Self-Catered Ski Holidays
Save Money for Groups & Families
The first thing most people think of when it comes to self-catered holidays is that it’s a great way to save money.
When you’re not paying a company to cover the cost of supplying the food, preparing it, the staff involved, the planning, and the profit margin; it’s possible to make a big saving on the cost of a package holiday.
Every resort will have options for self-catered ski holidays.
Some of these are available through a package tour operator, but there are always options to book directly with accommodation owners through Air B&B, Booking.com, and other online booking services.
Self-catered holidays work well for families and groups, who can buy food together and share on expenses. It’s possible to enjoy self-catering accommodation in private chalets, apartment rentals, and hotel rooms with kitchen facilities.
Whether you are considering going self-catered because you want a great deal, you want to control your diet or allergy requirements, or you want more privacy with your family and friends; there are notable benefits to going on a self-catered ski holiday.
Let’s first address the elephant in the room: saving money.
Saving on Room Costs
When you book a holiday that includes a half- or full-board meal plan, then you’re paying for more than just the food. Your money will need to cover the cost of supplying the food, preparing it, the staff involved, the planning, and the profit margin.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For some, leaving the effort and planning to someone else in exchange for extra cost allows them to really immerse themselves in the holiday mood.
If you book self-catered accommodation, and cover the cleaning responsibilities yourselves, then you will get a better rate than any package holiday could offer.
Saving on Food Costs
Closely related to getting a better room rate, is the fact that you can pay a lot less for the food itself.
Plan your arrival and your lodgings so that you’ll be able to sort some food. If you arrive in the evening, for example, you may want to celebrate your arrival with a restaurant meal, so that you are well fed and rested before going on a grocery run.
Likewise, if you arrive earlier in the day, but want to hit the slopes before doing anything else, or your could use the time to stock the fridge and rest before a long day on the slopes.
Avoid buying large food shops from convenience shops or even small, on-resort grocers’. These are usually more expensive and smaller than the major outlets, which means they have a smaller selection, and higher cost.
This means more money for less food.
Even if you wind up paying for the trip to and from a larger shop, you will probably make up for it with better prices by volume, and you’ll be able to find exactly what you and your family want.
If you’ve driven to an Alpine resort, doing a run to a grocery store will be easier.
Otherwise, ask if your lodgings are close to a grocer’s, or if there is a shuttle service that will take you easily to and from the shops.
Taxis, Lyft or Uber work well too, if you want to make life more simple.
Calories and Contents
Saving money on food isn’t the only benefit of self-catering.
Eating out once in a while might be fine for you, but a week of replacing home-cooked meals with richer hotel food can be a shock to the body.
On a holiday where we’re asking a lot of our bodies, this can mean some very negative results.
Many of us are keeping an eye on caloric intake, as well. We want to make sure that we aren’t picking up that extra kilo, adding up over time to unwanted fat.
Granted this is a holiday but with the recent trend towards health and fitness, many people want to still keep up with their fitness goals whilst on holiday.
You’ll be skiing a lot, and your body will be able to burn off some extra calories, allowing you to treat yourself a little, and still be ahead of the game.
But too many calories, too quickly, and no amount of skiing can burn them off.
Self-catering can help you to eat delicious food, and even to treat yourself for having an active holiday, but you’ll be able to do so within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.
Likewise, you’ll be able to control what your children eat.
Especially for young children, and those going through periods of high-rate growth – including adolescence – it is important to provide the many vitamins and minerals necessary.
Fill up too much on calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods, and you’ll be putting unnecessary strain on their systems, and hampering their growth and health, whilst also doing a LOT more physical activity.
Self-catering can help you to control your calories, and the content of your family meals.
If your family adheres to a special diet, such vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free, dairy-free, Kosher or Halal; self-catering might be the only way to ensure you get the kind of food you want.
Some resorts offer vegetarian options, but they are usually of very limited variety, and very little at all is available for the other special diet groups.
Local grocers’, however, will have all of the choices you’re used to. Most have sections for gluten-free products, Kosher or Halal options, and well-labelled dairy-free substitutes. If you don’t speak the local language, you may need to ask for assistance, but there is usually someone around who will be able to help you.
