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Package Holidays or DIY - what do you do?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I keep reading in the papers about significant numbers of skiers who have opted out of the 'package Holiday', in favour of budget airlines and independent transfers and accommodation. Many threads on here which mention such horrors as under-occupancy supplements and high Christmas prices tend to contradict this.

We've been using the easyJet / Swiss Rail / Local chalet agency formula for some years now.

So, what do you do snowheaders?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Weekends - DIY

Longer - brochure so far, but will DIY next season.
ski holidays
 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?
DIY, normally. Mainly cause organising others is tough, and single supplements are a complete rip off.
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My last four trips (three weekends) and one week have been sorted out independently. Before that I always did package trips. For weekends I'd always do my own thing. For week long trips I'd investigate both and see which worked out best.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Depends what's available. Soldeu in Jan was with Thompson, Austria in a few weeks is DIY. This year I used the Thompson ski guide, and had probably one of the best days on the slopes ever.
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Up til last year I was a committed "package traveller" always thinking it best to leave the organising to someone else, but then in a last ditch attempt to squeeze a bit more skiing in, booked a Eurotunnel crossing and drove to Morzine at Easter.
Since then I've caught the "independent" bug with the result that all our trips this year have been arranged via the internet.
For New Year we drove to Les Carroz (Flaine) and stayed HB in the Hotel Le Bois De La Char all for about £500 per person.
A couple of weeks ago 7 of us flew BA to Verona (at 10am - how civilised is that!), hired a minibus and stayed HB in the Hotel Corona in Selva for over £100 less per person than Inghams wanted for a package the same week.
The savings are there for sure, but what I have been most surprised at is how much more relaxing it is to travel when you have arranged it yourself, especially without the herding around you tend to get with packages.
With the internet it is all so easy to arrange too.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I'm overseas so all those 0800 free phones don't work. Also my leaves have to be preplanned so I have used package deals for simplicity and to be sure I can get the resort and accomodation I want. I'm a loner these days so avoiding single supplements is a major factor. Fly home on leave (or business if I get lucky - company then pay the airfare). Pick up cold weather kit and off to the Alps via a charter ex LGW. So far no complaints with package operators except sometimes transfers delays waiting for other flts to arrive, etc. to fill the bus.

Similarly, it's a bit tricky to arrange last minute deals 'by remote control'.
But I envy those who can take advantage.

This time I booked on line so perhaps next time the internet will allow me to put together a self-build ? From what I've learned in these forums the savings can be attractive.
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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!
Package normally but DIY the last time we went. Eurostar and a self catering chalet, 2 weeks for not much more than the price of one if packaged. Resort supermarkets can be expensive though so use the larger ones out of town, eat out or try to bring food with you
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DIY is much more relaxing, easy to organise on the internet and much more flexible....but you have to book up in advance to get the best deals so you don't have the flexibility to just go where the snow's best.

Package holidays can be hell, herded like cattle, plonked in badly run "clubhotels" or chalets, with grumpy hung over staff. But they can be just the opposite! Late availability bargains can be fantastic value and much cheaper than the DIY option.

We're plumping for a mixture of both this year.....but my vote goes to DIY if I had to choose!
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Don't get the advantage of cheap UK flights or late package deals. It's normally DIY for me driving or getting the train to Austrian resorts.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Strange that, what with you being in Vienna Wink
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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.
DIY for me, i like to plan my trips well in advance and make sure i get the most out of my trip...it usually means that i save a bit of cash too.
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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
Never been on a package holiday in my life. I'm sure they are very good but it always makes me think of lager louts with hankies on their heads complaining that the food 'aint like back home' or G&T swilling tofs beating chalet girls with birch twigs for being late with 'tiffin'.

Still DIYers brings up an image of some poor sod sleeping in Geneva airport because his Easylay flight got in around midnight and he didn't figure on how he was going to get to resort.

Wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Never been on package holiday yet, but I'm about to go on sort of a one. A trip with a group from the local dry ski slope. About as close to a package deal as I'm willing to go.

I've got a time share week in an apartment in a small Swiss ski resort, off the beaten track, but only 1 hour from Saa Fee, Zermatt, etc and with 25Km of piste locally. Just have to fly to Geneva and pick-up the hire car, simple (even French Air Traffic Control have difficulty messing that up).

With the Internet, low cost air-lines, good rail systems and simple to organise hire cars, why be tied to someone else's (the tour operator's) time table. Even trans-atlantic trips are fairly simple to organise (assuming the filght isn't cancelled by the paranoid Americans). Confused Planning it and then pulling it off is part of the fun.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Oh I lied, the last 3 ski trips I've been on were DIY. Buggered up a bit on the flights to Tahoe though, didn't realise you could fly to San Francisco and drive up. No, we got the flight to Minnesota, 6 hour wait to fly to Reno then a shorter drive up. Will definitely fly to SF if we go again, we spent a couple of days there and its great. Don't really like the catered chalet thing, they give you far too much food and you don't ever feel relaxed. Wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
DIY - wouldn't do it any other way. Just flew out to Calgary on a Friday (and so missed the Saturday changeover rush) - flew back on a Thursday and missed it again. *I* get to choose where I stay, when I go, what I do, etc., etc. Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Have to say that have just returned from a Mark Warner holiday and credit should go where credit is due, as the holiday, staff, hotel etc were excellant. The only minor complaint is that we were slightly late leaving our hotel and in the chaos at Geneva, we nearly missed our flight
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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?
Have done IDYT but to be honest it's sometimes easier and less hassle to go with a package. It;s usually worth finding a good operator though: we've been fairly happy with the packages we've taken with Ski Miquel, apart from the fact that they only ever offer 8 seats on the manchester - toulouse run for Baqueira Beret.

