Ski resorts in Italy and Austria close the price gap on Eastern Europe as ski season gets underway


• Austria and Italy look good value for 2013 taking seven of top 12 places in the latest Post Office® Travel Money Ski Resort Report (www.postoffice.co.uk/skireport2013)
• Bansko and Kranjska Gora remain cheapest but Livigno is challenging hard in third place
• 13 per cent price fall helps Zermatt overtake Courchevel, St Anton and Wengen in world-class resorts category
• Transatlantic trips tumble as resort costs fall 20 per cent in Tremblant and Winter Park

As the ski season gets underway in Europe this weekend, the latest Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report¹ reveals that bargain-hunters will not only find the great value they are looking for in Eastern Europe, but in traditional favourites Italy and Austria too.

The seventh annual report, produced in partnership with leading ski-holiday operator Crystal Ski Holidays, compared prices for ski equipment, lift passes, ski school, meals and drinks in 30 ski resorts – 22 in Europe and eight in North America. It found that Bansko (Bulgaria) and Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) are again cheapest, with barometer totals of around £274 and £326 respectively.

However, the Eastern European destinations may have a fight on their hands – especially Kranjska Gora where prices have risen almost seven per cent since last season. As a result low-priced Livigno (£351) in the Italian Alps has gained ground, overtaking Austria’s Ellmau (£368) to take third place and now just £25 behind the Slovenian resort.

Italy and Austria have notched up a total of seven ski resorts in the Ski Resort Report barometer top 12. Sestriere (6), Cervinia (9) and Selva (11) join Livigno in the 12 best value resorts, while Austria’s Mayrhofen (10) and Schladming (12) resort join Ellmau (4).

However, the picture is patchy for skiers planning trips this season. Prices have plunged 13 per cent in Zermatt to around £593 and over three per cent in Morzine (£402), which has helped the popular French resort move five places up the barometer table to fifth position. At the same time rising resort prices and a UK pound almost five per cent weaker against the euro year-on-year mean skiers may have to dig deeper in their pockets.

The biggest rise is in Soldeu (Andorra), which has slipped from fifth to eighth place because of
a 14 per cent increase in resort costs to £432. At £600 for the barometer ski and living cost items, Courchevel (France) is 13 per cent more expensive this season while prices are up more than 11 per cent to £639 in Wengen (Switzerland).

In addition to rating 22 resorts in Europe, Post Office Travel Money and Crystal Ski Holidays have expanded the cost comparison to cover eight resorts in North America. The good news for those considering a transatlantic ski holiday is that prices are down by around 20 per cent in both Tremblant (Canada) and Winter Park (USA).

Tremblant (£619), located in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, has benefited from an increase of almost six per cent in the value of sterling combined with falling resort prices. However, Winter Park is cheapest of all. At just under £528 for the barometer items, the Colorado resort is almost 15 per cent cheaper than Tremblant and nearly 36 per cent less expensive than Breckenridge (£821), highest-priced of the eight North American ski resorts.

A full list of the best value resorts can be found by visiting postoffice.co.uk/skireport2013.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: “The continuing weakness of sterling and all sorts of other pressures on the pocket in everyday life means that resort costs are bound to be a key factor in determining ski destinations this winter. Skiers on a budget have great value resorts to choose from if they head east to resorts like Bansko and Kranjska Gora but the Italian resorts we surveyed are strong contenders too.”

In fact it was a clean sweep for Italy in the World-class resorts category. The Italian resorts of Sestriere (£406), Cervinia (£439) and Selva (£445) took the top three places in the best value chart for skiers looking for world-class ski runs. At the other end of the scale, prices in Wengen, the most expensive European resort surveyed, are 57 per cent higher than in Sestriere while the barometer total is double that of the Italian resort in Vail, USA (£813).

In the Best for Beginners cost comparison, the Finnish resort of Ruka (£415) has joined Bansko and Ellmau as offering the lowest-prices for novices – all three boasting a good range of nursery slopes. And while Ellmau remains cheapest of the five Austrian resorts surveyed, prices in Kaprun are pegged at last season’s levels, making this another good choice for budget-watching beginners.

Bansko (£885) is also cheapest for a family of four in the Best for Families comparison. However, under £50 separates the runners-up – Kranjska Gora (£1,150), Soldeu (£1,193) and Ellmau (£1,197) – which provides families with plenty of budget choice.

Andrew Brown said: “Families should do their homework and compare resort costs before booking a ski holiday as they can make a big difference to the overall price when paying for three, four or more people. A good way to save money is to resort-swap within countries. Families can shave 25 per cent off their ski costs in Austria by choosing Ellmau rather than Kaprun and 15 per cent in France by visiting Morzine instead of Les Deux Alpes².

“Change holiday cash before leaving home rather than at the airport or ski resort where you risk getting a poor rate. Take enough cash to cover ski and living costs and be aware that transactions of over £500 will attract a better rate in our branches or on the Post Office website. Another option is to load money onto the prepaid Post Office Travel Money Card, available in euro, Swiss francs, US and Canadian dollars.”

Simon Cross, Managing Director of Crystal Ski Holidays said: “Last year we predicted that 2012/13 would be a turning point with skiers returning to the ski slopes and this indeed was the case. For this forthcoming winter, we’ve observed that ski companies keep on inspiring customers with good value holidays and more skiers than last year have already booked.

“Heavy snowfalls in European ski resorts and in Western North America over the past few weeks, with Whistler opening their ski area earlier than planned, fuelled stronger demand for the three big destinations of Austria, France and Italy. Christmas, New Year and February half term is nearly sold out as well as the first week in April, the first week of the Easter holidays.”

Skiers can purchase euro over the counter at more than 10,000 Post Office branches. Currencies for other Ski Resort Report destinations, including the Swiss franc, Canadian dollar and Bulgarian lev, are available on demand at over 1,600 branches while an additional 2,600 stock US dollars. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery, where a range of travel insurance policies suitable for ski trips are also available.

Ends

Notes to editors:
¹ The Post Office Ski Resort Report was compiled using prices for 30 resorts in Europe and North America, provided by Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk). Costs are based on mid-season pricing and entry level skis and boots. Ski school daily hours vary depending on the resort. Lunch prices are based on two courses (main course and dessert) excluding drinks. A full breakdown of prices and an analysis of this is published in the separate Post Office Ski Resort Report. All prices are based on the Post Office exchange rates on 21 November 2013.

² In France the Family Ski Resort Report costs for Morzine (£1,424) were 15 per cent lower than in Les Deux Alpes (£1,681). In Austria the ski and cost of living total in Ellmau (£1,197) is 25 per cent lower than in Kaprun (£1,604).

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