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Savvy skiers might be tempted to stray off piste this season

7th December 2009 Print

The average cost of a winter sports holiday is now higher than at any time since the turn of the millennium, with a flight and accommodation package costing on average a hefty £686, new research commissioned by Santander Cards has revealed.

Despite the number of Britons taking a winter sports holiday declining six per cent during the 2008/09 season, prices have still increased by up to 15 per cent this season. But even rising costs are unlikely to keep ski fanatics at bay this year, with a great season of snow predicted and some resorts opening early to capitalise on premature snow falls.

However, savvy skiers might be tempted to stray off piste this season away from the premium European destinations, because the weak pound has meant rocketing prices in the popular European ski haunts. Analysis by Santander Cards, whose Santander Zero card offers fee-free foreign usage anywhere in the world, has revealed a 3* package deal to Meribel plus equipment hire and a six day ski pass comes in at an eye watering £1,557 per person, while a similar deal amongst the hoi polloi in Val d'Isere will only cost £45 less at £1,512.

The best deal in a premium European destination can be found in Chamonix where a 3* package, equipment and a six day pass is £300 cheaper at £1,212. The Swiss and Austrian resorts of Zermatt and St Anton represent the middle ground at £1370 and £1386 respectively.

USA and Canada

With the pound slightly stronger against the dollar than the euro, this year might be the year to head across the pond. A 3* package deal to Whistler plus equipment hire and a six day pass can be snapped up for £1,450. A similar week in the US resort of Breckenridge will only set you back around £100 more than Meribel and Val d'Isere at £1,643.

And with mountainside food and drink prices in the USA and Canada coming in at 23 per cent cheaper than the top French resorts, skiers could even be quids in by the end of the trip.

Budget European resorts

If it's a bargain that winter holidaymakers are after though, it's probably best to head outside the euro to the eastern European resorts of Borovets (Bulgaria) or Kranjska Gora (Slovenia). Borovets is by far the cheapest European destination with a 3* package deal, lift pass and equipment totalling a more modest sum of £591 - almost a third the price of a week in Meribel. And food and drink in the Bulgarian resort will also set you back 60 per cent less. A week in Kranjska Gora will cost a little more at £785.

But for those who don't fancy heading East, a comparable holiday in Andorra's Soldeu still represents good value at £877 for the week, with food and drink half the price of Meribel.

Emma Roberts, Director at Santander Cards, comments: "Winter sports enthusiasts may well be tempted to try somewhere new this year because of the impact of the weak pound on prices for premium European skiing destinations, with little price difference now between the major French resorts and transatlantic resorts.

"The average cost of a winter sports holiday may now be higher than at any time since the turn of the millennium but one way that winter holidaymakers can avoid unnecessary additional costs is to use a credit card that doesn't charge them a fee on transactions made in a foreign currency. The Santander Zero card has no foreign exchange fee on spending anywhere in the world, making it ideal for holidaymakers looking for the best deal on their spending this winter."