Skiing in Bulgaria 'Could Save GBP 3,000'
by the Telegraph
A family of four could save more than GBP 3,000 on a ski holiday this February half term by choosing Bulgaria over Switzerland, according to research by M&S Bank.
With the school holiday one of the busiest weeks of the season, parents looking to use the week to hit the slopes can be faced with a large bill for the getaway. But where you go is key in just how large the bill will be.
Research conducted by M&S Bank shows that a family holiday for parents and two children Grindelwald in Switzerland will cost GBP 9,499 on average, up 0.12% on last year, while a trip to Bansko in Bulgaria, will cost GBP 6,225, up 0.64% on last year.
The price is based on seven nights' b&b accommodation, flights, transfers, dinners and lunches for a week, lift passes, equipment hire and £140 spending money.
The study also found that the cost of a holiday in Méribel, France, rose most with an increase of 2.89% to GBP 7,746 while the cost of a trip to Vail, Colorado, was down 1.23% to GBP 8,149. Bardonecchia in Italy was the second cheapest resort in the study of five resorts, at a cost of GBP 6,553, despite the second largest increase of 2.87%.
Fraser Millar, head of travel money at M&S Bank, said a weak pound against the euro had made travelling to the continent more expensive than last season. However, the research did not take into account how far your money would go in resort – a pint of beer in Bansko would be considerably cheaper than one in Grindelwald.
Bulgaria has traditionally been a place for a cheap and cheerful holiday. It is well worth considering if you are a beginner or early intermediate on a budget and want a lively time, fuelled by cheap booze. Don't expect sophistication or big ski areas. But the ski schools have an excellent reputation and the scenery and culture provide a very different holiday experience from the Alps.
Bansko is the country's biggest resort. It's an old valley town in the scenic Pirin National Park, catapulted into a the 21st century in 2004 by the construction of modern lifts and smart lodgings.
There are plenty of fast lifts on the mountain, which offers 70km of pistes. Locals are friendly and the town centre is atmospheric. But the access gondola from resort to the slopes suffers from long queues and there are few off-slope activities.
Of Bulgaria's other resorts, Borovets is a lively village and the mountain has 58km of good intermediate slopes. But the resort is not ideal for beginners and the nightlife can be tacky. Pamporovo is a good, low-cost choice for novices, with 37km of slopes. The village is purpose built in a pretty, woodland area and a short bus ride away from the pistes.
Bulgaria, and much of Eastern Europe, has had a poor start to the season snow-wise, but recent forecasts suggest the tide may be turning.