Hit the heights for less
PRICE IS WHITE: With a fresh dump of snowfall in European resorts, now’s the time to book that ski break, says Jeremy
LUNGING temperatures across Europe have brought huge snowfalls to ski slopes in France and Italy, giving families leaving it late to book this year great value skiing across a wide selection of resorts.
Last-minute holidays in January have been selling for up to 30 per cent off brochure prices and there are plenty of early February bargains too, because French schools have later half terms than those in Britain this year.
Andy Perrin at Inghams says: “The booking pattern over Christmas and New Year was unusual this year, because bookings didn’t really get going again until January 7 after the long break.
“That delay has triggered good deals in January and February: we have a sevennight stay at a new hotel in St Anton from £479, virtually half-price.”
But Perrin warns that skiers shouldn’t be guided by price alone: “There are lots of £299 deals about,” he says, “but what’s the point if you ski all the interesting bits by the end of day one?”
The experts also urge holidaymakers to take the cautious approach by booking into higher ski resorts, from 5,000-6,000 feet upwards, to be on the safe side: the northern Alps for instance, got great snow in early-December, but has struggled with milder air since.
Cathy Rankin, marketing director at Pierre et Vacances (PV-Holidays), says: “Prices at half-term are probably 20 per cent below those for the same time in 2012, because British families hit the slopes from February 9 and 16, while French families arrive from Feb 23 and March 2. “For families driving to the slopes, this will be a big advantage: motorways will be less busy, ski schools less crowded than usual.”
P&O Ferries’ Dover-Calais fares start at £37 each way, with links to accommodation with PV-Holidays on its website.
Marion Telsnig at Crystal Ski says: “Leading operators who have seen small falls in the overall numbers of skiers in the past two winters are confident numbers will move back upwards this winter, if only slightly.
“With the snow looking great for the rest of the season, people think this is ‘make up your mind time’.
“Early in March, we have discounts around 25 per cent; seven nights allinclusive from March 9 in three-star Hotel Brunerie, Les Deux Alpes, is down £240, from £950 to £710, with Thomson flights into Grenoble and transfers.”
Flexiski offers a luxury three-night break in Chalet Amalien Haus in St Anton, Austria, in late January from £595, including chalet dining and transfers from Innsbruck, saving £375.
Telsnig says: “You also get good deals by going high early from April 6, particularly in France which has so much snow you can probably ski until June.” Egypt: Anatolian Sky Holidays (0844 273 3586, www.anatoliansky.co.uk) has a sevennight cruise along Nile this spring, with prices from just £979 per person (saving £196). Sailing on the MS Nile Premium, the trip from Luxor to Aswan, via the Temple of Horus, departs on February 11. The price includes return flights, transfers and excursions to the Valley of the Kings, Kom Ombo, the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, Philae and Aswan. Paris: Three nights for the price of two in Paris with Kirker Holidays (0207 593 2283, www.kirkerholidays.com). Costing £478, the offer, valid on Friday arrivals to March 29, includes accommodation at the four star Royal St Honoré, close to the Place Vendôme, Eurostar, return hotel transfers, a two-day Museum Pass, Métro tickets and a cruise along the Seine. Harrogate: Rudding Park (01423871350; www.fihotels.com) is celebrating being again named the UK’s number one hotel by TripAdvisor by offering discounted packages. An overnight stay with dinner in its two AA-rosette restaurant, now costs £71 per person (saving £44.50) until the end of February (saving £44.50). Please note: Readers are advised to check these offers when making booking inquiries.
LIFT-OFF: There are last-minute bargains to be had on family ski breaks in Europe for half term.
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