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Booking our first trip - not a clue

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm just having a complete brainfart that you can do a GCSE on snowboarding Shocked and I failed O'level Latin Evil or Very Mad The older I get the less fair life feels . . .
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@imustbemadme,
If you are still reading all this... which exam board is your daughter's GCSE with?
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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?
@imustbemadme, personally I'd just book the best (quality/price balance) flight deals you can get to Geneva straight away. Leave everything else until about a week before departure.

There's plenty of options for travel from Geneva onwards to the most likely resorts. Lots of accommodation available. Wait and see where the decent snow conditions and weather will be. That's what makes most difference on a snowsports holiday. It is very low season and many operators offer accommodation and everything else needed that week. Also easy enough to DIY if better and you don't mind the little bit of effort involved. snowHead
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PeakyB wrote:
@imustbemadme, personally I'd just book the best (quality/price balance) flight deals you can get to Geneva straight away. Leave everything else until about a week before departure.

There's plenty of options for travel from Geneva onwards to the most likely resorts. Lots of accommodation available. Wait and see where the decent snow conditions and weather will be. That's what makes most difference on a snowsports holiday. It is very low season and many operators offer accommodation and everything else needed that week. Also easy enough to DIY if better and you don't mind the little bit of effort involved. snowHead


I just read down through the thread and was going to post almost exactly this ^
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PeakyB wrote:
@imustbemadme, personally I'd just book the best (quality/price balance) flight deals you can get to Geneva straight away. Leave everything else until about a week before departure.

There's plenty of options for travel from Geneva onwards to the most likely resorts. Lots of accommodation available. Wait and see where the decent snow conditions and weather will be. That's what makes most difference on a snowsports holiday. It is very low season and many operators offer accommodation and everything else needed that week. Also easy enough to DIY if better and you don't mind the little bit of effort involved. snowHead



Main Question - If we book flights and wait, aren't resorts likely to put their prices up once they know they're gonna have snow??

I looked at Val Thorens and it does the job as far as being snow sure but it doesn't look like a very nice resort? The accommodation I was given has terrible reviews on Trip advisor too. At the end of the day we NEED to do this filming for my daughter's gcse PE so that's the main focus BUT I'd like us to have a good time rather than grin and bear it, I'm hoping it'll be something we come to do once or twice a year.
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imustbemadme wrote:
Main Question - If we book flights and wait, aren't resorts likely to put their prices up once they know they're gonna have snow??

Not really for the week you are looking at. Most people won't look to go that week whatever the snow is like.

imustbemadme wrote:
I looked at Val Thorens and it does the job as far as being snow sure but it doesn't look like a very nice resort?

A lot of the purpose built French resorts are functional rather than pretty, though they have learnt their lesson and try to improve things aesthetically where they can. But they are not unpleasant places to stay when seen from "on the ground". I wouldn't worry too much on this front. If you were going more middle season you could go to something more picture box.

imustbemadme wrote:
The accommodation I was given has terrible reviews on Trip advisor too. At the end of the day we NEED to do this filming for my daughter's gcse PE so that's the main focus BUT I'd like us to have a good time rather than grin and bear it, I'm hoping it'll be something we come to do once or twice a year.

What is the accommodation name and who are you booking through?
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
It is a very low season week, have gone that week a number of times in the past. Places include Courchevel, Zermatt, St Anton and Obergurgl
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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!
You will get what you pay for
A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

For a first holiday you dont need a big ski area & better looking for something smaller so you dont get lost. Do you know how to read a piste map?
Whats the point in paying for a few hundred kn of track when you barely see 10% of it.
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NickyJ wrote:
It is a very low season week, have gone that week a number of times in the past. Places include Courchevel, Zermatt, St Anton and Obergurgl


Meant to also say - a number of those were very cheap last minute holidays but that was when we were just two so less fussy on rooms for the children.
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@Mr.Egg, many smaller resorts will be lower altitude and less snow-sure.
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Quote:

A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

Go on explain - what are the problems with an apartment built over 40 years ago compared to say one built 10 yesrs ago. I'm not being critical but would actually like to know.


You could say that Tignes is a small resort in mid December since it is possible that only the top part of it is open. That is probably why it is cheeper than the rest of the season.
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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.
johnE wrote:
Quote:

A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

Go on explain - what are the problems with an apartment built over 40 years ago compared to say one built 10 yesrs ago. I'm not being critical but would actually like to know.


You could say that Tignes is a small resort in mid December since it is possible that only the top part of it is open. That is probably why it is cheeper than the rest of the season.


