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Half term help!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
SNOWHEADS ASSEMBLE! I NEED YOU!

My partner's a teacher and has just started skiing, obviously we're restricted by term dates - Where can we go during her February half term that have the best chances of not being so half term mad busy?...

Thanks in advance you lovely lot!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Salen, Sweden was pretty good. We wrote up a trip report.

Bansko was a nightmare avoid completely at Feb half term.
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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?
We've done Madonna in Italy for the last few half terms and in general queues can be avoided but in coming year coincidence with festival which can make it a little busier but more lively

(edited to remove spelling mistake and improve grammar)


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 28-08-18 6:48; edited 1 time in total
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Italy if you are careful....................
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Sankt Vigilio, Kronplatz. Best as a DIY trip and self cater / eat out.
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I recommend the USA or Canada. We went for a week at Feb half term over a dozen times when Mrs B was a teacher.

We never had any problems with queues - even at Presidents Weekend, which is the USA holiday that usually coincides with the first weekend of our Feb half term hols. We visited Jackson Hole, Alta, Park City (& neighbouring resorts), Breckenridge (& the other summit county resorts), Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride, Crested Butte, Winter Park, Whistler (though that was at Easter), Banff, Fernie, Revelstoke, Silver Star and Kicking Horse. We also did a fortnight Easter trip, which included a week at Lake Tahoe and a week visiting Las Vegas, LA & San Francisco. Very Happy Very Happy

All trips were DIY ie not packages.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I think the half-term-busy-theme sometimes gets overblown. In my near-decade of half term skiing (admittedly mainly the Chamonix Valley but also les contamines, verbier and courmayeur) the only real problems have been at pinch points at peak hours. Ski school departure time can be a problem, as can post-lunch. However, some half terms in Chamonix have been quieter than a January weekend.

I think it’s less about where you go and more about how you do things when you’re there. Trying to get the Flegere lift at 9.15am in Chamonix can be a 60mimite wait, but grand montets at 8.45 is a straight walk-on.
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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!
@SnowBeau, half term busyness is determined by several factors:

1. Coincidence of England/Wales half-term with other major holidays, e.g. French Winter holiday, Dutch spring break, German winter holiday and Fasching - look at e.g. https://www.schoolholidayseurope.eu/ to work out who else is looking to travel at that time, and then aim to avoid those areas. Sharing the slopes with half of Paris is not fun, but then French visitors to Austria, Italy and Switzerland are fairly rare. The near-national adoption of a co-ordinated half term holiday week is pretty idiotic in terms of trying to actually have a holiday, and spreading it out by region over 2-3 weeks would reduce the crush, but maybe not reduce the prices by much as the tour ops are still trying to pay for most of their season via the takings from the half term holiday

2. Ratio of lifts/slopes to accommodation - if the town has 50000 visitor beds and the uplift capacity is 20000 per hour, there will be queueing. Conversely, if the lift system is excellent and there are no queues, that means all of the visitors are on the pistes...

3. Car park sizes - day trippers can add a considerable number of people to the slopes, but it may also mean that it will be busy on Saturday and Sunday, and fairly quiet the rest of the time.

4. Bottlenecks in the lift systems - the best conditions may be in the next valley over, but from 3pm when everyone is trying to get back "home" the single 2-seat chair running out of the valley may struggle

5. UK Tour operators - funnily enough, they're responsible for the resorts which are most frequented by British people being considered busy at half term

The answer is fairly simple - book independently, use scheduled flights rather than charters, prioritise places that the tour operators don't go, research the areas, and ask for advice (so you've got that part right!)

