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Er . . Sorry to ask but advice on half term 2019

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello,

I guess this has been asked many many times and I did use the search function to read previous threads but I thought I'd ask anyway.

We have just come back from a January week in Pila skiing which we loved. We took the kids out of school (primary) so it was nice and cheap. (well as cheap as ski holidays can be!)

Eldest starts secondary in September and has asked not to go out of school as he doesn't want to miss much school work. What responsible parent can argue with that attitude Shocked

So not having gone skiing in school holidays before, having done the naughty and taken out of school from r the previous 4 years) I don't know what best starting point is. Is it cheaper to fly or drive? If we drive I can probably persuade him to miss 1 day of school to try and avoid travelling on a peak travelling day. Small or large resort? I have heard that larger resorts have better lift systems so queues are more manageable. But we always have to return after a couple of hours back to ski school pick up so don't really need sprawling areas.

I wondered about Pila again as we like it, but wondered if it's rather slow lifts and abdonance of interski and school skiing holidays would make it too conjested?

Easy jet flights coming me out in March is it silly money for family of 4 ? We tend to organise our own holidays as opposed to using a tour operator, as have found this cheaper option.

Sorry to ask the dreaded half term question but I am a newbie for half term!
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@Hils68, we have managed a cheap half term trip to Bansko, Bulgaria and definitely do not recommend that as the queues were horrendous and the runs were exceedingly busy.

This season we are flying to Oslo, have hired a car and have a self catering place booked in Salen, Sweden. This has been very reasonable in costs. Obviously don’t know how it will work out, as we don’t fly out until a week on Saturday. Happy to report back (full trip report will be done).
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Also don’t forget Easter. Often much quieter and cheaper than half term. For example look at the costs for the Spring Family Bash.

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=134004&highlight=
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Half term can be done cheaper - we went to Pila last year (and are going back again this year) for just over £2100 for a family of four. That total is everything spent - flights, car hire and petrol, accomodation, ski hire, lift passes, ski school for the children and food. We don't eat out much though (children are currently too fussy) which helps keep the overall cost down. Flights can be really reasonable even at half term. We are flying from Gatwick to Milan this year for £200 for the 4 of us, including 2 hold bags, which I though was amazingly good value for peak holiday time Very Happy
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Hi Anna, really interested to hear about Pila in half term as we have been there twice now. Once in March and just gone in January. I was wondering how busy the resort is during half term? It seems to advertise itself as an interski base and a school trip place and I wondered if that would make it very busy in half term?

Those flights are a great price too. Cheaper than our January ones! We tend to fly from Bristol but perhaps a London one would be cheaper.

Look forward to hearing from you Very Happy
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@Hils68, When is your half term break ?

The school our son is at (but will have left after A levels by 2019) is 8 February
Our daughters school finish 22 February 2019

Where you are based, what airport are you using? Using an airport slightly outwith your normal might help with prices.

We've sometimes flown from Newcastle instead of Edinburgh and saved ££. Now our daughter is in an English school we get cheaper fares from Edinburgh. It's worth double checking neighbouring school holidays.
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European School Holidays 2018-19 thread:

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3107903&highlight=european+school+holidays#3107903
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2019 - it will be Saturday 16 February.

We have previously done Bristol ( its just over an hour for us) to Turin and it was about £260 for 4 of us with 3 hold bags. When I have searched on his forum for Easy jet, some reports are saying flights can be showing as over £1500 in half term.

That's why I wondered about driving.

But yes Birmingham, or Manchester or somewhere within couple of hours.
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@Hils68 South Wales half term is the following week so also worth checking Cardiff. Flybe currently are doing Geneva and Chambery.
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If you hit the buttons fast enough the half term flights sometimes aren't too bad - but needs to be literally within minutes of flights being released.
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@Hils68 - we didn't find it too busy last year, yes there were quite a few school groups, but they seemed to be concentrated around the Grimod and Gorraz areas. Push further out and we were skiing fairly empty pistes. Lift queues weren't too horrendous either. We did manage to coincide with a Red Bull event however - so the Saturday was mental! Loads and loads of people - the bottle neck through Pila was particularly awful. It's not something I'd thought about before - but now I will always try to check and see if there are any events scheduled before we book!

We would normally fly from Bristol too (or Birmingham) - but I think London's half term must be the week before us as I was astonished to find flights that cheap!
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As said previously, go at Easter rather than feb half-term. Much cheaper and quieter.
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As others have said, Easter is well worth considering as an alternative to Feb half term.

