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How do young Londoners blast off to the Alps?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My 24 yo daughter is pondering a move to London and is considering the various plusses and minuses, and proximity to the Alps (compared to Seattle!) lies on the plus side needless to say. She will have no car; constraints on time and money typical for this age group; and would fancy a destination ski area with all the goods, skiing-wise. I'm curious how similarly situated folks get it done. With those givens, what are some of the best destinations, and ways to get there? For example, I'm guessing someone will say "train to BSM and walk over to the Les Arcs funicular", or "don't train to BSM/Les Arcs, its too easy and therefore crowded; instead do blah, blah". Thanks in advance for helping with my reconnaissance.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
First thought that if she under 25 there are some very cheap deals on the french railways and buses. The real cheapies sell out very quickly but are worth looking for! Two of my sons did London to BSM for a very good price.

I`m sure others will be along soon with more advice.
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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?
I'm (sadly) not that young any more but in terms of getting to the Alps, there are loads of cheap flights if you have access to all the London airports and of course not having a car means that you can fly in to and out of different airports if that works out best cost wise-I do this regularly.
Geneva is particularly well served and allows access to many of the large French resorts (Val T, Meribel, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Tignes etc etc) and many of these have a relatively cheap transfer service to get you there at the other end.

As above, Eurostar easy to access from London and can be combined with French Railways (who I'm sure have various discounts for students etc) will get you to Bourg St Maurice and access to all the above as well.
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If she is flexible about when and where she takes a ski holiday it can be possible to pick up a discount package tour, including flights, transfers and accommodation. Plenty of great destinations served by UK tour operators, so unless she's keen on lesser known resorts it shouldn't be a limiting factor to use tour operators.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If it isn't a silly question, why isn't she doing this research? I would respond that rather few young Londoners can afford to "blast off to the Alps" more than once a year and the majority can't afford skiing at all. How much spare cash - and time - is she likely to have? Car is absolutely not necessary but skiing is never cheap. The best way for her might be to find some like-minded friends and get a cheap, last minute, package deal which might mean self-catering and buying beer and gin in a supermarket, rather than in pricey mountain bars.

If she looks at the website for Action Outdoors she'll get an idea of prices for the cheapest (and very good) all-in packages, in some excellent French resorts, with small dormitory style accommodation. The basic costs don't include travel but if you avoid the key holiday periods that needn't be too expensive. Coach travel is generally cheapest - flights to hubs such as Geneva can seem reasonable until the cost of transfers is taken into account - can cost as much as the flights.

London, regardless of the skiing, is a great city in which to be 24. wink
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It would be a lot easier if I lived in London, as opposed to the South Coast 60 miles away. I'd then have a wide range of airports to choose from, plus the Eurostar train into the French TGV network. In London you're near to Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), Stanstead and City. Swiss do a lot of flights to the Alps out of London City airport, as well as their regular Heathrow routes, and a winter season route to Sion (SIR) right in the heart of the mountains. If you avoid school holidays, then car hire can be very reasonable even at the main destinations like Geneva (GVA) as well. Really, her main concern will be will she have enough vacation time (she should make sure she's on a UK holiday plan, not a US one).

Your question is a bit akin to 'I'm going to be working in Denver, what are my options for good ski resorts?' - because there will be a lot of choice. If she's going as part of a job relocation/secondment/rotation, then it's worth her asking if there's a ski group at her destination office. This might be the easiest way to get advice and piggy-back on something that's already been organised. My 2₵
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@pam w, thanks to you and everyone so far, and to answer your question, which isn't silly: because she has 500 higher priorities at this time, and because I want to help her continue to ski at a time in her life (and most people's lives, I think) where coming up with the time and money to go skiing are particularly difficult. Indeed she will be like all the other young Londoners who will need to search under the sofa cushions to source the capital. All the more reason to try and get it right the first time. Cheers.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quite a lot of young uns and old uns do this quite a lot.

We see a group of them rent an apartment so they have a base for the season so they can travel light.

