Prices have plunged in three-quarters of the 27 ski resorts surveyed in Europe and North America for the ninth annual Post Office Ski Resort Report – compounding the positive impact of last season’s fall in costs for UK skiers.
The value of sterling is a key factor in the changing fortunes of the ski resorts surveyed for this year’s Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report, compiled from research by leading tour operator Crystal Ski Holidays. Resort prices are down in Austria, France, Italy, Eastern Europe and Canada because of the powerful pound but have risen in the USA, where the dollar has dominated sterling all year and remains stronger than last winter. The exception to the currency rule is Soldeu (Andorra), which last year registered the biggest price fall of over 20 per cent. This season prices are up by almost four per cent, despite the weaker euro. In Switzerland it is the rise in local prices – albeit only two-three per cent – that will continue to make Swiss resorts less economical than their European competitors.
Against a backdrop of strong growth reported by Crystal last winter, the Ski Resort Report previews costs in 21 European and six North American resorts. In addition to spotlighting the resorts rated best value in those two regions, the report assesses costs for families and those looking for world-class skiing facilities.
In Europe, Bansko (Bulgaria) is again the cheapest resort but others are closing the gap. Ski passes and equipment, ski school, meals and drinks in Kranjska Gora (Slovenia), now cost only £5 more than in Bansko (see figure 1), while a price fall of 11 per cent in third-placed Livigno has enabled the Italian resort to overtake Ellmau (Austria) and move to within £27 of the leader.
Elsewhere in Europe, there have been falls of nine to 13 per cent in the barometer costs for the French, Italian and Finnish resorts that make up the remainder of the best value top 10. Family costs too are going downhill – with lower costs to be expected in the majority of resorts suitable for both adult and child skiers.
Among 10 world-class resorts surveyed (see page 6), Sestriere and Selva Val Gardena remain best value but prices have risen in both Zermatt and Wengen, making the two Swiss resorts significantly more expensive than their competitors in France, Austria and Italy.
In North America, the sterling impact has polarised prices (see page 5). The Canadian resort of Tremblant remains the cheapest of six resorts surveyed but Banff and Whistler have also registered price falls, making them cheaper than Winter Park, Breckenridge and Vail in the USA.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said:
“Skiers heading to many resorts in Europe and in Canada too will benefit from sterling’s increased strength. This means that even where local prices have edged up, UK tourists will find the cost of skiing as well as meals and drinks noticeably cheaper this winter."
“While skiing remains cheapest in Bulgaria and Slovenia, our research reveals that long-established favourites in France, Austria and Italy are great value too. Livigno is a great bet for both solo skiers and families as are Morzine and Ellmau. However, bargain-hunters should exercise caution when considering Swiss resorts as sterling has not strengthened enough to counteract the effect of rising local prices.”