9th December 2022
Bookings for this season are exceeding pre-pandemic levels but UK skiers and snowboarders face rising costs in European resorts, according to a new study. NEW
The 16th annual Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report is produced in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays.
It says the prices of ski school, equipment, lift passes, meals and drinks have risen across Europe.
It’s due to a combination of the weaker pound and higher resort charges.
The report advises cost-conscious Britons to choose lower-priced ski areas to avoid a big hike in their holiday bills.
Once again, Bulgaria offers the best value for adults and families, as it has for much of the past decade.
Swiss resorts are the most expensive – expect to pay more than twice as much in Switzerland as in the three cheapest resorts.
Italy is the cheapest in the Eurozone, with its resorts dominating the report’s Top 10.
Arinsal in Andorra is recommended as a bargain for young families, with free pre-booked lift passes on offer for children under 11.
The report was compiled using mid-season prices for an adult for a week in 32 European resorts and costs in 26 European resorts suitable for families.
Prices for families are based on two adults and two children, aged 6 and 8. (See the end of this article for full details).
Although travellers from the UK can expect to pay more this season, many of the increases are relatively small:
- 38% of the resorts surveyed have price rises of 7% or less
- In Italy, the rise is just 0.9% in Bardonecchia and 3.3% in Sauze d’Oulx
- In France, the increase in La Plagne is 2.4%
Using local prices provided by Crystal Ski Holidays and converted to sterling by Post Office Travel Money, Borovets (£506) again tops the best value table, although prices have risen 12.8 per cent year-on-year.
A second Bulgarian resort, Bansko (£537, prices up 7%), has dropped to third place after being overtaken by Bardonecchia, Italy (£513).
Bardonecchia boasts the cheapest price for a six-day lift pass, equipment hire and tuition at £348, compared with £382 in Borovets and £415 in Bansko.
However, meals and drinks bought on the slopes are a third more expensive in Bardonecchia than in Borovets, which explains why the Bulgarian resort remains cheapest overall.
The Head of Post Office Travel Money, Nick Boden, says it’s important for skiers and snowboarders to do their homework before booking and factor in all the costs of the trip.
“Despite the price rises we found this year, there are still great value resorts to choose from in Bulgaria and Italy and Britons who want to visit traditional favourites Austria and France will find competitively priced skiing in several of the most popular resorts,” he says.
Italy Best Value of the Big 4
Italy continues to represent the best value among the major ski and snowboard countries of Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland.
As well as Bardonecchia, four other Italian resorts rate among the 10 best value resorts:
- Sauze d’Oulx (4th, £611),
- Sestriere (5th, £635)
- La Thuile (6th, £678)
- Cervinia (9th, £711)
Ellmau, Austria (7th at £702) and Morzine, France (8th, £704) have retained their Top 10 places, but prices are up by 5.5% in Ellmau and 10.9% in Morzine.
Finland’s Ruka resort completes the Top 10 (10th, £716) and offers a cheaper alternative to some of the more expensive Austrian and French resorts.
However, prices are up by almost 8% on last year.
The three Swiss resorts surveyed again emerge as most expensive for British skiers.
It’s partly because the strong Swiss Franc has risen more than the Euro against Sterling.
- Saas Fee is cheapest at £1,178, almost 11% more than last season
- Wengen costs are £1,311, a rise of 22% – the biggest increase in the survey
- Zermatt is the most expensive in Switzerland at £1,367, a rise of 15%
For families planning February half-term or Easter trips, prices have gone up in all but one of the 26 resorts surveyed, though the increases in well over half of them are below 10%.
Bansko in Bulgaria remains the best value for families (£1,547) and is almost 12% cheaper than its closest rival, Bardonecchia in Italy (£1,749).
Prices are, however, up in both (almost 11% in Bansko and nearly 7% in Bardonecchia).
Taken as a whole, Italy offers the best choice of competitively priced ski resorts for families as it does for adult skiers.
All five of those surveyed for family skiing are in the best value top six:
- Passo Tonale (3rd, £1,766)
- Cervinia (4th, £1,972)
- Sestriere (5th, £2,003)
- La Thuile (6th, £2,158)
Arinsal in Andorra is at number seven in the best value table, though the study found that a change in resort ownership has resulted in an increase of almost 13% in ski costs to £2,191.
The report says Arinsal remains an attractive choice for bargain hunters because families with children up to the age of 11 get free lift passes if they are pre-booked.
It means a family of four can save more than £400, reducing the weekly cost to £1,784 and making Arinsal the fourth-cheapest family resort.
The best value Top 10 for families is completed by two resorts in Austria – Rauris (8th, £2,193) and Ellmau (9th, £2,300) – and by Ruka in Finland (10th), where family prices have risen just 2.9 per cent to £2,303.
France & Switzerland Most Expensive
The pattern of recent years has been for French resorts to miss out on the Top 10.
And so it remains.
The best placed of the resorts surveyed is Morzine in 11th (£2,409).
Tignes (£2,926) is the most expensive, albeit with a price fall of 1.1% on last season’s costs.
Switzerland is the most expensive destination by far for families.
Prices in both Saas Fee (25th, £3,568) and Grindelwald (26th, £3,633) have risen by more than 10 per cent.
In Austria, Saalbach (24th, £3,238) and Kitzbühel (23rd, £3,146) come closest to matching the high price of Swiss resorts.
“Not surprisingly in the current climate, customers are more cost savvy than ever, with bookings for places that offer the best value to UK travellers, like Bulgaria and Italy, particularly good,” says Chris Logan, Managing Director of Crystal Ski Holidays.
He points out that another excellent choice doesn’t feature in the report because this will be Crystal’s first season operating there.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina is a brand new budget destination offering excellent snow and great activities as well as rich culture and history. We expect it to perform very well on the report next year.”
We have reported on the new offering on PlanetSKI:
Other ways to save money, he says, are to make the most of the less popular weeks.
“January tends to see some of the best snow, the fewest crowds and some of the best prices.
“And for those bound by school holidays, go at Christmas or New Year for some great deals,” added Chris Logan.
The Ski Resort Report used adult prices for one week (six active days) in 32 European resorts that are suitable for a range of skiing levels and 26 European resort suitable for families.
Costs are based on mid-season pricing and entry level skis and boots. Ski school daily hours vary depending on the resort.
Lunch prices are based on two courses (main course and dessert) excluding drinks. The items surveyed were:
- Ski lift pass for one week (6 days)
- Ski equipment for one week (6 days)
- Ski school tuition (5-6 days half-day lesson)
- Cup of coffee
- Bottle of Coca Cola
- Glass of house wine
- Bottle of beer
- Six lunches on the slopes