We were stuck with school hols for 24 years (when Mrs B was a teacher) & usually skied over New Year, Feb Half term & Easter. We found Austria & Italy (St Johann & the Aosta Valley respectively) to be not too busy in Feb but never dared try France at that time of the year, after reading warnings of doom on here. (eg Pam W's comments ring in my head now, and we still avoid the whole of Feb in France wink)

Our preferred destinations for Feb were Transatlantic and we managed numerous reasonably priced DIY trips to the USA & Canada - although I appreciate there were only 2 of us to budget for.

As others have said, I think DIY could be the economical way forward.

A real budget (alternative) option that many would not consider (seemingly even amongst the ranks of Snowheads, surprisingly...) is October half term. We skied at that time of the year for over 20 years and never had a bad trip. Flights are cheap and we would often do a road trip, combining 2 or 3 Austrian glaciers over 5 or 6 days. We would hire a car and go for very cheap (but exceptional) B & Bs or self catering accommodation. Even a long weekend then would be well worth considering. You could look at a twin centre Hintertux or Stubai trip for starters.

Or you could go during the school holidays at the end of May. That's usually a lovely time of the year to ski.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Hils68 wrote:
Is it cheaper to fly or drive?

It can be, especially with 4. But whereas the expense of the car journey is pretty much fixed whereas flight prices very variable it's hard to be definitive. There are other factors, for example, potential extra days skiing, ease of transporting your own ski's and boots. Too many to mention right now. Also there is personal preference. So people get on with the drive better than others.

Hils68 wrote:
Small or large resort?

When our children were younger we did La Norma and Les Contamines and certainly these smaller resorts are more than adequate (and cheaper) in those circumstances.

Hils68 wrote:
I have heard that larger resorts have better lift systems so queues are more manageable.

I have never skied Feb H/T as we go Christmas and Easter but certainly yes the lift systems at the smaller resorts can be a step down but I am not sure that equates to much better queues as there other factors.
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We drive to Austria every half term (2 adults, 2 kids -now 14,11).
The price comes in around £2000-£2500 self catering, ski lessons for kids etc. depending on exchange rate, quality of accommodation.
One ski school at St Johann in Tirol (Wilder Kaiser) include lunchtime supervision and equipment hire in the lesson price. Its a nice little ski area and, as you have the car and the kids are in ski school 9:30 to 3:30, its easy to pop over to nearby resorts like Kitzbuhel and the Skiwelt.

The lifts in small Austrian resorts are very good these days! Plenty of fast heated chairlifts.
The dreaded T-bars are heading for extinction and slow chair lifts will follow soon after.
I personally find the queues shorter in small resorts.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi

What people on here are saying is 100% correct in that increased HT holiday costs are mainly down to flight costs. You can’t blame UK airlines for putting up flights when they know there will be a big demand, but sometimes it is slightly (?) over the top. The same thing happens during the summer holiday.

With us we aim to make the same profit per person through the winter, although the cost of transfer seats, with some coaches at €1,200 each, will have a large impact on this aim. At HT the cost of hotels doesn’t go up, neither do the lift passes, transfers, ski hire, staff costs, ski school, etc. But some airlines (?) increase their costs by hundreds of pounds each way, and that’s just when they are first released so later seats will be much more. The silly thing is that they know that some families will pay the higher charges, and they do.

This is the reason many School Operators tend to use coaches from the UK as the cost per seat (return and use in resort) is around £85 to £105 depending on the start point in the UK. This gives them a set transport cost so they can sell the trip at a fixed cost, allowing parents to book their child onto a School Trip over a longer period without the cost increasing as the departure gets closer. Note: we don’t run school bus trips so I’m not trying to sell you/your kids one.

PS. It’s still snowing here in Madonna di Campiglio, time to test my new snow chains, as I lost the others last week Very Happy
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Lisa_BrentaSki wrote:
Hi

What people on here are saying is 100% correct in that increased HT holiday costs are mainly down to flight costs. You can’t blame UK airlines for putting up flights when they know there will be a big demand, but sometimes it is slightly (?) over the top. The same thing happens during the summer holiday.

With us we aim to make the same profit per person through the winter, although the cost of transfer seats, with some coaches at €1,200 each, will have a large impact on this aim. At HT the cost of hotels doesn’t go up, neither do the lift passes, transfers, ski hire, staff costs, ski school, etc. But some airlines (?) increase their costs by hundreds of pounds each way, and that’s just when they are first released so later seats will be much more. The silly thing is that they know that some families will pay the higher charges, and they do.

This is the reason many School Operators tend to use coaches from the UK as the cost per seat (return and use in resort) is around £85 to £105 depending on the start point in the UK. This gives them a set transport cost so they can sell the trip at a fixed cost, allowing parents to book their child onto a School Trip over a longer period without the cost increasing as the departure gets closer. Note: we don’t run school bus trips so I’m not trying to sell you/your kids one.

