5 Frugal ski/snowboard resorts
As the temperature starts to drop and the winter coats and gloves come out, those thoughts of skiing and snowboarding soon come back. A winter sports holiday doesn't have to be expensive, you don't have to go places such as Val thorens or Courchevel to have the best time. Below is a list of 5 alternative resorts that are hundreds of pounds cheaper, but still have great snow and you will have a great time.
Nevis Range, Scotland
On the west coast of Scotland, lies a small town That lives in the shadows of the mountain Ben Nevis. Fort William is the second largest town in the highlands and is thriving with outdoor activities all year round. Just a 10 min drive from Fort William is Nevis range mountain resort, where i was a ski instructor for a season and enjoyed some of the most enjoyable skiing I've had. accommodation is cheap and readily available, getting to the resort can be done by bus or car. why not try travelling up to fort William by car (make a road trip out of it) this is certainly a lot cheaper than flying to the alps.
The British winter is looking like it is going to be a cold one, so make the most of it and head to Nevis Range. Nevis Range is a relatively small place to ski, but really is fun. Park at the bottom of the mountain(Aonach Mor) grab a snack from the restaurant, get your ski hire and lift passes at the gondola station, then get the 6 chair gondola up to the base station. With 12 ski lifts and an even mix of runs provides fun for everyone. The snow in Scotland can sometimes be hit and miss (although its looking like a season of good snow is coming) this makes Nevis range perfect for a last minute road trip, stick your gear in your car and go up for a long weekend or even while you have time off at christmas.
During my time at the Nevis range, i used to go straight up to the summit, when you are up there you can see Fort William, Ben Nevis and the rest of the snow tipped highlands. We tend neglect what we have in Britain. For those expert skiers and boarders, try the back corries. Go up to the summit and drop off the edge into a bowl of untouched terrain and enjoy the secret ski lift that only opens when the conditions are perfect.
Currency: Pound sterling
Lift Pass: £138 per 5 days
Accommodation: £40 per night
Borovets is a beautiful mountain town in the Rila mountains not too far away from Sofia. A large range of traditional and modern restaurants and hotels can be found, many of restaurant turn into bars come 10/11 so definitely a place for the party goer. You will often find horse and carts used as taxis in the resort, not only does this make more sense in a snowy mountain but it gives an authentic eastern European feel.
The flights to Bulgaria cost me £200 but this was more than offset by the prices in Borovets, I Have never been to a place where after the first few days, I stopped looking at the prices. I had some of the best food I've ever had and was only paying £5/6 for the privilege, the drinks prices cannot be moaned at either!
The snow conditions were pretty good, but i went in march. To guarantee better snow go in Feb and Jan. I found Borovets to be catered to beginners and intermediate level skiers and borders, not too many expert level areas so a good place to learn. Plenty of play parks and a good ski school so the kids can be looked after while the adults play.
Currency: Bulgarian Lev
Lift pass: £100 per 6 days
Accommodation: £45 per night
Jasna really is a good find. A bit different to most ski resorts, in that it is a very small town just away from the slopes, but only a 10 minute bus ride away. Jasna is more tipped to intermediate and expert level skiers and boarders, more so than the other eastern European resorts anyway. Jasna is easy to get to, its only a quick 45 min transfer from Poprad airport.
Flights ranging from £100-£150 are good, and the shorts transfer being very minimal means that you will have money left over to spend! Good luck spend all your money in Jasna, meals will average under £10 and drinks are probably too cheap.
There are ski lifts rising up from both sides of the mountain, and at the bases of these are restaurants shops and bars for that well earned apres ski. You will find a few brand new lifts , which has been done to connect two ski areas to make one, so more fun for you.
Jasna has 49km of slopes to enjoy, plus two snow parks for the thrill seekers and even a dedicated free ride area which really is fun.
Lift pass: £140 per 6 days
Accommodation: £50 per night
Vogel is one for families or for couples and less for the party goers. A truly picturesque resorts with stunning mountains surrounding the huge lake Bohinj. The resort is a few small villages spread around the lake and the skiing is on different mountains around the lake also.
The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is only an hour away, so and option to stay in the capital and drive into the resort each day if you wanted some nightlife as well. But if you are wanting to treat your better half to a romantic , round the fire after a day of skiing holiday then i would embrace the small villages.
The prices in Vogel are pretty good aswell, £1.50 for a beer and most of the time under £10 for meals. Vogel isn't a place for beginners and the very top level skiers and boarders might get board of the slopes, although the different amount of ski areas could prevent the boredom.
A combined £60km of slopes should be enough for most people for a week, vogel is ideal for a more chilled out relaxing holiday rather than a thrill seeking party one.
Lift pass: £119 per 6 days
Accommodation: £35 per night
Arinsal is the perfect resort for beginners and those want to progress to intermediate. Arinsal is a fun, family friendly atmosphere with great childcare and British ski schools. Kids under 16 can ski for free!!
Due to Arinsal being in Andorra, you have to fly into either Spain or France. I flew into Barcelona which has cheap prices in the winter. Prices are relatively cheap in Andorra due to it being virtually tax free, so you can enjoy decent priced accommodation and not be spending too much on food and drink.
Arinsal has a good mix of relaxed family atmosphere and a more lively nightlife, pubs and bars with regular DJ appearances. The skiing in Arinsal is more for intermediate skiers and boarders, but there is a few runs and sections of off piste in the neighbouring ski area Pal, which is connected by a cable car.
If you fancy a trip out you can go 10 mins down the roads and shop till you drop, or chill in the thermal waters of caldea
Lift pass: £150 per 5 days
Accommodation: £50 per night
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