Falling prices in resorts across Europe mean families planning a ski holiday can expect their pounds to stretch further than a year ago. The annual Family Ski Resort Report¹ from Post Office Travel Money in partnership with leading tour operator Crystal Ski Holidays reveals that prices are lower this season in two-thirds of the ski resorts surveyed. The biggest fall has been in Switzerland where lower resort costs have combined with a strengthening of the pound against the Swiss franc to make top resort Saas Fee 10 per cent cheaper than last year.
Featuring 16 European resorts recommended as suitable for family skiing, the Post Office Family Ski Resort Report compares the cost of six days’ ski and boot hire, lift passes and ski school together with a typical cost for lunch on the slopes and a range of drinks for two adults and two children.
Although the biggest price falls of between five and 10 per cent were found in Switzerland and France, the Swiss resorts surveyed – Saas Fee (£2,065) and Wengen (£2,298) – were still the most expensive in the report.And, while there were sizeable falls in all three French resorts surveyed – 8.4 per cent in Les Deux Alpes (£1,655), 7.1 per cent in Morzine (£1,474) and 5.6 per cent in Serre Chevalier (£1,652) – only Morzine made it into the top half of the table in seventh place.
The best value available to family skiers is again in Eastern Europe where Bansko in Bulgaria (£1,086) has regained the top spot at the expense of Kranjska Gora (£1,120).The Slovenian resort has dropped to second place after registering a 4.2 per cent price rise. Although prices for ski school in Kranjska Gora have fallen by almost nine per cent, the increased cost of lift passes and equipment hire has made the resort more expensive for families than a year ago.
By contrast, prices in Bansko are down over six per cent on last season’s levels – mostly because of more reasonably priced ski tuition – and the cost of skiing in the Bulgarian resort is under half that in Wengen.
The Italian resort of Bardonecchia, new to this year’s survey, emerges as best value in Western
Europe and boasts the cheapest family ski pass (£392) of the 16 resorts.At £1,171 for the barometer basket, it too is almost half the price of the same items in Wengen.
The other Italian resorts surveyed all registered price rises, although this is largely because the sterling exchange rate against the euro is weaker than 12 months ago.Local prices remain roughly on par with a year ago and the price rises arise once euro prices are converted to sterling.In fifth place, Sestriere (£1,363) registered a 4.8 per cent price rise while Selva Val Gardena (£1,619) is 3.6 per cent more expensive and La Thuile (£1,640) is 2.7 per cent pricier.
In Austria Ellmau is one of the best bets for bargain-hunting families.At £1,334, the Tirolean resort has overtaken Sestriere and moved up one place to fourth in the Family Ski Resort Report table on the back of a marginal (-0.5 per cent) fall in prices.Prices are also fractionally lower in Kitzbühel (-0.2 per cent, £2,046) but have risen steeply by 8.7 per cent in Mayhofen (£1,658).The main reason for this is a sharp rise in the cost of ski and boot hire.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK currency transactions, said: “Last year’s fall in the value of sterling resulted in far higher costs for families in many European resorts so it is good to be able to report that the position has now stabilised.Sterling may still be three per cent weaker than a year ago but competitive pricing for ski essentials and other living costs means families will get a better deal in most resorts.
“Just how much better off families will be depends on the ski resort they choose and the costs they expect to incur.When you are budgeting for children as well as yourself, price variations between resorts can be significant. Choosing a cheaper resort could save hundreds of pounds so we advise families to do some homework and book a resort to fit their budget.”
It seems as though families may already be doing just that as Crystal Ski Holidays reports strong bookings for its Bulgarian ski resorts.Bardonecchia is proving another popular choice among families because of the wide range of facilities it offers for children.
Chris Logan, Crystal Ski Holidays Managing Director, said: “Bardonecchia is particularly suitable for families with younger children because there are kindgartens, play areas and ski school classes for the very young.It also boasts asnow tubing track thathas been specially designed with families in mind.When you add these facilities to the great value for money revealed in this year’s Family Ski Resort Report, Bardonecchia looks a real winner.
“Lower prices in Morzine make this another good option for bargain-hunters, especially as families can use the high-speed snow train, which links the UK with the French Alps.Not only does this offer easy access to top ski destinations but everything else is easy too.Checking in is a piece of cake, there’s more space than on a plane, you can bring your own food and drink, and there’s a generous baggage allowance. You can even kiss long transfers goodbye, since the train takes you to the bottom of the mountain.”
Skiers can purchase euros over the counter at more than 10,000 Post Office branches. They can also be ordered online at postoffice.co.uk for same day ‘click and collect’ at almost 3,000 branches as well as next day collection at any branch or for home delivery. Swiss francs and Bulgarian lev are available immediately at over 1,600 branches or for pre-order in over 11,500 Post Office branches or online. A range of travel insurance policies suitable for ski trips are also available at Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk.