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Package vs DIY

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@under a new name, yes completely agree. @Layne’s approach is definitely more sensible.

But, like you say, the best apartments get snapped up quickly - we’ve booked on departure before.

We always go high season so know that the good apartments go quickly, plus I’m pretty confident on getting decent priced flights (and if not, then we’d just drive).
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If I was in South Wales, I would fly to as close to the station as I could afford, then rent a car there (or, transfer, depending on the station, as some places having a car isn't particularly useful, especially if you're staying on an icy slope).

Have done TO and DIY, depends really on your budget and your appetite for/time available to plan everything. Generally thing that DIY is superior, but my one trip to Zermatt was through a TO and I think I wouldn't have been able to match the price -- and certainly not the convenience -- myself, as I think they had a permanent block of rooms in a decent pension.
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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?
Firstly, I'd say that you can get very good and very bad experiences either way, but we switched to DIY after a couple of particularly bad transfer experiences with Crystal and never went TO again. Part of the problem initially with DIY is that there's so many places to choose from, it makes it hard to focus. So if I were you, I'd narrow your locations down to 2 or so as soon as you can, within realistic driving distance from Calais and/or near an airport - Which two will depend on your own specific preferences. This makes life a lot easier. Perhaps one in France, say and the other in Switzerland/Italy e.g. Courcheval 1850 + Verbier, or Flaine + Cervinia etc.

Consider going weekday-to-weekday: but this needs agreement from everyone in the group. Avoiding Saturdays de-stresses the whole exercise and flights/ferry/Eurotunnel should be cheaper. Obviously avoid school holidays if possible. See other threads for the holiday dates for 2019.

Then look at the resort websites for your chosen locations and dates to get an idea of accommodation prices. Consider contacting the Tourist Office, especially if the accommodation websites are only set up for Sat-Sat. as the Tourist Office has a lot of contacts with both rental agencies and individual owners. We own an apartment and we regularly get enquiries for weekday-weekday lettings, which we're happy to take. Usually, agreeing a rate that's somewhere between rounded-up to the full weeks and no days x week/7.

You need to work out for yourselves whether to fly or drive. They each have pros/cons although travelling on a weekday makes both easier/cheaper usually. If you do drive, then do at least consider an overnight stop southwards. It helps if you make this part of the holiday, rather than an inconvenience e.g we stay at a nice motel near Troyes, with an indoor pool and a good but informal restaurant. But this isn't everyone's cup of tea.

What we found was that once we'd DIY'd a couple of times we never went back to TO.
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@LaForet, And of course consider going by train. There are railway sations at or near lots of ski resorts.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@JohnE - Yes definitely a good point. In the winter when we go to our apartment in the 4 Valleys (Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Bruson, Nendaz & Veysonnaz) it's 50:50 car v train from Geneva Airport, depending on the car hire rates and how many in the group etc. Personally, I much prefer the return trip on public transport: 09:00 bus out of the village to the station, one change, then the next 80 mins on the same train right into the airport. No traffic issues, searching for a nearby fill-up, finding the car return, handing it over to a nutter rental company driver who'll scratch it and blame you, transfer bus etc.

I've done the Snow Train from Calais -> Moutier overnight once: pros and cons. Probably more suitable if you're younger and in a group.

Last 2 years there's also been a direct train London->Geneva->Lausanne->Martigny->Sion->Brig in the winter. Doesn't require the change-over you have to do on standard train schedule. Lausanne through to Brig connects you to the resorts of the Vaud and Valais in the Rhone Valley e.g. Champéry (PdS), Villars (Glacier 3000), Verbier & 4 Vallées, Crans-Montana, and Brig gives you a connection to Zermatt and Saas-Fe.
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johnE wrote:
@LaForet, And of course consider going by train. There are railway sations at or near lots of ski resorts.


by the time you get from south wales on a train to the chunnel, you would have flown to one of the airports
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
LaForet wrote:
Firstly, I'd say that you can get very good and very bad experiences either way, but we switched to DIY after a couple of particularly bad transfer experiences with Crystal and never went TO again.


Interesting but I'm currently planning a week in Ischgl and one of the items in the plus column for going TO over DIY is ease of transfers. If everything goes to plan then a hire car from the airport is great but if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will still tend to take you direct to your resort. The airline bus will only take you back to your original destination airport...driving past your resort en route.

