One of the big problems associated with organising a skiing holiday is that there are so many factors involved in the overall cost of going on one, that before you know what's hit you the total cost can have rocketed way up above what you'd originally budgeted.
A skiing holiday is not like a beach holiday where you can just pay for the flight and the hotel and that's it - just plonk yourself on the beach or by the pool for a week or two, apply some factor 40, eat and drink and that's it - you're basically sorted.
With skiing you've got to take into account jackets, salopettes, gloves, helmets, thick socks, thin socks, layers, more layers, lift passes, equipment hire, lesson tuition, even more layers, etc, etc.
And it can all add up.
...Boy, can it add up.
But don't despair, there are ways and means to make your annual ski holidays cost less as SnowKings looks at the factors that combine to increase the price and determine why certain holidays are more expensive than others, and what you can do to help keep the costs down.
Apart from the obvious cost differences such as choosing between a glittering 5 star hotel in St Moritz and a 2 star apartment in Bulgaria, the biggest factor is going to be what dates you book your ski or snowboarding holiday. As with most holidays, demand dictates the cost, so if you can get a week off in early January or late March then you're going to be paying a lot less than those poor souls who are limited to February half-term week because they can't get the kids out of school. More the flexible you are with your dates then the less of a factor holiday dates will be. So when are the expensive peak periods ? Well, in date order, Christmas, New Year, February Half-Term and early March. Easter is a weird one because it can fall at such dramatically different times, it might be in March and become an expensive week or it might be in April when most of the resorts have shut. And the cheaper holiday dates ? Pre-Christmas is usually good because the demand is limited as most people are... (a) skint (b) more concerned with preparations for the big day than heading off for a week on the slopes. Similarly, post New Year in early January is a cheaper period because many people are feeling the new year pinch - paying for their Christmas excesses and recovering from their New Year hangovers. Finally, both early season and late season dates can mean cheap holidays, purely because the demand is not as high. And why is the demand not as high ? Because there's no guarantee that the skiing and snowboarding conditions will be as good as people want them to be.
Anyone who's spent night after night trawling through ski holiday brochures or visiting site after site on the internet ill know that there are big differences in costs between different ski holiday companies. And the range of options is just phenomenal, sometimes too much, which is why it's a big advantage if you know where you want to go to. If you can limit your choice to one resort then you can spend more time comparing prices with more companies. It's definitely worth that extra time to get as many prices as you can. Remember to look out for the extras that some companies offer - free child places, equipment hire deals, offers on lessons and sometimes even lift passes. Some companies, especially the smaller independent ones, form good links with local resort companies, such as ski schools and ski shops, and such deals can save you more money than the differences in the cost of the flight and accommodation. Now if you've got a good knowledge of the resort you're heading for - maybe you've been before or have been given some reliable information from friends, it can sometimes definitely pay to book the different parts of the holiday yourself rather than getting a package deal. The internet has really opened this up as a great way of saving money on holidays. Booking flights through budget airlines, accommodation through hotel comparison websites or directly with the hotel itself, pre-booking ski hire and lessons directly can all save you money. The only thing you often cant save money one when you do it yourself is the lift pass. However, before you start booking all these things individually remember to total everything up and compare the costs against a package deal, and you need to remember to factor everything in, things like airport transfers and taxes that are often included in the overall price without you really thinking about it. And as we said before package holidays often include good deals on free kid places, equipment hire and lessons.
For instance Slovenia, Bulgaria etc are going to be much cheaper than Switzerland and Austria.
Obviously, if you normally insist on booking 5-star hotels for you and all of your immediate family then you could save some serious pounds by considering dropping down to a four-star, or even joining the rest of us in standard three-star accommodation !
The other thing to consider is the type of accommodation, if you don't need to be waited on hand and foot at a top-notch Alpine hotel but still want things done for you, then going for a chalet can often work out cheaper than a hotel. If it's just a small number of you then remember that you'll be mixing in with other guests at meal times and often in the communal lounge area. To some people, this idea is as bad as it gets, being forced to mingle and make small talk with people they've never met. Vice versa, some people absolutely love it. If you're one of them, then you could save yourself some money in a chalet as opposed to a hotel.
The final option, and possibly the most cost-effective is to look at hiring out your own apartment in the resort of your choice. You can get some really good deals in many resorts, in some really nice locations. Obviously, the smaller the apartment the less the cost will be, so if four of you are prepared to make use of that double sofa-bed that's being advertised in a one bedroom apartment then you're going to save yourself some euros or Swiss Francs. With an apartment you've also got the opportunity to do the ski holiday as self-catering, meaning you can save money on meals by stocking up at the local mini-market and cooking your own food.
Never forget the extras !
One of the things you need to bear in mind is the cost of extras such as lift passes, tuition, ski-hire etc. There's no point in saving a few hundred pounds on your accommodation or flights only to discover that your savings have been wiped out by the cost of the lift passes. Holiday makers with children should pay particular attention to this as many resorts offer special discounts for kids on passes or free ski-hire for the kids when an adult takes out a set of gear.