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Help a Euro noob go solo skiing on a tight budget

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Can it be done? The feeling I'm getting so far is yes, it can.

I'd like to go anywhere with good snow and an ok place to be alone the week of March 10-18. So far it looks like airfare to Geneva or Zurich is around 650 dollars.

I priced out Zermatt (although it's said to be expensive) and found a cheap hostel for around 165 dollars for the week, including breakfast. I can purchase "Youth" lift tickets so I save some money there. It looks like 6 days of skiing for about 230 dollars. The train to and from the airport is 45 dolalrs each way. This is a budget I'd be able/willing to go with. Is food really that much of an expense in Zermatt?

Although I don't mind paying the above prices I'd really like to find something cheaper. I heard Engelberg may be an alternative. Anywhere else?

Any help with resort recommendations/where to fly in to/where to stay would be awesome.
post #2 of 18
I know where you can get accom in argentiere for about 13.50euro or so a night if you are serious about being on a budget - not fancy but warm and dry.... you can use the kitchen for a small fee extra...or pay for meals... you can opt in or out each day on the food... nice people running the place...

food in switzerland is exxy IIRC - I found argentiere prices quite good but not as cheap as italy...

let me know if you need to know the place...
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski View Post
I know where you can get accom in argentiere for about 13.50euro or so a night if you are serious about being on a budget - not fancy but warm and dry.... you can use the kitchen for a small fee extra...or pay for meals... you can opt in or out each day on the food... nice people running the place...

food in switzerland is exxy IIRC - I found argentiere prices quite good but not as cheap as italy...

let me know if you need to know the place...
If you coud link me that'd be awesome. Snow in Cham in March should be good?
post #4 of 18
You might want to pose this question to all the Euros at www.snowheads.com

Zurich Airport can be a convenient entry point for Alpine skiing. From there you can take a fairly direct train ride (keeping travel cost & time down) to St. Anton, one of the best resorts in the Alps. I think the variation in lodging prices/types is much greater in the Alps than at US ski resorts, but you'll need some inside tips from Euros for specific locations/accommodations.

www.ski-europe.com offers some cheap packages, but dates/places are limited, check here: http://www.ski-europe.com/superski/search.php They are not bad if you're a hesitant first timer to Europe.

Check the articles on European skiing at this link, some contain cost data and travel tips: http://www.dcski.com/faq/view_faq.ph...mode=headlines

Nothing wrong with Cham or Zermatt, however, Italy and to a lesser degree Austria are considered the more affordable places to ski in the Alps.
post #5 of 18
[quote=Jtran10;549824]I priced out Zermatt (although it's said to be expensive) and found a cheap hostel for around 165 dollars for the week, including breakfast. I can purchase "Youth" lift tickets so I save some money there. It looks like 6 days of skiing for about 230 dollars. The train to and from the airport is 45 dolalrs each way. This is a budget I'd be able/willing to go with. Is food really that much of an expense in Zermatt?
quote]

Food was truly horrifyingly expensive Switzerland - and especially in Swiss resorts like Zermatt/Verbier.

Just for a baseline reference. There is a McDonald's in Zermatt - a value meal is $8-9. Have you ever paid over $5 in the US?
A simple cheese pizza and drink is $20 easily.

Be prepared to eat all your meals from the Swiss grocery chain Coop.

Like yourself, I found reasonable lodging and lift tickets. But food was very high.
post #6 of 18
Food was truly horrifyingly expensive Switzerland - and especially in Swiss resorts like Zermatt/Verbier.

Just for a baseline reference. There is a McDonald's in Zermatt - a value meal is $8-9. Have you ever paid over $5 in the US? A simple cheese pizza and drink is $20 easily. Basic cheese and bread fondue $30+.

Be prepared to eat all your meals from the Swiss grocery chain Coop.

Like yourself, I found reasonable lodging and lift tickets. But food was very high. Also, rail tickets are high too - the $90 roundtrip transfer is a great value.
post #7 of 18
[quote=chrisc;550588]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jtran10 View Post
I priced out Zermatt (although it's said to be expensive) and found a cheap hostel for around 165 dollars for the week, including breakfast. I can purchase "Youth" lift tickets so I save some money there. It looks like 6 days of skiing for about 230 dollars. The train to and from the airport is 45 dolalrs each way. This is a budget I'd be able/willing to go with. Is food really that much of an expense in Zermatt?
quote]

Food was truly horrifyingly expensive Switzerland - and especially in Swiss resorts like Zermatt/Verbier.

Just for a baseline reference. There is a McDonald's in Zermatt - a value meal is $8-9. Have you ever paid over $5 in the US?
A simple cheese pizza and drink is $20 easily.

Be prepared to eat all your meals from the Swiss grocery chain Coop.

Like yourself, I found reasonable lodging and lift tickets. But food was very high.
This is what we found, too.

