Cheap ski holidays in hundreds of ski resorts worldwide.
You may not be able to get snowboard lessons until you are seven years old on snowboarding holidays in most European resorts, but snowboarding is definitely for kids.
Burton Snowboards, one of the founding fathers and major brands in the sport, have pioneered boards for years. From the early days of Terje Haakonsen to launching Shaun White's career, they are always at the top of the game, and now they plan to be there from the start.
The choice of kids boards seems to be growing from year to year, but the Burton Chopper and sister board the Burton Chicklet have to be among of the most innovative. Starting at an incredible 80cm in length and designed so nippers can jump on without any bindings, these boards are fantastic to get a feel for snowboarding. Designed with a child-friendly flex, but strong enough to terrify you as they go off the jumps and rails in the snowpark and for complete beginners it even comes with a Riglet accessory, that lets you pull the board along.
The Riglet leash is a great idea, as you can pull them up the hill in the local park, while they get their snowboard legs before that first holiday to the slopes, and you can even use it to slow them down while they link their first turns.
The guys from The House, a US based board shop, have come up with a great little video in regards to the tech behind the board:
Both these boards also come with a free lesson as part of Burton's Learn To Ride scheme, luckily this has been rolled out in both Europe and the USA, with top resorts. Top Swiss resorts include Verbier, Flims Laax and Klosters, along with the small resort of Morgins in the Portes Du Soleil, Saalbach and Hinterglemm in Austria are available to choose from, as are Passo Tonale and Livigno in Italy. So, you may not pick your holiday to a resort based on a free lesson for your kids, but if you are travelling to any of these resorts it's a freebie not to be missed!
Here's a clip of the Burton kids from the 2008 Warren Miller film, Playground.
As you can see, talented kids are getting signed up by teams at a pretty young age these days and it is quite terrifying seeing how good the groms are getting. Your offspring might not be doing back flips on these dinky boards, but what's to say they won't be the next Jamie Nicholls or Aimee Fuller, given the opportunity.
For Boarders By Boarders is one of the fastest growing snowboarding communities in the UK. The guys behind the non-profit movement are all about making snowboarding culture more accessible to everyone, from their open freestyle nights all over the UK to the community inspired arts shows and their website. I discovered FBBB while out in resort a few years ago when a group a guys in their 30s stayed in my chalet and raved about the UK scene to me for a whole week
People tend to look at the UK snowboard and freestyle ski scene as a bunch of rich kids and skateboarders showing off on the indoor and dry slopes. The guys at FBBB wanted to make sure that riding in the UK was for everyone. There are guys in their 30s ripping it up at their events, along with the next generation of teenage super groms.
Now, not everyone who reads this blog may be familiar with For Boarders By Boarders, so I had a chat with Mikee, one of the founders. There's still a good six months until most of us will hit the slopes again, so I wanted to show you what these guys do in hope you'll get your summer shred on.
Ever had an idea and thought, wouldn't it be great if...? In 2006 three friends (Mikee, Thom and cH!co) who met through snowboarding & music acted on such a moment, turning their brainwave and vision into reality.
Creating an 'all inclusive' event with an aim to expose the potentials of the UK's freestyle scene and to build a brand that everyone can associate with. The emphasis is simply all about having a good time with friends and meeting like minded people. "We do what we do for the sheer love of it all!"
The FBBB collective was formed. The first ever event featured a unique & progressive freestyle park with a never seen before and custom built DJ booth kicker, firmly putting FBBB on the map — the rest as they say, is history...
FBBB has since gone onto organising a long list of innovative and unique events such as: annual indoor snow dome tours around the UK and Europe, skate jams, art installations at Metro snow, the London Freeze, Boardmasters, Wintersessions, the Big Snow festival, the Reebok Lounge and many more!
Apologies for the language in parts of this clip.
Each year the events these guys put on grow and they are becoming a staple at most UK snow related events, from the slopes and the London Freeze to the ski show. Heading to their events is a fun-filled way of hitting the slopes, and though theey're not cheap, you are paying the same as you would on any slope organised freestyle night and getting a lot more for it.
The For Boarders By Boarders website is filled with the latest news on what events are going down, where they will be entertaining the crowds — from festivals to fridges this summer — and more info on the crew.
If you're planning on heading to any of their events this summer drop us a tweet and send us your pictures. As soon as my ACL is fixed I'll be heading down there to show off my ability to stack it in style.
Ryan Davis showing off his indoor skills.
Cheap ski deals are a bit of a misdemeanour as skiing is never cheap. By the time you have added your travel, accommodation, lift pass, ski hire/carriage, lessons (if needed) and food & drinks in resort, you are often lucky to get away with spending less than £1000. That's not to say that with good planning, realistic expectations and a bit of luck you can of course get a great deal, saving a small fortune.
People often flock toward the likes of Bulgaria and Andorra for a cheap ski break, but the realism is they are catching up with the rest of Europe year-on-year for price, yet the ski areas are not always as snow-sure or as challenging as the more renowned resorts. Andorra's lift pass prices are catching those of France, at £180, and the airfares to Bulgaria mean it often costs more than a cheeky week to a more renowned resort with a shorter flight.
Having taken into consideration the resort costs, including lift pass & ski hire, the holiday costs and the ski areas, I have put together an indication of where the best value cheap ski deals currently lie. There are a couple of self catered apartments, some value chalets and an all inclusive package, to give you a good indication of what to expect and where to look. Bargain hunting for cheap ski holidays starts as soon as the winter is over, so you now don't need to hold on in hope of getting a last minute deal.
