As a child, my parents took me for one night to Lapland on Christmas Eve. The sight of snow, husky rides through the forest and a reindeer trek to meet Santa was the ultimate Christmas experience and it is easily one of my favourite memories of my childhood.
Whilst our resorts might not be the home of Santa, and there aren’t quite as many reindeer in the Alps as Lapland, everything I experienced there is available to do at each of our resorts, even Santa likes to make an appearance (Unfortunately, you’ll have to substitute the reindeer for a pony, but that’s nothing a set of fake antlers won’t fix).
Christmas Day 2017 – Santa dropping off some presents for the very excited kids
There are so many other advantages of choosing to Ski over Christmas other than providing the little ones a trip of a lifetime;
Whilst the rest of your family and friends are dreaming of a white Christmas and stepping outside into the miserable British rain on Christmas morning. You could be zooming down the snow covered pistes or be sitting in your hot tub overlooking the beautiful snow capped mountains whilst your host prepares your breakfast for you.
View from Chalet Genevieve hot tub – 2017
Now, this is a big one for me, whilst I might love cooking Christmas dinner (I can be quite fussy if it’s not done just right), I abhor washing up. Not only will your chalet host provide you with a proper Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, there’s no washing up either. Normally you pay a hefty price for the privilege of having someone cook and clean up for you, especially on Christmas day. My small ‘locals’ village pub charges £90pp for Christmas dinner, which even for a small family is more than the price of flights to get here.
One of the other advantages is time off. The kids are off school for the winter holidays and most people have at least 2 days off for Christmas and the lucky ones get a couple more, meaning more holiday days saved for the rest of the year. Half term weeks are always the more expensive option, as parents with older children aren’t taking their kids out of school limiting them to the half terms and inflating prices across the board. However, Christmas rates are typically quite a lot cheaper than other half term holidays. In fact, this season (22/23) our Christmas week is 8 nights long instead of 7 and still works out substantially cheaper than a 7 night holiday in February half term.
Honestly, at least to me, this is a Christmas experience you have to try at least once in your life, and your kids will certainly remember it and thank you for it for years to come.
The first week of the season
Don’t let preconceived notions fool you, the first week of the season is often one of the best.
Most people tend to believe that the first few weeks and the last few weeks of the season are bad for snow, and this can be the case in some resorts, but we have carefully selected our resorts over the last 25 years to minimise this risk and in fact for the 25 plus years we have been skiing there the run has been open and skiable from the very beginning to the end of the season apart from three days fifteen years ago.
A member of our sales team always travels the first week of the season and has never been disappointed by a lack of snow. It was only a few seasons ago that her coach had to be escorted up the mountain as the snow was so thick.
Morning of the 13th Dec 21 – Ardent Village
This week has always been the most affordable week to go. Accommodation prices are at their lowest, often quite significantly, and as the resorts are just opening up again for the new season, you can get discounted lift passes, and often get great deals on equipment hire to boot.
The resorts are also at their quietest during this week, which means no shoulder barging to get to the bar for Après Ski, no queues for the lifts and fantastically quiet pistes allowing you to practice your potentially rusty skills without the risk of wiping people out. We often have even better staff ratios for childcare during this week as well (Even though we have always exceeded OFSTED guidelines for child to staff ratios on any given week)
And if all of that wasn’t good enough, this year (22/23) the first week of the season is 8 nights instead of 7.
So it’s even more bang for your buck!
The Last week of the season
Altitude is often considered a major factor for how long the snow sticks around, whilst this is certainly true, there are a multitude of factors that impact the amount of snow on the mountains. Ardent sits at just 1200m, but achieves a snow sure rating of 5/5. The orientation and subset of the slopes play a huge role. Ardent is in a sheltered north-west facing valley and a rock base keeps the snow cold. In recent years snow-making has become more and more widespread as resorts invest heavily to make sure key runs are skiable. And as stated earlier we haven’t had to close a resort early in the 25+ years we’ve been operating. Our seasonaires stay out a few weeks after the end of our season, and typically enjoy skiing right up until the day they leave.
Ardent: 12th of April. – Chalet Grolets
Sitting 600 metres below Avoriaz, the main run remains skiable until the end of the season
Whilst the last week isn’t as cheap as the first week, mainly because of the Easter holidays, the resorts tend to offer similar offers on lift passes and equipment hire as the season starts to wind down. There are tons of events on around all 3 resorts as well, as businesses fight for the last bits of trade for the year.
Middle of January and March
If you’re looking for quiet, affordable and consistent ski conditions, then the middle of January or March are definitely the right choice for you. This is when I always look to go away skiing.
As you can imagine, we are quite busy here in the office at the start and the end of the season, so this limits my preferred weeks. But January and March (specifically the middle weeks) are often just as good.
Whilst you don’t get the same offers on lift passes and equipment hire during these weeks, and Santa won’t be making an appearance, you do get a lot of the other perks.
Reberty Village Centre – January 2018
At the start of January you have the overlap with new years guests, resorts are still busy as people use the bank holidays to their advantage to maximise their time off. The end of January and the first week of march overlap with half term holidays, and the end of March is the overlap into the Easter holidays. The French split their half terms across the country into multiple weeks, so the resorts are busier the weeks either side of our half terms in the UK.
Going in the middle of these two months will not only save you a considerable amount on flights and accommodation, as you would be travelling outside of the peak weeks, the resorts are far quieter. You get all the benefits of skiing at the height of the season, without the queues. Whilst it is of course a very individual decision our director’s have always taken their children out of school unless it was not sensible.
If you can avoid the peak weeks, do!