Ski holidays can be expensive which is why Where2 has teamed up with Vicky Norman from The Ski Club of Great Britain to find out which ski resorts offer the best value for money.
Les Deux Alpes
With a great snow record, a huge variety of slopes and access to the superb off piste at La Grave, Les Deux Alpes holds its own alongside some of France’s mighty ski areas without the weighty price tag. The ‘upsidedown’ ski area, with the green and blue slopes at the top of the gondola and more advanced runs into the resort, means intermediate/advanced skiers have the run of the mountain while beginners can enjoy the striking scenery as they learn. The resort itself is lively and good value, offering a range of ski-in-ski-out accommodation and après ski that won’t break the bank.
If you want access to the largest ski area in the world but need to avoid the steep costs, La Tania is an excellent option. The resort may be small (you can throw a snowball from one end of the single highstreet to the other), but it’s on the doorstep of the Three Valleys and has everything you need. Après ski and nightlife is limited to a couple of buzzy bars but drinks are comparably more affordable and there are regular bands. There’s even a Michelin Star restaurant! It certainly beats next door neighbour Courchevel on price.
One of the great things about Les Arcs is the quick and cheap funicular access from Bourg St Maurice. You can take a train or bus transfer from Chambéry to Bourg and happily save a few pounds by jumping on the funi and using the free buses to the Les Arcs towns of 1600, 1800, 1950 and 2000. Les Arcs 1600 and 2000 are probably the cheaper of the four but 1800 and 1950 are more lively and attractive. All the villages are well placed to access Les Arc’s vast terrain and the Paradiski link to La Plagne. Accommodation, food and drink are relatively more reasonable.
Flaine may not be the prettiest or most atmospheric of resorts but the simple, budget accommodation, enormous ski area and quick airport transfer make it an affordable favourite. The skiing is extensive and varied within Flaine’s huge snow-sure bowl at the heart of the Grand Massif ski area, and the off-piste is unexpectedly good. This is a great resort for beginners, intermediates and families.
Describing St Gervais as a cheaper, more familyorientated version of nearby Megève or Chamonix – as some guidebooks do – does a great disservice to the town... although it is cheaper! An old-fashioned spa town first popular in the early 1800s, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains boasts classic stone buildings, ironwork and sculptures reminiscent of the Paris Métro. The Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area is beginner and intermediate heaven, with a huge variety of slopes and incredible views towards Mt Blanc.
Avoriaz is a compact, traffic-free resort perched high in the massive ‘Portes Du Soleil’ ski area. The high altitude translates to a great snow record and the vast, well-linked, ski area means all levels of skier and snowboarder are catered for. Snowboarders in particular will love ‘The Stash’ – a freeride and freestyle area designed by none other than Jake Burton. Cars are replaced by horses and carts in the resort, adding an element of charm to this already quirky and great value destination.
Set in the beautiful steep-sided Zillertel Valley, Mayrhofen has a well-deserved reputation among skiers and snowboarders. Every ability will love the variety of slopes and freestylers will be in their element in one of Europe’s biggest terrain parks. There are also loads of other good-value indoor and outdoor activities which are great for non skiers. Mayrohofen’s famous full-throttle nightlife can be embraced, or easily avoided by staying in the quieter areas of this large, traditional-looking resort.
Söll is a pretty resort which offers superb value for money. The village centre is really charming and the ski area is particularly good for beginners and intermediates. Experts may find the runs a little flattering but there’s still a good range of pistes. There’s a nice assortment of cosy cafés, restaurants, bars and shops and the nightlife is cheap, cheerful and positively buzzing. The resort has worked hard – and successfully – to improve family facilities; however, the slopes are located 1km from town and are best reached by ski buses.
Part of the vast Ski Amadé ski alliance, Bad Hofgastein is a sprawling village with an attractive pedestrianised centre. You can either take a funicular or a shuttle bus to the pistes where intermediates will enjoy the many tree-lined red runs. The resort makes a brilliant base for cross-country skiing when the many lengthy valley-floor trails have snow cover. Après-ski is quiet by Austrian standards but there are a few popular bars and the lovely Weitmoser café at the historic castle makes great cake! All in all a good value resort with bags of charm – a new Ski Club Freshtracks favorite.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has a comprehensive resort guide of over 200 resorts on their website, www.skiclub.co.uk.