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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@CaravanSkier, exactly. Whilst clearly a very unfortunate set of circumstances that affected everyone traveling at that time, what came across clearly from the thread was that those traveling independently were in a much better situation than those at the mercy of the TO group arrangements. I also remember reading about a number of people traveling with TOs who gave up and made their own arrangements to get to resort.

@froomie, I generally felt at the time that the TOs got a bad rap for what was a difficult situation. But it was also clear that they just didn't have the flexibility or money in the budget to solve things reasonably quickly for a lot of people. Traveling independently I can make the call to stop and spend €100 on a hotel room, when a TO is not going to make the call on spending that amount of money for 100s of passengers, even assuming they could find that many hotel rooms. Or even if I am stuck in my own car, that's still a lot better than being stuck on a coach or hall, as Caravanskier says.

The message I took away from that, which has been reinforced by numerous stories on here, is that if it's a minor problem, it's no biggie for you to fix yourself anyway. If it's a major problem, you'll be able to fix it yourself at least more quickly and more pleasantly that the TO will, for you as an individual.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
froomie wrote:
the savvier travellers may well benefit in situations like this. However not everyone has the required skills and knowledge. Not to mention resources.

Those who does DYI at least some of the time tend to acquire the skill and knowledge! While those who rarely travel independently would know where to turn when things went pear shape.

Quote:
Also much easier to fix things if you have a credit card that can absorb spiralling costs. Not everyone does.

A good portion of those expense will likely be covered by travel insurance. So likely many has the resources without realizing it. It's only the upfront cash (or credit card) that's needed on the spot.

I once helped coordinate a group of stranded fliers at Aspen airport to hire a van to Denver, 4-5 hr drive away. $60 a piece was the expense in the end. During the van ride, one of the passenger mentioned we could get a refund for the cancelled flight by simply ASKING the ticket agent at the airport! Lo and behold, I asked and got a $90 refund! So I actually came out ahead money-wise!
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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?
Pick dates, book flights asap to GVA.
Book hire car.
Over summer scope airbnb etc for suitable accommodation, then book in sept when winter prices are finalised (unless we spot a bargain!)
Book lift passes and hire once we know where we're going.
Ski.
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abc wrote:
.... insurance. So likely many has the resources without realizing it. It's only the upfront cash (or credit card) that's needed on the spot. ... we could get a refund for the cancelled flight by simply ASKING the ticket agent at the airport! Lo and behold, I asked and got a $90 refund! So I actually came out ahead money-wise!

I'm bemused about all this. Broadly, if the airline screws up, they take the cost and sort it out for you. Yeah you do have to ask, but grown ups should have no real problems with it. In tens of seasons of multiple "self powered" trips I've had a handful of issues where the airline's either failed to fly to schedule or lost my boards. In all of those cases they took the costs and I didn't miss one day riding. You need to stand up for yourself, but it's not necessary to delegate that task. As per some previous posts, I reckon I can get better results than Tour Operator staff because I care about it more and I know what I want and I'm not trying to minimize their costs.

But it's great that there's a range of choice. When I first started I used tour operators as the world was big and scary then and I didn't know how it all works. Plus it's much easier now it's all on the net. I'd expect that Tour Operators have been squeezed somewhat over the years for that reason - "disintermediation".

--
On the OP: work out where the snow is; fly there; hire a car; find somewhere to stay; get it done.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
BoardieK wrote:
Ravelin. If you aren't already aware then note that the Solden campsite will be fully booked over christmas and new year by about mid July.


Nope, they are already fully booked! Well at least they rejected the dates the wife inquired about. Trying Mayrhofen and a site near Fiss-Serafus-Ladis as next best choices but both will involve ski busses, which looks to be the norm as not many campsites beside lifts. Waiting on replies.

On one hand Mayrhofen appeals because we were there last summer and I've love to see what it's like in Winter and ski it. Also there are options to ski other areas in the valley, like Zell am Ziller. On the other hand I like the look of Fiss, but not so sure about how regular the ski busses are to Ried am Otzal where the campsite is (small lift served area right next door though).
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A few observations:

If you're DIY and there's 2 or more of you it is probably cost effective to drive.
TO's flights to and from the resort are often at stupid o'clock.
The drive down and back can be a nice part of your holiday - the roads are much less crowded than in the UK, you can stop if you see something of interest, have a nice lunch, arrive in time to get extra skiing at either end of the holiday.
Going with a TO often makes sense and can lead to meeting new skiing buddies.

