A pint of beer on the slopes at lunch time is a staple for many British skiers, but the price differs massively depending on the resort: 50cl of beer on the mountain can cost anywhere between €3.20 (£2.90) and €14 (£12.60).
This year, more than ever, UK skiers are seeking cheap package deals to the mountains, but if extras like a pint of beer is costing €14, budgets are quickly set to snowball.
The Times Online recently reported that British tour operators were putting pressure on lift companies in the Three Valleys to get bars and restaurants to cut prices. Lift companies in big-name resorts like Meribel, Courchevel, and Val Thorens carry a lot of sway, and some believe they even have enough influence to get bar owners to introduce a price cap, such as €4.50 (£4) for a large beer.
Recent winter seasons have been particularly hard on UK skiers due to the plummeting pound. According to the Times Online report, last winter UK tour operators were complaining of unhappy customers returning from ski holidays with the common message: "I got shafted on the mountain."
UK skiers are seeking cheap package deals to the mountains, but if extras like a pint of beer is costing €14, budgets are quickly set to snowball
The price of beer in the big-name French resorts seem particularly steep with skiers writing on the Ultimatepubguide.com forum that a pint in Courchevel costs up to €14 (£12.60). Another large French resort, Chamonix-Mont Blanc charges slightly less, but is by no means cheap, at €9.50 (£8.50) on the slopes. To find a French resort that doesn't charge over the odds for a pint, a good tip is to head for smaller, lesser known resorts.
The small, family-friendly resort of Montgenevre, right on the Italian border, is the only French resort in the otherwise Italian Milky Way ski area. Montgenevre may not have the postcard charm of larger resorts like Courchevel or Meribel, but it is possible to save money on beer with some shrewd skiing.
Former ski instructor and guide, James Young says: "Montgenevre only has one mountain restaurant and it's about €7 a pint, which is less than the big French resorts, but to save even more money you can ski over the Italian border to Claviere where a pint is just €4.50 on the mountain."
UK tour operators were complaining of unhappy customers returning from ski holidays with the common message: "I got shafted on the mountain"
The cheapest Italian beer can be found in duty-free Livigno for €4 (£3.60) a pint - the same price as Bansko, Bulgaria. Drinking wine instead of beer in Italy is even better value: a quarter-litre of wine in Madonna di Campiglio costs €2 (£1.80).
Italy has a reputation for bargain ski holidays, but price comparisons show that in many ways Austria is just as cheap. In fact Austria boasts the lowest on-slope beer prices, with the popular Tyrolean resorts of Söll, Kitzbühel, St. Johann in Tirol, and Ellmau charging €3.20-€3.30 (£2.90-£3) per pint, which is even less than your local back home.
Apart from the more lavish resorts of Lech-Zürs, the price of beer on Austrian slopes represents very good value, with the vast majority offering a pint for well under the Alpine average of €5 (£4.50). In fact, many Austrian resorts sell cheaper beer than you'll find in duty-free Andorra.
Austria boasts the lowest on-slope beer prices, with popular Tyrolean resorts charging €3.20-€3.30 (£2.90-£3) per pint, which is even less than your local back home
Switzerland is a mixed bag: the Jungfrau Region's resorts of Grindelwald, Muerren, and Wengen charge around €5.50 (£5) per pint, but on the slopes of the more lavish resorts like Verbier, St. Moritz, and Zermatt prices are similar to that of big French resorts.
Wherever you choose to ski this year, there are ways of keeping the costs down. One way is to opt for a self-catering apartment, where you can pick up supplies, including cheap cases of beer and wine, from out-of-town supermarkets on-route (avoid expensive resort supermarkets) and stick to drinking in the evenings rather than on the mountain during the day. Another option is to book a catered chalet holiday as many of them offer unlimited wine with dinner.
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