Which ski area offers the best value for a family of four? This year’s answers are in – and Bansko in Bulgaria has claimed the title of cheapest family destination in Europe.
Eastern Europe is a popular choice for skiers and snowboarders looking for a bargain, and Bansko frequently comes out at number one on lists of the cheapest ski resorts. The Bulgarian resort was a clear winner in the 2017 Family Ski Resort Report, produced by Post Office Travel Money in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays. Published tomorrow, the annual report uses a standardised method to compare prices in 16 European destinations.
Kranjska Gora in Slovenia was second, down from first place in the 2016 family skiing report. The resort was found to be the cheapest European ski destination in an overall Post Office survey published in October.
Third-placed Bardonecchia in Italy is the cheapest resort for families in Western Europe. This ski area near Turin has been called “one of Italy’s best-kept secrets,” and hosted the snowboarding events at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
“Bardonecchia is particularly suitable for families with younger children because there are kindergartens, play areas and ski school classes for the very young,” said Chris Logan, managing director of Crystal Ski Holidays. “It also boasts a snow tubing track that has been specially designed with families in mind. When you add these facilities to the great value for money revealed in this year’s Family Ski Resort Report, Bardonecchia looks a real winner.”
The price index used to compare the resorts is based on a family of four (two adults and two children). To calculate each figure, researchers added the cost of ski passes, ski and boot hire and skiing lessons, plus food and drink – a two-course lunch on the mountain for four people, a large coffee, a small Coke, a small beer and 500ml wine.
Morzine is the cheapest of the three French resorts in the survey. As well as low prices, the option of catching a train to the slopes is a factor that could add to the appeal of this resort in the Portes du Soleil ski area.
“Lower prices in Morzine make this another good option for bargain-hunters, especially as families can use the high-speed snow train, which links the UK with the French Alps,” Logan said. “Not only does this offer easy access to top ski destinations but everything else is easy too. Checking in is a piece of cake, there's more space than on a plane, you can bring your own food and drink, and there’s a generous baggage allowance. You can even kiss long transfers goodbye, since the train takes you to the bottom of the mountain.”
Although Wengen and Saas Fee in Switzerland were the most expensive entries in the survey, figures for both resorts were lower than this time last year. Prices in Saas Fee are 10 per cent lower than they were in 2016, as the Swiss franc has gone down in value against the pound.
Overall, two-thirds of the destinations surveyed have seen a fall in prices over the past year. All three French resorts (Morzine, Serre Chevalier and Les Deux Alpes) have lower prices than in the 2016 report.
“Last year’s fall in the value of sterling resulted in far higher costs for families in many European resorts, so it is good to be able to report that the position has now stabilised,” said Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money. “Sterling may still be three per cent weaker than a year ago, but competitive pricing for ski essentials and other living costs means families will get a better deal in most resorts.
“Just how much better off families will be depends on the ski resort they choose and the costs they expect to incur. When you are budgeting for children as well as yourself, price variations between resorts can be significant. Choosing a cheaper resort could save hundreds of pounds, so we advise families to do some homework and book a resort to fit their budget.”
The report, with a full breakdown of prices, will be published tomorrow on the Post Office website.