If ever there was a year to consider taking time out of your busy work schedule and diving full force into the coming ski season…this could be the one.
“But wait…” I hear you cry, “I have a job and a family and responsibilities, I can’t go off and become a ski bum!”
Well, I’ll let you into a little secret: you don’t have to be a ski bum to enjoy a winter in the mountains. Renting a seasonal base in the Alps for the winter is becoming more and more accessible to those of us with work and family commitments that mean we just can’t pack up and live the saisonnaire dream on whim.
Fast and reliable transport links throughout Europe, great WiFi speeds and affordable international mobile communications mean that it is now possible for you to spend more time on the slopes and a little less time in the office.
Here are eight first-rate reasons for taking the plunge and establishing an Alpine base for your family and friends for this coming ski season:
Clock Up Hours On the Hill
We all understand the importance of the mantra ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ when it comes to developing technical ability on the slopes. Clocking up those all-important hours on the hill will turn you into the stylish skier you’ve always wanted to be.
Why not consider building a working relationship with a private guide/instructor and really taking your skiing and mountain knowledge to the next level?
Watch the Weather Forecast
What’s that? There is 40cm of snow due over the weekend and Sunday is looking like it might be the best bluebird powder day of the season? If you already have accommodation waiting for you, all you have to do is book a flight and low-cost shuttle to the resort and you’ll be there within 12 hours – it really is that simple.
Get to Know Your Mountain
Getting to know one ski area well has immeasurable merit for the skier or snowboarder who wants to get serious in the mountains. Whether it’s knowing where to find the best untouched off-piste three days after the last snowfall, or where to escape the madding crowds during February half term. Local knowledge is an infallible asset to any serious skier.
Get to Know Your Town
Visiting a resort for a week barely gives you time to scratch the surface of what is happening in resort. Do you want to know where the best bands play for apres-ski, which restaurant offers the best fondue night, or where the locals drink homemade Schnapps in the early hours?
Renting for the season is the perfect way to get under the skin of a resort and really get to grips with what a mountain community has to offer.
Invite Family and Friends
Being able to take your friends and family away on a magical winter holiday is one of the greatest gifts you can ever offer. Imagine your alpine retreat teeming with all the laughter and merriment of family and friends during the festive period; it really could be the greatest Christmas you, and your family have ever experienced.
Travel On a Day that Suits You
Transfer day often turns out to be stressful nightmare that nobody needs to suffer. You can often feel like you’ve accidently stumbled into a bustling cattle market rather then the relaxing winter holiday you thought you had booked!
If you have rented for the whole season, you can forget about all of that stress. You’ll be free from the shackles of the Saturday booking schedule some tour operators inflict on winter travellers.
You chose which day you want to travel. No longer is it a problem to book
transport between airport and resort. With a little bit of planning and organisation you can be breezing through, say, Geneva airport without six-hour flight delays or three-hour traffic jams at Albertville.
Fly Without Your Ski Gear
Not only is travelling with your ski equipment difficult and tiring, but you now have to expect to pay extortionate prices for the pleasure of doing so. Imagine an alternative reality, one in which all of your gear is waiting for you in the resort, not just your skis, but your boots, your jacket and your helmet, all hung in your boot room, awaiting your arrival. You don’t even need to check any luggage – a small carry-on bag will suffice.
A Chalet Isn’t as Expensive as You Might Think
There are endless options out there for those of you thinking about taking a seasonal let on an alpine property. From studios for two, right up to chalets for 12, there is a property to suit everybody – and here is the clincher – it really can save you money.
For example, this great six-bedroom modern chalet in Chamonix would set you back approximately €7,000 per week during peak weeks (Christmas, New Year, February half term), and if you total up the cost for renting for the whole season you would be spending in the region of €65,000.
Then take a look at this five-bedroom ‘eco chalet’, also in Chamonix, furbished to an incredibly high standard and sleeping a similar number of people to the chalet above. The total price to rent this chalet for the whole season (December to May) would only be €28,500 – less then half the price of a similar property rented on a weekly basis.
Add to this that you could very easily sub-let your chalet for a couple of weeks during the season to friends and acquaintances, and all of a sudden you have a very reasonably-priced luxury Alpine chalet at your disposal for the whole winter season.
Or How About an Apartment?
For something a little less ambitious, how about renting an apartment for the season? A week in, say, Verbier would cost you from around £486 low season to £983 high season for a one-bedroom apartment with living/dining/kitchen, one bathroom and a small terrace. Calculating it by 21 weeks, this works out at £10,206 – IF every week was charged at the low season price. Which it isn’t.
However, renting a one-bedroom mezzanine apartment in Verbier, sleeping two people, with open-plan kitchen/dining/living area and a shower room would cost you 11,500CHF (approx £7,884) for the entire winter, including WiFi – though other bills such as electricity, water and cleaning are extra. As a rough guideline, electricity was around 100CHF per month last season. Another studio we found costs 9,900CHF (approx £6,787) to rent for the whole season, including utility bills.
A Lift Pass is Cheaper Too
This is one of the best reasons for renting a chalet for the whole winter…A season lift pass is surprisingly cheap – less than double the price of a two-week pass. For example, if you buy a season pass in the 3 Valleys you’ll pay €628 for 14 days BUT a whole season pass (21/12/13 to 18/04/14 – 4 months) is just €1,190.
Hopefully this feature has gone some way to demystifying a dream you may have had, but never thought was possible. Renting an apartment or chalet for the whole winter season can not only save you the stress and hassle often associated with skiing holidays, but it can also save you money. Not to mention the fun you can provide for family and friends. So why wait?