/ Affordable self-catered ski venue for couple of beginners

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Oujmik - on 30 Oct 2012
Hi all, my gf and I are looking to take our first skiing holiday together this season. I can already ski at a basic level (i.e. happy on easy blues), she is a complete beginner but is going to do lessons at the Snow Centre so depending on how she gets on, she might not need ski school.

I'm looking for a good venue where we can go self-catering, we intend to cook, not eat out, so supermarket is essential, restaurants are not). We'd like to be right next to the pistes - i.e. just a short walk to the gondola/lift, or a ski-in ski-out type arrangement, no driving or buses preferably. We're looking for something with a relaxed feel where we can enjoy spending time in the mountains for their own sake as well as for the skiing. Not really bothered about nightlife or facilities beyond skiing and food (although I should point out we're not going for the ski/climbing bum approach, i.e. flying and a chalet/apartment rather than camper van or hostelling).

I'm not really a skiing person, so I don't have much knowledge. I have tried surfing Crystal but there is so much choice! The only place I've been before is Soldeu in Andorra with Crystal, but the prices there seem pretty steep about £1500 for a week all in. Obviously France has hundreds of resorts and Bulgaria sounds intriguing and possibly cheaper.

Any recommendations or tips would be welcome!
goldmember - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: im interested too!
Stefan Kruger on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

There are a number of options - for a DIY approach, try Andermatt. Book a self catering apartment, and a flight to Zurich. Train pretty much door to door. Don't be put off by its apparent small size - plenty of pistes to go around even if the main draw is the accessible offpiste from the Gemstock and ski touring.

An other option is to go to smaller villages just outside the bigger resorts - like Le Chable, just below Verbier, or Brides-les-Bains (3 Valleys). Le Chable in particular is great in that the main Verbier cable starts there, so you get hassle-free service every morning without the Verbier queues - and accommodation is way cheaper, too. Le Chable is also accessible door to door on the excellent Swiss train service.

Alpe d'Huez is good for beginners in that it sits basically in a bowl with two levels of lifts - the easier pistes are all off the top of the first lift, all ending up down in the centre.

Or, for something a bit different, try Sweden - Vemdalen is a great place for the beginner to intermediate skier:

GridNorth - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: If you thought Andorra was expensive stay well away from France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

jh5638 - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

We've just booked with off the piste

They were a solely student ski company but now are opening to everyone. It is a bit more of a faff - for two of us we had to create a "party" and book like that. It does take more time but its very cheap... Hopefully they'll make it easier for future years.

We have booked a self catering apartment in les arcs for 2 in mid December, £300 each including lift passes. Add £100 for easy jet return flights, £50 transfer then its just whatever we eat/drink as we have skis.

They do cheaper deals and more expensive - I guess the accomodation isn't the most modern and there may well be Uni groups about... We're planning on being on the slopes all day though!

Slugain Howff - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

If you are flexible with dates, can organise to travel outwith school holidays and are willing to make a late booking ( less than 2 weeks in advance. Then you should be able to pick up a self catering week for less than £350 - you could last year.

Booking outwith the high season will reduce the cost of the ski pass too but that probably won't be less than £200.

3 Valleys, Dolomites or some of the smaller Italian resorts worth a look?

Oujmik - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to GridNorth: I didn't pay £1500 for Andorra before (in fact I paid hardly anything due to a generous friend), but that's the price I got on Crystal for this season. Mostly because I only seemed to be able to get 4 person accomodation and lift passes were £200 each which seems like a lot.
GridNorth - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: The cheapest ski trip I have ever had was to Andorra but I stayed at Arinsol which is less commercialised than Soldeu, at least it was when I went although it was several years ago. Not sure what the situation is these days but it was a tax haven hence the low cost.
simonzxr - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:


They are a UK agent for UCPA...all inclusive for way less than any of the tour operators....and cheaper than self catering too. I'm using them for 2 weeks over christmas/ new year.
grommet on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

Lift passes are a big chunk of the cost on any ski holiday unfortunately. There are a few other things you need to consider too. What time of year are you going - is the resort snow sure - would need to be above a certain height depending on time of year, and if it hasn't snowed, like it didn't in some parts of Europe last year, do they make their own. The other thing that will cost more is if you want to be near the lifts for ski in ski out. Weve booked our own holidays in the past and usually go to Italy. Not sure about the poster that said to stay away from Italy as we find it cheaper than some other places.

