The 2013-14 ski season may soon be over, but it’s already time to start planning for the next one: especially if you’ve got your eye on a trip during the school holidays.
This year, new government regulations about term-time trips focused demand more heavily than ever on the school holidays, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. Some travel companies are already seeing a 20% increase in early bookings on last year – and as a result we can expect the most popular chalet-hotels (i.e. those with pools) to sell out quickly. Last year, for example, Esprit’s chalet-hotel Des Deux Domaines in Belle Plagne was fully booked by for February half-term 2014 by the middle of April. So if you want the best choice of family-friendly resorts and properties, act now – especially if you can get any kind of discount, or if you can pick up a 2015 holiday at 2014 prices. (Many tour operators hold their prices until the publication of their main brochure in late spring or summer.)
Two other categories of skiers need to think about booking early. First are big groups, who need to snag lots of rooms in one chalet, chalet-hotel or apartment block before properties start filling up. Second are transatlantic skiers. The price of scheduled flights goes up, not down, as the departure date approaches, so it’s good to get them booked up early. Many resorts across The Pond offer significant early-booking deals on accommodation and lift passes too. Traditionally, the end of August is the cut-off point for the best of these.
There’s one final, utterly emotional reason to book now. With a ski holiday in the bag now, you’ll have almost a whole year to look forward to your next taste of snow. It’s not the most rational of incentives – but there’s no denying the power of happy anticipation once the date’s crossed off in the diary.
Here’s a selection of the most eye-catching early-booking offers currently available from 25 different travel companies:
Whistler with Ski Independence
There’s 50% off bookings at the Westin in Whistler, as well as early bird savings on flights with Air Canada. Eight nights in a Deluxe Studio Suite travelling out on December 2 including flights and transfers is now on offer from £1,133pp, which is a saving of £367pp. Further details are available from Ski Independence.
Val d’Isere with Le Ski
Chalet Bellevarde in Val d’Isere is a spacious chalet sleeping up to 14 people with a hot tub and en suite bathrooms. Book by end of July 2014 for the Christmas week or January and you’ll receive free Espace Killy lift passes for the whole group. Prices with the free lift pass are from £859pp for a week, including flights and transfers. To qualify, you need to book and pay your deposit of £195pp by end of July 2014 and the balance by October 1, 2014. More information from Le Ski.
From Verbier to Sauze d’Oulx with Inghams
Four-star Chalet-hotel de Verbier is in the centre of the lively resort of Verbier and is now available for £474pp (was £524pp) for dates from December 4. The price includes flights, transfers and half-board accommodation. In equally lively Sauze d’Oulx, the simple three-star Hotel Hermitage is in an enviable ski-in ski-out position. A week here will now cost from £704pp including flights, transfers, half-board including wine with dinner, equipment rental, lift pass and beginner lessons. More offers are also available in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Soll. All of these deals are with Inghams.
From St Anton to Morzine with VIP Ski
£100pp discounts are available on early bookings made before the end of October 2014 for the weeks starting January 4, 11, 18 and 25; February 1; and March 15. The offer is available on any of VIP’s chalets and for Hotel Montjola in St Anton. Prices start from £789pp after the £100pp discount is applied, based on seven nights at Chalet Berger in Morzine. Price includes chalet board accommodation, return flights from Gatwick and resort transfers. More information from VIP Ski.
From Courchevel to St Anton with Powder White
The operator is offering 10% off chalet bookings for next season (excluding Christmas, New Year and half term) in five different resorts. Sample prices include seven nights at Chalet Hermine (sleeps 12) in Courchevel 1850 for £629.10pp for the weeks commencing January 6 and April 11 – a saving of £69pp. Alternatively, seven nights at Chalet Nina in St Anton (sleeps eight) is available for £494.10pp chalet board for the week commencing December 14 – a saving of £54.90pp. There’s also 10% off in Val d’Isere, Verbier and Meribel. Details from Powder White.
Tignes with Ski Total
Chalet Alaska is on the mountainside above Tignes-Le-Lac and sleeps up to 26 people. It now costs £669pp for the week commencing January 11, with a buy-one-get-one-half-price lift pass, £70 cash-back, two-for-one equipment hire, and a £10 insurance discount. The price includes chalet half-board, Southampton flights, and resort transfers. More information is available from Ski Total.
Scandinavia with Ski Safari
Prices in many Scandinavian resorts have been frozen at 2013-14 rates for next season. Included is the four-star Tott Hotel in Are, Sweden with modern design throughout, as well as a ski-in, ski-out position. Prices here start at £675pp for a week B&B based on four sharing (two adults and two children) a Mini Suite, return flights and resort transfers departing December 20. Other early booking offers include Aspen, Whistler and Vail. More details from Ski Safari.
Courchevel, St Anton and Zermatt with Supertravel
There’s £100pp off the brochure price in St Anton, Zermatt and Courchevel on selected dates, provided you book by October 1, 2014. In Zermatt, for example, the new price is now from £1,199pp for a week half board. Bookings and further information are available from Supertravel.
