Skiing – Hotel or Chalet?

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I’ll apologise now for the length of this post. It’s meant to help advise those who are planning on a ski holiday and don’t know whether to go for a hotel or a chalet. It’s a little wordy but I hope it helps!

I’ve been skiing around 7 times now and until this year I’ve always stayed in hotels. For those of you who’ve been skiing before, you’ll know it can get REALLY expensive. You can expect to budget around £1000 all in for a week skiing – ouch.

If you’re staying in a hotel, you can definitely expect to spend closer to the higher end of that budget, if not above it. With our wedding to pay for this year, we wanted to go skiing but couldn’t afford the huge price tag of staying in a hotel.

Our friends were interested in going skiing with us, so we got researching and my friend found a deal through Ski France to stay in one of their chalets, Chalet Mongellaz in La Tania, France (in the ski area of the Three Valleys).

The following is my experience of staying in this particluar chalet. The price was very reasonable, at around £500. This included flights, accommodation, transfers and food. The food was a continental and cooked breakfast, afternoon tea (a freshly baked cake, french stick, jam and butter), canapes, a three course evening meal, cheese board and unlimited wine in the evening.

The price for all of this is fantastic; the transfers alone were around £100 per person. We didn’t need a lot for lunch because we had so much food for the rest of the day, and we only went out for one meal whilst we were there, so this meant that our spending money budget went right down. I think in total we spent less than £100 each for the whole week, on food, drink and general bits and pieces.

By comparison, when we’ve stayed in a hotel on a B&B basis I’ve had to budget a LOT more than this, purely for food and drink. It’s not uncommon to spend £50 per day on food and drink, so from this point of view we saved a lot of money. You can easily pay £500 just for a B&B hotel, without flights, transfers or food.

So, onto the actual experience itself. Because we were staying in a catered chalet, we had a lovely chalet host looking after us for the time we were there. Her name was Vari and she was 18. Her role was to do all the cooking, cleaning and generally look after us.

She did a fantastic job, especially as she had two vegetarians to contend with. At 18 there’s no way I would have had the skills or maturity to cope with her job. The chalet was well kept, tidy and clean, and, as chalets go, fairly modern. It states on the website that it’s a 4* chalet. I’m not sure whether I would agree with that. It’s nice enough but quite basic, and doesn’t have any wifi. It has a TV and DVD player, but considering that when you stay in a chalet you’re in a lot of the time, it would have been nice to have some DVDs and games provided.

My main issue with the chalet was lack of sleep. If you ever book a chalet, try to pre-book which room you’re going to have. Our chalet slept 10 people, and luckily they were all a bit older than us, so it wasn’t a young, rowdy crowd. Even so, you could hear EVERYTHING through the walls. Our room was on the same level as the dining area/kitchen/social area, which meant that even if we went to bed early, we couldn’t sleep as we could hear everyone else who was still up. It also meant that as soon as the chalet host got up in the morning, normally around 7am, we were woken up by her preparing breakfast. She wasn’t being particularly loud, but there was no getting away from it.

I am someone who needs their sleep, especially on a physically tiring trip such as skiing, so needless to say, I wasn’t happy with the lack of shut-eye.

My other main bug-bear was the food. Not the quality of it, but sometimes the quantity. It seemed that, along with our chalet host, there were sometimes up to 3 other hosts bunking down in our chalet – once we even found one asleep on the floor in the storage room! There were times when there wasn’t enough cereal, bread, yoghurt or juice for our breakfasts, and our chalet host admitted that these other people had eaten too much food, so there wasn’t enough left for us, the paying guests! I found this outrageous.

A general issue with staying in a chalet, any chalet, and you know this before you go, is that you’ll be sharing with people you don’t know. It’s pot luck who you get; we were so lucky that we had all middle aged professionals, who were good skiers and just wanted to get on with it. If you don’t mind who you stay with, that’s fine. But think carefully if you’re worried about staying with kids, rowdy groups of 18 year old etc.

Despite all of the above, I enjoyed my time in the chalet, and it’s definitely the cheapest way to ski. However, if I wanted to have a really nice holiday, or money wasn’t an issue, I would book a hotel for sure.

Here’s a quick overview of the main points…

Hotels
Pros
Generally better decor and facilities
Freedom to eat where you please
Quieter
More privacy, able to relax more
Cons
Normally much more expensive
Confined to your room
Less social

Chalets
Pros
Much cheaper – food and wine included
Advantage of chalet host and resort rep to assist with buying ski passes, organising ski school etc
Our chalet was ski-in, ski-out, fantastic!
Cons
Concern of who you may be sharing with
Noise
Not as nice facilities as hotels, rooms small and no wifi
Sometimes unable to relax due to having strangers around you

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PS… Caption competition?!

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