However as I say we've booked our own holidays, booked flights to Innsbruck or Munich and driven south, or flown to Venice or Verona and driven north. Stayed self catering in the Dolomites (Corvara) and also in Cervinia. Also been to Gressoney but is more difficult skiing there. We usually reckon a ski holiday costs £100 per day per person as a minimum. That's flights, car hire, accommodation, lift pass, ski carriage (take our own boots and skis) if not then you need to build in the hire costs. If you don't stay near the lifts many hotels/apartments run a ski bus service. As an absolute beginner went to Passo Tonale - not typical Alps pretty but ok for cheap and chearful. Not been myself but I believe Bulgaria does not have extensive routes and is not the easiest. It's ok doing blue runs but not the same ones all day every day. Get one of the "Where to Ski" guide books and do some reading and research. If I remember correctly there were some cheap deals around Feb and March this year as the snow was late arriving and people had just not booked. good luck!
McKEuan - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

Hi! Check out La Tania in the 3 valleys, it is mainly self catering and if you go out of peak times it can be dirt cheap. has the benifit of being in the 3 valleys but not costing as much as courcheveal or val thorens!

peas65 - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

There are self catering website where you can rent private apartments, we have one this year in la plane for £600 which sleeps 6 people comfortably. La Plagne is not a great beginners resort but you could get something somewhere else and save lots.

That student place is not that cheap and as its aimed at students probably not that nice either.
MCL - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

I'd post this question on the snowheads website; you'll get loads of responses and advice there.

Also see where to ski and snowboard book or website
aligibb - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

A couple suggestions.

1. Avoriaz in the portes du soleil. Not far from Geneva with lots of companies doing transfers. Loads of ski in ski out apartments with a v handy supermarket. A car free village so you can walk all around on snow. Good area for beginners into intermediates with runs down to Linderets valley. theres the odd euro pop French bar but pretty chilled I think.

2. or Morzine/Les Gets also portes du soleil. You'd need to be careful what apartment you booked for ski in/ out walkable distance but it has a brilliant beginner to intermediate area and a good beginners lift pass etc.

2. La Rosiere, on a beautiful sunny position on the Italian border. has a longer transfer and not all ski in ski out you'd have to see what the location of each apartment is. Maybe La Rosiere would be a little more relaxed than Morzine.

And enjoy, think it might be worth doing one lesson once you are out there maybe after a day or two on snow as it'll open up alot more places to go etc.

Ciro - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik:

If you don't mind the lack of privacy and you're under 40 check out the UCPA; you wonm5 find a cheaper ski deal anywhere else
Doug on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Ciro: you can still use UCPA if over 40, although I think you have to ask the director of the centre concerned.
ripper - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: I've found it cheapest to go independent rather than with a package deal - cheap flight to geneva/chambery etc, pick up a small hire car, stop at a supermarket on the way to stock up as much as possible (supermarkets on the hill are more expensive), ski hire booked on-line in advance for a hefty discount, lift passes in my experience no cheaper so just bought then over the counter on the first morning. for accommodation I've just web-searched and found apartments where I can book direct with the owner. Les Menuires in the three valleys is cheapish (for France), has lots of ski in/out properties and is near some of the highest (and therefore most snowsure) pistes in the alps - it's only drawback is that the buildings are a bit drab and soul-less, but hey just look at the mountains instead ;-). Vallandry/Plan Peisey, at the edge of the Les Arcs ski area and right near the big cable car over to La Plagne, was good too.
Oujmik - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: Thanks for the advice all. I'm still finding it pretty bewildering, but that's mostly just because of the complexity of the package deal websites (i.e. Crystal).

For example in Alpe d'Huez and Soldeu, the price of ski hire, tuition, lift passes is all pretty similar individually, but when you buy them as a 'ski improver package' the price for AdH is almost twice as much as Soldeu! (£450pp vs £250). I guess it just comes down to what Crystal can negotiate locally.

Add into that the fact that some packages have a free lift pass, some include a lift pass and ski hire (but no boots!) with your accomodation and the fact that much of the self catering accomodation is based on about 7 people in bunk beds and sofas and you hava recipe for confusion!

I'll look into the independent option, that's how I normally do holidays, but skiing is out of my comfort zone so I'd been favouring packages.
Doug on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Oujmik: Worth also checking on catered deals if there are only 2 of you
sam@work - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to jh5638: Bloody hell , who are you booking transfers with ??? The cheapest I've found is 200 euros each !!! Off to les arcs in jan !!

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