We actually had sushi in Zermatt on our last night there -- we needed to clean out our guts with something besides cheese, fried potatoes, and meat -- it was verrrrry good, but I still can't believe how expensive it was. Holy cow.

I will say that pretty much everything we ate in Switzerland was delicious. And that includes our many trips to the Coop.
post #8 of 18
I'd second Chamonix over Zermatt - it really is a very expensive place to eat.
Another good cheap place in Chamonix is the Vagabond
http://www.gitevagabond.com/
- not plushy as you'd expect but nice bar and good atmosphere.

Also you can go on a day trip from chamonix through the mont blanc tunnel and have a day in Italy, skiing in Courmayeur, which is fun
post #9 of 18
Italy (eg Cortina) seems to be the choice of many budget skiiers. If you are brave, some of the lesser-known places are still cheap too although resort infrastructure sometimes reflects that. places like Bulgaria, Czech republic, Poland etc.
Snowheads (mentioned above) is Europe-based and there'll be more info available on that forum.
post #10 of 18
I do not think you will eat out in the evening cheap in European ski resorts. You will save on lift passes though and tuition is cheaper if you need that.

You can minimise costs by self-catering in an apartment or by half board hotel options. Austria is cheaper than Switzerland or France. Lunch on the mountain is cheap in Austria too and more enjoyable than a US cafeteria in my opinion. Italy can be cheaper but Cortina cultivates a more upmarket image like Madonna di Campiglio.

Andorra is also good value. Bulgaria and Roumania are a bit grim and limited. I like Poland but skiing would be limited as would Czech Republic but if you just want sightseeing with a bit of skiing it could work. Slovenia is also cheap and not as grim as Bulgaria Roumania.
post #11 of 18
I do also think that if you're going to come all the way over here, it might as well be to somewhere special. Zermatt is really beautiful, like a chocolate box, and Chamonix feels much more like a proper French town than most resorts - again, the scenery is spectacularly dramatic. Tignes is another possibility, the Espace Killy is an incredible place, though Tignes itself is not beautiful at all..

What are the particular reasons you want to go to Europe - and where have you been before?
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by firebug View Post
What are the particular reasons you want to go to Europe - and where have you been before?
I want to ski something that is a totally different experience from anything in the states. I've been to Europe in the summer twice (have been to the Austrian alps) and it's really an amazing place. Skiing the alps is something that has always awed me, thinking about the sheer size, the tradition, etc...

I've skiied most of the Vermont resorts, and have been out west to the Summit Couny resorts numerous times. I'll be going to Jackson Hole and Utah in January.
post #13 of 18
I,ve worked in Switzerland for a considerable time.
Just a note on Swiss Prices. Generally the City's (Zurich,Geneva,Lucern) are much more expensive than the actual Ski resorts (for food & drink). However prices in ski resorts are on par with other resorts in around the Alps.
In Austria you can find B&B for as little as €20 per night.
post #14 of 18
well in that case I'd probably go for Chamonix, but then I really do love it so I would say that! Close to Geneva, loads of history, lovely old town, the birthplace of modern mountaineering and the 17km Vallee Blanche off-piste run from the highest cable car in europe - and the views from the top of that are indescribable. And it can be done on the cheap, definitely.

Zermatt is also old, beautiful and quintessentially Swiss, but tough to do on the cheap. But I've never been to the Austrian alps, and lots of people say that they are the most beautiful villages. Or Italy - the Milky Way resorts like Sauze d'Oulx are gorgeous, and the foods excellent and cheaper than France or Swizerland.
post #15 of 18
I also just found out that the Chamonix lift passes are to be discounted by a massive 30% for those booking before 15th November 2006.

Article here
http://pistehors.com/news/ski/commen...rands-montets/

The Compagnie du Mont Blanc, who operate the lifts, are about to launch a new website with more information, but meanwhile you can get the details here in French - use google to translate if you need to

http://www.compagniedumontblanc.fr/fr/index.html

hope this is helpful
post #16 of 18
To go cheap:

#1
Stay out of the reputated resorts and/or plan on commuting each day by bus. Youth hostels and small pensions down the valleys still offer rooms for € 12-25 a night.

#2
Favor France and Italy over Switzerland and Austria since added costs for food, beverages ect. are more reasonable there. Especially Austria is way more overpriced than many folks are aware of and often don't provide adequate value for the buck. OTOH it's a bit easier to get along with mere English there.
post #17 of 18
Engelberg is a gem. Reliable snow,huge vert, interesting off-piste,great scenery,easy access by train from Zurich, and only crowded on the weekend. The Hotel Bellevue Terminus has single rooms with bath down the hall for around 20 euro,which are also rented longterm for much less.
There is a decent apres scene. Food is nowhere near as expensive as other swiss resorts.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski View Post
I know where you can get accom in argentiere for about 13.50euro or so a night
Could we know which place is this?

Saludos
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