Sunday, 8 February 2009

Saving Money During Your Skiing Holiday

When booking a ski holiday obviously most people are looking for the best deal they can find at the moment. However if you are booking a package it can be tricky to decipher what the tour operators are offering and what extras you need to buy. The tour operators can give out quite misleading information at times, and it is easy to get talked into buying unnecessary extras, either when booking, on the transfer bus, or on arrival in resort. The resort reps are your point of contact with the company and are often very helpful, but remember that part of their job description is to sell as many extras as they can.

Some extras are obviously important - ski pass, tuition and equipment hire are all essential for a beginner and many more advanced skiers will also need the full ski package. However, even here the options can be misleading - in this resort (Arinsal) several tour operators charge intermediate skiers a higher price than beginners for the ski pack. This is for the same ski pass, the same ski hire (upgrading the skis costs more again) but for intermediate rather than beginner lessons. Oddly though, the ski school charges exactly the same for lessons regardless of the level. So if a tour company asks for more money for the same product based on your skiing ability it is worth asking exactly why. In some resorts there might be a different ski pass for more advanced skiers, covering a larger area, but here it just seems to be a case of the companies charging more because they can.

Other extras you might find include trips to other resorts and all manner of excursions, plus various evening entertainments. Again it is worth looking at exactly what you get, especially if you are on a budget. If there is a trip to another resort could you get there for a fraction of the price on local public transport? And if you are a beginner is it suitable for your level of skiing? Are the night time activities really worth the money? The 10 (or more) Euro pub crawl is a favourite of the reps, but you could probably have a much better time finding the pubs yourself, and get the same drinks cheaper.

Of course some of the activities offered will be a lot of fun, but don't feel you have to sign up to everything that is offered to you as soon as you get there. Ask some of the locals for the real story about what is worth going to - your ski instructor or the bar staff are useful sources of information and are not generally trying to sell you anything other that a ski lesson or a pint of beer. If you do want to sign up for anything later, the reps will be only too happy to take your money then.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Powder Days

Regular readers have probably noticed this blog has been quiet for a while now. I'm afraid the only excuse I have is that it just keeps on snowing. We have the most snow I have seen in Andorra and it keeps on coming. Every run in Arinsal is open at the moment and there are new off-piste possiblities opening up all the time. Here are a few photos to show what I mean, with thanks to Matthew Boyer who took them on a recent afternoon in the powder after work.