To keep things fair and comparable I have looked at mid January, traditionally the cheapest time of the season where the resorts are fully open and for arguments sake have kept to London(ish) airports.
Self catered holidays can be a false economy due to the cost of food in resort, though sneaking some dry foods and packet mixes into your suitcase can help with this — student-style skiing! But if you are there for the skiing and/or the nightlife, accommodation is often at the bottom of the list, therefore squeezing into a 20m2 apartment with three friends won't bother you in the slightest.
Having kept to the dates mentioned before, you might be surprised to hear that the resorts of Avoriaz and Alpe d'Huez topped the list for accommodation costs and reasonable lift pass prices. Okay so €5 or so a pint may be the main downfall here, but there are some great value places to eat in both these ski areas. Pizza Roll in Alpe d'Huez is well used buy the underpaid resort staff and at €3 a pizza who can blame them. In Avoriaz ski down the Les Marmottes restaurant in the Lindarets valley for some great value mountain food — which will be much appreciated if a diet of pasta and sauce is on the menu in the evenings!
The Balcons du Soleil apartments in Avoriaz often offer great value, whether getting an early summer deal or a last minute cheap trip you can find prices here for sub £300 per person. The lift pass is around £196 (for 650km of piste!) and ski hire is around £90 for skis & boots and ski carriage is £51. The best price at the moment is from Luton airport on the 7th January for as little as £282 per person, based on four sharing a four person studio apartment — offering cosy but low cost accommodation.
Alpe d'Huez offers 260km of great skiing, a glacier, Europe's longest black run — the 16km La Sarenne — the infamous Le Tunnel's moguls and the great value Les Horizons d'Huez apartments. The lift pass is little more expensive here at £204, but includes use of the both the heated outdoor pool (budgie smugglers required), the indoor pool & sports centre and the resort bus, the ski & boot hire is again £90, ski carriage is £51. The cheapest ski deal here is again on the 7th January on a flight from Luton airport at £236 per person, based on four people sharing — the cheapest deal, but slightly higher resort costs.
Chalet holidays can actually offer better value than staying in an apartment, due to the fact most of your catering is covered (the staff have one night off during your stay). You are usually given a hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and a three course evening meal with wine. If you have good chalet hosts you can usually have a large breakfast with cereals, a cooked option and some fruit, then make yourself a cheese, ham or jam sandwich for lunch (though do this quietly as you are not supposed to) and ski back for tea, coffee and cake at 4pm and still have time for an aprés ski beer.
Based on out-and-out price, the Chalet Anemones in Les Deux Alpes offers fantastic value. Again using a Luton flight the price for two people in a twin room is only £416 per person on either the 7th or 14th January. So the difference in cost to have two full meals and afternoon tea, with only one evening not catered, offers great value. Les Deux Alpes is a student favourite, offering good nightlife, glacier skiing and reasonable resort prices — the lift pass is only £184 and ski & hire is again around £90 and ski carriage is £51.
For a great overall deal, great value on the mountain and the chance to ski two countries in one holiday, then the Chalet Choucas in La Rosiere offers fantastic value. At the moment, though subject to change, the chalet is offering buy-one-get-one-free lift passes for the area, and at £155 for two people that is a bargain. The ski area sits toward the end of the Tarantaise Valley, opposite Les Arcs and bordering Italy. Skiing down to La Thuile you can enjoy fantastic mountain food at great, Italian prices, giving great savings throughout the week. This time based on a flight into Gatwick and with two people sharing a twin room the price stands at £541 per person — at only £77.50 for your lift pass with ski hire from as little as £72 (or ski carriage for £30) you are looking at £690 for a week with everything bar lunch and one evening meal paid for!
Again sticking with Les Deux Alpes, there are some ridiculously good value all inclusive deals with the Club Med Les Deux Alpes, though if you fancy a different resort the Club Med Arcs Extreme and Club Med Aime La Plagne are often comparable in price. Club Med offer something different to the typical British ski holiday, first of all they are French run, owned and styled hotels, though they have english speaking staff. If you are here for the skiing and not the resort nightlife the hotels have everything you need. The price include accommodation, transport, all inclusive meals and drinks (apart from champagne etc), lift pass, ski school and on charter flights ski carriage. You can ski back to the hotel for lunch, a beer or a snack, the bar is open until early until the early hours and there is entertainment for all ages. If you head out on the 15th or 22nd January you are only paying £843 per person, based on two sharing — this means if you have your own skis you don't have to spend another penny (apart from travel insurance) and if you don't ski hire starts at only £99 pp. If five days skiing is enough for you, you can get all this for only £763 on the 9th January for six nights!
In a quick and almost lazy round-up here are the overall price comparisons for the best value self catered, chalet and all inclusive for seven nights:
So depending on how much you expect to spend on meals both in your accommodation and on the mountain, whether you are heading out into resort to party, fancy a glass of wine over dinner, or want the freedom to enjoy a drink whenever you fancy, depends on what works out best for you. Self catered are cosy, but low cost, chalets are comfortable, yet good value and Club Med include everything you need for a great price. All-in-all it's your choice and before you add in ski lessons and lunches Club Med is only £200 more than a chalet (lessons can cost up to £150 these days), and before you add in meals, tea and wine chalets are only £150 more than self catered. Do the maths and choose the best ski deal for you — I know what I'd go for!
* The prices in this article were correct at time of publish, though are subject to change at anytime.
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