Probably still going to go DIY for that trip though as TOs prices have shot up over the last couple of years and aren't very good value for money any more.
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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!
Quote:

by the time you get from south wales on a train to the chunnel, you would have flown to one of the airports

Yep, That is why I never go all the way from the Midlands by train. We used to drive to Dover and pick the train up in Calais or these days fly part of the way. It is even harder for people living in Ireland and easier for those living in the South East. You could say more or less the same for driving. It depends a lot on where you start from.
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Mjit wrote:
Interesting but I'm currently planning a week in Ischgl and one of the items in the plus column for going TO over DIY is ease of transfers. If everything goes to plan then a hire car from the airport is great but if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will still tend to take you direct to your resort. The airline bus will only take you back to your original destination airport...driving past your resort en route.


if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will not send a coach for you for years. On the other hand you will be able to hire a car with a one-way trip just the same, or simply just jump into a cab.

Expensive? Possibly, but it will win you a day's skiing/save you hours waiting for a bus. And it's only going to happen one in every twenty weeks' skiing anyway.

OTOH, best TO experience was Ski Total. St Anton had had 4m of snow the week we were there, they bussed us out seconds before the road was being closed and took us to another airport, Innsbruck being closed. Wouldn't have fancied organising that myself - very long cab ride, that, in difficult circumstances as a local cab driver would not have been able to get home again that night and then there wouldn't have been a flight waiting for us.

Potentially worst transfer experience was a cab organised by the chalet. A landslide had closed access to half the mountain and we couldn't get beyond Albertville owing to solid traffic. Cab driver was running out of hours. Could have been dreadful, hours and hours spent on a coach (could have been worse, abandoned by the cab driver in the centre of Albertville which had no rooms left). Instead he left us at the station in Albertville and we caught the train and then another cab - a level of flexibility that would not have been available had we been on a TO coach.

I quite enjoy the chalet experience, always end up skiing with people from the chalet - and drinking.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
I travelled with the likes of Inghams/Neilson etc once upon a time but that was about 20 years ago. Remember once having an excellent Inghams rep but also spending a day at Turin Airport due to a technical fault with the plane.

Now I would rather get the train or drive for ski holidays. Being a family of four with skis etc it is usually most practical to drive and we regularly book through Peak Retreats or their subsidiary Ski Collection as their holidays include the Eurotunnel Flexi Plus ticket. We have also sometimes booked the direct Eurostar in an accommodation/train package through them for the Tarentaise resorts. Travelling in school holidays their prices work out cheaper than using the large TOs and the customer service is far better.
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We’ve done diy by driving from South Wales, flying and hiring a car and TO. TO definitely less hassle but was expensive but that was our fault, we were a big group on an expensive holiday. I’d generally go for DIY. Driving from South Wales is fine but I’d always do it in 2 days down and 2 days back. The drive down is fine but getting home is tiring. Flying and car hire is probably not much difference in price when you take into account the cost of driving down but you can make the traveling part of the journey a good part of the holiday. Stay somewhere nice and make sure you stop somewhere where you can have a nice meal. Happy to provide some good places to stop and hotel recommendations. I like Chamonix but would always want a car whereas other places like Tignes, you wouldn’t want a car.
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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.
@marksymoo, I don't know much about options for flying from South Wales, but FYI Easyjet are flying from Bristol to Åre, Sweden this year. DIY is very straightforward as almost everything else can be booked through the Skistar website.
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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
James the Last wrote:
Mjit wrote:
Interesting but I'm currently planning a week in Ischgl and one of the items in the plus column for going TO over DIY is ease of transfers. If everything goes to plan then a hire car from the airport is great but if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will still tend to take you direct to your resort. The airline bus will only take you back to your original destination airport...driving past your resort en route.


if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will not send a coach for you for years.


Last year we were diverted Innsbruck -> Friedrichshafen - along with all the other Innbruck flights that all seem to arrive at the same time so it took 1hr 45min to get through the airport. Once outside the first Crystal bus arrived after 15min, with one bus arriving every 5-10min after that. Inghams weren't do good so think we had a 1hr 15min/1hr 30min wait. The bus did take us direct to Ischgl (166km/2.5hr) though.

Delays:
- Getting out airport +1hr
- Waiting for bus + 1hr 30min
- Longer transfer +1hr
- Total: +3hr 30min

Costs:
- zero

James the Last wrote:
On the other hand you will be able to hire a car with a one-way trip just the same


Guessing I wouldn't be the only person trying to do that so probably a good 45min wait to get a hire car, which looking at advanced one-way hire to Innsbruck would cost £280. I've then got to drive to Innsbruck (220km/3hr), say 30min to swap hire cars, then drive back to Ischgl (100km/1hr 30min).

Delays:
- Getting out of airport +1hr
- Hiring car +45min
- Drive in Innsbruck +3hr
- Change hire car +30min
- Drive to Ischgl + 1hr 30min
- Total: +6hr 45min

Costs:
- £280

James the Last wrote:
, or simply just jump into a cab.


