Careful choice of destination is one key way to keep costs down. If you are a family of beginners, or early intermediates, then eastern Europe – specifically Bulgaria or Romania – is well worth considering.
Booking companies like Inghams can help you experience the country’s very decent skiing at a fraction of the price you’d pay in the major destinations of France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. All-inclusive is the way to go here. It’s the hyphenated buzzword of the moment in the package-holiday business.
If you want to save money in the mainstream European ski countries, you don’t have to stay in a resort. Austrian villages some miles away from fashionable ski resorts often have good quality but very economic accommodation in gasthofs – family-run hotels.
Many insist Borovets and Pamporovo in Bulgaria are two of the best places to learn in Europe. Ski schools are well organised, with good and very keen English-speaking instructors, and equipment is of good quality.
In Poiana Brasov, up the mountain above the not unattractive city of Brasov, Romania, you also have the opportunity to visit the nearby castle of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Suitably bloodthirsty and a treat for the children.
Moving west to Andorra, tucked between France and Spain, and further great deals are to be found. Andorra used to be a bargain-basement ski destination, but it has made determined and not altogether well-thought-out efforts in recent years to move upmarket.
Arinsal has some high-altitude skiing and virtually guaranteed snow, but also has excellent beginners’ areas and plenty of British, or English-speaking, instructors
The village of Kolsass-Weer, near Innsbruck, has no skiing to speak of, but resorts such as Mayrhofen, Kitzbühel, Soll and Alpbach are all within easy striking distance, as well as many others only 20 minutes or so away around Innsbruck.
Here are some of our favourite holiday packages:
Inghams Chalet Hotel Palarine - £2,214 for a family of four for a week including lift passes, ski and boot hire, ski lessons, half-board accomodation, flights, transfers and lounch vouchers for a mountain restaurant.
Crystal Ski - £1,666 for a family of four for a week, including flights, transfers and half-board accommodation.
Banderitsa Hotel - £1,361.50 for a family of four for a week, including flights, transfers and half-board accommodation.
Castle Apartments - £1,024.99, for a family of four for a week, including flights from Gatwick and transfers.
Hotel Breza - £1,432.60, for a family of four, including flights, transfers and half-board accommodation.
Hotel Bradul - £1,819.80 for a family of four, in two twin rooms, for a week including flights and transfers and half-board accommodation.
Hotel Rettenberg - £1,300 for a family of four, half-board for seven days.
Gasthof Steixner - £700 for a family of four, half-board for seven days.