My knowledge is mainly of Austria, where around 25% of British skiers go. Since over 33% visit France, and a third of France is on holiday in the half-term week (and they make up ~60% of skiers in French resorts), you are more likely to find it busy in UK-dominated resorts such as Meribel and Val D'Isere (when the Telegraph says "the volume of Brits on the slopes means it can be easy to forget you are in France" you should hear alarm bells ringing) than in somewhere off the beaten track where the UK operators don't go. In Austria, most of the large areas are covered by the tour operators, but in general it is less likely to be busy - I've visited Saalbach-Hinterglemm at half term for the last 9 years, and have had New Year trips to the Zillertal, and while there have been 5-minute queues at some pinch points, these have mostly been eliminated over the years and now the mountain seems to swallow the hoards of visitors effortlessly. Yes, there will be exceptions - we took a day trip to Zell am See during half term last year, and it was very busy with long queues so I doubt we'll go back, but they are rare.

In Austria, I'd be looking at the Ski Welt, Ski Amadé, Zillertal, and Saalbach-Hinterglemm as the obvious places - all large areas with good modern lift systems and extensive snowmaking, and with careful choice of village and accommodation you can avoid the crowds and even sometimes find yourself on an empty piste wondering where everyone is today...

Italy would also be a good option, but my knowledge of it in winter is minimal.
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European School Holidays 2018-19 thread:

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3107903&highlight=eu
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@SnowBeau, which week(s) are their holiday?
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@ousekjarr, @Themasterpiece, Thanks both, great info!

@Themasterpiece, We can go away between 16th - 24th Feb.
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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.
@ousekjarr provides some good advice. Have a look at Hemsedal in Norway - you'll need to know when main Norwegian hols are, though, to avoid the crowds. It's easy to do a holiday DIY to Hemsedal and other Scandi resosts. I have written a couple of reports on Hemsedal somewhere. Italian resorts are generally not too busy at UK half term time but avoid Carnivale (which is 5 March this year, I think). La Thuile in Italy would be good for a beginner - again, report on here somewhere.
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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
I was a teacher. I found the Dolomites to be a good destination for 1/2 term. We used to stay in Hotel Malita in Arabba which gives easy access to the Sella Ronda and the Marmolada.

Another destination which was kid and crowd free at 1/2 term was Ischgl. Some more challenging skiing and nightlife is available.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
SnowBeau wrote:
@ousekjarr, @Themasterpiece, Thanks both, great info!

@Themasterpiece, We can go away between 16th - 24th Feb.


That’s week 8. It’s Oslo half term week so the Norwegian resorts will be more expensive. I don’t know how busy they get, but my suspicion is not too bad in the scheme of things.

Åre, Sweden should be ok (its one regions half term, but not Stockholm). Fly to Ostersund (direct from Gatwick or Bristol with EasyJet if that suits). DIY is easy through skistar.com.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Mini report on Hemsedal here:
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=130749

We went week 7, so the week before the Oslo half term. Great little resort with more of an alpine feel than some other scandi resorts.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We've skied at half term in both Italy and Andora without any issues. This year we'll be in La Plagne but hoping it will be ok if avoiding key lifts at the start of day and lunch time.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Themasterpiece, @TQA, @ousekjarr, Seem to be struggling to find any suitable flights... I'm going to Morzine for 7 nights 3rd to the 10th of February with a group of friends ,girlfriend isn't coming, think she felt conscious of her ability.

We didn't want to go away for a full 7 nights during her half term as she just wants to see how much she actually enjoys it and how she gets on (would also put a fair dent in my holiday allowance for the year)

I'm open to anywhere really, thinking of flying out Saturday 16th Feb until the Wednesday, the 20th but more likely will be until Thursday the 21st but flights everywhere either have a stopover or are extortionate. We live in Leicester so are pretty central, I've been looking at flights from all over, Bristol, all of London, Manchester but they're all a few hundred £.

