Has anyone seen my old Volvo?
With the white stuff falling abundantly across the Alps this week following a more than generous dusting last week, it’s time to turn our attention to how to save a few bob when we head to the slopes. This weekend, as the snow cannons pumped out the fake stuff at Côte 2000 near Megève, creating what looked like a piste full of enormous white breasts (sorry, but we do think about them every 15 seconds or so), the keenest skiers were to be found walking up just to savour a few precious seconds of swooshing through the virgin powder. This elite community of super-fit aside, most of us mere morals rather prefer to sit on a comfy gentle six-seater chairlift than give ourselves a cardiac-arrest. It’s easy to forget that these sofa-like transporters have only recently replaced the old hard ones that used to swing around the corner at at least 200 mph and make only the briefest of pauses before the anxious punter climbed aboard, checked that all limbs were still attached and nursed an array of bruises on legs, backs and buttocks before pulling down the bar. But such progress as ever comes at a price, so here are a few tips to avoid paying top whack this winter, particularly for day trips to the mountains.
1) Travel with friends / family in the same car – I can’t think of a better word in English for co-voiturage. Anyway the most revered resort of the region (La Plagne), offers a mega-reduction of 20€ (from 46 to 26 euros) for those pollution-beaters who arrive in a car with 3 or more occupants. This is valid on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and passes are to be bought from Aime Vallée. Check it out at www.plagneautoski.com
2) Ski Saturday – the turnaround day is arguably the best day of the week to strap on the old planks of wood, as the slopes are generally at their quietest and reductions are on offer. The 3 valleys offer a daily pass or recharge of p@s via internet at €43 as opposed to €53 on Saturdays (web offer only) although if you are not a Russian oligarch you may not consider that much of a bargain. Certain resorts make more of an effort, such as Les Arcs and Courchevel, especially if you have signed up to one of their reduction card schemes – learn more at www.les3vallees.com , www.skialacarte.fr , www.skiatoutprix.com
3) Buy the pass via internet – perhaps an obvious point but judging by the long queues that snake out of the lift pass office, buying on arrival is still a popular option. Essentially the nearer you are physically to your chosen destination, the more fleeced you will be. Apart from the resort web sites themselves, special reduction sites exist, such as www.partirenmontagne.com , and www.mamontagne.com
4) Promotions galore – If you’re after a good deal then being a single bloke isn’t the way forward. Resorts want to encourage the minorities so be particularly attentive to deals if you are a lady – free skiing on ‘ladies day’ (8 March) is common, and in Megève you don’t have to wait that long – 12 Jan is free for the fairer sex for the 14th year running. Also families are much sought-after so an adult pass with a free child pass is quite often available. Booking your accommodation and pass together is also a cunning plan. Is your birthday during the season? Then quite likely you can ski for less. Just remember to take your passport with you so you can prove it!
5) Wait until Spring! With a view to encouraging late skiers, Springtime is an ideal time to ski relatively cheaply as ski pass prices tend to drop as the snows melt and the cows reappear.
If you think of any other winning plans then it would be great to hear about them – bon ski!