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Saturday October 8, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Prices in resorts go up by around 20% due to a tumbling exchange rate but a report out shows people where to head to keep costs down. PlanetSKI reports.

It's no surprise that the resorts of Eastern Europe are the cheapest - Bansko in Bulgaria is best value of 20 European ski resorts for the seventh year running with Kraniska Gora in Slovenia second again.

But price freezes make Italian resorts cheapest in Europe's 'Big Four' ski countries and Banff in Canada beats its competitors in the USA for transatlantic ski value.

The figures are revealed in the 10th annual Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort

It is produced by the UK's leading foreign currency provider in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK's largest ski tour operator. 

It comes as sterling slides following the Brexit vote and worries deepen over the cost of skiing.

Snowpsorts just seem to get more and more expensive each year.

However there are ways to avoid extra expense and we have some reaction to the report from the UK snowsports industry towards the end of this article once we have gone over the detail.

With the 'flash crash' last week and talk of possible parity with the euro once Article 50 is triggered, skiing and snowboarding is set to get even more expensive.

However many skiers and snowboarders may not want to head to eastern europe for their turns, prefering better terrain and facilities elsewhere.

Bansko has retained its position as the cheapest destination for UK skiers for the seventh consecutive year.

20 European resorts were surveyed. 

It costs £270.77 for ski holiday staples including equipment hire, lift passes and ski tuition for six days plus a meal and drinks on the slopes

Prices there have risen just 4% year-on-year, despite the weaker pound.

Bansko, BugariaBansko, Bugaria












As a result, the Bulgarian ski resort has pulled further ahead of long term runner-up Kranjska Gora (£337.62), where local price rises have compounded the impact of the weaker sterling exchange rate. 

This has made Kranjska Gora almost 20% more expensive than last season and 25% pricier than Bansko.

European Ski ResortsEuropean Ski Resorts












But if the Eastern European value rating comes as little surprise, prices researched by Crystal Ski Holidays in the traditional 'Big Four' ski destinations, France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, are perhaps more of a revelation. 

This is because local prices in the four Italian resorts surveyed have either fallen or stayed on par with last season to make them far better value than Austria and France. 

All four feature in the best value top 10.

Sestriere, ItalySestriere, Italy
















Sestriere (£354.98) has moved up to third place in the table from fifth position last year on the back of an 11% fall in euro ski costs. 

Once the sterling rate is applied, prices in the resort are level with last season - making this the best deal across the eurozone. 

Elsewhere in Italy, local euro prices are on par with a year ago in Livigno (4th place, £363.84) and Selva Val Gardena (10th place, £470.30), and down 4% in La Thuile (9th place, £456.45).

By contrast, local prices have snowballed across the nine Austrian and French resorts surveyed.

Once the exchange rate is applied, skiers can therefore expect to pay an average of 20% more than last season in Austrian resorts and 26% extra in French ones.

Despite the price rises, Ellmau (£403.08) in the Tyrol is in fifth place in the Post Office best value chart.

It has fallen only one place since last year and significantly cheaper than the other Austrian ski resorts: Mayrhofen (£490.72); Kitzbühel (£614.08); and St Anton (£664.76).

Morzine remains best value among the five French resorts surveyed at £446.33 but has fallen from sixth place last year to eighth.

Morzine, FranceMorzine, France
















Morzine's barometer cost is around 30% lower than in Val d'Isère (£638.80), the most expensive French resort.

"Despite the exchange rate movements, there are destinations that still offer great value for customers. These range from the usual suspects like Bulgaria and Slovenia to more traditional destinations like Sestriere in Italy but, wherever they choose to go, skiers can keep their costs down by thinking ahead," said Crystal Ski Holidays Managing Director, Chris Logan.

"Crystal has seen an increase in the number of customers pre-booking their ski equipment and double digit growth for pre-booked lift passes. In addition, our fully catered chalets are increasingly popular, as are the hotels where we offer €100 credit to be spent at the hotel bar or restaurant," he added.

Chris LoganChris Logan




















Although Switzerland remains highest-priced of the 'Big Four', local prices are at least level with a year ago. 

But the cheapest of the three Swiss resorts surveyed, Saas Fee (£718.33) is still eight per cent more expensive than St Anton, the highest-priced Austrian resort, and over 12% pricier than in Val d'Isère. 

Zermatt (£875.24) is the most expensive of the 20 European resorts for the second consecutive year, 53% more than in another world-class skiing option, Courchevel (£570.96).

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland













Elsewhere in the eurozone, Soldeu, Andorra (6th place, £441.64) and Ruka, Finland (7th place, £443.73) retain their top 10 places with lower than average price rises of 20% and 24% respectively.

