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Second ski holiday: DIY or package?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

So we went on our first ever ski holiday last Feb to L2A. We went with Neilson's and had the most amazing time. We are seriously hooked now and wanting to get away early 2017 as well.

I am interested to find out how many people go with an operator/package and who does it all themselves? Are there serious cost savings to be had by doing it yourself or by the end of the day are you paying near enough the same as using an operator when you factor in travel, passes, food etc?

If doing it all yourself, where are the best places to start? As is, resort first then accommodation then travel? As you can tell, we've not done this before! If there are serious cost savings to be had, then we will certainly consider going down that route.

Could anyone also suggest any resorts that are beginner-intermediate friendly that are good to drive to from the tunnel?

Cheers all
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Personally I prefer to DIY it, as I can get 2 or 3 long weekend trips (4/5 days) per season rather than one tour operated Saturday to Saturday package. Using Air BnB or booking.com gives the flexibility to pick and choose your dates. Ski.Sunweb and Snowtrex are also good for accommodation and lift pass bundles which can really keep the price down.

As I live in Northern Ireland the choice and value on offer from tour operators is very poor, and driving is not an option. I'd recommend Alpe D'Huez for a second week on the snow, there is a huge network of confidence building green and blue slopes to really help with the progression.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I Won't bother doing it myself anymore unless I'm going for a weekend.. as the prices quoted by some of the TOs is so close to the diy prices that I don't feel it's worth it... plus there's back up in resort should you need it.. as I did when I had my knee broken.. unless you have a chap lodging on offer and your transfer is by train then take a look at Crystal or inghams for offers
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Somtimes DIY is better value, sometimes the tour operator. You just need to do your research. When doing DIY I usually start with resort (cos that is where I really want to go), then accommodation (the resort web site is, IMHO, the best starting point), then travel. Somtimes leaving travel very close to when I am leaving, for example making sure there is windscreen fluid in the car the day before departure.

As a general rule, peak season (New year and school half term) DIY is significantly cheeper, real low season (the rest of January) the tour operator can have some amazing deals. The rest of the time - do your research.

For beginners Alp D'Huez is pretty good, but we could write a book about where to go. In fact there is - get a second hand copy of Where to Ski and Snowboard.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If you travel at peak times and have kids (or other very specific requirements) then DIY is the best option. You can make significant savings.

If not then TOs will probably be cheaper. It's usually the resort transfers that make the difference. They can be expensive, or you just end up hiring a car for the week. Many Austrian resorts are accessible by train which can make them good DIY destinations.

I DIY and get an extra day or so skiing by booking cheaper flights not Saturday to Saturday. The kids flights are obviously the same as adult prices, but where you make the big saving is on the hotel room. This Christmas I'm getting an extra day in the resort in a 4* hotel junior suite for about £1000 less than the TO offering for 7 nights in the same hotel in an inferior room. This includes flights with BA, hotel & car hire.
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If you can go low season I'd go for a last minute TO deal, so you know where the snow is good.

Most resorts will suit you, really, though I recommend booking a week of really good lessons - not all ski schools are equal.

One limitation of TOs is that they only go to a small number of resorts and have a limited choice of accommodation within those resorts. But when you're starting out, that's not too significant.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
If you fit into the TOs bracket of two adults and you are free to choose any date etc, plus near a well served airport, your costs can be very competitive via that route. You may struggle to even match some deals at all especially late bookings.

One thing to consider if you are beginner is how big an area you need as for example buying a whole area pass for a smaller ski location could be about €100 per person less for a week than a very extensive one and your ability may restrict you to just a small part of the big place.

There's different levels also for diy. Either total organisation or something like that used by quite a few here, Peak Retreats, allows you to book apartment and Eurotunnel passage as one and leave you to do local stuff like passes, ski hire lessons etc.

Driving, it's worth using "via michelin" website to get your journey costs and timings planned. If you describe your car type and enter fuel price it'll run you a costing including predicted road tolls, so quite useful to complete your comparison.

We are a family of two adults and two children so diy has been our preference for a number of years now as I can't match it another way. We have been on some occasions bought from PR, 1 week including Eurotunnel for £495 for the family.

Diy can also help you try many more local places to eat which we really like as well as we have no prepaid catering factored in.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
As others have said, if you can avoid school holidays then TO can be really cheap. A lot of them do 2 for 1 lift passes or other deals too. I would probably book lessons separately though as gives you better chance to gauge opinion/reviews.

I did my first few trips with a TO just to get used to how things work, there's a bit less worry that you'll miss a connection or the like...that said, my other trips have been snowheads bashes or involving snowheads, so a lot less hassle.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
pam w wrote:
If you can go low season I'd go for a last minute TO deal, so you know where the snow is good.

