BOOKING YOUR SKI TRIP - the essentials
Updated: Sep 29
ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS when booking your ski trip
Deciding where to go
An important consideration before you can think about booking anything else!
Depends on your group dynamics, mainly ski level and ages. Beginners will need good ski school options, families will want childcare & off snow activities, die hard skiers will want acres to explore, fairweather skiers will want apres & spa options and mixed groups will want a perfect mix of everything. I'm afraid I don't have the space here to weigh up every resort - although in my (maybe slightly biased!) opinion, Val d'Isere does pretty much have it all!
Deciding when to go
You may be limited to school holidays, in which case here are some things to bear in mind.
Christmas never seems packed
New Year is busy
Feb half term is CRAZY busy
Easter is much quieter and more relaxed
If you're not limited to the school holidays then 100000% avoid them where you can. Remember to check local school holiday dates for the country you are heading to and not just the UK ones. For example in France the holidays run over Christmas and New Year, from the beginning of the second week in February to the end of first week in March and then the last two weeks of April until the end of the season.
You may be guided by general weather conditions, for example it is usually colder earlier in the season and getting warmer towards the end, snow tends to be more sure & fluffy in January/February, the sun shines more and gets higher above the mountains for longer in March/April (although these are generalisations and conditions can be anything at any time of the season).
Or if you're looking for the quietest slopes then early December, anytime in January and late April are the times to come.
How to get there - flights & transfers/train/coach/drive
Obviously this will depend where you are going - not easy to drive to Canada or America for example and flying will be your only option. I obviously know most about the options available to get to France and in particular Val d'Isere - so here they are...
Coming to Val d'Isere
You can fly to Chambery, Lyon, Grenoble or Geneva. In reality there is not a huge difference between them in terms of transfer times (we are a bit of a distance away from everywhere at the very end of the valley) but Geneva probably offers the best options in terms of both flights and transfers as well as being less affected by adverse weather than the smaller airports.
You will need to have a transfer booked from your airport to resort.
Either in the form of a hire car or a transfer bus/minibus.
Snowdrone have lots of options for both shared and private transfers throughout the season.
For Val d'Isere your destination train station is in Bourg St Maurice. You can take the Eurostar to Paris, change trains (and stations within Paris) to Chambery for a second change and then onto Bourg St Maurice. You can then either book a taxi or Altibus up to resort.
Snowexpress offer a coach service from London Victoria straight through to Val d'Isere.
This can be a good option. Do remember that you will need to have snowchains or snowtyres as a legal requirement during the winter months. You will also need to make sure to book parking in resort - there are a number of options, both covered and outdoor, through SAGS.
Accommodation - chalet, hotel, self-catered...
If you're planning a family trip then I would suggest chalet or self-catered accommodation, whereby you have your own space and aren't constantly worrying about the children running riot. There are a number of companies that do smaller chalets to cater for family groups.
Hotels are better at accommodating unusual travel dates, ie you don't necessarily need to do Saturday-Saturday or Sunday-Sunday like you would with a chalet holiday.
Check out my Val d'Isere recommendations at all price points here
Where to stay in resort - VAL D'ISERE
In Val d'Isere there are a number of little hamlets that are all part of the town but out to the sides, if that makes sense! All areas are well connected by a number of free bus lines.
Take a look at my blog post on the different areas of Val d'Isere here
Equipment - hire, buy or combination.
Before you think that it would be more economical to buy just remember to factor in the cost of ski carriage when flying, ski servicing and the fact that you wouldn't be able to switch your skis up for different conditions at the drop of a hat.
If you are looking to buy then boots should be your first investment.
Helmets are also a good investment as you know their "crash" history and can find the best fit.
For skis & poles I would recommend hiring.
If you are looking to hire equipment in Val d'Isere then take a look at Snowberry - great range for all ages & abilities and my clients get a discount here too.
Ski passes - can be bought on arrival but to save the queue on the first day you can buy online. For Val d'Isere ski passes you can buy online here.
OPTIONALS - will depend who makes up your group
Ski lessons - definitely beneficial for all skiers! Non-negotiable for beginners and children. Take a look at my blog "Why take ski lessons" for more info here
Childcare - private nanny, kids club, longer lessons or lessons with lunch club.
Some companies include in house group childcare options - for example Ski Esprit have nannies who will take & collect your children from ski school as well as entertain them off the slopes when they are not in lessons.
Some companies will have the option to book their in house private nannies - for example VIP Ski.
There are also private nanny companies, such as Jelly & Ice-Cream.
A number of ski schools offer a lunch club option - for example Evolution 2 and Oxygene.
Val d'Isere has a kids club, The Village des Enfants, which take children from 6 months to 13 years. Children can be booked for half or full days and if they have lessons booked with ESF they can also be taken to & collected from these.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE TO BOOK
This depends what you are looking for but if you are coming in a peak period and want your first choice of accommodation, ski lesson timings/instructor etc then I would strongly recommend getting it booked in 9-12 months in advance. And if you're planning a February half term trip then even further in advance!
If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Have a wonderful holiday!