The dollar was quite stable against the Euro and Swiss franc for most of the past year but weaker in the past six months. As of this writing in mid-August, it has gotten even weaker resulting in gradual loss now of about 9% against the Euro. According to economists, the uncertainty in Washington is the primary culprit. Europe is a secondary cause because their economies are strengthening. That downward trend may continue so use the pricing on page 19 as ballpark figures.
Some good news here: Most international carriers no longer charge for ski equipment. Guess they didn’t like losing customers to Swiss. Beware though, if one books a basic, basic economy ticket (that’s the one that even charges for carry-ons) there will be ski equipment fees.
Alps vs. The Rockies
I didn’t do head-to-head cost comparisons this year but not because the Alps have gotten expensive. Quite the contrary! Even without showing exact stats, let me tick off some reasons why the Alps are always less expensive than the West: transfers are very reasonable with car rentals not needed; hotels include buffet breakfast, and most times, four course dinners daily; and 6-day ski passes, on average, are half the price of those out West with St. Moritz still the queen in that area: this year the ski pass is $40.00/day for five different ski areas. The pièce de résistance of all is: ski areas so large you ski village to village or even country to country!
A word to the wise on Vail’s Epic Pass: For those wanting to use it at a participating European resort, check first because there are limitations on the number of days it can be used, or some resorts require pass holders stay in specific accommodations.
In Our Resorts
This spring I discovered a Dolomite gem – San Cassiano in the Alta Badia. It’s a beautiful, sophisticated, small unspoiled village with fine-quality hotels, up-to-date lift systems, and is great for families. For those key reasons, it’s in the ski program with two lovely and very different hotels. The best gateway is Venice, a great city to spend a night or two in the off season.
Both Kitzbühel and Verbier have invested in new lifts for this winter. Kitzbühel spent almost $30 million on a new 8-passenger chair and increased snow making.
Where I’ve been, where to next
In January before a French ski conference a group of us went to two new areas for me: Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes near the fabled La Grave. Both are very high so have great snow guarantees. Alpe d’Huez is more modern whereas Les Deux Alpes has evolved from an old farming hamlet to a cozy ski village.
In March before another conference in Cortina, as mentioned, I went to and discovered San Cassiano. After Cortina, it was to St. Moritz, my first Alpine resort a few decades ago. I took the UNESCO rated Bernina Express train just as late afternoon became early evening with the sun glinting across snow covered peaks. Next? A ‘Trip with Chips’ is in the offing ~ want to come along?
Yes, this is such a tough business. Skiing new resorts, skiing old favorites. Meeting new people, spending time with those who are now dear friends. All so very difficult! Seriously though, all’s really done for you so that with my first-hand knowledge and personal contacts, I can recommend, or not, your next alpine ski adventure.
So, keep those emails and calls coming, and many thanks for being part of the fun!