Most resorts will suit you, really, though I recommend booking a week of really good lessons - not all ski schools are equal.

One limitation of TOs is that they only go to a small number of resorts and have a limited choice of accommodation within those resorts. But when you're starting out, that's not too significant.


Spot on! Last minute TO deals are hard to beat, but if you deviate in requirements in any way from the normal standard 'package' diy can work out cheaper. Though bear in mind you do not have the back help most TO`s supply and for only your 2nd trip that may be a consideration?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
We are an adult couple, no kids (yet) so aren't restricted to half terms.

Thanks for all your suggestions. We loved L2A and had lessons when we were there. We have also had lots of lessons at Hemel (both prior and post our holiday) to keep ourselves ticking over. So we will certainly be looking at more lessons to develop our skills further.

There seem to be some really good offers at resorts in Bulgaria at the moment. Seems considerably cheaper than France/Italy/Switzerland.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
What about a bash? E.g., http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=127062
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Themasterpiece wrote:
What about a bash? E.g., http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=127062


Yup. You'll be with very like-minded people and really decent value. Get yourselves on one!
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Quote:

There seem to be some really good offers at resorts in Bulgaria at the moment. Seems considerably cheaper than France/Italy/Switzerland.

there's a reason for that....... wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Themasterpiece wrote:
What about a bash? E.g., http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=127062


^^This.

Went to my first Bash last year (MYAsH), enjoyed it so much that I quickly signed up for the EoSB. This season am hoping to do both again
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Yes, a SH Bash is a v good idea. snowHead
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
DIY is often good value if you can fill a car/van with people or get very cheap flights/cheap transfers. If not then TO is usually very competitive, especially if you get a deal. We go during school hols, but even then going with a TO can be good value - we rarely go away half term/new year and mostly go at Christmas and Easter - so we don't go peak weeks.

If you have any special requirements then usually DIY is better as you can tailor the holiday to your needs.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Personally I prefer to DIY. We get more skiing that way. For example we tend to go to the PDS in March.
Flying from Edinburgh with Easyjet we can be on our skis by lunchtime on the Saturday and can ski until lifts shut the following Saturday and fly home Sunday. So we get 7 1/2 days skiing instead of the usual TO 6 days. Occasionally we've even skied the Sunday morning too.

It also means we don't have to sit on a bus at the airport for ages while Crystal reps try and flog us stuff we don't want as we wait for a delayed flight from another airport or they try to find someone who has managed to go missing between baggage collection and the bus. It's much less stressful to just get off plane, pick up car and drive to where we want to go.

Also, if going self catering, having a car means you can stop at a large supermarket on route and stock up on food/booze and aren't restricted to the limited and often over priced offerings available in resort.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Clearly there are benefits to both methods!

Thanks for all the tips everyone!
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Fridge03 wrote:

There seem to be some really good offers at resorts in Bulgaria at the moment. Seems considerably cheaper than France/Italy/Switzerland.


I went to Borovets in Bulgaria for my 2nd ski holiday and had a fantastic time (this was about 15 years ago though) and might be worth taking a look at if you can book late and they have plenty of snow.

From memory the negatives were the hotels and the food in there not the best and the lift system old versus the alps but the group lessons (all day with lunch taken in a mountain hut together with the instructor) were very good, the food in the pizzeria and mountain huts was very good and the nightlife pretty lively - all these things as well as equipment hire were (and i'm guessing still are) very cheap in comparison to most alpine resorts.

The amount of terrain is limited (58km of pistes) but I found that plenty as a 2nd week skier in ski school and if there's been recent snowfall the scenery looks stunning.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Hi all,

We are seriously looking at Andorra. Namely El Tarter as found a very good deal with everything we want.

Can anyone give any thoughts on Grandvalira area and/or El Tarter?
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@Atomic_Mick, I went to Borovets last year and it seems that little has changed. The lifts were fine but a mixture of Chairs and Pomas. Hotel food was not great but the nearby Pizzeria was good as were the piste side places. I had a good time without spending a great deal. All in all great value. Hired equipment was good quality.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
There are now many 4 star hotels in Borovets, some really nice spa hotels. Loads of great restaurants. Some of the cheaper and older, more basic hotels tend to have buffet style food and while its edible it may not suit everyone. However, so many good places to eat and also now many really nice apartments.

There is a gondola to access the top part of the ski-ing and rest is chairs and drag lifts. Good snow cannon cover.

We still need some more snow currently, more is forecast for next few days but ski-ing on the runs with cannons is good.
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