New research has found that families could save up to £1,100 by swapping a hotel room for a “cosy caravan” when hitting the ski slopes in Europe this season.
Caravan dealership, Salop Leisure, compared the average cost of staying in a hotel or chalet with the cost of driving to the mountains and staying in a campsite. Yes, there’s no match for the comfort of real, actual brick walls, a freshly-made bed every morning or chalet staff-made coffee and cake on your return from the slopes every day, but making the swap to the deal on wheels could be almost eight times cheaper.
Using prices from Trip Advisor’s 2014 Trip Index, Salop Leisure found that the average price for a week’s stay in a hotel or chalet in Serre Chevalier, France, where accommodation is apparently one of the cheapest in the French Alps, is £1,210. However, skip the hotels and head to the nearby Champ du Moulin campsite and the cost for a family of four for seven nights plummets to £163.
The same savings apply in more popular resorts like Austria’s St Anton, where, according, again, to Trip Advisor, a week’s stay is the most expensive in Europe, with an average cost of £3,424. But trade the luxuries of a hotel or chalet for the Camping Arlberg site and a pitch for the week will cost £182 and include a private bathroom hut, wireless internet, washing machine, tumble dryer, sauna and ski bus stop to the slopes (mind you, that’s just a public bus stop and a free ski bus).
Salop Leisure says more and more Britons are purchasing campervans and caravans for holidays, a trend it believes matches behaviour in North America where driving a motorhome to a holiday destination is much more common. The dealership says that while the initial investment in a “chalet on wheels” may be steep (in the region of £20,000, but up to £40,000), the savings to be made in resorts around Europe are vast.
“It’s especially advantageous on a powder day because you can park on the steps of the gondola, and roll out of bed right before the lift starts running and get right on.”
Camping Arlberg in St Anton, Austria
Ski-in/ski-out access (sort of, from your car park) may sound ideal, but Telegraph Ski and Snowboard editor Henry Druce said the dream does not match the reality. He said: “When I toured the Alps a few years ago in a campervan I found the experience tiring because of all the driving and inconvenient because the campsites where we stayed in Val d’Isère and Chamonix were not that close to the lifts and lacking in crucial home comforts like a nice big bath to soak away the aches and pains of a day on the slopes.”
He added: “Admittedly my experience was tainted from the word go as we were robbed on the first night of our trip and lost thousands of pounds worth of kit.”
Saving money is not the only consideration though – as well as the hours of driving (the drive from Calais to Val d’Isère is about nine and a half hours), prepping your ride for a winter journey requires meticulous effort. Everything from winter tyres, snow chains and pipe insulation to checking tyre pressures, testing breaks and investing in copious amounts of antifreeze are seen as essential preparation for a moutain drive adventure. See our guide on how to drive to the slopes.So, would you?