An article on the best weekend ski resorts has to choose a place of origin. Travel-time is such a huge factor in weekend trips, that we need to know where to begin.
For this article, we’re assuming you’ll be leaving from London, and travel times will reflect that. If you live elsewhere, you’ll need to adjust for more or less time to reach the resort itself.
Luckily, we’re pretty close to a wealth of skiing options, and most of the travel distance is north-south, so we don’t even need to worry about jet lag.
That always helps!
Now we can focus on the two main factors to consider:
- Distance from origin
- Convenience of access
Closest Isn’t Always Quickest
Sometimes a resort that is farther away, geographically, is actually quicker to get to.
Convenience is a bigger factor.
Being able to go from your nearest airport, directly to an airport close to the resort, may mean a shorter travel time overall.
Be sure to add up the transfer time, by coach or car, necessary from your point of departure to the resort itself, including waiting time.
Minimum Time off Work
Take advantage of long weekends.
Bank holidays can give you that extra day, allowing you to consider adding a single day to the beginning or end of a long weekend.
This has the added advantage of avoiding the highest-volume travel times.
Take a second day and you get a five-day stretch while spending only two of your banked days off… not bad!
Make the Most of Your Time Off
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.
Be ready a day or two before it’s time to go and you’ll be able to leave as soon as work is done.
Want to really maximise your time off? If your particular situation allows it, go straight from work.
Bring your luggage to the office, leave it in your car, or have your partner bring it and meet you at the airport.
They won’t be able to wipe the grin from your face those last ten minutes of work time…
Before you finalise your travel tickets, check what other options are out there.
Sometimes going by train is faster than the plane option.
Departure times and all the hassle of parking, security, transfers and so on can sometimes stretch the flight out long enough to make the train option more attractive.
Trains also permit more luggage, so if you have a heavy-packer in your party, they’ll appreciate the space.
Location, Location, Location
Choose accommodation that maximises the efficiency of your time – even if it costs a bit more.
Choose a location that allows ski-in-ski-out convenience, and you won’t waste any time on shuttle busses or trudging down the slippery streets with skis slung over your shoulder.
Sure, you might only buy yourself a few more runs this way, but when it comes time to leave, you’ll feel the value of them and be glad you did.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a cheap deal or a weekend in the lap of luxury, you should be able to find something near enough to the slopes to immerse yourself in the alpine vibe.
A few blocks might not seem like a long distance to travel to pick up and drop off hired equipment, but when you’re on a weekend trip, it’s all about crushing the margins, squeezing the most minutes out of every day.
When it comes to equipment hire, that means only one thing: ski-out, ski-in. You’ll want to find an equipment hire option that is right at the resort.
You should be able to drop your carry-on in your room, zip on the thermals, and step over to the shop where your pre-booked equipment is waiting in anticipation.
When the weekend’s skiing is over, you want to glide up to the shop door, hand the snow-encrusted items to the clerk, and grab your bag on the way to your airport shuttle or cab.
No waiting. No added steps or stages. Just quick, pain-free access.
It might cost a bit more than an in-town shop, but you’ll get an exponential increase in value for that little extra. Any opportunity to buy a little more time, do it.
Finally, before you even step out of your door, ideally right after you book your travel, secure your lift passes.
Make sure you allow time for any admin to get completed, including postage time if there is an option to have the tickets in-hand before you go.
No lines. No hassles. And most importantly: no time wasted.
The Best Resorts
Each resort has the facilities to fit a time-efficient weekend, and amenities to suit your tastes. Finding the best of them is highly location-dependent.
Travel times to and from airports and train stations vary a lot depending on time of day and schedules, but here are a few great choices based on flying time alone.
Add the times specific to your dates, and you’ll know what you’re looking at.
Kitzbühel, two hours from London to Salzburg, also makes the shortlist.
The bottom line when it come to a weekend ski trip, is ensuring efficiency of your time off.
Prep as much as you can before the trip, maximise the use of bank holidays, minimise travel time, and stay as close to the slopes as you can.
After that, all that’s left is to snap into your gear, take a few deep breaths of fresh mountain air, and bask in every moment of your time away.
What a great way to spend our 104 weekend days each year!
Check out this intro to a ski weekend with specialist operator iGO SKI