We love small airports. They’re friendlier, quicker and involve a lot less queueing. So we were delighted to hear that Southampton Airport has just turned into one of the UK’s regional skier magnets. This winter, both powdair and easyJet are launching flights to the Alps from there, bringing the total number of snow-friendly airlines or operators serving the airport to eight. That’s great news for anyone living almost anywhere south of the Thames.
Angus McIntyre is even happier than we are. He’s Head of Commercial at the airport, and is himself a passionate skier. Angus started skiing in his late 20s, has two children and his favourite ski area is the Zillertal in Austria.
“I have always enjoyed the great outdoors and I am at my happiest when I am in the mountains, away from the hubbub of modern life, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The added bonus is that all my family ski, including our young twins who started learning at three”.
I’ve always enjoyed the great outdoors and I’m at my happiest when I am in the mountains, away from the hubbub of modern life, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
I was taught by my brother-in-law who, fortunately for me, was a ski instructor in the army. Once I had learned how to stop properly, the rest became a great deal less stressful and tiring!
The added bonus is that all my family ski, including our young twins who started learning at three – you are genuinely never too young. Annoyingly, it will only be another few years and they will be significantly better than both myself and my wife.
Skiing is a truly great escape, surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery on the planet, fresh air, good food and drink, and friends and family. What’s not to like?”
Southampton Airport is a quieter alternative to Gatwick and highly convenient, not just for people living in our immediate catchment area in the Southern Counties, but also for Londoners, as well as people travelling from further afield.
By road, it’s just off junction 5 of the M27, by the junction with the M3. By rail, the journey takes 68 minutes from Waterloo to Southampton Airport Parkway Rail Station – and it’s only a further 99 steps from platform to check-in.
easyJet starts with flights from Southampton Airport to Geneva on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. New kid on the block from December 15, 2017 is powdair, with four flights a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) to Sion in Switzerland.
They join Southampton veteran Flybe (Chambery, Geneva, Lyon) on Saturday and Sunday, as well as bmi (Munich) daily. Then there are weekly Saturday or Sunday charters throughout the season operated by Ski Total, Inghams, Esprit Ski (Chambery and Geneva) along with Crystal (Chambery). Southampton Airport Direct Travel is the airport’s own online travel agency.
Cheap parking and shorter security queues
Parking costs from £4.50 per day, including a five-minute free shuttle bus to the terminal for long stay passengers. For short stay you just walk across the road to the terminal. For check-in there’s never more than a short queue, and security average wait time is less than five minutes.
The main terminal building is easy to navigate, and there’s a pleasant café/bar with plenty of seating.
The priority lounge offers unlimited snacks and drinks can be booked in advance. The cost per person is £17.50 on weekdays and £12.50 at weekends.
6 ski destinations from Southampton Airport
Together with Welove2ski, I have put together a list of suggested resorts you can go to using Southampton Airport. Prices below are per person for one week unless stated otherwise.
Chamonix is within easy reach of two airports (Chambery 90 minutes, Geneva 75 minutes), and has some seriously steep and deep skiing for experts. Outlying Les Houches has the easier and more family-orientated slopes, if that’s what you are looking for.
Rockypop Hotel lies between Chamonix and Les Houches, so you get the best of both worlds by staying here. The fun and extremely relaxed hotel provides a Rocky Shuttle bus to the Brevent, Flégère, Grands Montets and Le Tour ski areas four times a day. Double rooms from 650€ per week. Return Southampton-Geneva flights from £47 with easyJet.
Val d’Isere is 90 minutes from Chambery and 2½ hours’ drive from Geneva. The long season lasts from the final week of November until the start of May. Its altitude and microclimate ensure guaranteed high quality snow throughout – and this is backed up by the largest artificial snowmaking facility in Europe. The 300km ski area that it shares with Tignes is suitable for all levels.
Saas Fee is a charming village of ancient blackened wood chalets – it looks a bit like a smaller version of Zermatt. This is also one of the most snow-sure resorts in the Alps, with a limited intermediate ski area and a rather surprising 1700m descent from the 3500m Allalin funicular station all the way back down into town.
Stay in Hotel Allalin, which is set in quiet location above the centre of Saas Fee, and has been run by the Zurbriggen family since 1928. The hotel is known for its excellent cuisine. Sion airport is a short 71 minutes away. Ski Independence will tailor-make packages for you from £978 B&B including return easyJet flights from Southampton-Geneva with one checked bag, and rail transfers.
Cervinia is the ultimate high-altitude intermediate resort with reasonable prices, a snow great record, long runs – and a link across the Klein Matterhorn to Zermatt in Switzerland. It’s a longer 2 hours 53 minutes’ drive from Geneva airport but the skiing is great for beginners as well, with wide nursery slopes in the village.
Hidden in the trees just above the resort centre is St Hubertus Resort, containing spacious and eco-friendly apartments that feature rough wooden beams, stone fireplaces, designer furniture, wood and stone floors. From £2,940 for two adults room-only in a Prestige apartment, with Erna Low. Return Southampton-Milan flights from £286 with Flybe.
The scenery around Crans Montana and down to the Rhone Valley is fabulous and the resort is only 26km and 37 minutes’ drive from Sion airport. It is therefore a good bet for weekenders, as well as for families with young children who are not keen on long transfer times.
Stay at LeCrans Hotel & Spa, which is small with just 15 suites, bedrooms, and apartments – each one decorated in a completely different style. The bathrooms all have with plasma screen TVs. The hotel houses a natural water fountain, five restaurants and bars, and a lovely spa. From 445chf (about £400) per room per night B&B. Return Southampton-Sion flights from £295 with powdair.
Without doubt the most beautiful ski town in the Alps, medieval Kitzbuhel has a cobbled pedestrian high street flanked by frescoed pastel-painted buildings. These in turn house high-end hotels and boutiques, together with some memorable restaurants both on and off the slopes. The skiing suits all standards – from long family-friendly slopes to the famous Streif downhill course on the Hahnenkamm, as well as challenging off-piste. Transfer time from Munich Airport is 2 hours 19 minutes.
Stay from 134€ (about £118) per night B&B at five-star Hotel Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa, which has an indoor pool and spa, and a hotel bus to the lifts. Return Southampton-Munich flights from £152 with bmi .
Tailor-make your own. It’s simple to find an apartment or hotel room – as we have for Kitzbuhel and Crans Montana above – or you can even find a whole chalet online in a resort like Verbier or in the 3 Valleys and then book your flights and transfers separately. This offers more flexibility with dates and lengths of stay. However, without the backup of a tour operator, you need to bear in mind that you are on your own if anything goes wrong.