Many posters on this site get a bit dogmatic about whatever issue is being discussed. I prefer to relax, see what's available, discuss it with my wife/sister/other buddies and eventually make a plan. I have to admit that this is easier for us than for many as we have all failed to breed so we don't have to rely on school holidays. Laughing
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I use booking.com or Airbnb if I can't find anything else. Both good for shorter trips (I'm usually only booking two or three nights). I don't know what your situation is but if you want to go really cheap you can sometimes find rooms on various facebook groups, using a tiny spare room in some season workers place
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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!
Gordyjh wrote:
A few observations:

If you're DIY and there's 2 or more of you it is probably cost effective to drive.
TO's flights to and from the resort are often at stupid o'clock.
The drive down and back can be a nice part of your holiday - the roads are much less crowded than in the UK, you can stop if you see something of interest, have a nice lunch, arrive in time to get extra skiing at either end of the holiday.



From Suffolk maybe. According to via michelin it would cost £250 (petrol and tolls) to drive for over 19 hours and 1858km to get from here (NE Scotland) to, for example, Les Menuires one way. And I'd have to pay tunnel or ferry charges on top of that. More cost (and time) effective to fly to Geneva and pick up a hire car. Much less exhausting too.
ski holidays     
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
philwig wrote:
Broadly, if the airline screws up, they take the cost and sort it out for you.

Airlines are just another TO!

When a flight got cancelled, the whole plane load of people has to somehow be accommodated in the next few flights, which quite often don't have enough capacity to accomplish. So depends on your luck, you maybe put on a flight 2 days later Shocked

(that's what happened to our group once. 1/3 of the group got on the next day's flight, 1/3 2 days later, and the last 1/3 flew to a nearby city and bus to the resort. That kind of "sort it out" maybe acceptable to some but not all.)

Thankfully, one of our organizer found a bunch of open seat on a different airline for not much more! He alerted us to book on the other airline. Collected the refund from the airline that couldn't fly, we came pretty close to breaking even. No lost of skiing days either.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
A factor for us is flight availability from regional airports in the UK. More choice with the TOs, as all the DIY folk (better organised than us) get in first when Easyjet etc release the seats for Geneva, Salzburg etc and those flights book up super quick.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@abc, not under EU legislation where passengers appear to have many more rights than on a domestic US flight Shocked . (Can't find an emoji for "being dragged kicking and screaming off my United flight")

Although, there are, of course, limits to what that can achieve.
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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.
@vjmehra,
Hi
Inspired by your recommendation i am taking a punt and got a lodging in Bialka on my own for a quiet week.
Is it easy to get between resorts? Ie from Bialla to Zakopane? The long run you mention Kasprowy _ where is that? I will not have a car so i guess there's a ski bus?
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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
The only ski holiday we’ve ever had trouble with was with a TO, so I always DIY.

Choose the resort. Then flights. Then booking.com. Then taxi/transfer company. Ski passes and hire Sorted. Usually done over the course of a weekend.

We usually do apartments as we have kids and we prefer the flexibility. In Scandinavia we have done half board because of high cost of food; we prefer to get that cost out of the way.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I find the best way to save money is to leave the wife at home and go with mates. Halves the cost in an instant!

Then instead of staying in some Bulgarian hell hole and waiting 2 hours for a lift you can stay somewhere swanky in Courchavel or Saalbach where we go.

What's not to like?!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@vjmehra,
Hi
Inspired by your recommendation i am taking a punt and got a lodging in Bialka on my own for a quiet week.
Is it easy to get between resorts? Ie from Bialla to Zakopane? The long run you mention Kasprowy _ where is that? I will not have a car so i guess there's a ski bus?
ski holidays     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Off to Japan the week after next and have got nothing booked other than flights and car hire, waiting till the end of next week before I see what I can find on booking.com, never been there before either.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Fogliettaz, ten years ago I was told this was a good site for Japan accommodation: https://travel.rakuten.com/ Someone like MikePow might confirm or correct. Sadly I was also told there were five times as many offers available if you searched in Japanese!