A lot of them are built & apartments sold of as investments. Its the luck of the draw in what apartment you get & how its been maintained.
Some investors may take more pride than others, while others couldnt give a crap as long as its making them money.
You could end up in something with 20yr old furniture, moldy grouting & white goods from the 80s all painted in lovely magnolia.
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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
Hells Bells wrote:
@Mr.Egg, many smaller resorts will be lower altitude and less snow-sure.


yes, better to have a few ideas & sort it out closer to the date
However OP could save quite a few hundred Euros on the lift passes alone by going to a smaller resort that has snow.
Thats without the savings in food & drink, etc.

I'm flying to Innsbruck in mid dec. but will decide where to snowboard nearer the time. Lots of options around innsbruck or within an hour train ride.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Mr.Egg, might not be so easy if he needs to book an instructor to film the GCSE stuff though.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Hells Bells wrote:
@Mr.Egg, might not be so easy if he needs to book an instructor to film the GCSE stuff though.

Yeah, I think this is the point being missed. Plus they are newbies. Scanking around late on could be stressful.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@johnE, from limited experience, the target market when e.g. Avoriaz was built were French skiers on very limited budgets, so not uncommon to have the double bed interchange with the dining table and the kids in fold down bunks in the entrance hall (fire and escape safety be damned.

These days the building norms are rather more generous (and a whole heap safer) and the market seems more demanding.

At least, that’s my analysis. I have only stayed a handful of times in such places.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
A good option for you here would be Obertauern in Austria. Not massively high, but the early eason snow record is really good, with cover from summit to village all season. Pricing is reasonable for accomodation, food, lift passes. And they have a couple of really good snowboard schools, Flights to salzburg are pleantiful, and reasonable, transfer to resort is about an hour.
And is really easy to navigate (if that makes a difference)
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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?
@Mr.Egg, few smaller resorts will (be forecast to) open before the 22nd.

None (?) are high enough to give adequate snow confidence.
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johnE wrote:
Quote:

A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

You could say that Tignes is a small resort in mid December since it is possible that only the top part of it is open. That is probably why it is cheeper than the rest of the season.


I've been going in November and Dec for the last 5 years and have been riding off piste then, pretty much every year. Some pistes don't open, not because of the lack of snow, but because the lack of customers means theren't enough people there to justify having the entire resort open. It is normally deserted in these months.

Rounds of the FIS World Cup are held every year in Val d'Isere every year on the 2nd and 3rd weekends of December. Both courses finish at village level.

I'm guessing you have never been to Espace Killy in December.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
bar shaker wrote:
johnE wrote:
Quote:

A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

You could say that Tignes is a small resort in mid December since it is possible that only the top part of it is open. That is probably why it is cheeper than the rest of the season.


I've been going in November and Dec for the last 5 years and have been riding off piste then, pretty much every year. Some pistes don't open, not because of the lack of snow, but because the lack of customers means theren't enough people there to justify having the entire resort open. It is normally deserted in these months.

Rounds of the FIS World Cup are held every year in Val d'Isere every year on the 2nd and 3rd weekends of December. Both courses finish at village level.

I'm guessing you have never been to Espace Killy in December.

I was in Tignes 20th to 27th Dec 2014. There was no off piste and no skiing down to lower stations was restricted (run open to La Daille on the Tuesday for example). Was due to go to Le 7 Laux which has skiing up to 2400m but it didn't open.

I was in Paradiski 19th to 26th Dec 2015. There was no off piste and very limited skiing down to lower stations i.e., links kept open by artificial snow.

IIRC on both occasions the lift pass company reduced the rate of the ski passes as compensation.
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bar shaker wrote:
johnE wrote:
Quote:

A studio or or apartment build 40 years ago is going to have its issues.

You could say that Tignes is a small resort in mid December since it is possible that only the top part of it is open. That is probably why it is cheeper than the rest of the season.


I've been going in November and Dec for the last 5 years and have been riding off piste then, pretty much every year. Some pistes don't open, not because of the lack of snow, but because the lack of customers means theren't enough people there to justify having the entire resort open. It is normally deserted in these months.

Rounds of the FIS World Cup are held every year in Val d'Isere every year on the 2nd and 3rd weekends of December. Both courses finish at village level.

I'm guessing you have never been to Espace Killy in December.



Remember ..was it 2014? only Fornet glacier open and not a flake of snow for ages after opening weekend. There has also been a PSB in Tignes where only the glacier and Double MM were open
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@bar shaker, interesting how many DH and SGs have not been run in the last 10 years, also the opening DHs moved to the US as Vd'I not sufficiently snow sure...
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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!
@imustbemadme, just a word of warning, the French shoeboxes that say they can sleep 6 are usually more like 4, so allow some tolerance in your search.

