The ‘schhh’, ‘schhh’ under your skis as you gracefully carve your way down the slope 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 family in tow. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By tweaking your plans, and maybe your expectations, you can save a fortune on a skiing holiday this winter.
Before you scrabble for your atlas (and by atlas of course I mean Google Maps) I’ll break the suspense, Slovinia 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
Hotels to try…
– Hotel Rila
Large ski-in-ski-out hotel, broadly speaking it’s modern and without doubt ideally located
– Festa Winter Palace
Claims five stars though that’s pushing it, and displays relative, if fading, grandeur.
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.
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.
Stay or Romain-ia?
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.
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
Hotels to try…
– Hotel Grand Jasna
Perhaps ‘grand’ is a little too, um, grand, but the hotel is more than serviceable and includes a wellness spa.
– Hotel Posna
Slick and smart, actually from the same folks as the Hotel Grand (we’re not on commission), ski-in-ski-out hotel.
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
Hotels to try…
– Der Lärchenhof
Back to real-world prices, around £250 per night, but comes with a higher level of service and accommodation.
– Grand Tirolia Hotel Kitzbühel
Runs a regular ski shuttle for the 800 yards to the slope, has a spa a big spa and decent restaurant
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! Added to that the skiing’s particularly good and you’ve all the more reason to consider it.