"Ski resort costs are likely to play an important part in destination choice this year as the weaker pound puts pressure on the holiday purse. That's why it is so important to do your homework before booking and factor in all the costs of a ski holiday to the package price," said Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money.

Across the Atlantic there are significant price rises in five of the six resorts surveyed in the USA and Canada.

North American Ski ResortsNorth American Ski Resorts












Banff was the only resort where local prices have remained in line with those recorded a year ago. 

Banff, CanadaBanff, Canada
















At £701.91, ski costs in Banff are therefore around 19% higher than last season once the exchange rate is applied, compared with the 95% rise found in another Canadian resort, Tremblant (£1,037.40).

Here at PlanetSKI we visited Banff several times last winter and skied the most in the local resort of Sunshine Village - see here for our report on the ski area.

Sunshine Village, Banff, CanadaSunshine Village, Banff, Canada
















In the USA Vail (£1,118.46) and Breckenridge (£1,134.29) in Colorado were most expensive of all, both in North America and across the whole report.

The report comes at a highly topical time with a volatile exchange rate, but the comparisons should be kept in context as the more expensive resorts have higher prices because they are better.

A Daily Mail headline states that US ski resorts are four times more expensive than European ones. However the paper compares Breckenridge with Bansko, but it would be fairer to compare it with Val d'Isere where the figures comes down to twice as expensive.

It is still a big difference but is more accurate.

Here at PlanetSKI we advise you to change your currency ahead of your holiday.

At present at the airport £1 will buy you €1 and in resorts you may get a poor rate and there could be additional charges.

Also keep an eye out for deals and discounts.

Some operators are already offering £350 off the cost of a holiday and you can keep across them here on the PlanetSKI Deals and Discounts page.

So, is this all the end of skiing and snowboarding as we know it?

Certainly not.

One operator, Ski Beat, has been in business for 29 years and this season is expanding with 11 new hosted chalets among its 53 properties in 5 additional resorts.

It is confident about the season ahead.

"In a survey of our clients only 6% said price was the top reason for choosing their holiday. The most important aspect was ski area on 46%, family friendly on 28% and doorsteep skiing at 15%," said the Ski Beat Sales & Marketing Director, Laura Hazell.

The other reasons were short transfer on 3% and après ski on 1.5%

Laura Hazel, Ski BeatLaura Hazell, Ski Beat
















Tour operators also offer all-inclusive packages with lift passes, ski hire and lessons included in the up-front cost.

"Following the drop in the value of the pound against the euro it is certainly better value for customers to choose half-board options as they represent greater value, and you get complimentary wine with dinner too," said the head of winter at Neilson Holidays, Ian Davis.

"Our Mountain Expert service also allows you to get free guiding and coaching, while pre booking ski rental and lift passes will also mean you avoid the fluctuating exchange rates," Davis added.

Here at PlanetSKI we think the free guiding and coaching sessions offered by Neilson are a real benefit.

See here as we tested the service last year with Neilson.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsNeilson's Mountain Experts
















According to some in the snowsports industry Brexit has had little impact - so far.

In public many tour operators report bookings holding up and a recent survey by the Ski Club of Great Britain found public confidence was good.

"Brexit seems to have had little effect on the desire of skiers to continue pursuing their holidays. The survey responses were collected both before and after the referendum. Even amongst the ensuing uncertainty and exchange rate changes 65% of skiers said their skiing habits would remain the same over the next 3 years," concluded the Ski Club of Great Britain.

However here at PlanetSKI we conclude that the desire of skiers to head to the mountains, and the reality, may be somewhat different.

The research was a survey of intentions not actions.

The impact of Brexit has not happened yet and the 20%+ rise in in-resort costs will have an impact for the season of 2016/17.

When the holiday prices are then set for the following seasons it looks like they will only be higher.

However one section of the UK snowsports industry, retailers, may benefit from the fall in the value of sterling that is likely to get worse.

UK retailers believe the high in-resort costs mean people will buy their clothing and equipment in the UK.

"With in-resort prices increasing, UK retailers should be price competitive - and can push even harder the message to Go UK - Buy UK," said a statement from Snowsport Industries of Great Britain, SIGB, a  trade association for skiing and snowboarding.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be keeping an firm eye on the fluctuating exchange rate and offering advise throughout the winter on where to get the best deals and save money, without compromising your skiing and snowboarding.

The Post Office Ski Resort Report was compiled using prices for 26 resorts in Europe and North America, provided by Crystal Ski Holidays.

Costs are based on mid-season pricing and entry level skis and boots. Ski school daily hours vary depending on the resort. Lunch prices are based on two courses (main course and dessert) excluding drinks.

All prices are based on the Post Office exchange rates in late September 2016.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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