The 2023-24 ski season is just around the corner. But heading to the mountains isn't exactly a cheap holiday.
The best-known ski destinations tend to offer expensive Saturday to Saturday stays with little flexibility. This is cost and time prohibitive for many snow sports enthusiasts.
“Whether it’s for budget reasons, or the thrill of finding a hidden gem, there are some great alternatives to the classics," says Marcus Blunt, co-founder of travel agent Heidi.
This newly launched online platform offers skiers more flexible options than traditional sites, according to its founders. Weekend breaks and lesser-known destinations are their specialty.
So if you are looking for a ski trip somewhere unusual or simply hoping to save money, where can you go? Here are a few swaps from the founders of Heidi that could cut costs and offer better flexibility.
For off-piste skiing swap Chamonix for Jasna, Slovakia
Chamonix in France is on many skiers' bucket lists, but a lift pass at this resort isn’t cheap. It can cost up to €74 a day in high season.
A cheaper alternative for advanced skiers and free-riders is Jasna in Slovakia. It offers some of Europe’s best off-piste routes with lift passes costing around €59 per adult per day in the high season. Accommodation is also inexpensive at as little as €25 a night for a B&B.
The resort is small, with few slopes available for less experienced sportspeople, but has good access to a lot of off-piste routes with a number of freeride zones. It’s usually quiet, too, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll find some untouched snow.
For an affordable ski break, swap Les Gets for Morillon, France
Les Gets in south-eastern France is well known for being a picturesque resort overlooking the Mont Blanc range of mountains.
For a budget option in the same region, try the village of Morillon. It’s much quieter and offers a great base to explore the enormous Grand Massif ski area. It has a better snow record than Ported du Soleil, slightly more affordable lift pass prices (€53.50 vs €58.50 per day) and access to 265km of slopes.
Morillon is also well known for its wide variety of aprés ski activities like ice skating, sledging and helicopter flights - perfect if you are travelling with your family.
For luxury on a budget swap, Zell am See for Seefeld, Austria
The pretty lakeside town of Zell am See in Austria is well known for its luxury accommodation options. If staying in a high-end hotel is important to you but you’re travelling on a budget then Seefeld could be for you.
Its ski area is smaller than Zell am See but the town is picturesque and has no shortage of fancy resorts and spas. This destination offers similar panoramic mountain views and often attracts top skiing stars who train on its slopes.
A stay here could cost you roughly half as much as a similar break in Zell am See depending on the accommodation you choose.
For a family-friendly ski holiday swap Avoriaz in France for Trysil, Norway
This one is a more dramatic swap but if you are looking for a family friendly break then ditching France for Norway could be the answer.
Avoriaz is well known for being a great place for first time skiers with many beginner pistes. But Trysil - Norway’s largest ski resort - could also have what you are after.
It is often voted the best resort in the country for family skiing with lots to do in the surrounding area. Just 40 minutes from the Scandinavian Mountains Airport, it has a wide variety of different slopes for everyone from beginners to those looking for something a bit more challenging.
There’s also complimentary childcare and, like many Scandinavian resorts, quiet slopes with short queues for the ski lift.
Take a weekend break in Isola, France, instead of travelling to Tignes
The high-altitude resort of Tignes may be more snow-sure than others but it doesn’t mean it is the only option - especially when it comes to weekend breaks.
Isola is high in the southern French Alps and also picks up tonnes of snow, offering a wide variety of different slopes, from areas for beginners and intermediates to challenging off-piste routes.
What makes this resort appealing for a more flexible ski trip is the time it takes you to get there. Transfers from the airport take just an hour and 15 minutes compared to the three and half hours to Tignes. One to consider if you don’t want a short break to be eaten up by travel time.