Planning snowboarding weekends independently is never easy. I should know as for the last 8 years I have been planning them ‘with’ my mates. I say ‘with’ but the reality is they give opinions not solutions, and being the only one associated with the industry I get the job of pulling it all together.
We have travelled by coach, car and plane. Stayed in hotels, apartments and chalets. Spent weekends in France, Italy and Switzerland. We have joined package snowboarding weekends and succesfully planned our own independent snowboarding weekends. All trips have been very different but all trips have 2 things in common:
- Finding the right ‘deal’ for everyone requires a lot of work.
- The weekends have always been awesome.
Why are snowboarding weekends so good?
There is something about going away for a short snowboarding holiday that instils in everyone the desire to make the most of it. Not that I wouldn’t make the most of a snowboarding week, but on a weekend if the conditions are poor, you have a hangover, or your legs are hurting you don’t let that stop you riding from first to last lift.
My snowboarding weekends are always with friends rather than my family. I love heading away boarding with the wife and kids but a boys boarding trip is a different beast altogether. There is no faffing, no waiting, no hot chocolate stops and no bottoms to wipes on the edge of the piste (except once). You spend every available moment snowboarding and in a weekend I ride more than a week with the family. We also go to bars like the awesome Pano bar in Les 2 Alpes, which is certainly not child friendly.
But above all its an efficient use of time off. Take one days annual leave for 3 days boarding, this means if you go 5 times in a season you get 15 days of slope time for 5 days holiday, compared to 6 days slope time if you use the 5 days annual leave on a traditional weeks holiday.
Why is planning snowboarding weekends independently so hard?
Planning snowboarding weekends independently is difficult because there are so many options. Where to fly from, where to fly to, which resort to go to, how to get to resort, where to stay in resort and the toughest of all which beer to drink when you get there. The problem is what might be cheap and efficient for one element of the trip, will be expensive or difficult for another.
Also the ski industry is built around week long breaks, meaning that accommodation, flights and transfers all revolve around Saturday or Sunday arrivals and departures. You could find great flights for a weekend, but because they only book by the week reasonably priced accommodation is hard to come by. Of course top hotels still book by the night, but they are expensive.
There is a lot of leg work to be done planning independent snowboarding weekends, just arranging a date for 6 guys, most with families and all with jobs is hard enough. I am lucky as two of my boarding buddies live in Geneva and until recently another lived in Milan. This makes planning snowboarding weekends independently much easier and cheaper, as there is somewhere to crash either side of the trip, cars to help with the transfers, but above all it narrows down the options considerably.
If you are hell bent on an independent snowboarding weekend my main tip would be start by narrowing your options down. If you are planning your trip independently so that it will fit your exact needs and cost is less of an issue, I would advise that you decide on a resort, then accommodation and then work out how you are going to get there. Alternatively if you are planning it yourself to save money, then I would advise that you start by finding the best flight deal and then research accommodation in nearby resorts.
Let the experts do the legwork for you
By going independent I have arranged some very cheap snowboarding weekends, but I have the aforementioned mates in Europe that make everything easier and cheaper. Without them I don’t think going independent would make it much cheaper, particularly if you factor in the time spent doing the planning.
With that in mind I would recommend planning snowboarding weekends through a specialist ski weekend tour operator. Of course they do the actually planning and all the ‘nitty gritty’ of making the trip enjoyable. Meaning you do not spend your holiday queueing at car hire places, getting lost trying to return your car to the French Sector of Geneva airport, or driving in a foreign country in heavy snow in an unfamiliar car in the dark (you always travel in the dark on snowboarding weekends).
But above all, package snowboarding weekends with a tour operator are bonded, so if something goes wrong you are covered, and it is their job to fix it. I have been on a few package snowboarding weekends and would recommend iGOSKI and Ski Weekends. Check out more information about each below:
With reasonably priced, 3-4 night snowboarding weekends to leading resorts, iGOSKI (020 3051 8668) should be one of the first companies you check out when planning snowboarding weekends. They concentrate on resorts with short transfers including Les Gets, Morzine and Avoriaz in the Portes du Soleil ski area, the world famous Chamonix, La Tania in the Three Valleys and St Anton in Austria.
iGOSKI are very flexible, weekend options include Wed-Sun, Thu-Sun, Fri-Mon and Sun-Wed. UK departure airports include Gatwick, Luton, Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool and Edinburgh. They also have a range of accommodation options, from economical to luxury, to fit your budget.
If all this talk of snowboarding weekends has you hankering for a week long snowboarding holiday, then try iGOSKI’s sister company Alpine Elements. They provide chalet holidays at affordable prices to 11 of the most snow sure resorts in Europe.
Providing weekend snowboarding holidays to Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France, Ski Weekends (02380 983 776) have the most options for the UK market. You can fly from 17 UK airports to one of 23 ski resorts in Europe. Or travel by coach to Brides Les Bains, which is linked with Meribel, in the 3 Valleys.
With Ski Weekends you can get up to 4 days on the slopes during a Thursday to Sunday trip. Company director Dan Fox says ‘Get it right and you can easily ski four days with just two days off work. Book two trips and that’s eight days skiing for four days off work’.
The company also offers a Monday to Thursday mid-week break, which is great for shift workers, or parents who can leave the children with the grandparents during the school week.
Ski weekends don’t just have the most options but their coach trip to Brides Les Bains is the cheapest package snowboarding weekend I have come across. Throughout the season their comfy coach leaves London on a Thursday evening, you travel overnight to arrive in Brides Les Bains in time for breakfast and a full day on the slopes. The coach departs for the UK late on Sunday afternoon, getting back into London in time for work Monday morning. Overnight coach travel means accommodation costs are kept down and it gives you three days on the slopes for one day off work.
Planning snowboarding weekends independently is great in theory, but in my experience an extra expense, or unforeseen complication often rears its ugly head. Independently you can do it cheaper than a packaged snowboarding weekend, but not by much, so unless you are lucky enough to have snowboarding buddies on the continent I would recommend booking a package.