I'm tempted by Austria next year but booking.com seems to have little whenever I look. Any good tips anyone? Two adults and two pre-teens, we are quite used to a 1-bed apartment with sofabed hopefully 200m from the slopes.
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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?
Orange200 wrote:
I'm tempted by Austria next year but booking.com seems to have little whenever I look. Any good tips anyone? Two adults and two pre-teens, we are quite used to a 1-bed apartment with sofabed hopefully 200m from the slopes.

Tourist information are a good starting point.
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NeddySkiGoon wrote:
Wait for buttons.
Press appropriate buttons when they appear.
Book flight.
Go skiing.

Independent skiing with the support of 100 snowHead .

snowHead


+1. Go on a Snowheads Bash. Just done my first, brilliant. I can’t imagine going on a skiing holiday with a TO, when @admin does such a great job and you end up skiing and socialising with 100+ Snowheads. snowHead
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Book leave, get hubby to book leave, block off dates on apartment calendar/click bash buttons, book eurotunnel, book overnight stop. Takes me less than half an hour max on my computer.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
I use the tourist information site too; then just spam accommodation requests to all the places I like the look of.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@poppyb,

The thread is over a year old. vjmehra may not see your post ; you could try sending a PM
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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!
Orange200 wrote:
@Fogliettaz, ten years ago I was told this was a good site for Japan accommodation: https://travel.rakuten.com/ Someone like MikePow might confirm or correct. Sadly I was also told there were five times as many offers available if you searched in Japanese!

I'm tempted by Austria next year but booking.com seems to have little whenever I look. Any good tips anyone? Two adults and two pre-teens, we are quite used to a 1-bed apartment with sofabed hopefully 200m from the slopes.


https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/16185307?location=Flachau%2C%20Austria&guests=1&s=LRWi4nbW is in my group of buildings - not quite 200mts from the slopes (mine is nearer wink )

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/22894315?location=Flachau%2C%20Austria&guests=1&s=LRWi4nbW fits the criteria

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/9327724?location=Flachau%2C%20Austria&guests=1&s=evsQ4Q_z

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/17956867?location=Flachau%2C%20Austria&guests=1&s=FuVn_JTh
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
poppyb wrote:
@vjmehra,
Hi
Inspired by your recommendation i am taking a punt and got a lodging in Bialka on my own for a quiet week.
Is it easy to get between resorts? Ie from Bialla to Zakopane? The long run you mention Kasprowy _ where is that? I will not have a car so i guess there's a ski bus?


I stayed in Zakopane a couple of years back, it was easier for us as my mates wife is Polish so she did all the organising and a lot of the talking!

We skied in Bialka each day and it was no difficulty for three of us non-Polish speakers to get the bus ourselves when we wanted to start early.

The cable car to Kasprowy goes from upper Zakopane, there's minibuses or a taxi from the train bus station would be about E5.

Bialka is great if you have beginners in your group, it was the wife's first time on snow and she loved it. The infrastructure was very impressive with lots of heated bubble lifts. The main wide long slope is floodlit for night skiing.

Buy some of the smoked goats cheese with cranberry sauce people sell of little BBQs at the bottom of the slopes, it's lush!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Notwithstanding all the other replies above, the key criteria that will affect price (based on your ability to get 'a deal') IMO are the following:
1) Are you tied to school holiday - you have kids/or spouse teaches?
2) Do you need childcare in with the deal?
3) Party size - just the 2 of you, or large-ish group with multiple specialist requirements?

The reason i say this is because if you are a young couple with no kids and can travel the 2nd week in January when conditions are typically good but everyone else is skint from christmas then you'll (almost) always get a deal from a TO.

If on the other hand you are constrained by the above factors I mention, then if you do a DIY trip a significant saving can be had. To put this in to context, i have 2 young kids and have been going to Avoriaz in France for the last few years because I have found that it ticks alot of boxes in terms of convenience/ski-in-out/short transfer for the kids.

To put my statement into context:-

A quick search on Crystal for a Easter hols (7th April) departure for me, the wife and 2 kids has thrown up a 7night package of flights, transfers, SC apartment for £2616 - this excludes ski pass, food, beer money, etc.

Booking separately I am paying the following:
Flights + luggage (easyjet) - £400
Transfers - £230
Accommodation (same apartment, but closer to resort centre) - £500
Grand total - £1130 (almost a £1500 saving!!)
My trip is also based on 9 nights, so I get more time away and take advantage of 2 weekends.