From La Tania to La Plagne with Alpine Elements
For the week commencing December 14, it now costs £599pp at both Motel Montana in La Tania and Chalet Gemaux in Plagne 1800. This price includes a free lift pass, making it £168pp cheaper than usual in La Tania and £157pp cheaper in La Plagne. As well as these offers, Chalet Haute Neige in Arc 2000 is now available at £595pp on January 11 – including a half price lift pass, so that’s £42 cheaper than the normal price. Chalet Cretet in Meribel is now £599pp on the week starting December 14, making it £196pp cheaper than usual. Details from Alpine Elements.
Tignes with PowderBeds
There’s 10% off many of the tour operator’s holidays (excluding December 27 week, but including half term) if you book by the end of October 2014. For example, staying B&B in a Traditional Family Suite at the smart Suites du Nevada in Tignes (sleeps four people) is now £7,815 (was £8,684) over half term – arriving on February 14 for seven nights. More details from PowderBeds.
Les Arcs apartment for £1,895 with Erna Low
Spend a week in a comfortable three-bedrooom mezzanine apartment for eight to ten people in Arc 1950 at £1,895 for the weeks of January 10, 17, 24 and 31; March 21; April 4. The price is for accommodation only. More details from Erna Low.
Gressoney with Esprit Ski
Offers for next winter include free holidays for children, a 10% loyalty bonus, up to £140 cash-back per family, and £50 off Snow Club bookings in several resorts on selected dates. For example, Chalet Hotel Valverde in Gressoney is now £659pp (saving £40 cash-back) departing December 13, with a free child place (saves £279.60), free kids equipment hire (saves £69), free lift pass for under eights (saves £89) and free insurance (saves £15). So altogether, with flights from Gatwick to Turin, resort transfers, a week’s catered chalet board, free wifi, Espace Killy lift pass, ski and boot hire, and insurance – the price for a family of four (two adults and two children aged two to four years) comes to £1,597.60 instead of £2,303.20 – a saving of £705.70. More details from Esprit Ski.
Puy St Vincent with Snowbizz
Book before the end of May 2014 and you’ll receive free child places (except over New Year and half term), free afternoon creche, and free evening kids clubs. All ski packs are held at 2014 prices. Prices are from £495 per adult self-catered for a week in purpose-built Puy St Vincent or £635 per adult with evening meals at La Chaumiere restaurant. This includes flights and transfers from Gatwick, Stansted or Manchester, accommodation in a two-bedroom apartment at the Sun Vallee Residence. Information from Snowbizz.
Champoluc with Ski2
The operator is currently offering this year’s prices for next winter (book before June 30) in Champoluc, and free childcare between January 5 and 18 (normally £45 per day). The Ski 2 Penguin Club is the operator’s own British-staffed nursery, exclusive to guests, with its own mini ski slope offering children from three years of age the chance to learn under the watchful eye of trained staff. Visit Ski2 for more details.
Zell am See with Mark Warner
There’s up to £200pp off on early booking offers at all of Mark Warner’s ski destinations, with prices from £471pp for a week. There are also free lift passes, child places, childcare and children’s ski hire. Mark Warner is introducing a new resort for the 2014-15 season: Zell am See, with apartments in a four-storey renovated villa and in two modern buildings set over three floors. The accommodation is 150m from the City Express gondola and will have a restaurant, bar, spa and childcare. Further details from Mark Warner.
More Early Bird Deals
Brides-les-Bains and Morzine with Skiweekends
Pay £100 now to hold you flight package, then when full prices are available you can confirm your booking and receive a full refund. Lead-in prices for short breaks to Morzine and to Brides-les-Bains below Meribel will be under £300pp in catered chalets, giving you up to three and a half days on the slopes. Coach prices will now work like easyJet flights, with the first seats the cheapest then as the coach seats fill the prices will go up too. The lead-in price will be £200pp for a weekend or a week. Details from Skiweekends.
From Whistler to Zermatt with Scott Dunn
Scott Dunn is currently offering early booking discounts on weekly stays, with 10-20% off chalet holidays. Chalet Chamois is a four-bedroom chalet apartment near the Matterhorn Express lift in Zermatt, and is now £1,450pp (was £1,570pp) for the week starting January 18 including flights, transfers, and chalet half-board. Some hotels have early booking offers too, such as 40% off staying at the Four Seasons in Whistler (book by August 31, 2014). Details from Scott Dunn.
Alps and Pyrenees with Lagrange
Lagrange is taking pre-registrations on a first-come, first-served basis (first refusal when bookings open, and no deposit required). For the 2014-15 season, early booking discounts of up to 30% can be expected. Further details from Lagrange.
French Alps and Pyrenees with Peak Retreats
Advance registration has now opened for bookings (especially for February half-term), requiring a deposit of £100 for the chosen accommodation. This is fully refundable if you change your mind. When 2014-15 prices are released, any new early bird offers will be made available to the advanced bookings – so it’s a way to save money and more importantly reserve your top choice apartment. For details visit Peak Retreats.
Meanwhile, if you can’t wait until next winter, why not consider some summer skiing?