Well an Ischgl/Innsbruck transfer is E140, for a 100km trip. Based on that the 220km from Friedrichshafen to Innsbruck is going to by around E300, or the same ballpark as hiring a car. Probably going to be a bit of a wait for a taxi, so time-wise about the same as hiring a car from Friedrichshafen.

Delay:
- Total: +6hr 45min

Cost:
- E300

James the Last wrote:
Expensive?

God yes!

James the Last wrote:
Possibly, but it will win you a day's skiing/save you hours waiting for a bus.

Unless you're on a crack-of-dawn flight you're not going to be landing in Europe until late lunchtime and even with a quick airport exit/clear transfer you're not getting to resort until mid afternoon anyway.

James the Last wrote:
And it's only going to happen one in every twenty weeks' skiing anyway.


True.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
We’ve driven from Cardiff to the French Alps several times now. shout/pm me if you want any advice!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
As others have mentioned, a big advantage of DIY is getting more skiing in for your 5 days annual leave. The way I sometimes do it get a flights Friday night to Sunday, hire a car, stay at the bottom of the valley Friday night (avoiding ski resort prices for that night), drive up in the morning missing the traffic and getting a fullish day on Saturday, then check in to my 7 night accommodation. At the end of my holiday I will either book a single night somewhere in the ski resort and get a half day Sunday, or if this is not possible drive down the hill in the evening and again stay somewhere between the hill and the airport. It may end up more, but you are getting 33% more skiing (or 42% if you ski half of Sunday) and it is not likely to be 33% more.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If you've booked an apartment in France independently make sure the price includes sheets, towels and end-of-stay clean. Of course, if you're driving you can bring sheets and towels with you, not so easy if you are flying.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

make sure the price includes sheets, towels and end-of-stay clean

Good advice - it often won't, especially in basically-French apartments where families often want to keep costs down and will clean (very well!) themselves, at the end of stay. You can generally order linen either through the apartment owner/agent or locally - but that isn't always straightforward to sort out at the beginning and end of your stay, especially if you don't have a car, and if you don't speak French. The norm for French visitors in French resorts is for people to arrive by car.

Make sure you understand the arrangements for deposits, too.
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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?
Mjit wrote:
LaForet wrote:
Firstly, I'd say that you can get very good and very bad experiences either way, but we switched to DIY after a couple of particularly bad transfer experiences with Crystal and never went TO again.


Interesting but I'm currently planning a week in Ischgl and one of the items in the plus column for going TO over DIY is ease of transfers. If everything goes to plan then a hire car from the airport is great but if you get diverted to an airport the 'other side' of the country to your resort the TO will still tend to take you direct to your resort. The airline bus will only take you back to your original destination airport...driving past your resort en route.

Probably still going to go DIY for that trip though as TOs prices have shot up over the last couple of years and aren't very good value for money any more.


We DIY Ishgl every year. Top tip - fly straight to Friedrichshafen. BA go there, flights are cheap, as is car rental. Easy drive and just a bit further than Innsbruck etc but way less fuss.
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It's not really that difficult to bring sheets and towels with you on the plane - we have to do that most years, and we only have one piece of hold luggage between two. It's no problem fitting it in.

Same with the end of stay clean - 30 minutes mopping etc. on departure morning and you're good to go.

But yes, you do need to check in advance if they're included or not.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Use the sheets and towels to pad out your ski bag and wrap to protect your skis. After all skis are more important than clean linen.
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@ster, I'd suggest your skis and bindings are designed to take anything that airport baggage handlers can throw at them, without the need for padding.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
But what about scratches on the top sheets????




Is this the right place and time to insert the winky eye emoji?
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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!
SkiWithThree! wrote:
We’ve driven from Cardiff to the French Alps several times now. shout/pm me if you want any advice!


Absolutely - I'm not far from Cardiff myself and we'd most likely be setting out from there anyway, after collecting a few people.

Be interested to see how you break the trip up / what times you set off etc?

Thank you!
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denfinella wrote:
It's not really that difficult to bring sheets and towels with you on the plane


Yea, but how many viariations do you take? Even the shape of the pillows is a gamble!
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@Mjit, haha, I know what you mean, but you can always check in advance about single / double beds etc., and a rectangle pillowcase generally stretches over a square pillow too.
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I am the king of the deal, and have knowledge beyond my years in saving money to go on holiday.

You can save approx £300/£500 on a DIY over a package deal, (Based on two sharing), it makes little difference if you drive or fly, if you look hard enough there are always deals to be had, its just based on the time you spend sorting the details.

Best deal to date Dec 2017 skiing in France (Best conditions for decades) two people just under a £1k , inc flights, car hire, food, ski pass, accommodation etc ( we do have our own ski kit so no hire costs, and no ski lessons (i can ski well enough). And i think i could of got it cheaper than that.