DIY has worked out ever so slightly cheaper in the past, but that's not always the case
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Increasingly DIY-cheaper for scholl holiday trips as last minute bargains don't exist. For example, I have booked flight,car hire and 2 bed apartment for 1st week in April for £820 total. Similer brochure price of £1550.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Should also have added, last package a trip to Banff with Inghams, holiday fien, Inghams sucked. I want to go back next year, but flights are not so cheap. Still cheaper to book inghams package.
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maybe worth boooking charter flights and the rest of the package yourself?

We're in a similar position for our holiday, all the cheap scheduled flights had gone. We've ended up booking with Frontier travel, and only paid skightly more than we would have if we'd done it DIY - and this way we have a rep to help if anything shold go wrong
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Package every time I'm afraid. It's bad enough trying to organise a large group ski trip at the best of times, but the thought of trying to co-ordinate them all onto buses/trains etc., not to mention trying to sort out paying for everything piecemeal, fills me with dread.

I did once look into doing it DIY, as we wanted 9 or 10 nights in resort, but none of the hotels (or those that bothered to return my e-mails anyway) were interested in anything other than 7 nights Saturday to Saturday. Also, even after spending hours poring over European bus and train timetables on t'internet, I couldn't find any convenient connections with any of the possible flights!

Definitely prepared to pay the extra to be looked after (well, herded around like cattle anyway).

Never done a package summer holiday though, but it is somewhat easier to do your own thing when there aren't 16 of you!

Tony - glad to read your positive comments about Mark Warner, as I'm off with them to St Anton in a fortnight. Very Happy
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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!
Helen, keep an eye out for a new "cheap" airline called zoom which will be flying from the UK to canada starting this spring. They claim to be doing Vancouver for 99 quid plus tax.

http://www.flyzoom.com/
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Looks good Alexandra, will have to keep looking for next years schedules.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
DIY by far the best. Can choose how you get out there, self-drive, snow train, flying whatever and then pick your accommodation. The resort websites (certainly the big French ones) have very good reservation services online. Always works out cheaper than packages too and often you get far better apartments. If I were to go outside Europe then I suppose package would be logical though!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
DIY definitely for us - won't touch charter flights as you always seem to get delays whereas so far haven't had any problems with scheduled flights. Also no legroom and long check in waits.
You can hire a car the other end (BA to Verona particularly good) and snowchains; or in Zurich the train/bus system is great for getting out to the Graubunden area (Flims, Davos etc).
Also the daytime Eurostar from Waterloo - no stops and just 6 and half hours to Moutiers - we did this for the first time in January this year. You feel relaxed just stepping on to the train, and only half an hour the other end from Moutiers to Courchevel.
Have booked accommodation - hotels and apartments - several times on internet and so far no problems.
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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.
Because I want to fly out of Glasgow, packages tend to be relatively few and far between, and when they are there, they're often not good value.

DIY may be a bit more hassle up front, but you can get what you want, rather than what someone wants to sell you. Even if you don't save any money, the beauty of choosing your holiday is a huge plus. Did Chamonix on the super-cheap last year - with Last Choice, and got pretty much what we expected - poor reps and appalling service. The accommodation was fine (s/c) and in a pretty good location though. If it had been my first skiing holiday, I would have been in real trouble without a decent rep. It worked out cheaper than DIY though, so I can't complain.

This year is DIY to a friend's apartment in Courchevel. Four of us going and, booked well in advance, it's coming out to about a grand between us (ex lift-passes, plus another £200 for food & booze between us). Sure, we could have done it cheaper, but not bad really considering we had it all sewn up four months before we are going.
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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
usually do DIY - but went Feb with a group who used a package.... Had forgotten how irritating flying is! On the return had to leave the hotel at 4am for a 4 hour coach journey - to check us in 2hrs before departure - then the standard 30mins delay - (even when you're lucky!) - then an efficient 1 hour flight back from Geneva - but then 1 and a half hours to get out of Gatwick! Give me a leisurely drive with my cds - coffee and favourite sandwiches anytime!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Problem is Jayne - driving from Glasgow to the Alps ain't much fun! If I were still living in London, I'd be tempted to give it a go 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:
Masopa, driving from Durham ain't much fun either. Have driven once though, journey ther fine, but returned Easter weekend and Uk roads a nightmare.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
As I seem to be the only snowhead package fan, I thought I’d better stick up for the humble package holiday. Recently had a week in Alpe D’Huez with Club Med, and for quality of service and value for money it was fanbloodytastic.

