The ‘schhh’, ‘schhh’ under your skis as you gracefully carve your way down the slope in Val d’Wherever may as well be ‘kerching’, ‘kerching’ as your bank balance heads deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Unless you recently won Euromillions or you’re a king pin class-A drugs smuggler (white powder being your thing), you’ll no doubt wince at the bill for a week’s skiing, especially if you’ve a family in tow. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The pandemic meant that most of us didn’t get our annual Alpine fix in 2020, and post-Brexit and post-pandemic a lot of the usual haunts simply aren’t going to feel the same in any case. So if you’re willing to look at things through new ski-goggles, you could find a new way to do things. And it’ll be cheaper too. Way cheaper.
Just by tweaking your plans, and maybe your expectations, you can save a fortune on a skiing holiday this winter.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that Europe is still struggling with coronavirus and is a little bit lockdowny at the time of going to press, so stay vaxxed and watch out for covid closures – hopefully toward the end of the 2021/22 season things will have eased up)
Before you scrabble for your atlas (and by atlas of course I mean Google Maps) I’ll break the suspense, Slovenia is sort of middle south Europe, two o’clock from Italy. And it’s that lack of name recognition that means, as a ski destination, it manages to stay under the radar.
Slovina? We're Slovin' it!
However, in Vogel, the ski centre of Slovenia, a ski pass is about a third of the cost in an Alpine one. Sure, the nightlife may be pretty low key, but if you’re craving a party you can get to the capital Ljubljana in about an hour.
The Rila Mountains, I’ll bet a fair amount you’ve never heard of them, but it’s probably where you’re headed if you’re considering Bulgaria as a ski destination. And, what’s more, it’s Rila nice.
Keeping it Rila
An hour and a half from Sofia (plenty of direct flights from UK, though probably Luton), this post-communist state has transformed itself into a trendy destination, and the ski action is very respectable.
Alpine-like Borovets is also famous for cross country skiing, if that takes your fancy, though standard downhill skiing is where the resort really shines.
Borovets Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £112 (5 days)
Hotels: From £30 – £200 per night
Flights: From £55 return (albeit Ryanair…)
Height: 4,400 ft
Longest run: 12,000m
More info: www.borovets-bg.com
Here’s everything you need to know to make you want to pack your case and jump on the plane: it’s in Transylvania. Actual Transylvania. Off of vampires!
We can’t get enough of Eastern Europe in the search of cheap skiing and Romania is worth having a glance at. Poiana-Brasov is small, but would be perfect for a beginner, and for the price (it’s not just that you save on ski passes, it’s the whole thing; accommodation, travel, food and drink (have you seen how much a pint costs in Chamonix?)) where the economy of a location like Romania starts to make sense.
Stay or Romain-ia?
As an added extra, they’re not in the Euro, which may offer some protection against the Brexit fluctuations which have made France an even more expensive option of late.
Don’t confuse your Slovinias and Slovakias, they hate that. But if you’ve accidentally tried to book a flight to Vogel and realised you’re in the wrong country you could do a lot worse than Slovakia’s Jasna.
Slovak to the future
The resort has received significant investment of late, with much improved accommodation, food that’s not just beets and borscht, and a broad system of runs that make it a very credible destination as you ski down Mount Chopok.
A quick covid note. Slovakia currently having a bit of a pandemic mare as things flare up again. Right now travel is limited; but hopefully fine if you’re booking for spring…
Jasna Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £150 (5 days)
Hotels: From £50 – £200 per night
Flights: From £50 return (into Krakow)
Height: 6,600 ft
Longest run: 5,1800m
More info: www.jasna.sk
Austria is often a go-to when you’re after an Alpine skiing experience, but don’t want to go Three-Valleys deep in debt.
Söll-ong, expensive resorts
And Söll is a decent option as it’s part of one of the largest ski areas in the country. And with its traditional Tirolean feel it’s a million miles from the austere former Soviet feel of some of the Eastern European resorts.
Of course, you’ll pay for that, with all your costs up, form flights to ski passes, compared with a Jasna or or Borovets, but then which country would you rather be air-lifted to hospital in?
Söll Quick Facts
Ski Pass: £165 (5 days)
Hotels: From £85 – £250 per night
Flights: From £120 return
Height: 2,100 ft
Longest run: 5,800m
More info: www.tyrol.tl
Okay so it’s a flipping nightmare to get to, granted (genuinely, you’re looking at three hours from Innsbruck), but the remoteness helps on the price and, even better, it’s a weird little Italian tax haven, which means there’s no VAT!
VAT's pretty good
Added to that the skiing’s particularly good and you’ve all the more reason to consider it.