£500 each including lift pass, flight & transfer is about the cheapest you'll see a ski trip
On a rare occasion you might do better, but not very often
. VT is about as 'snowsure' as it gets, if there isn't snow there in December then it's a rough start to the season in that part of the Alps. The one word of warning is that it can be a miserable place if the weather is poor. There aren't any trees (bit of an exaggeration, think there are about 4 near the bottom of Plein Sud lift), so when visibility is poor it can be really tough as a beginner. I went there for my second trip and ended up staying in for a day and a half because we couldn't see.
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Many pistes weren't open in Tignes at the start of the PSB 2017 - and some that were, were stony. But then there was more snow than anybody could want, just as the week ended - lots of pistes and lifts closed because of avalanche risk! There are no guarantees when it comes to snow, but Tignes remains one of the best early season destinations.
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Many pistes weren't open in Tignes at the start of the PSB 2017 - and some that were, were stony. But then there was more snow than anybody could want, just as the week ended - lots of pistes and lifts closed because of avalanche risk! There are no guarantees when it comes to snow, but Tignes remains one of the best early season destinations.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude, Does Val Thorens have an equivilant to the rather good swimming pool and indoor climbing centre in Tignes?
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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.
@johnE, possibly. There's some sports centre but I've never been because I'm either skiing or busy moping that I can't go skiing.
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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
@johnE, there is a swimming pool and sports centre http://www.valthorens.com/en/activities-and-entertainment/sports-center-and-aqua-spa.94.html
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@imustbemadme,
Quote:

PeakyB wrote:


@imustbemadme, personally I'd just book the best (quality/price balance) flight deals you can get to Geneva straight away. Leave everything else until about a week before departure.

There's plenty of options for travel from Geneva onwards to the most likely resorts. Lots of accommodation available. Wait and see where the decent snow conditions and weather will be. That's what makes most difference on a snowsports holiday. It is very low season and many operators offer accommodation and everything else needed that week. Also easy enough to DIY if better and you don't mind the little bit of effort involved.

Main Question - If we book flights and wait, aren't resorts likely to put their prices up once they know they're gonna have snow??


No, or not significantly. Even when snow is good, that week is very quiet for numbers of clients. Knowing where the decent snow is, then picking the best value accommodation available on a late deal, is very easy that week. It is more likely you'd get a decent discount on published accommodation prices, rather than have to pay an increase.

Flight prices do increase though, as others have stated, so worth booking those IMO.

The vast majority of skiers/boarders seem to think the European season doesn't start until Christmas and ends on April 1. More fool them snowHead
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
under a new name wrote:
@bar shaker, interesting how many DH and SGs have not been run in the last 10 years, also the opening DHs moved to the US as Vd'I not sufficiently snow sure...


All true, but has also been reversed such as 2016 when VdI hosted US events, due to lack of US snow.

I suppose there is no such thing as 'snowsure' even after Christmas, but Espace Killy has one of the best records for delivering the goods early... and late.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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imustbemadme wrote:

I looked at Val Thorens and it does the job as far as being snow sure but it doesn't look like a very nice resort? The accommodation I was given has terrible reviews on Trip advisor too. At the end of the day we NEED to do this filming for my daughter's gcse PE so that's the main focus BUT I'd like us to have a good time rather than grin and bear it, I'm hoping it'll be something we come to do once or twice a year.


If you want snowsure, pretty and not too expensive, you could go to an Austrian glacier.
Kaprun has apartments for £400-£500 that week. The village slopes won't be open, but its a short bus ride to the gondola for the Kitzsteinhorn glacier.
The piste map is here:
https://www.bergfex.com/kitzsteinhorn-kaprun/panorama/

A 6 day adult lift pass is 233 euros, half that for children. Food and drink are cheaper than France.

The downside will be the size of the area open may not be too big.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
imustbemadme wrote:
Daughter took up snowboarding for GCSE PE and we need to film her on the slopes before the deadline in Feb so we are trying to book something this December (looking at 15th for 7 days) but I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. Advice from friends is to go high as it's early in the season but others sniffed at that and said we'd have snow anywhere in the alps.


Not the case, snow is seasonal and can be sparse, so as a general rule of thumb head high unless booking within a couple of weeks.

Quote:
We'd prefer self catering so we can eat when we want to and we have fussy teens but I have to be honest most of the apartments look like student accommodation!


'Most' of the low standard s/c accommodation I've seen is in France, decent B&B accom (even HB) can be had in Italy for little more, if you time the booking deal.

Quote:
As this is our first ever trip, I'm torn between not wanting to pay a fortune and taking a more expensive option just to make sure we have a better experience.


Re above, no need, book with a TO and time it right ...... around now is not a bad time.

Quote:
I found a cracking deal in Bansko but wasn't sure if it was too early in the season and not high enough and another at Montgenevre.


There's a reason, I've been to Bansko several times and wouldn't go back, all things being equal. It's not just the horrific overstretched main gondola waiting times, they need to expand the area to accommodate all the added beds too ...... old town is nice though. Montgenevre is ok, was back there after twenty one years in January. The front side is a bit samey, Claviere is crap on a board, but the backside is kicking, great terrain. However ...... food and beverage are approx twice the cost of the Italian end of the Vialattea, Sestriere / Sauze etc (stay away from Sansicario, that's crap too).