PS. It’s still snowing here in Madonna di Campiglio, time to test my new snow chains, as I lost the others last week Very Happy


I'm not sure I agree with that statement? A sample of pricing of catered chalets through France and private rented accommodation sees prices rising astronomically in HT. A catered chalet available in January for €5,000 will be as much as €8,000 during HT. The cost of running a hotel doesn't go up, but demand for the space does so the price rises.
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FrediKanoute wrote:
I'm not sure I agree with that statement? A sample of pricing of catered chalets through France and private rented accommodation sees prices rising astronomically in HT. A catered chalet available in January for €5,000 will be as much as €8,000 during HT. The cost of running a hotel doesn't go up, but demand for the space does so the price rises.
This is true for some accommodation in some countries. Catered chalets are perhaps a special case, because they are primarily used by Brits, so will experience the same peaks in demand as flights from the UK.

Some hotels just have the same rate for the whole of Feb and March. Others spike in mid feb. I think this is a pretty useful way to judge where to go. The resorts where the prices spike at your half term week are worth avoiding because not only are they expensive, but they will also be extra busy on the slopes and roads and restaurants. The hotel owners will be expert on how demand fluctuates in their resort and they are effectively sharing that knowledge with you, via their pricing. Sometimes you find that they peak a different week than your half term, because the main clientele in that resort are, say, Germans and their half term is different.
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Thinking about Easter 2019. It is very late in 2019 at April 21st, which is about as late as it can be (April25th). For many resorts this will be the last week of the season and many of the lower resorts will be closing that week. Christmas may be a better bet.

@koru, Looking at apartmental rental cost for an apartment for 4 they rise from roughly 300euros in the low season (early janauary) to the high season of about 1000 euro. High season is the 4 weeks of half term holidays from second week of Feb to first week of March. If you are driving then that extra 700 euros is almost all the price increases by. Ferries go up a bit, but fuel, tolls, food and lift passes stay just about the same. The real thing that puts me off half term month is the queues.
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johnE wrote:
Thinking about Easter 2019. It is very late in 2019 at April 21st, which is about as late as it can be (April25th). For many resorts this will be the last week of the season and many of the lower resorts will be closing that week. Christmas may be a better bet.

When people talk about Easter skiing it is a bit of a misnomer as it actually when the schools break up that is the critical date. My children's school break up on March 23rd 2018 and April 5th 2019. I think the latest they've broken up is around April 8th. I am not sure there is a better bet. They are both somewhat dicey conditions wise but they have their plusses too.
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@Layne, wow that is a huge amount of time off. No wonder teachers get a bad rep for long holidays Laughing
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@Layne, When I think of Easter I think of Easter and having the Good Friday and the Bank Holiday off so I can go skiing while taking the minimum time off work. I suppose if the UK schools (or is it only English) are having a holiday sometime in the spring that isn't actually Easter then some real bargins miust be available. The ski resorts will be very quiet.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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As for Easter versus half term, there is a huge difference in French accommodation (self catered apartments and chalets). Once the "vacances scolaires" are over (end of first week in March) it's low season for rentals for the rest of the season. Prices can be at least 3 times higher in half term.
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johnE wrote:
@Layne, When I think of Easter I think of Easter and having the Good Friday and the Bank Holiday off so I can go skiing while taking the minimum time off work.

Precisely why I mentioned it. The dates for Good Friday and Easter Monday vary a lot. School holidays vary. They usually coincide in some shape or form but it could be that the Easter weekend is at the beginning of the two school holiday, in the middle or at the very end.

johnE wrote:
I suppose if the UK schools (or is it only English) are having a holiday sometime in the spring that isn't actually Easter then some real bargins miust be available. The ski resorts will be very quiet.

It's always cheaper regardless - when Easter is doesn't make a lot of difference IME.
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I have booked apartments in Austria in the past that have a flat rate all winter.
IMO you’re better going at HT as conditions are more reliable. It’s okay for people to take a risk on an April ski holiday if it’s not their only trip of the year.
It would be v distressing if it’s your only one.
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@Drammeister,

Val Thorens and Espace Killy have almost (if not) 100% of their pistes open until May each year, so there's no need for any form of distress wink
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Scandinavia is a good option. During school holidays, we've been to Ruka in Finland and Trysil in Norway with practically no queues. Cost though is a different matter and you need to weigh up ski hire/passes etc, transfers, etc.
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We DIY'd to Italy about 5 times in half term. Always flew to Milan, usually on the Friday night & came back the following sunday. Typically flights circa £100 return. Hired a car and booked airbnb's or similar for the the extra night or nights at either end & then 7 nights in resort. Italy is much, much quieter than France or Austria in half term. It's also a lot cheaper than France and the food is better (unless you pay a king's ransom in france) Gressoney was our favourite but also loved Champoluc & had a good week in Courmayeur.
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Thank you everyone. I guess we will look at the flights when they come out and see how they compare to driving. Guess we have the next fair few years of half term ski so no doubt will try lots of different options!
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Quote:

Guess we have the next fair few years of half term ski

there's always Easter - better in just about every possible way! Christmas is better too, though not in every possible way because of dodgier snow early in the season.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Hils68 wrote:
Hello,

I guess this has been asked many many times and I did use the search function to read previous threads but I thought I'd ask anyway.