Then during the season they take Friday afternoon and Monday mornings off, leave the office at lunchtime, fly out transfer to resort ready for dinner Friday night.

Ski Saturday and Sunday.

Monday morning up early, transfer back to airport, fly home and into work Monday afternoon.

It all hinges on the flight departure times.
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Given the number of flights out of London to Geneva it's not unreasonable that she could do a friday night flight, 2 full days skiing and a flight back Sunday night c.9pm and be back in work Sunday Monday with no holiday days used.

Chamonix is one I've found you can get cheap accommodation in via airbnb, c.£40 a night for a studio outside of holiday seasons. You can get a transfer with someone like chamexpress easy enough and the cheapest option back would probably be ouibus at around £20/25.

Lift pass there is a bit more than some other areas, likewise the town might also be, but you're not talking a huge difference.

As others have said, last minute tour packages are often available, keep an eye out this winter on websites like crystal, inghams, ski world, that'll give you an idea of what sort of deals become available.

Assuming she has standard UK holiday allowances, she'll be entitled to a minimum of 20 days holiday plus 8 public holidays, considerably more than I'd imagine she's used to in the states.
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I guess it also depends if she had a friend network or makes friends that ski. Then from what I’ve seen, usually one person in that group is the planner/organiser type, and finds a catered chalet or package holiday and ropes everyone in. It’s not that fun to ski alone IMO, so I’d look at UCPA (Action Outdoors) or something as mentioned above, flying to Geneva. They do 4 day ski breaks also.
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Or if she wants a cheap package trip for a week, with flights, transfers to the resort and half board- use something like https://www.igluski.com/ which acts as a portal to loads of tour operator offers. Choose a week in mid Jan and wait to see what last minute deals pop up.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Wed 25-09-19 7:34; edited 1 time in total
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the cost of living in London, she wont be making it to the alps often!

Never heard something so daft if I am honest.
Moving to London to ski the alps.
Why dont she just move to Geneva or Munich or Innsbruck or Salzburg or even Paris.
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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
marcellus wrote:
Quite a lot of young uns and old uns do this quite a lot.

We see a group of them rent an apartment so they have a base for the season so they can travel light.

Then during the season they take Friday afternoon and Monday mornings off, leave the office at lunchtime, fly out transfer to resort ready for dinner Friday night.

Ski Saturday and Sunday.

Monday morning up early, transfer back to airport, fly home and into work Monday afternoon.

It all hinges on the flight departure times.

I do that from Edinburgh, so location to Airport is more important than the London part & for the record I aint under 25.... I find it frustrating that the transfer to & from the airport both sides adds to the costs greatly, way more than the actual flight.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Jonny996, I’m near Edinburgh too, but my London based children get an early Monday morning flight from Geneva and are at work in the morning!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Scooter in Seattle,
Quote:

My 24 yo daughter is pondering a move to London and is considering the various plusses and minuses, and proximity to the Alps (compared to Seattle!) lies on the plus side needless to say. She will have no car; constraints on time and money typical for this age group; and would fancy a destination ski area with all the goods, skiing-wise. I'm curious how similarly situated folks get it done. With those givens, what are some of the best destinations, and ways to get there?

Here are a few ways the young, and young at heart, Londoners and backwoods provincials like me, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, etc etc hit some of the best destinations in the Alps...

Espace Killy in mid December...https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=147995

Dolomiti in late January...https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=142110

...and early February...https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=141773

Trois Vallees in April...https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=138826

Travel by air, rail, road & ferry, road and eurotunnel. Lots of cheap convenient flights from about 6? London(ish) airports. St Pancras international rail hub. Dover, Folkestone ferries.

Easy to get late deals from ordinary tour operators from London airports (except peak school holiday weeks) if flexible about destination and accommodation. DIY trips, by air, usually better price and much bigger choice if booked a few months in advance.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Matt1959, the 10.20 flight gets me to my desk for 12.30. I am lucky in the fact that one of my teams is US based so I can elect to work US hours that day & start at 12.30 if I want but TBH I normally ski the Monday & fly home the Monday evening
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Scooter in Seattle, has she looked at ski pass, transfer and accommodation prices? The travel to the alpine gateway is likely to be a very small proportion of the costs.

