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Cost-conscious resort for advanced skiers

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I never considered going to Europe to ski, but a friend of mine pointed me to some really good deals in France (Val Thorens) and it seems that going to Europe from East Coast US may be comparable in costs to going to Jackson Hole or Vail. What would be a good place to go to? Priorities are:

1. Big mountain - longer, steeper runs, some ungroomed powder
2. Good chances for good snow
3. Easy transfer - not to add many more flights or on top of crossing the Atlantic and to save time
4. Price (the lower the better, just in case :-))

The group will be 2 advanced-expert and two aspiring intermediate skiers. Do not care for nightlife, but good food and scenery would be a welcome plus. So where would you go with these priorities? Or does Europe even make sense? Expected timing - late February - early March.

Thanks!
post #2 of 10

Some first thoughts

This sounds like a good idea to me. Here are some reactions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by maxl View Post
I never considered going to Europe to ski, but a friend of mine pointed me to some really good deals in France (Val Thorens)

Val Thorens might be a good choice for you. The Three Valleys is a huge area and meets your criteria. Within the Three Valleys, different resorts are at different prices. VT is the highest but it's a French concrete construction without the character and charm of Courchevel (or even Meribel). But you ski the same snow. Another possibility is Les Menuires ("Les Manures" to the Brits ). It's much lower, but you can get into the area pretty quickly, and it's also cheaper.

and it seems that going to Europe from East Coast US may be comparable in costs to going to Jackson Hole or Vail.

That sounds plausible, although who knows what the dollar-euro rate will be? Certainly, there are pretty competitive NY-Geneva flights.

What would be a good place to go to? Priorities are:

It sounds like any of the following would be fine for you: Three Valleys, Espace Killy, Verbier, St Anton, Chamonix, possibly Courmayeur. They all meet 1. and 2. without question (be careful about skiing out of bounds without a guide, though).

The idea of going to one of the less expensive villages in a big area is a very good one. I believe that WTFH has a place in Tignes he likes that might fit that bill. Or there may simply be some great last-minute deals.

You can eat very well indeed in any of those places (I have never been to Verbier, but my friends tell me that this is true there too). I haven't included Zermatt since no one has ever told me that they had a cheap holiday there.

Transfers will probably be from Geneva by bus or car hire (Zurich or Munich for STANTON?). Car hire is expensive in Europe. Transfer time between two and four hours.

If I were doing this, I might be tempted to fly to London, stay overnight in an airport hotel, and buy a last-minute package with a British tour operator, who will include flights from Gatwick and bus transfer in the price. That could be a good way to value and less stressful (a decent night's sleep as part of the travel). Otherwise, buying the flights to Geneva and the accommodation and transfers separately.

A final thought. Prices vary drastically from week to week. February has "ski holidays"/half-term and prices go up. Worth checking and adjusting if you have some flexibility.

1. Big mountain - longer, steeper runs, some ungroomed powder
2. Good chances for good snow
3. Easy transfer - not to add many more flights or on top of crossing the Atlantic and to save time
4. Price (the lower the better, just in case :-))

The group will be 2 advanced-expert and two aspiring intermediate skiers. Do not care for nightlife, but good food and scenery would be a welcome plus. So where would you go with these priorities? Or does Europe even make sense? Expected timing - late February - early March.

Thanks!
post #3 of 10
Consider Engelberg, CH.

1. Big mountain - longer, steeper runs, some ungroomed powder
Check. Lots of obvious stuff from the lifts, lots of less obvious stuff you'd want a guide for. Engelberg is famous for this.

2. Good chances for good snow
Obviously no guarentees with the weather, but it has a good record.

3. Easy transfer - not to add many more flights or on top of crossing the Atlantic and to save time
Easy train connection from the Zurich airport straight to the resort.

4. Price (the lower the better, just in case :-))
Hotel Bellevue, across from the train station in the center of town. About €50 per night for a double, and the best bar in town (great Happy Hour) is on the ground floor. Nearly 100% of your fellow guests will be Swedish.
post #4 of 10
Val Thorens is anything else than a cost conscious resort, just so you know.

Look for a cheap Chamonix accommodation (f.i. Hotel Richemont o.e.) and take the shuttlebus from/to Geneva airport (2 hrs). Several areas accessible close by, biggest vertical.

Or stay at Bourg St. Maurice below Paradiski. Stay cheap in the valley and take the tram up to the resort each morning. St. Foie Tarentaise is just round the corner. Hitchhike up to Val d'Isere.

Or fly into Lyon and transfer to La Grave or Serre Che. Besides these two also ski Alp d'Huez, Les Deux Alpes, Montgenevre, Vars, Puy St. Vincent ect. and experience France at it's best.

Thing is, if you are on a budget you need to stay off the beaten path since otherwise the costs for food/beverages 'n stuff will be off da hook.
post #5 of 10
I agree that Chamonix can be done on a budget. We stayed in a massive double room in Les Houches (next village down the valley, easily connected by ski buses) over New Years last year for €55 per night.

To be honest, it is not that hard to ski cheaply in Europe if you are disciplined. I've found lift tickets and accommodation to be considerably cheaper than N. America, and those are your fixed costs. It's the food and drink that tends to be more expensive, but those are costs that you can adjust.

I'd say go for it. First determine which airport you can most easily/cheaply fly in to and then choose your resort. There will be resorts that fit your criteria accessible from all the alpine airports.
post #6 of 10
To be honest you can do any of the big resorts on a budget if you stay in a small apartment and self cater. The more you spend the better your accommodation and the closer you will be to the pistes. For example you can easily find cheap apartments in Val Thorens - just look on their website www.valthorens.com

I would definitely do this over staying Brides Les Bains or St Martin de Belleville and and having a long hike each day to get to the decent skiing.

Also for food if you eat on the mountain and in restaurants it will quickly add up. Self cater and you can eat very cheaply.

Personally I would pick a top area eg Espace Killy or 3 Valleys, look for budget accommodation near the slopes and save your money by self catering.

The Chamonix Valley is another great ski area but much less convenient than the ski areas above.
post #7 of 10
Here's a link with an example of price and this includes flights fom the UK.

http://www.lastminute.com/site/trave..._val_thor ens
post #8 of 10
And this one is a luxury chalet complex in Val Thorens (I've stayed next door) that you can ski back to the door, fully catered for GBP369 including flights from London. That is sensational value!

http://www.skiworld.ltd.uk/ski/chale...e-de-Neige/110
post #9 of 10
Check the deals on crystal, skiworld and inghams for more last minute deals. When you find something you like, call them and ask them what price they will give you if you don't need flights.
post #10 of 10
Just saw this thread.

Some suggestions...
I stay in a hotel in Tignes Les Boisses - it's virtually ski in/ski out (you have to walk across one road to ski in, and about 50 yards down the road to ski out). It's called Chalet Melezes, has about 30 rooms and does great food. Should be around $50 per person per night (including breakfast & dinner)

But, just did a bit of digging, and I think I may have a bargain for you...
http://www.oakhall.co.uk/pages/winte...rtseasonid=186
If you are strongly "anti-Christian", then it may not be for you, as it's run by a church. Don't panic, they don't force you to go to meetings every day.
Now that I've got the one possible downside out of it, the chalet is in Lauterbrunnen, which is in the valley between Wengen and Murren. So, you can ski under the Eiger and Jungfrau, or take a blast down the Lauberhorn one day, and the next day go up to the Piz Gloria and enjoy dinner at the James Bond restaurant from OHMSS. Stunning views, great skiing for all levels.
And they are only charging around £200 (about $280) for a week!
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