Needless to say, i'm not made of money and if my only option was to use a TO, I would simply not be able to afford to go at all.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@giddyman, I'd like to see what Crystal are charging at the end of March for that week. I suspect it will be considerably less. That said I prefer the control and certainty of DIY travelling as I do with wife and children on set weeks and location being important to us.
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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.
Quote:


froomie wrote:
Gämsbock wrote:
@froomie, I'd have to disagree with that, based on some of the stories I've read on here. For example, the Snowmaggadon thread from a couple if years ago - the weather caused problems for everyone but those travelling independently had the flexibility to stop and book a hotel, and a taxi for the following day, whilst some of those travelling with TOs were stuck in sports halls for 48 hours before it was their 'turn' for the coach. Or Sparklies overbooking thread this year, where the TO just left her high and dry with no solution except to cancel her holiday until she sourced an alternative apartment herself.


Ah yes I remember this one. Yes a lot of people had to sleep in sports halls etc but this was down to local capacity issues. Several thousand people blocked in the Tarentaise valley all looking for accommodation simultaneously. Extreme and very exceptional circumstances but I also remember reading about people having to sleep in their own vehicles. Not everyone was able to find or afford a hotel or taxi at no notice. Again, give me the choice and I'll take being with a TO with a duty of care. But you can't expect a TO to magic hotel rooms out of thin air where they simply do not exist.


Having been a part of the snowmaggadon I was, and remain, very grateful we were in our own car with plenty of experience of driving in heavy snowfall. We managed to avoid being corralled on the autoroute, we had food and drink and comfort stops. We made our way slowly but steadily to our destination in La Tania arriving in the early hours of the morning. Friends of ours, and those telling their tales in resort over the following days who had been relying on TO`s had a truly awful time. Transfer busses, often with young, inexperienced drivers who had clearly tried their best were simply stuck, much of the day, all night, and into the next day! Passengers had no food, no water, no access to loos.


We went to Meribel that year DIY, arriving in Geneva when it was all kicking off. Our transfer mini-bus got stuck in the traffic coming out of the valley (they closed the road for 8hrs I believe?), when he finally arrived at 8pm the plan was just to hunker down in Geneva for the night and head up the valley at first light - which we did with no problems. This cost us a nights stay in a hotel in Geneva (insurance claim), but we had the flexiblity to do this - the sotries that filtered back to us is that many Crystal guests spent the night in school halls with some taking days to reach the resort. We were on the slopes by lunchtime on the day of (eventual) arrival so only really lost a few hours..
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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:

@giddyman, I'd like to see what Crystal are charging at the end of March for that week. I suspect it will be considerably less. That said I prefer the control and certainty of DIY travelling as I do with wife and children on set weeks and location being important to us.


I've no doubt end of March would be cheaper, but i'm tied to school holiday both with kids and a wife who teaches for a living... TBH, I always do a quick search on crystal every year before i book my flights in the hope to be pleasantly surprised with their prices - every year the prices go up now, whereas my costs have typically remained the same the last 3yrs. So I doubt i'll ever switch back to booking through a TO.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

I'm tempted by Austria next year but booking.com seems to have little whenever I look. Any good tips anyone? Two adults and two pre-teens, we are quite used to a 1-bed apartment with sofabed hopefully 200m from the slopes.

@Orange200, Many apartment owners, who have something a little better to offer than a bog-standard rental apartment, are reluctant to advertise through agencies, such as booking.com and air bnb, or through the resort's website. They like to deal directly with the client and know who will be occupying their accommodation. Many such owners are Snowheads, and many can put you in touch with a network of owners, who have second homes available to rent in a particular resort. I frequently send a round robin to some of the apartment owners here, in order to help people find suitable accommodation. Let me know if I can be of any help, and PM me your email address if you'd like full information.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 23-02-18 19:23; edited 2 times in total
snow conditions     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Very many thanks to @Layne, @holidayloverxx, @tatmanstours.

I guess I forgot a minor little detail that we are linked to school holidays and I'm disorganised /not confident enough that I leave booking until Nov/Dec for February while maintaining the maximum possible "free cancellation" offer!

