Planning a holiday sometimes feels like a chore itself worthy of a holiday, and a ski holiday may, for some, feel like too much of a logistical challenge to overcome. Fear not, in this write-up it has been broken down into logical segments. How to plan a ski holiday is often a hotly contested subject, as everyone has their own organisational preferences. Here, we’ve broken it down to the bare bones to help you get off to a strong start.
FINDING THE RIGHT SKI RESORT
First off, you want to figure out which ski destination suits your holiday type best. Often, when you plan a ski holiday, picking a resort is the hardest part. Are you up for hard, challenging ski terrain or are mellow slopes your thing? Do you prefer a picturesque village or is a modern slope-side ski in / ski out apartment complex more practical? Is it important that the resort is child-friendly?
Many of these ski resort attributes are combinable, but sometimes you simply have to choose one or the other.
There are over 1100 ski resorts (counting all small towns and big resorts) in the mountain range known as “The Alps” so you have an abundance of choices. The mountain range stretches from the southern part of France, through Switzerland, south of Germany, north of Italy, west / south of Austria and even partly into Slovenia.
A useful resource to narrow things down is a website called skiresort.info. It contains a complete collection of all the ski resorts worldwide and you can search for resorts based on your preferences. But if you know you definitely want lessons with ES, get the low-down on our four resorts here.
Use the ski resort’s official website or your preferred source of accommodation reservations. You will find anything from two-star private bed & breakfasts to the most luxurious hotel or chalet you can imagine. Study the map of the resort to understand the location in relation to the ski lifts or other significant places. Some resorts have organised complimentary shuttle busses to ease getting to and from the ski lifts.
Your choice of accommodation may also have some sort of ski and ski boot storage for you to use, typically a heated room in the basement. Others will provide storage at the bottom of the ski lifts.
WHERE TO FLY?
Once you’ve found your ski resort it’s time to look into flight arrangements. Depending on your departure destination and choice of resort you will typically fly into one of the following airports:
France: Geneva or Grenoble
Italy: Torino or Geneva
In addition, a few airlines operate on a limited flight frequency to some of the smaller airports closer to the resorts (i.e. Chambery or Sion) during high season. If their schedule fits your travel dates they’re definitely worth checking out.
As you know by now, the Alps is a rather big area so getting from the airport to resort may take some time. Travel times generally range from one to four hours, depending on your choice of transport.
Four main types of transport are usually available:
SHARED TRANSPORT (minibus- to coach-sized depending on demand)
Shared transport is most often an affordable solution. You can expect a little waiting whilst they gather up all arriving clients form different flights, but they are good at coordinating to avoid too much waiting.
Private transport is of course ‘all for you’ and is a smooth and effective way to travel. It may sound expensive, but if you are a small group of three to eight people it’s worth comparing prices and sharing the cost.
If you are staying at the same resort all through your holiday, a rented car tends to be an unnecessary, expensive solution. Especially since some resorts, like Zermatt, are car-free.
These are the four ‘main’ types of transport. On top of that you can of course rent a helicopter at the airport and have it fly you to resort…!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Be aware of extra cost for bringing ski bags or excess luggage. Low-cost airlines are really stringent on weight limits, whilst others offer free ski carriage.
- If you are happy with your ski boots, bring them with you, but consider renting skis in resort. You will have the benefit of a great selection, plus you can try various models depending on the snow conditions.
- Bring some cash in local currency! There are still quite a lot of places on the mountain that only accept cash payment. There are of course plenty of ATMs, but it can be one of those things easily forgotten the morning before skiing.
- Look for savings when purchasing ski passes online in advance.
- Have a two euro coin handy at the airport for luggage trolleys.
- Make a packing list of all the things you think you will need. Then leave 40% of it at home!
- Use a duffel bag (or similar) when travelling. It is a lot smoother to pack your gear and also easy storable in a small hotel room.
- Book ski lessons. Ski instructors are, in addition to their profession, also highly knowledgeable about the resort in general.