swoosh! swoosh! snow in europe
October 24, 2006 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Ski/Snowboard group trip in Europe - too many options, don't know where to start.

I've been sifting through search results and I'm as lost as ever. France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, aughhhh! Too much info!

Here are the facts, can the hivemind help me settle on where to concentrate?

Group size - <10, all located in England, varying skills.
Length of stay - ~5 days, preferably over a weekend
Time of year - Jan/Feb (I know, peak season but I don't think we can throw together something earlier than that)
Criteria considered:

- On the cheapside: Don't need a fancy resort... a more low key mountain with a decent cabin would be great. But no hostels please, we're too old. =P
- Reasonably easy to get to - with a group of ten I don't want getting there to be a headache.
- Decent nightlife - again, with a group we'll be hanging out together most of the time so we don't need a hyper nightscene, but a good smattering of bars would be great.

Thanks everyone!
posted by like_neon to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Number one choice is definitely Argentiere for me, year in year out. There's no off piste anywhere in Europe like it, without resorting to helicopters. And the nightlife is great. May I recommend The Rusty as your first port of call for a beverage.
posted by roofus at 2:22 PM on October 24, 2006

If you want cheap, as in really cheap, then go to Soldeau or Pas de la Casa in Andorra.

Otherwise France is a good cheap choice. Any of the three valleys, Espace Killy or Serre Chevalier (spelling wonky, I apologise) would give you cheap skiing with plenty of nightlife. Don't expect anything picturesque though.

Check out Tignes for high altitude skiing. Alpe d'Huez is also good but slightly lower and might be an issue in Jan. Stick to 1850 and above.

I enjoyed Austria but it is a little more expensive.
posted by mr_silver at 2:50 PM on October 24, 2006

Go to Les Deux Alpes.

You've got awesome La Grave for people who are good and the resort itself is awesome but has lots for those who are starting out.

You can get there, transfers and all that taken care of with a tour operator like Crystal or Neilsen cheaply. The nightlife is great and it's high enough that you'll get great skiing.

It's all about picking when though. Go in the 4th week of Feb. It's after UK and French half-terms which in the latter case are staggered across the first 3 weeks of Feb. This means no huge lift queues and you'll pay less for you accomodation.

Bank on paying c.£500 per person plus ski hire, plus lift pass (both about £100 each). I always recon that with spending money you're looking at £1,000 for a week's skiing in a good resort in Europe. It can be done cheaper but it is a logistal hassle which it sounds like you're not up for.

In the alternative and much cheaper is Andorra but seriously, don't do it.

For other tour operators look here but the real resource for ski bums is here - Natives is a bit season worker orientated but it's just invaluable.

Other resorts I like and you'd do well to consider are Courchevel, St Anton, Verbier, Crans Montana, Val d'Isere and Saas Fee. Enjoy!
posted by dmt at 2:50 PM on October 24, 2006

Careful with Courchevel, 1650 is a bit low and 1850 can, if you're not careful, blow your budget. You could always stay in Val Thorens and ski down and through Courchevel. No idea on the nightlife in Val Thorens.

dmt's suggestion of Les Deux Alpes is good and you can get a lift pass for the whole Serre Chevalier (approx €160 for 6 days). Plenty of skiing, just make sure you're high enough to get back across the mountains when the lifts close - otherwise you'll have to bus it back to the area you're staying in!

4th week in Feb might be good, but can also be slightly foggy, slushy and (if you're really unlucky, as I have been) patches of rain and thawing. If you are going to go then, get as high as you can to guarantee snow. Val d'Isere is 1850, Tignes is 2100 and Val Thorens is 2300.

I recommend Time Out's Skiing and Snowboarding in Europe guide. My 2005 version was £8.99.
posted by mr_silver at 4:00 PM on October 24, 2006

Val'Disere / Tignes is always a favourite with the group I go with.

If you want an easy trip, it may be worth trying Chamonix, flight into Geneva, less than an hour transfer. Cheap flights as well still available on Easyjet

We're trying Verbier this year.
posted by lloyder at 8:29 AM on October 25, 2006

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