Let's see if I can break out of this comfort zone by Sept/Oct...
snow conditions     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Funnily enough just sorted a mid march trip for 4 of us. Used Neilson and Crystal in the past and had good deals from both. One from Neilson was stonking so they can be had.

Saying that the one we've just booked is pretty cheap I feel. Going for a week.

£345 for a catered chalet in La Plagne
Flights £74
Transfers £100

£519 total has to be good value.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Another confirmed DIY-er here (although I can't bang in a nail or put up a shelf properly!)

I have used the resort tourist office websites to great effect, particularly in Austria and Switzerland, or booking.com with its very attractive free cancellation option too.

For flights, I generally use Swiss (and their free carriage of skis is especially inviting) or Easyjet midweek.

Transfers can be a pain or expensive as I don't really want to drive so resorts with, or close to, railway stations are another great option.

As for anything going wrong, we're talking about western Europe not Afghanistan. Anything can be sorted out with a bit of imagination and patience. Very Happy
snow conditions     
 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?
1...go by car if there is more than one..and dont go on toll roads..its not that much slower ..use Via Michelin for accurate costings
2..choose the resort you like ..
3...look just outside the resort ..hotels are cheaper and happier to see you .. some where like Brides Le Bain for the 3 V ask the Tourist office for your specific requirements ..they know more than you Try Italy you can get a decent hotel in the Dolomites for €50/n HB
4 don't go at half term ..January is usually just as good and not that crowded
5 ..the French usually try and rip you off ..so be prepared to take your lunch with you ..Try Italy you can get a decent hotel in the Dolomites for €50/n HB
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The following forum link will take you to a list of Snowheads who have chalets or apartments available to rent.

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=39913
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
DaveD wrote:
1...go by car if there is more than one..and dont go on toll roads..its not that much slower ..use Via Michelin for accurate costings
2..choose the resort you like ..
3...look just outside the resort ..hotels are cheaper and happier to see you .. some where like Brides Le Bain for the 3 V ask the Tourist office for your specific requirements ..they know more than you Try Italy you can get a decent hotel in the Dolomites for €50/n HB
4 don't go at half term ..January is usually just as good and not that crowded
5 ..the French usually try and rip you off ..so be prepared to take your lunch with you ..Try Italy you can get a decent hotel in the Dolomites for €50/n HB


I'd disagree with a couple of those. It is much slower off the toll roads. Very few people will recommend you don't use them. Equally you may save a bit staying in Brides but not enough to compensate for the convenience and ambience of staying for example in La Tania.

2 is a given surely!
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For us it really depends on what we are trying to achieve.

When we were travelling with children and a large group of friends and wanted to ski for a week we tended to use ski operators such as ski world, especially if we could get free places for large bookings.

Since children are now grown up, if skiing for a week, with a few friends we still use tour operators depending on what we want, I.e. Chalet or hotel board. We have ditched crystal as their web site keeps on freezing on us. Current favourite is Neilson as they offer Hotel Gentiana in Tignes.

If we want to do a more complex trip such as combine skiing in USA with another destination, we use ski safari. Latest trip combined Park City with Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

For long weekends we DIY, typically Innsbuck and use local (free) buses to nearby resorts like Stubai and Schlick.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

I'd disagree with a couple of those. It is much slower off the toll roads. Very few people will recommend you don't use them. Equally you may save a bit staying in Brides but not enough to compensate for the convenience and ambience of staying for example in La Tania.

the original question 3 pages ago was .." but am hoping there is a cheaper way for the future. ... ".. not using toll roads saves about €45 each way (Calais to Geneva), is 150km longer. about 2hrs. (10hr30m )..as well as a cheap fuel fill up in Luxembourg
If you want a cheaper skiing holiday you wouldn't go to rip off France anyway ..
ski holidays     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
DaveD wrote:
Quote:

I'd disagree with a couple of those. It is much slower off the toll roads. Very few people will recommend you don't use them. Equally you may save a bit staying in Brides but not enough to compensate for the convenience and ambience of staying for example in La Tania.

the original question 3 pages ago was .." but am hoping there is a cheaper way for the future. ... ".. not using toll roads saves about €45 each way (Calais to Geneva), is 150km longer. about 2hrs. (10hr30m )..as well as a cheap fuel fill up in Luxembourg
If you want a cheaper skiing holiday you wouldn't go to rip off France anyway ..

The OP didn't mention France so were you answering their question or not?
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