On the Piste: Six ski tips (and six of the best deals) for the 2018/19 season
Prep for the powder with our Travel Editor's snapshot of the season ahead...
Heading on the piste this year? You’re not alone.
Ski bookings continue to bloom, with tour operators telling me more beginners and families are taking to the slopes, and Irish visitors to the Austrian Tirol are up 19pc last year alone.
“A number of key resorts, including Livigno, are already sold out for New Year,” says Maurice Shiels, Sales Director at Topflight — whose annual Today FM ski trip was also snapped up in record time.
Don’t panic. There’s still loads of time to get your ski holiday sorted. Here are a few trends to mull over while you decide.
1. Consider a chalet
Catered chalets have well and truly caught on. They’re not cheap, but Irish skiers love this “home from home” concept, with hot tubs and catering high on the list of creature comforts. Read Cormac Byrne's take on a chalet ski holiday here.
Topflight (topflight.ie) now offers over 50 chalets, Crystal Ski (crystalski.ie) continues to grow its offering, and Highlife (highlife.ie) has lovely luxury options, plus three-night trips if you’re looking for a quick shot of snow. Expect to pay from €800pp and upwards for a week.
2. Take a lesson
You don’t have to wait for the slopes. The Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan, Co Dublin (skiclub.ie) gave nearly 20,000 lessons last year, and is already open for the season — practice sessions start from €30/€20.
3. Ski off-peak
Save by avoiding school holidays (mid-term is February 18-22). Another tip is to check ‘Super Ski Weeks’ in places like Austria's Westerndorf (above) and the SkiWelt, where you can get up to 25pc off ski passes and hotel rooms.
Don't forget to ask for discounts if you’re travelling as a group, too.
4. Late, late show
March is an option for lower prices (though it’s best to go for higher altitude resorts). Departing March 23, for example, GoHop.ie has 3-star self-catering in La Tania, France from €496pp.
5. Special offers
Going to press, DirectSki.com had January deals to Andorra from €399pp, while Cassidy Travel (cassidytravel.ie) has two lift passes for the price of one, and a 4-star, half-board package to Sestriere in Italy from €795pp over Christmas.
Crystal Ski has a week at Austria’s Zell am See from €605pp on Janaury 12 — a good resort for beginners — and a 4-star family package in Italy from €2,409, leaving January 19.
Check ski tour operators' websites for the latest special offers (signing up to their newsletters or Facebook pages can give you first dibs on deals). As a rule of thumb, remember that ski hire, lift passes and lessons can add around €300 to package prices.
6. Spies like us
Leave the slopes shaken, not stirred? 007 Elements (007elements.soelden.com), is a new James Bond Museum set 10,000 feet up on Gaislachkogl Mountain in Solden. Scenes for Spectre were shot in the Austrian location, with ice Q restaurant next door.
Read more about it (and how to get there) here: New James Bond Museum opens in the Alps - a mountain-top secret agent's lair you have to visit
PS: Travel Tip
Make sure your travel insurance covers ‘winter sports’. Ski and snowboarding are extras on most policies.