I did find some flights to Italy for the dates we wanted at a reasonable price, to Trevisio (thinking of staying in San Vigilio from previous comments) but the transfer time is 3 hours (in good weather) and the other half turned her nose up at that... Can't win! ha
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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?
You'll get cheaper flights and quicker transfers if you don't fly on the Saturday. Fly to Salzburg and you'll get a good resort in not much more than an hour's drive. If you rent a car then it's easy to have a day off skiing and visit Salzburg, which is a lovely place. Saalbach would be my first choice. If you're okay with a 3 hour transfer then it's worth looking at Munich flights too.
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@SnowBeau, this thread may help with your half term flights

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=137668&highlight=
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@SnowBeau, go away as soon as the schools break up in April. It's quite late this year (ours are 5th April) but if you go somewhere with access to decent altitude skiing it will be ideal for a learner. Cheaper, less busy, better weather and longer days. And doing a short trip will be easier than peak season.

That said I'd go poo-poo or bust on a week - as the costs aren't much greater and if she hates it you can always bail out and just have a holiday. But it's rare IMO for people to hate it so the risk is low.
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Looking at Breuil-Cervinia at the beginning of April (Easter holidays) looks promising, flights and accommodation look reasonable
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Villars / Les Diablerets is quiet at half-term and there is the bonus of Glacier 3000 10minutes away up the valley. We had blue sky powder days on the Glacier in half term last year and it was practically empty!! yes prices are a bit more but if you choose your accommodation and dining options carefully its not that much more and the lack of queues more than make up for the extra cost. We stayed just outside Les Diablerets and loved it.
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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!
Anyone ever had an experience with getting from Milan Linate airport to Cervenia?
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Three valleys is big enough a ski area to spread the crowds out, and if you avoid places like the centre of Les Menuires and Val Thorens then there should not be a problem. Flights to Geneva or Lyon, and possibly Chamberry. The snow train from St Pancras will be booked out by now but you could get a Eurostar to Paris and then TGV to Moutiers. Driving will take about 10.5 hours from Calais, though the queues for the tolls can add significantly to that - we do an off motorway route via Annecy to avoid that.
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vaughan wrote:
Three valleys is big enough a ski area to spread the crowds out, and if you avoid places like the centre of Les Menuires and Val Thorens then there should not be a problem. Flights to Geneva or Lyon, and possibly Chamberry. The snow train from St Pancras will be booked out by now but you could get a Eurostar to Paris and then TGV to Moutiers. Driving will take about 10.5 hours from Calais, though the queues for the tolls can add significantly to that - we do an off motorway route via Annecy to avoid that.


IMHO the 3V is the VERY LAST place I would ski at 1/2 term. I have memories of 20+ minute queues everywhere.
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I was there last year and yes getting out of the Chaudanne in Meribel at 9:00 was a bit of a pain, but once you are away its fine. The place is so big generally crowds weren't a problem. There were some bottle necks, mainly in the runs back to Meribel, but overall it was fine
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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.
My partner and I are teachers and head to Alpbach at Feb half-term each year and find it perfect.
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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
Looks like we're heading to Cervinia, fly to Turin from London, it's actually cheaper to rent a car for 5 days than it is for a transfer (flight arrives in the evening so only option for transfers are private cars etc.)

I don't know if this is a stupid question, as we're going at the start of April should i pay extra for a car with snow tyres or would they not really be necessary for the roads at that time of year?
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You know it makes sense.
SnowBeau wrote:
I don't know if this is a stupid question, as we're going at the start of April should i pay extra for a car with snow tyres or would they not really be necessary for the roads at that time of year?

Early April can still be pretty chilly and snowy in the Alps. That is why we go there right. So yeah winter tyres and snow chains would be a good idea. May make the private transfer more tempting I guess.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@SnowBeau, you need to check dates but very possible you will have to carry chains - available as an extra from car rental - cheaper than winter tyres if they are not included in the rental price, but not as effective and more hassle to fit in my view. Breuil-Cervinia is a great resort and really good skiing, although there is a killer t-bar back from Swiss side which can be avoided by taking the world’s 4th highest cable car....although that has long queues at the end of the day and is not for the vertiginous!
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