Now, I don’t know about anyone else out there, but if I’m going to go on holiday I generally do a bit of basic research first. Surf the web looking for appealing accommodation, interesting things to do, likelihood of it pissing rain on me all week etc etc. In particular, I like to know in advance more or less how much the whole jolly is about to cost me. Not because I’m the sort of skinflint who steals the breakfast buffet for a picnic lunch and then refuses to stretch to takeaway pizza of an evening, you understand – it’s more a question of not coming home to find bailiffs on the doorstep intent on repossessing the cats, something which might put a bit of a damper on the general holiday enthusiasm.
But apparently I’m being far too anal about the whole holiday process, and really need to lighten up a bit. I mean, how much can a mere hotel room cost, even if it is in the Negresco? Bound to be about 50€, right? No real need to waste my time doing anything so fuddy-duddy as actually checking the prices.
This is evidently the strategy employed by sections of the skiing public, judging by some of the coversations I’ve had. No, it can’t be that much, you’ve got it wrong, some quite evidently well-heeled chap told me in a superior fashion last season. He got quite shirty when I confirmed that no, not only was that indeed the correct price, it even included the fairly substantial discount you get for having hordes of badly behaved anklebiters in tow. I’ll take my business to Alpe d’Huez next year, he informed me snottily, and I hope he did because they’re more expensive than we are.
In fact, a quick trawl round Google reveals that most of France’s big ski resorts are more expensive than we are. Only marginally, in some cases, but more expensive nevertheless. Our nearest neighbours, Alpe d’Huez and Serre Chevalier charge 2€ a day more than we do. Further afield, you’ll pay 4€ more for a day pass in either La Plagne or Les Arcs and 2€ extra in Val d’Isere, despite the fact that it’s got less total piste than we have. So there.
Of course, this sort of raw comparison is completely meaningless, as I pointed out to the bloke who accused me of swindling him on the grounds that a day’s skiing in his regular resort of Chamrousse was only 29€. It is indeed, and Chamrousse is a lovely place to ski, but it’s half the size of 2Alpes. Broadly speaking, if you want more of a thing, you can expect to fork over more cash.
Reducing the skiing experience to cents per kilometre of piste doesn’t help much either, as lots of resorts are coy about revealing this sort of personal information. Step forward Tignes and Val d’Isere, both keen to bang on about the Espace Killy‘s 300km, but rather reticent about what you get for your one-resort-only pass. In fact, the only interesting information this research reveals is that Courchevel is even more of an outrageous rip-off than you thought, offering a mere 66km of skiing for your 41€. At 29€ for 90km and some stunning views over three mountain ranges, you’d be well advised to go for Chamrousse instead. You won’t have to put up with the likes of Roman Abramovich elbowing you out of the pub because he wants to watch the footy either.
Mere mileage falls down as a guide to value on other fronts as well, as it gives you no idea what’s in the snowpark, how much accessible off-piste there might be and whether or not you’ll need to arrange a mortgage before you go if you want to do anything more adventurous than sit in your chalet and play Scrabble every night. (Needless to say, Chamrousse comes out top here as well, though being stared at beadily by the legions of stuffed animals infesting out regular drinking spot was a bit unsettling at first.)
The inconvenient truth is that skiing’s not cheap, especially if you want the kudos of doing it in one of the big international resorts (not that 2Alpes offers much in the way of oneupmanship points, which might well be why we’re cheaper than average). This being the case, your best option might be to check it out yourself before you book.
It’s old fashioned, I know, but it’s always worked for me. Possibly you could think of using the readily accessible websites on which resorts have spent a lot of time and effort in a bid to make everyone’s life easier. Rather than, for example, haranguing the ticket monkeys when you get here, a strategy which has so far produced no results whatsoever. I mean, what did you think we were going to do? Say, “Gosh yes, I hadn’t noticed how expensive it was, I’ll reduce the price to 15€ a day effective immediately”? Do you try this sort of crap on in Sainsbury’s?