We have just come back from a January week in Pila skiing which we loved. We took the kids out of school (primary) so it was nice and cheap. (well as cheap as ski holidays can be!)

Eldest starts secondary in September and has asked not to go out of school as he doesn't want to miss much school work. What responsible parent can argue with that attitude Shocked

So not having gone skiing in school holidays before, having done the naughty and taken out of school from r the previous 4 years) I don't know what best starting point is. Is it cheaper to fly or drive? If we drive I can probably persuade him to miss 1 day of school to try and avoid travelling on a peak travelling day. Small or large resort? I have heard that larger resorts have better lift systems so queues are more manageable. But we always have to return after a couple of hours back to ski school pick up so don't really need sprawling areas.

I wondered about Pila again as we like it, but wondered if it's rather slow lifts and abdonance of interski and school skiing holidays would make it too conjested?

Easy jet flights coming me out in March is it silly money for family of 4 ? We tend to organise our own holidays as opposed to using a tour operator, as have found this cheaper option.

Sorry to ask the dreaded half term question but I am a newbie for half term!


I go every year in Feb half term to Les Arcs. Queues never a problem and I get the Eurostar direct.

Costs are pretty good too:

Train London to Bourg - £250pp return
Accom on Airbnb - £250pp
Ski hire - £120
Lift Pass £210
Food is pretty reasonable for a ski resort and lots of choice in arc1800
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Quote:

Costs are pretty good too:

Train London to Bourg - £250pp return
Accom on Airbnb - £250pp
Ski hire - £120
Lift Pass £210
Food is pretty reasonable for a ski resort and lots of choice in arc1800

You are in for a bit of a shock with lift passes this year. Over Christmas this season my wife, son and me paid over 1200 euros for our paradiski passes (9 days skiing) . The basic Les Arcs pass for 6 days is 265 euros. If you are going by Eurostar I assume you are planning to get the full 8 days skiing in.
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johnE wrote:
Quote:

Costs are pretty good too:

Train London to Bourg - £250pp return
Accom on Airbnb - £250pp
Ski hire - £120
Lift Pass £210
Food is pretty reasonable for a ski resort and lots of choice in arc1800

You are in for a bit of a shock with lift passes this year. Over Christmas this season my wife, son and me paid over 1200 euros for our paradiski passes (9 days skiing) . The basic Les Arcs pass for 6 days is 265 euros. If you are going by Eurostar I assume you are planning to get the full 8 days skiing in.


not at all. I've already bought my pass. My airbnb host gets around 20% discount. A lot of bar workers/resort workers and all airbnb/chalet owners can get you around 20% discount on lift passes
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NickyJ wrote:
@Hils68, we have managed a cheap half term trip to Bansko, Bulgaria and definitely do not recommend that as the queues were horrendous and the runs were exceedingly busy.

This season we are flying to Oslo, have hired a car and have a self catering place booked in Salen, Sweden. This has been very reasonable in costs. Obviously don’t know how it will work out, as we don’t fly out until a week on Saturday. Happy to report back (full trip report will be done).


We arrived Saturday - drive across from Oslo took much longer than indicated by google maps / sat nav. Nothing to do with traffic purely the snow / ice etc in the roads and not feeling confident going faster. If we do do this again we will ensure we hire a 4 wheel drive!

Skied yesterday in the area of Salen we are staying in. No queues at all. Obviously lots of people here judging by where we had lunch (but think almost everybody was in the same place as they had 50% of everything on Sundays - including drinks! We lucked out there Happy).
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I keep saying it, but how about the French Pyrenees? Saint Lary is a good equivalent to Pila (if staying in Aosta) in similar size area, lots going on in town, easy to get to the ski area (with two lifts from town instead of one). The big advantage for flights is that you can look around and pick up something to any one of Toulouse, Lourdes, Biaritz, Perpignan etc. Flights will be less expensive than GVA, I can guarantee it (based on a little bit of recent research I did) - https://www.facebook.com/gotothefrenchpyrenees/photos/a.332456117133929.1073741835.267564123623129/537802559932616/?type=3&theater
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