People ask me all the time when they should go skiing. And of course there are all sorts of answers. Parents, for example, don’t have much choice. Thanks to the latest government directive on time off for kids, it’s the school holidays or nothing for them. By contrast powder-skiing addicts know they have to follow the snow forecast and be ready to jump at roughly five days’ notice – from December all the way to April. Otherwise they’ll waste their precious holiday mangling their knees in mogul fields. But for everybody there is a rule of thumb about timing which I find useful. It’s this one:
GO IN JANUARY
Why? Well here are four reasons for starters.
1. It’s cheap
For the simple reason that everyone has just had a holiday – Christmas – and is skint because of it, January is a hard month to sell skiing to the general public. Prices are routinely 40% lower than in the two peak weeks, New Year and February half term: but even that’s not enough to entice many people. As a result, last-minute discounts are part and parcel of the January ski scene, and it’s not uncommon to find half-board, flights-inclusive packages for £500 or less on the deals pages. Obviously, you’ve got to buy your lift pass and – maybe – ski hire on top of that. But all the same, it’s quite easy to bring in an entire holiday for less than £700pp as a result. All you’ll need on top of that is a budget for your lunch and some beer money.
2. It’s quiet
Okay, so in a few places – Courchevel, especially – the very start of January is packed with Russians, who are celebrating Russian Christmas on January 7. Any resort that’s near a big city such as Grenoble, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, Denver, and Vancouver warms up at the weekends, too. But in most places, most of the time, the slopes are deserted. Yes that means the après-ski bars will probably be quieter too – but does that matter? If you love your skiing, then dancing on a table in your ski boots only secondary to the joy that comes from carving tracks across any empty mountainside. You can save your clubbing for when you get back to Blighty.
3. It’s mid-winter
It always baffles me why people go skiing at the back end of the season, when spring is in the air. After all, you’re on skiing holiday; and it’s not the heat of the sun but the quality of the snow that counts. To ensure maximum skiing pleasure, what you want is the best chance of finding cold, soft, grippy snow on the pistes – and fluffy powder in between. When do you get that? January, of course.
4. There’s no better way of beating the January blues
Finally, I don’t want to upset anyone with talk of those dark weeks back at work once Christmas and New Year is done. But we all know they’re coming, don’t we? So why not give yourself something to look forward to almost as soon as you’re back at your desk? I know you’d expect me to say this – I’m a ski writer for heaven’s sake – but there really is no better way to do this than by booking some time off work before the month’s out and spending a week charging about on the mountain with your mates. Summer can take care of itself: now is the time a holiday will make a real difference to your mood. So embrace the snow, and get skiing.
With our January deals starting from £249 why not book your very own cure for the January blues?!
Sean Newsom is the founding editor of the ski information website Welove2ski.com – which features independent resort reviews, up-to-the minute snow news, and a host of tips on how to have a better ski holiday.