
Wherever you decide to ski this winter, you should check the official website of your chosen resort before you go. Become a follower on Facebook and download its app to your smart phone.
Why? As well as keeping informed about how your destination is doing snow-wise before you arrive, you'll also find plenty of deals popping up on your screen.
A lot of resorts offer discounts on lift passes if you reserve early, typically by the end of November, before the season begins. For example, Valmorel in France is currently offering 10 per cent off a six-day pass if you buy it online before 15 November.
One big battle for tour operators and resorts this winter has been to keep Swiss skiing affordable in light of the strength of the Swiss franc (even with the Swiss Central Bank now capping the currency). Most people still prefer to ski in Switzerland because of the stunning scenery, seamless, no-stress travel, including free ski carriage on national airline Swiss, and the country's reputation for quality.
This concerted effort by the tour operators has resulted in Inghams, Crystal and others offering two-for-one deals on pre-booked Swiss lift passes. The resorts themselves have been coming up with deals including free lift passes up to Christmas at Davos Klosters and Crans Montana. They have also decided, rather craftily, to capitalise on publicity over the discovery, in one of their mountain streams, of what's believed to be the largest gold nugget (33 carat) ever found in the Alps. They are offering 33 per cent off list prices for accommodation, ski pass, rentals and lessons during low-season periods.
Another way to lessen the impact of the strong Swiss franc and still ski in Switzerland is to base yourself in Italy and simply ski over the border. Cervinia in Italy's Aosta Valley (aosta-valley.co.uk) shares one of the world's great ski areas with neighbouring Zermatt. If you stay in Zermatt and ski from there you'll pay Sfr441 (about £314) for a six-day pass covering most of the dozen or so Aosta Valley ski areas plus Zermatt's slopes, currently Europe's most expensive ticket. If you buy essentially the same lift pass on the Italian side, the cost is €272 (about £236). There is small print to be aware of – limited days on the other side of the border, depending which side you start on – but the ski slopes that you can access are the same.
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