Bulgaria and Italy ‘best value ski resorts’

Skiers should head for Italy or Eastern Europe for the best value this winter.

Bansko in Bulgaria remains the cheapest of 20 European resorts surveyed for the Ski Resort Report compiled by Post Office Money with help from Crystal Ski.

Second is Kranjska Gora in Slovenia, where prices are up 20 per cent on last season, but Sestriere, which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics, is now in third place.

The Italian resort is just five per cent more expensive than Kranjska Gora as a result of an 11 per cent local fall in the cost of ski passes, equipment and tuition.

Italy is by far the cheapest of the ‘Big Four’ ski destinations – which also include Austria, France and Switzerland.

Local prices have either fallen or stayed level with 2015 in the four Italian resorts surveyed, minimising the impact of the weaker pound.

Equipment hire, lift passes and ski tuition for six days plus a meal and drinks on the slopes will cost £270.77 for a week in Bansko.

Prices there have risen just four per cent year-on-year, despite the weaker pound.

Zermatt
Zermatt is the most expansive of the 20 European resorts (Crystal Ski)

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

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

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

Its barometer cost is around 30 per cent lower than in Val d’Isère (£638.80), the most expensive French resort.

A week in long-term runner-up Kranjska Gora comes in at £337.62 where local price rises have compounded the impact of the weaker sterling exchange rate.

Better Value

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.

Sestriere (£354.98) has moved up to third place in the table from fifth position last year on the back of an 11 per cent 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 four per cent in La Thuile (9th place, £456.45).

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

Once the prices in Swiss francs are converted to sterling, this means the increased costs faced by UK skiers are lower than in either Austria or France at between 16-19 per cent.

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 per cent pricier than in Val d’Isère.

Sestriere
Sestiere in Italy is good value (Crystal Ski)

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

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 per cent respectively.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK currency transactions, said: “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.”

USA/Canada

Those skiers planning transatlantic trips to the USA or Canada can expect to pay significantly more this winter.

Banff in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is the cheapest option of six resorts surveyed, thanks to local price-pegging. Elsewhere, a combination of price rises for lift passes and tuition and the fall in sterling’s value mean that the overall cost to UK holidaymakers in North American resorts is at least 25 per cent higher than a year ago.

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

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

Chris Logan, Crystal Ski Holidays Managing Director, said: “Despite the exchange rate movements, there are destinations that still offer great value for customers.

“Crystal have 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.”

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