I've been booking holidays for 15 years and i here the same nonsense about holidays etc, prices are rising, you wont get a better deal, the costs of flights are going up, yawn yawn yawn.

Stay away from the POPULAR ski areas, go where the locals go, if that be france, italy, austria etc

good luck and if you want someone to share car, give me a shout
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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.
denfinella wrote:
...you can always check in advance about single / double beds...


Don't forget the frigging Austrian twin beds! Smile
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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
Esdel wrote:
You can save approx £300/£500 on a DIY over a package deal, (Based on two sharing), it makes little difference if you drive or fly, if you look hard enough there are always deals to be had, its just based on the time you spend sorting the details.


Disagree! If you book a TO deal, last minute, early/mid January, or early December or April you can get that week for £500 for the pair of you, plus ski pass. There just isn't £300-£500 to save!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
And a ski pass is £250 for a week typically so for two thats £500

I paid £154 last year inc ski pass, now i'm not the greatest at maths but............................

Previous to this I've used crystal, ski world, ingrams etc for 15 ish years and never got under £200 each but there is still ski pass on top.

You can save between £300 / £500 if you spend some time hunting
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@marksymoo,
1st. If going at the beginning of Feb then book on the Birthday bash. It is half way between TA and DIY. You have to click buttons (but there is no resort hassle like person A,B,C prefer one place and D,E,F prefer another).

Right: That is the hotel and ski pass sorted Happy Thanks admin.

Now choose flights and transfers. Either go from CWL or BRS to VCE.
Flight option 1 Sat to Sat. Out Ryanair on Sat Morning at 07.20 if you can trust them (Me Never and especially in Feb) and back Sunday (the sat flight is too early). Or with KLM from Cardiff (CWL). Now you would travel back from the birthday bash on the sat with the snowheads. But we would recommend a hotel for you to go and visit Venice for one day. You will get serious points from your friends form that. But your wife will kill you for not taking her to venice.

If you can get Friday afternoon off you can go EasyJet to Venice on Friday and return on Sat for £67 Happy So what you spend on a hotel you save on flights.


If you did go on Friday night and back on Sunday, you can hire a car and drive up 1st thing on Sat, collect the ski pass, and ski Sat afternoon and then the next sat before returning to Venice to drop the car off. I've done this and it is easy.

Alternatively, you head to the airport for Admins transfer and go on the bus with other snowheads.

So, you can see that this is a half way house. No massive stress of organising everything but still a nice introduction onto semi-DIY.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
GlasgowCyclops wrote:
If you did go on Friday night and back on Sunday, you can hire a car and drive up 1st thing on Sat,


I'm planning on hiring a minibus/appropriate sized vehicle leaving VCE 8ish on the Sat am for those arriving on Friday. Going back on the 'official' bus though.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
GlasgowCyclops wrote:
@marksymoo,
1st. If going at the beginning of Feb then book on the Birthday bash. It is half way between TA and DIY. You have to click buttons (but there is no resort hassle like person A,B,C prefer one place and D,E,F prefer another).

Right: That is the hotel and ski pass sorted Happy Thanks admin.

Now choose flights and transfers. Either go from CWL or BRS to VCE.
Flight option 1 Sat to Sat. Out Ryanair on Sat Morning at 07.20 if you can trust them (Me Never and especially in Feb) and back Sunday (the sat flight is too early). Or with KLM from Cardiff (CWL). Now you would travel back from the birthday bash on the sat with the snowheads. But we would recommend a hotel for you to go and visit Venice for one day. You will get serious points from your friends form that. But your wife will kill you for not taking her to venice.

If you can get Friday afternoon off you can go EasyJet to Venice on Friday and return on Sat for £67 Happy So what you spend on a hotel you save on flights.


If you did go on Friday night and back on Sunday, you can hire a car and drive up 1st thing on Sat, collect the ski pass, and ski Sat afternoon and then the next sat before returning to Venice to drop the car off. I've done this and it is easy.

Alternatively, you head to the airport for Admins transfer and go on the bus with other snowheads.

So, you can see that this is a half way house. No massive stress of organising everything but still a nice introduction onto semi-DIY.


This sounds amazing - I've just looked and it's full.

Will keep an eye out for future events though, all I need now is to think how I can get away with another trip !!
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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?
This years Birthday Bash hasn't opened for booking yet - that must be last years! Buttons any day now though......
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Oh, yes just noticed the dates!

Oops Laughing

Off to sweet talk the wife... may see some of you there! wink

More than likely will post a photo of my black eye but it’s worth a shot!
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