My experience of that age group in London is that they are either a) working in finance, so on 80 hours weeks and won't have much time to ski - if they do it will be the 18.30 LCY GVA Swiss Friday night flight (or maybe the 20.50 BA LHR GVA but that gets to GVA after the car rentals are shut), back on the 21.00 BA GVA LCY on a Sunday night, or b) broke.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Scooter in Seattle,
Quote:

what are some of the best destinations


What level, type of skiing and mountain ambience does your daughter prefer? And what about budget?

eg skiing level & type...cautious intermediate/confident intermediate/advanced/expert.....gentle cruising; varied big area piste skiing; easyish off piste; OMG off piste; touring peak to peak foraging & hunting for food, etc

ambience...scenic & quiet village; scenic & lively village; big ugly town with great skiing; village/town with lots going on; full on apres ski nightclubbing town, etc

budget...relatively low cost areas/accommodation....mid range.....higher cost ski trips OK?

Answers, in your (her) own words would help to guide on 'best destinations'
snowHead
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snowdave wrote:
@Scooter in Seattle, has she looked at ski pass, transfer and accommodation prices? The travel to the alpine gateway is likely to be a very small proportion of the costs.

My experience of that age group in London is that they are either a) working in finance, so on 80 hours weeks and won't have much time to ski - if they do it will be the 18.30 LCY GVA Swiss Friday night flight (or maybe the 20.50 BA LHR GVA but that gets to GVA after the car rentals are shut), back on the 21.00 BA GVA LCY on a Sunday night, or b) broke.


When I was a young Londoner I did the City Airport - GVA 17h30 every Friday and GVA-LCY every 07h00 Monday AM (at my desk by 8:30 UK time) every weekend for 4 months to spend weekends in the PdS. I left a cheap car in the long stay at GVA during the week, as this was cheaper and more convenient than transfers.

At the time there were quite a few people doing this as you would see the same people on the same flights every week.
I booked the flights well in advance ( Swiss not BA ) and the price was only a few quid more than EasyJet, but without the hassle of having to get to Gatwick / Luton / Stanstead etc..
Don't know how much it would cost now, but then the return flights were about 160 each weekend and the parking was about 40 quid, so I bargained on about 200 quid a trip.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
You can also do it quite well out of Birmingham as there’s a late out and early in.
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@Scooter in Seattle,

Does she have any particular ski area/general area in mind?
If not I'd recommend she spends season 2019/20 skiing resorts that attract her, using her work holidays.
Then, when she has found a resort she would like to ski regularly, renting a place there for season 2020/21 (or for 12 months?), and using it at weekends and with holiday allocation as per WindOfChange. It would help with money to find 2 or 3 people wanting to do the same thing, but she would have time to find them. If the car option was not to her/their liking then a resort with easy train access to her chosen Alpine airport would be advisable, and then a cheap longterm trainpass.
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I used to do something similar to @WindOfChange in my mid to late 20s, albeit only 1-3 times a year.

A weekend trip flying LHR to Geneva or Zurich would set me back around £250-300 all-in. Often less as I could tie in business trips and get my employer to cover the flights/taxis.....When BA finally updated the GVA-LON and ZRH-LON fleet's cabins, I switched from Swiss to BA as times were better for me and I liked the gin and tonics. I found the easiest resort was Chamonix for weekenders, although I know people who did Verbier weekends (crazy transfer!).

In the end I accepted weekends weren't long enough, my early work hours, business travel and client entertainment were all too demanding...towards the end of my tenure at that job I reluctantly accepted fewer, but longer, trips....