Quote:
Any advice/recommendations would be appreciated. We are a party of four, 3 adults and one teen age 15 - 3 boarders 1 skier, all beginners although 15yr old is considerably further on than us at Xscape/Hemel and would love to have a brilliant first holiday so we'll enjoy many more to come.


My advice ...... either book now with a TO, head high and take your chance. Maybe wait for the package deals to stack up, and it could be much cheaper than you think ...... or leave it until there's snow on the ground and either try to bag a late TO deal or DIY.

Personally I prefer Italy, but if they've got snow and it's unlikely early season, and you want a cheapie, forget Bansko (and Borovets) and give Pamporovo a look, especially as it's now linked with Mechi Chal / Chepelare by a regular free (with pass) shuttle bus.

Quote:
ps: Do you think a ski school would do filming?
don't know, but likely for the moola .....

AAJMHO
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@imustbemadme, if you live near Gatwick, EasyJet fly to Åre, Sweden for £130 return. I also saw an announcement that EasyJet will start flights from Bristol to Åre-Östersund this coming winter.

The resort will be open, although the amount of runs may be limited (I’d guess maybe 50% open but working hard to open more that week for Christmas).

Check skistar.se for accommodation, lift passes etc. Changeover day is Sunday.
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@imustbemadme, if you live near Gatwick, EasyJet fly to Åre, Sweden for £130 return. I also saw an announcement that EasyJet will start flights from Bristol to Åre-Östersund this coming winter.

The resort will be open, although the amount of runs may be limited (I’d guess maybe 50% open but working hard to open more that week for Christmas).

Check skistar.se for accommodation, lift passes etc. Changeover day is Sunday.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@imustbemadme, I would recommend somewhere with a combination of below and above tree-line skiing for mid December. It's true that at that time of the year altitude is a very important factor, but it can also mean no visibility and strong winds closing lifts (bitter personal experience).

Austria tends to be a bit colder earlier in the season, so you don't need to go quite as high and apartments tend to be a bit more spacious and of a better finish due to towns being year round destinations at the bottom of the valley rather than purpose built mountain apartment blocks (obviously, a generalisation).

I'd say somewhere like Mayrhofen would probably meet most of your requirements. Lost of decent apartments in town, fairly high and snowsure ski area (1700-2500 metres), glacier just up the road if snow is really poor, relatively cheap accommodation, food and drink, good snowboarding pedigree,...

Flights to either Munich or Innsbruck with easy transfers from either (I drove when I went in Dec 2014 and it was a doddle)
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Hmm. Bankso, Sweden. Two extremes, really, and I'm not sure .

Åre in December... the days are 4 hours long. I've ridden those Latitudes in Finland and the light is never good for video - it's mostly murky and artificial light aided. Temperature-wise in it would be common to need to warm up somewhere after every run when it's below about minus 24. You almost always have snow at that time, but it tends to be hardpack with dust on it. Sweden is second only to Norway in the cost of beer. There's a reason that the locals all fly South.

Bankso... it's cheap for a reason, and that doesn't necessarily make it great for beginners. Bulgaria does have nearly the cheapest beer in Europe.

I would not opt for an extreme unless you have a specific reason to do that.
You'll likely be fine anywhere - most people have a blast on their first trip. It's only after a while you get picky.
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@philwig, I wouldn’t say Scandinavia is an extreme. Not the usual Alps experience, but I’ve skied before and after Christmas every year in Sweden for the past 5 years. Always had pretty good conditions. I think only once it was bitterly cold, but otherwise a fairly standard -5 to 10C. As the OP mentioned self-catering, I thought Sweden would be a good option. I didn’t get the impression apres was important, and if you are desperate for a beer there is an off-licence. This was filmed just after Chistmas on my GoPro
2017-01-08 GoPro Åre from Steven Plummer
https://vimeo.com/198729653
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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!
Since the time limit is some time in Feb. What about the Birthday Bash in Arabba. Guaranteed snow due to the amazing snow making infrastructure.
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Hi all, I wanted to update you all. We were going to wait as long as possible to book as that seemed the sensible thing to do but the husband got twitchy and starting asking 'if I'd found anywhere yet', so in the end we booked with Crystal Ski and we are going to Mayrhofen on the 15th December for a week.

I'm really pleased with this choice and am really looking forward to going now. Thank you all for your advice, I'm thinking of next year already and will definitely wait as we won't have the pressure of doing the whole GCSE filming thing!

Still got to tell the school she's having a wee off Confused
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Hope it goes well and should certainly be one of the most scenic GCSE video entries.
snowHead
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