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Sarah Loughlin hunts down the best travel deals for ski holidays this winter.

After a very green start to the winter the snow is here! Just as you were beginning to think that the age old vacation problem of ‘sun or snow’ was going to be answered for you by the unseasonable lack of the latter ingredient…. its only gone and dumped it down! Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Like many other people, starting at an early age meant skiing has always been a big part of my life. It’s not just the sport itself but the atmosphere and the people it attracts that keep you going back year after year. There’s nothing like sitting down at dinner to stuff your face full of cheese and chatting to everyone about their day up the hill. But saying that, every year around this time, normally on a chilly walk to work, I start to crave a beach day in the sunshine – just me and a good book!

If you still can’t decide whether to don your bikini or your snowboard, maybe these cheeky ski deals will help you out!

A Weekend:

Three nights in Avoriaz, France – Thursday 26th March-Sunday 29th March £267.26

This trip perfect is for you indecisive folk; can’t decide between sun and snow? Do Both! Thursday afternoon flights from Gatwick mean you only need one and a half days holiday to enjoy two full days of skiing! Plenty of holiday left for that dose of mid-winter sun!

Fly from London Gatwick to Geneva with Swissair for £64 per person:

Avoriaz is only about an hour and a half from Geneva. This means you can be up the mountain by 10ish to get an early night and awake refreshed for the first lift on Friday morning, or be there in time to catch a few drinks at aprés… which ever takes your fancy. There are quite a few transfer options around of varying reliability, you can in theory get a return transfer for about €50 but if you are only there for a few days best to pick a company with a good reputation. I traveled with Ski- Lifts, who offer a return shared minibus transfer for £71.76 per person. They were efficient, friendly, and after a short wait for the other passengers on my bus we hopped on board and were up the mountain in no time. I would love to tell you about the amazing scenic views on the way up the valley – but I fell promptly asleep before we left the car park!

AirBnB offers an Apartment in the center of town that sleeps up to six for £263; which works out as £131.50 per person based on two people sharing. One of the great things about Avoriaz is that they have no cars in resort, so pretty much everywhere is ski in ski out. All the roads around town are pisted into slopes and are dotted with skiers, pedestrians and the occasional piste-basher; the only thing you have to watch out for are the horse drawn sleds!

You can pre-order your lift pass online before you go to make the most of your time on the mountain. All you have to do is order a re-loadable Portes du Soleil card and then charge it with a two day lift pass which costs €93 for the area pass (+€3 for the card).

Eating: With only a few days up the hill its going to be hard to fit in all the essential mountain grub! So here are my faves; if you like omelet try La Grenouille du Marais, where they come served in huge frying pans straight to your table! If you don’t want to stop for too long grab a quick burger from Changabang, super tasty, but sometimes there is a bit of a queue. Or if you fancy somewhere a bit quirky be sure to check out Chez BaBeth a cosy chalet style restaurant choc-full of fur throws and alpine themed decor, they even have a bit of aprés on the terrace in the afternoon!

Skiing:  Avoriaz is a huge ski area, spreading out into the Portes du Soleil. There is something for everyone, long gentle blues, parks and half pipes, and a lot of off piste. Including the famous ‘Swiss Wall’ if you fancy a challenge!

Aprés: When you are all skied out head to Globe Trotters for a few chilled out beers on the terrace, and if you fancy some music afterwards it’s a short stumble to Shooters who have a live band from 5-7pm.

A March week:

Seven nights in Kitzbühel, Austria – Saturday 21st March – Saturday £379pp

When looking for a week’s ski holiday I always aim to get a flight, transfer and accommodation package for roughly £350. Depending on the time of year you want to go you can normally find a nice place to stay in a good resort for that price. You can get them much cheaper but bear in mind, you get what you pay for. That self catering deal for £199 might look appealing, but you will be four to a room in bunk-beds on a corridor full of students vomiting in their own shoes.

This deal with Crystal Ski to Chalet Karlberger, in Kitzbühel is great value; the package includes flights from Manchester, transfers and accommodation with chalet board which includes breakfast, afternoon tea and three course dinner with wine. Gatwick flights available for £429 per person.

On the chalet staff night off head to Sigi’s for one of their famous burger’s and beer or two. This family run sports bar is part of the Hotel Jagerwirt, which has beautifully decorated alpine inspired lobby. The staff are all super friendly and are sure to show you a good time. If you like spicy food try the ‘Fire Burger’, but be warned it has more than a little kick to it!

A February week:

Seven nights in Val Thorens, France – Saturday 7th February – Saturday 14th February £561pp

Having said that £350 is a reasonable price to pay for your package, I would definitely fork out the extra money for this deal! Val Thorens is the place to be at the minute with 50-60cm of snow predicted towards the end of this week! Travel with Skiworld from London Gatwick to the Chalet Verseau, located at the top of the resort with easy access to the slopes and town. The package includes flights, transfers accommodation and chalet board (breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner including wine).

Eating: The great thing about a chalet holiday is that the food is all included in the price of the package along with the wine, but you do get one evening to go out and try some of the local restaurants – best of both worlds! If you don’t want to venture too far from the Chalet go for a fondue at the l’Auberge, then when you are totally cheese out head over to the Red Fox for an digestif or two!

Skiing: What can I say about the Trois Vallees that hasn’t already been said – probably my favorite place to ski! Like most big French ski areas, there is something for everyone – park, piste, off piste; even a fab little cross country route on the lake at Les Menuires, ideal for beginners.

Aprés: There is almost far too much choice in Val Thorens its hard to know where to start! If you are a mid-afternoon aprés on the mountain fan there is a choice of 360 or the famous Folie Douce both with live music and great atmosphere. If you want to ski until the very last second possible then the center of town is where you want to head; the Frog has great bands and as much dancing on the table as you can shake a stick at, while Danish bar Cafe Snesko also its own theme song and sets fire to things at regular intervals through out the evening.

For more ideas about great holiday deals check out my previous post ‘How to Fly for £17 Return’.

All prices and availability were accurate on Monday 26th of January; please check websites for up to date pricing.

Happy Holiday-ing!

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