One point for your daughter to consider, is to make sure she gets a place that has easy airport transfers to LCY or LHR. A place along the Piccadilly Line which runs late is helpful LHR...........best of luck
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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!
@Jonny996, Before I retired I was officially home based with a European team and a US boss, so I could work from France as well as I could from Scotland.
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Depending of the balance of the time/money constraints then a coach trip could be a good option. Certainly when I was younger and living in London that's what many of my contempories would do for a cheaper ski trip. Overnight coaches seemed to be the norm, set off after work and then try to sleep as much as possible in the uncomfy seats on the way over.
But you'd only want to do that for week long trips, the coach journey is too long to make it worth it for shorter time.
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One other suggestion I might make is that she schedules a long weekend off ahead of arriving in London and tells her employers in advance that 'I have a commitment x-y'. That way everyone knows and her employer has accepted this up-front. Otherwise, you know from experience, the odds are that everyone will make the assumption that her diary is at their disposal and she'll find the opportunity disappears. She doesn't have to say what it is - that's not her employer's business. What will annoy them is if she commits to various things and then wants to re-schedule deadlines to fit in a ski 'jolly': you know how these things work ... And remember, the people with kids will be quietly trying to schedule their school holiday ski trip: perversely, this can put pressure for singles to not take their holiday in term time, "Now that everyone is back" ...

Personally, I'd go ahead and book the flights now LGW>GVA, easyJet or BA. If she travels out Wed/Thu and back Tues/Wed the cost should be reasonable (say, under £100) and she can even afford to throw them away if it doesn't work out. Perhaps a present from You? It always makes a more convincing case at work if you can genuinely say 'I have flights booked etc. Then, if it's really truly important for work, then they can reimburse here the cost. It's surprising how often I found that someone absolutely had to have me at a client meeting; then I'd say, "fine, but obviously I'll need to have my £750 holiday reimbursed" and suddenly, it wasn't so important, after all and could wait 'till I was back.

I'd suggest going out something like the last Weekend in January 2020 or the first Weekend in February.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Wed 25-09-19 13:11; edited 1 time in total
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
proximity to the Alps (compared to Seattle!) lies on the plus side needless to say. .


Er I'm sure there are reasons for preferring the Alps (larger resorts, apres etc) but just wanted to say there's some pretty decent and snow-sure ski resorts local to Seattle? Snoqualmie is only around an hours drive (limited area admittedly).... but the likes of Mt Baker must also be doable for a weekend .... ?
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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.
Easiest thing is sign up for a bash. Then get all the advice on travel there. Be warned at 24 she might be too mentally mature for many bash veterans however. Otherwise and to find a bigger group in her age group Action Outdoors.

NB for the first few years of starting professional work I could neither afford nor find sufficient mates available at the same time with funds to go skiing. Only post 25 did it really get on the cards again. There is BIG difference between the time and cost of flying/transfer to resorts and the gas to drive up to Alpental or Stevens armed with a season pass. And the skiing ain't necessarily better. Think of being in London as like living in San Diego or St Louis but with more rain.
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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
@Scooter in Seattle,

Hi.

It is very easy to get to the Alps from London. The issue is money. If your daughter is well paid then there are plenty of options.
Personally I regret not being a little more free with my money at that age and skiing more. I was saving hard to find a deposit for a flat but in hindsight the skitime would have been worth more to me given how much better paid I've been in my 30s and 40s.

In general:

weekend or long weekend trips mean flying. lots of options from London. Geneva is often the best choice (lots of flights, near and with lots of skiing withing 90 minutes drive of the airport). I've done long weekend trips to Austria, Italy and Switzerland too though.
You can buy packages of flights quite cheaply if you are going to do several trips through the same airport.

week or more then train and car become options. Car really needs 3 people in it to be viable (perhaps 2 at peak times but if you've bought a package of flights then that will be better value). If you have two drivers and are prepared to drive through the night it is pretty quick.
Eurostar is a good option if you are young enough to live with a night in an upright seat and ski the next day.

Some groups of young people club together to rent a flat for a season and cram people in most weekends. I wish I'd done that in my 20s . It seemed like too much money but in hindsight...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Let's not forget that it would help greatly if she met like minded people while in London to travel & share costs with
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@jedster, what exactly do you mean by 'buying package of flights'. Contact a flight travel agent directly or a bulk buy on skyscanner?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks all. Much helpful information, appreciated. To set a couple of you straight:
@Mr.Egg, you are correct, indeed it would be daft to move to London to ski. She's picked London as a life/work destination right now, so we're trying to find out how to make skiing work from there.

