Affordable alternatives for skiing in the Alps
Save francs in the Swiss Alps
The tony alps town of St Moritz may have the name. But if you are looking to save money on your ski holiday, staying in this moneyed enclave is like adding insult to injury in a country as notoriously pricy as Switzerland. Instead, stay a short train ride away in a storybook Swiss village and still access the same slopes. In the Swiss canton of Graubünden, about 170km from Zurich and just 25km from St. Moritz, the tiny village of Bergün looks straight from a Norman Rockwell painting. People pull their children and groceries atop wooden toboggans, two small ski areas offer steep and beginner terrain, and for a token payment of a Swiss franc (the government subsidizes the fare to reduce car traffic in this pristine region), a 45-minute train ride through the mountains takes you to the world-class slopes of St Moritz and Davos Klosters. Hotels here are very affordable, lift tickets are downright cheap -- and the best part? One of the best sledding runs in the Alps is accessed from Bergün’s train station. Ride the train along a Unesco World Heritage route to the top of the mountain pass in the village of Preda and go screaming back down along the 6.5km route under a sky spangled with stars.
Val D’Isere’s affordable cousin
Pretty much every European has heard of the prestigious French ski station of Val d’Isere in the Savoie region, which is why prices here have been on the rise over the last decade. The good news is you can stay in the same Val d’Isere valley and save a heap while carving excellent powder stashes in the nearby ski town of Sainte-Foy Tarentaise, where a fabulous, if smaller, ski resort has been open since 1990. Catered and non-catered chalet rentals in Sainte-Foy Station ski village are priced lower than in Val d’Isere, just 20km to the south. Or save even more by staying at a laid-back hotel like Hotel Le Monal in the original (read: non-purpose built) part of town, from where it is just a short shuttle ride to the slopes. The northwest-facing slopes here keep the powder better for longer than at other resorts in the valley. And if you feel as though you cannot leave the area without a day at the resorts of Les Arcs or Val d’Isere, they are just 30 minutes down the road.