Cash-conscious skiers should head for Italy or Eastern Europe for the best value this winter.
The weak pound following the Brexit vote means there is less value when buying in euros.
In December 2015, one pound would have got you almost 1.45 euros. A year on and that has dropped to 1.16, and has even been as low as 1.1. There are fears the pound may drop even further if Article 50 is triggered by Prime Minister Teresa May.
A Three Valleys lift pass will cost you 294 euros in high season in 2017 around £250. A year ago, it would have been £205. Even a five-euro expresso will cost you £4.31 this year and a 10 euro beer £8.60.
Bansko in Bulgaria remains the cheapest of 21 European resorts surveyed for the Ski Resort Report compiled by Post Office Money and Crystal Ski. Second is Kranjska Gora in Slovenia, where prices are up 20 per cent on last season, but Sestriere, which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics, is now in third place.
Italy is by far the cheapest of the Big Four ski destinations which also includes Austria, France and Switzerland. Local prices have either fallen or stayed level with 2015 in the four Italian resorts surveyed, minimising the impact of the weaker pound and making them far better value than Austria and France. Sestriere (£354.98) has moved up to third place in the table from fifth position last year on the back of an 11 per cent fall in euro ski costs. Once the sterling rate is applied, prices in the resort are level with last season making this the best deal across the eurozone.
By contrast, local prices have snowballed across the nine Austrian and French resorts surveyed. Once the exchange rate is applied, skiers can expect to pay an average of 20 per cent more than last season in Austria and 26 per cent extra in France, according to the report.
Although Switzerland remains highest-priced of the Big Four, local prices are level with a year ago. Once the prices in Swiss francs are converted to sterling, this means the increased costs faced by UK skiers are lower than in either Austria or France at between 16-19 per cent. The cheapest of the three Swiss resorts surveyed, Saas Fee (£718.33) is still eight per cent more expensive than St Anton, the highest-priced Austrian resort, and over 12 per cent pricier than in Val d’isere, the priciest French resort.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK currency transactions, said: Ski resort costs are likely to play an important part in destination choice this year as the weaker pound puts pressure on the holiday purse.
That’s why it is so important to do your homework before booking and factor in all the costs of a ski holiday to the package price.
Equipment hire, lift passes and ski tuition for six days plus a meal and drinks on the slopes will cost £270.77 for a week in Bansko. Prices there have risen just four per cent year-on-year, despite the weaker pound.
Bansko is situated at the foot of the Pirin mountain in south-western Bulgaria, 160 km from Sofia. It is Bulgaria’s largest ski resort, with fast modern lifts and extensive snow making, and home to the FIS World Cup black run, Tomba.
Morzine, French Alps
Morzine remains best value among the five French resorts surveyed at £446 for a week and is around 30 per cent cheaper than Val d’isere (£638.80), the most expensive French resort.
Morzine is one of 14 resorts on the France-Switzerland border in the massive Portes du Soleil ski area and was used as a stage finish in the 2016 Tour de France.
It is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers, and its 70-minute transfer from Geneva means you can be on the slopes the same day.
Zermatt (£875.24) is the most expensive of the 20 European resorts for the second consecutive year, 53 per cent more expensive than the high-rolling French resort of Courchevel (£570.96).
Zermatt is a car-free ski resort at the foot of Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn. Mountain trains are used to access to hundreds of kilometres of runs in Zermatt and the nearby Cervinia in Italy.
Those skiers planning transatlantic trips to the USA or Canada can expect to pay significantly more this winter.
Banff in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is the cheapest option of six resorts surveyed, thanks to local price-pegging. Elsewhere, a combination of price rises for lift passes and tuition and the fall in sterlings value mean that the overall cost to UK holidaymakers in North American resorts is at least 25 per cent higher than a year ago. Banff was the only resort where local prices have remained in line with those recorded a year ago.
At £701.91, ski costs in Banff are around 19 per cent higher than last season once the exchange rate is applied, compared with the 95 per cent rise found in another Canadian resort, Tremblant (£1,037.40). Vail (£1,118.46) and Breckenridge (£1,134.29) in Colorado were most expensive of all, both in North America and across the whole report.