5 Outstandingly beautiful ski resort locations for a budget break
For the snow addicts and winter lovers among us who’ve been itching to strap on their skis or snowboards and hit the slopes this year, the 2015-2016 ski season has, until very recently anyway, been sorely lacking the one key ingredient needed to make it all work: snow.
Fortunately, recent heavy snowfall has brought a sigh of relief to holiday makers, ski season workers and the resorts themselves, especially those based in the French Alps. Touch wood the thin, icy slopes and poor skiing conditions are behind us, but some experts are sceptical about whether this will last, and advise that any of us who are planning to hit the snow this year to book fast and get on piste while you can. And the good news is that according to travel money experts, Fairfx, any of us planning a last minute winter getaway this season are set to benefit from the cheapest ski season in two years. In the currency market the pound is strong, and continues to soar – this means that us Brits are quids in, and are guaranteed to get real bang for our buck as we holiday. This will make our stay at even the cheapest ski resorts even cheaper still, which it goes without saying is excellent news.
So if you’re looking to strap on your board or skis and get on piste, or even off, here’s a closer look at the top 10 cheapest resorts for a week of skiing*, according to Fairfx.
*As a side note, the ‘cost of a week skiing’ prices reflect the anticipated cost of lift passes, ski school, and equipment hire, as of November 2015 – this doesn’t include the cost of flights and accommodation.
To find out more about the cost of flights, hotels or cabins, simply visit a global travel search site like Skyscanner, Expedia, TravelSupermarket, Cheapflights, Trivago, Travel Republic or TripAdvisor – what with all of these locations being based in Europe, barring Sochi in Russia, you’ll find that flights will be fairly low-cost. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could also Google each destination to find super cheap accommodation which is a little more off the beaten track.
Spindleruv Mlyn – Czech Republic
Cost of a week skiing – £134
Accommodation costs – Low
Splindleruv Mlyn, which is situated near the River Elbe and circled on all sides by the mountain peaks of Kozí hřbety, Pláň, and Mt. Medvědín, is a small town of 1,300 inhabitants in the Czech Republic. It lies 713-1,310m above sea level and is one of the most well-known mountain resorts in the country.
As you might expect of a resort which plays host to professional events, such as the Europacup in freestyle skiing and Snowjam, a pro snowboarding event, the facilities at Splindleruv Mlyn are excellent. And alongside the 20 runs, an accommodation capacity of 10,000 beds means that you and your fellow holidaymakers won’t struggle to find a place to crash.
Kekes – Hungary
Cost of a week skiing – £153
Accommodation costs – Low
As the highest mountain in Hungary, at 1,014m above sea level, Mount Kekes is the crowning peak atop the Matra highland region – a beautiful region which admittedly is less than dizzying when compared with other resorts set in more mountainous locations.
All the same, visitors will get to enjoy great cross-country skiing trails and some of Hungary’s few downhill pistes. Being the popular tourist destination that it is, both for winter sports enthusiasts and those who simply want to enjoy the area’s outstanding natural beauty, the Kekes resort is home to a number of hotels, guesthouses and wooden cabins for visitors, and also great picturesque hiking trails for visitors who really want to lose themselves in nature – the TV tower, which sits atop Kekes, is certainly worth a visit for its astonishing views.
The location is a great place to start for inexperienced skiers and beginners, but less so for the experienced and professionals, who will probably be seeking more challenging slopes.
A note of caution, however: it is worth checking ahead of booking that there has been sufficient snow fall in the area – Kekes often experiences heavy snowfall in the winter, but the slopes are not usually treated with snow, artificial or otherwise, if it isn’t.
Bled – Slovenia
Cost of a week skiing – £199
Accommodation costs – Low
The Straza-Bled ski resort, situated just minutes from the 1,000-year old picturesque town of Bled, is another location which is not a true, dedicated winter sports centre. Make no mistake about it, however – this location, hidden and sheltered by the Julian Alps – a mountain range no less grand and eye-catching than the French Alps – is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see with your own eyes.
Granted, the ski resort is tiny, with just two ski lifts, and three pistes with a total length of 2km and a short vertical descent, but the facilities are undoubtedly excellent. The slopes have artificial snow guns at the ready for when snowfall is insufficient and are fully lit for night-time skiing, and aside from the accommodation in Bled itself, there are hotels, guesthouses, chalets and other accommodation located a short walk from the pistes.
Kranjska Gora – Slovenia
Cost of a week skiing – £260
Accommodation costs – Low
Also situated in the northeast of Slovenia, in a valley between the Julian Alps and the Karavanke mountain range, the Kranjska Gora Ski Resort is famous for its winter sports facilities. And like Bled, the area is one of outstandingly picturesque.
With 30km of slopes across 18 pistes at an altitude of 1,623-810m, all of which are serviced by 16 ski lifts, means that Kranjska Gora is ideal for beginners, recreational and professional skiers and snowboarders. Its challenging Podkoren trail is used annually by the world’s best skiers as they compete annually for the Vitranc Trophy in the World Cup men’s giant slalom and slalom races.
As you might expect, there is ample accommodation for visitors who are looking to stay nearby in a hotel, guesthouse or cabin.
Kitzbuhel Ski Area – Austria
Cost of a week skiing – £263
Accommodation costs – Medium/High
While it’s likely that most people won’t have heard of the first four ski locations on this list, anybody who knows anything about skiing will have heard of Kitzbuhel in Austria – an extensive skiing, snowboarding and winter sports resort which fully deserves its truly world-class reputation.
Since 1893, Kitzbuhel has had a legendary connection with skiing, and has been named the ‘best ski resort in the world’ in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – this makes Kitzbuhel’s place on this list something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. With 54 cable cars, 170km of downhill slopes, including the world famous Streif ski run on the famous Hahnenkamm – perhaps the most challenging World Cup downhill slope in the world, and unrivalled onsite facilities for visiting skiers – it really does have everything for winter enthusiasts of all abilities.
As far as accommodation goes, visitors can either stay nearer to the ski area itself or in the grand medieval town of Kitzbuhel itself – like many others, you’ll be blown away by its charm, sophistication and alpine beauty.
A final note: some top tips for saving money on your ski holiday
The above list should act as the perfect starting place if you’re looking to jet off for a week of skiing, snowboarding and winter fun, but it is just a guideline – it would still be wise to do a little research yourself on ski resorts and their facilities, flights and where to book accommodation.
- Here are a few things to bear in mind
- Look at destinations which will offer you the most bang for your buck overall
- Get your foreign currency in advance – exchange rates at airports can easily be over 10% more expensive, which equates to £100 lost for every £1,000 you exchange.
- Beware of shops and restaurants which offer to convert the cost of goods and services into pounds – they can choose their own exchange rates, and it goes without saying you won’t get a great deal.
- Be wary of ATM and transaction fees and payments
- And last but not least, have fun and be safe
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