All-inclusive deal, massive buffet lunch included, free bar (yes, free!) open from 11.00am until 4.00am, fantastic food (in quality, quantity and choice), help yourself to wine from the fridge in the restaurant, serve yourself Kronenbourg pump in the dining room, lift pass included, all-day ski school included, ski-to-door convenience, ski school meeting place right outside the ski room, etc. etc. All for £650! Only spent two Euros all week, and that was on the babyfoot.

Doubt that any DIY trip can offer such good value for money – probably recouped most of the holiday cost on booze and lunch alone. Will definitely be doing the same next year (probably Les Arcs). Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I can see the merits of that holiday, Dave, for some people. However, when I'm on a skiing holiday I like to ski. That means maybe a glass of wine with the meal, or a beer before I go to bed. Other than that, I prefer to eat stuff that I prepare and cook myself - that way I know what is going into my body. For breakfast I'll have some slow-burn carbs (porridge), for lunch a mix of carbs & protein. For dinner, pasta is order of the day, together with some more protein and the aforementioned glass of wine as a treat.

If, like so many "nouveaux skiers" you're going to go on a skiing holiday to drink and eat as much as you can, then why not just stick to Marbella? I have a hard enough job skiing around ski school snakes, let alone avoiding the Brits who have inbibed too much the night before and are recycling it on the edge (or the middle) of the piste the following morning (should they happen to make the slopes before 12pm).

I desperately hope these kind of holidays stay in the likes of Les Arcs and don't squeeze their way into the likes of Val d'Isere and Courchevel. That's probably part of the reason I haven't been tempted to ski in those kinds of resorts - I'd much rather stick to skiing rather than having a "St Anton" lads weekend of drunken debauchery.

Sorry, I can't keep this up any more. I think I've done remarkably well typing all of this without cracking up all over my computer. It was a windup, but I thought I'd see how long I could keep it up. Cracking deal Dave - I might be tempted next year! You don't live in Bow Quarter, by any chance, do you?

(Just come off a rugby forum, so am in a bit of a windup mood - apologies!)
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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?
Oh masopa you were so bang on the money until that last paragraph! Wink
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oooo masopa - you really had me going there...thought you were being serious for at least 10 secs.
sorry to overlook that driving from Durham is a bit harder than West Sussex!
Dave - that muuuuust have been a last minute deal if it included lift pass etc..... wasnt it??????? sounds brill
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yow, good one masopa. Had already composed my reply in my head before I got to your last paragraph! You have got me worried though that I've come across as some sort of lout. Embarassed

Although occasionally out drinking til the early hours, always on the slopes by 9.00am, never off the mountain until the last lift closes, never more than 60 minutes for lunch, and never have my first drink until the boots are off! Porridge and lentils though, no. Wink

Don't live in Bow Quarter - probably not cool enough!

Jayne - indeed it was brill, and no, not a last minute deal - full brochure price booked last June. Reckon they must have tiny profit margins. We worked it out at about £140 flight, £140 lift pass, £160 ski school 5 x 6 hrs/day (all retail not cost obviously), leaving £210 for transfers, full-board accommodation and as much booze as you can drink. They told us they were pilotting this 'all-inclusive' deal this year, based on their Caribbean model - I think they may well have underestimated the amount that skiers eat and drink, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's not available next year! The Club Med entertainment ('animation' as they love to call it in France) was also incredibly bizarre - we loved it but possibly for all the wrong reasons. Laughing
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Sure you're no more of a lout than any of the rest of us Dave! Seriously - it sounded like a cracker of a deal, and I'm sure you made the most of it Wink

I've always found that hangovers don't seem so much of a problem on skiing holidays. Dunno why, because I'd have thought the altitude would have made them worse - but even on my lads trips to Val/Verbier where we've stayed out till 4/5am returns from the club (via greasy pizza joint or burger van, of course) we've managed to somehow drag ourselves up in the morning.

The only part of my email that was serious was porridge for brekky - seriously, if you can stomach it, it's great stuff. Prefer it with honey or sugar myself (get frowned at by Scottish girlfriend) though.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Agreed - there's nothing better for clearing a hangover than mountain air and a bit of adrenalin. I'm sure there must be a physiologist around here somewhere who can explain it. Another top tip is to stick to vodka - not as vicious on the guts as lager. Smile

No fan of porridge though - on holiday I'm very much a bacon butty man (carbs, protein and fat - all the food groups in one handy-sized snack!)
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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!
I've been with Club Med before-excellent value, but have to go back to hotel for lunch-I think some places they do have a mountain restaurant though.
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I am driving out for the first week in April, by organising it myself and driving overnight I'll get to ski on both Saturdays i.e 33% more slope time!!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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I did club med once - I wonder if this is the reason I'm now a DIY person! Wink It was HORRIBLE, I still have nightmares...
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