@paulo, thank you, there are plenty of reasons to prefer the Alps over Snoqualmie or Baker. The only one that matters is: if you're in London, where do you ski? Besides, Crystal is ten times the area Baker is, and half the distance, which is why its our local hill. Snoqualmie is where Seattle learns to ski; as for Baker, I'll leave it for the boarders and drive the extra 90 minutes to Whistler.

@PeakyB, ability/experience-wise, she's been to 3V and the Arlberg and can ski anything on piste. She'd want some nightlife but otherwise does not need fancy accommodations etc.

If this seemed like a silly question, please understand that its different over here. Our rail system is useless, and intra-US flights are expensive. But we have roads, baby! So most of us just jump in the car. 15 hours to Jackson; 13.5 to SLC; 13 to Tahoe; 9 to Lake Louise. Its fun as hell.

Very appreciative of this information people!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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You've already identified Les Arcs and getting the train to Bourg. In my opinion the train is hell and not particularly cheap but it gets you there and if you take the overnight options you'll get two extra days of skiing in. Once there I'd opt for self catering apartments in Arc 1800 there are thousands of them and a range to suit pretty much all budgets. The terrain in Les Arcs has areas to challenge all levels and there's enough night life to keep all but the most ardent party goer happy.
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@LittleBullet, I think he means this: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=137668

BA flight pass, via optiontown, c. £120-160 return per flight as long as you buy a few!
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Mr.Egg wrote:
the cost of living in London, she wont be making it to the alps often!

Never heard something so daft if I am honest.
Moving to London to ski the alps.
Why dont she just move to Geneva or Munich or Innsbruck or Salzburg or even Paris.

If there's a more narrow-minded internet warrior, I haven't seen it.

SOME people get paid sufficiently to go skiing despite the cost of living in London! (I work quite regularly with my London counterparts, some of them young. They have spare money for holidays!!!)

And to ASSUME she move to London to ski! (Others move to the Netherlands, Belgium or other country, and ended up skiing in the Alps. But they must all be daft according to Mr.Egg)

What's daft is all the judgments based on entirely baseless assumptions.

Back to @Scooter in Seattle, I'm with pam w. If your dautghter wants to ski, she can do the research. I have a suspicion she'll be far too busy getting immersed in her new life in London. Skiing may be way down on her priority list, at least for the 2020 season. So if YOU want to ski the Alps and meet up with her, you may do better just go skiing and stop by London on the way back.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Wed 25-09-19 17:13; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
She might want to look at flights to Milan or Turin for access to Italian resorts, but you still have to get to the slopes, which might be harder on public transport. The flights to Italy do tend to be cheaper.
Weekend flights from Friday after work to and from Geneva, returning Sunday evening on EasyJet to London Gatwick tend to be expensive and you still have to get to the mountain-which can mean a very late Friday night. On a budget, it’s better to go for a week and accommodation offers likewise tend to be for a week long stay. If she’s thinking of France-best to avoid school holiday time-starting second week in Feb for 4 weeks. The cheap deals are mid January and you will be able to find more short stay accommodation options if that ends up as the plan.
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Quote:


She might want to look at flights to Milan or Turin for access to Italian resorts, but you still have to get to the slopes, which might be harder on public transport. The flights to Italy do tend to be cheaper.


I second this, car rental is often a tad cheaper there too.
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Quote:
Indeed she will be like all the other young Londoners who will need to search under the sofa cushions to source the capital.
Would she not be better looking out the window though?
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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!
@admin, quite Laughing
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@LittleBullet,

https://britishairways.optiontown.com/

I've used them for the first time this year - great product, terrible website. My advice is pick up the phone to them and be patient if the website isn't working for you!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@snowdave, @jedster, thank you, nice find.
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