Snow conditions – Where to go and when!

Snow conditions – Where to go and when!

By Steve Church.

Working in the ski industry for the last 10 years, I’ve seen an increase in demand for high altitude resorts and ‘snow guarantees’ but how important are these elements when picking a ski holiday?

When booking early season ski trips, picking a resort with high altitude skiing is incredibly important particularly with the last few years initial snowfall coming later and later. We get a lot of requests for a gauranteed White Christmas and for that, altitude is essential.

Our clients tend to favour Val Thorens, Tignes, Les Arcs 2000 and the chief of all the ‘snow guarantees’ Val D’Isere. Val d’Isere tends to always be at the top of the list when looking and quantity and quality of snow.

Over the past couple of seasons though, we’ve noticed a trend in requests for high altitude resorts in January and February. The demand for the handful of true “snow sure” resorts has really peaked of late and this has had a knock on effect with the costs. Price will always reflect demand, as such chalet operators have increased their prices significantly for those resorts. During mid-season, resorts such as La Tania, Peisey-Vallandry and Morzine should be plenty high enough to guarantee good quality snow conditions and because the demand for these resorts has decreased slightly, their prices are much keener. If you compare what £800 per person for a chalet gets you in Val d’Isere to the same amount in Morzine and you’ll see what we mean! Not only do you get better standards of accommodation but as the lower resorts are not purpose built, your resort will be much easier on the eye too.

Another request we hear frequently is for high altitude and low transfer time which is possible but there are so few resorts that hit the mark that options are incredibly limited. By opening up your requirements to lower resorts but with a shorter transfer, you’ll find the options available to you will increase greatly.

The other trend we’ve identified over the past few seasons is the snow quality gets better over the course of the season rather than worse which is the common assumption. The snow has actually been falling in quite prodigious levels into May. That said, you still do need to be high for good Spring skiing conditions. However… Easter skiing is considerably better value than half term and in the past most skiers would normally prefer to pay that little bit more for February snow conditions as Easter has always been considered too “hit and miss”. It’s becoming less and less of a gamble though. Most years also have a week after the Easter holidays, usually around the 14th or 15th April that can offer some of the best deals of the season so as well as empty slopes.