For Kosher or Halal options in particular, most areas have specialist shops that provide traditional foods and certified ingredients.
A search online, or a query to a local congregation, should quickly result in a list of whatever options are available in that area.
Perhaps the most pressing concern for many families, is making sure that the food eaten is safe. For sufferers of shellfish or nut allergies especially, this can even be a matter of life and death.
Many restaurants use shellfish and nuts in some dishes, and even if the one you choose does not contain the harmful ingredients, some cross-contamination can occur. To someone with a severe allergy, even a mild exposure can result in the end of the ski trip, or an uncomfortable stay.
Self-catering is a great way to maintain control of what foods are in – or even near – the meal your family eats.
When skiing, we will burn it up right away and therefore we’ll need to make sure we take in more calories than we would need on a regular day, or we’ll start to lose energy on the slopes.
This is more than just feeling a bit worn out, too – we need our energy to keep our strength and endurance high so that we prevent accidents and potential injury. A skier with energy is a safer skier.
Another thing to consider is the time and effort it takes to prepare a meal. Choosing something that is either easy to make, or is a family-style preparation, can mean the difference between a lonely chore and some quality time with loved ones.
If you’re also skiing all day, you’ll be tired and ready for some relaxation time; you’ll also want to get in on the stories of the day’s adventures.
Choose meals that are easiest to prepare. Throwing a bunch of beans and mushrooms into a chili pot is quick, and you get to visit while it cooks.
Pizza is another good choice. If you buy or make the dough yourself, and make adding the topping a family activity, you can even turn this chore into a time of bonding and more great memories.
Pizza doesn’t have to be unhealthy either. Go light on the cheese, include a variety of fresh vegetables and a high-quality sauce, and the result is a nutritious, balanced, baked meal.
Sound too simple? Add some toast or rolls to it, and you get your carb-loading for the next day, and you do it alongside the hearty, warming, comfort-food qualities of soup.
It’s easy to prepare, inexpensive, and easy to augment with pre-cut frozen vegetables, browned meat, or fresh pasta. Best of all, you turn on the burner, fill the pot, and occasionally stir… that’s it.
It’s even easy to clean up afterwards and you can microwave any leftovers later, for a quick snack or a repeat meal.
Keep lots of good snacks around. Chop up or buy carrot sticks, have a selection of crackers around, and a few special biscuits or cookies for a special treat.
Lots of calories will be burnt on the slopes, so don’t be alarmed if the family intake spikes markedly.
On the Slopes
Sandwiches and Wraps
For meals on the go, not much beats the convenience and portability of sandwiches and wraps.
When you’re choosing ingredients, remember that a variety of textures goes a long way in increasing enjoyment of the meals. Include crispy lettuce, crunchy nuts or cucumbers, soft rice or chewy chicken – and avoid runny sauces that may turn the whole thing into a gooey mess.
Portable snacks that can take the impact of a fall are excellent options for the skier on the go.
Rice Crispy squares, puffed rice squares, carrot sticks, granola bars and energy bars are all excellent choices.
You can even find easy recipes online to make home-made versions of these – another great way to control what goes into your family’s diet, without putting a damper on the fun.
Make sure everyone has some form of hydration. A water bottle that can be refilled is a great choice. Don’t choose them too big, or they can interfere with the skiing. A smaller one will ensure that they get a drink when they need one, and can always be refilled at a fountain, eating area, or from a purchased plastic bottle.
Make sure everybody drinks a lot of water and/or juice in the morning and in the evenings. Despite the increase in toilet breaks, it will be worth it to know that everyone is getting the water they need.
Privacy – Your Home Away From Home
The reasons you’re looking at a family ski holiday may be less about skiing, and more about quality family time.
The stories and laughter of after-slope stories and recollections are often as much fun, or even more fun, than the skiing itself was. The comfort level and family intimacy necessary for this kind of open exchange, can sometimes be broken by the presence of resort staff such as cooks, servers, or maids.
If you arrange for a self-catering holiday, and cleaning up after yourself is often part of the deal, then you won’t have to worry about interruptions or the presence of strangers in your rooms or eating area.
You can have the same sense of family privacy and comfort you’d have at home, but with the added excitement and thrill of being in an alpine resort, having fun and adventures, and speaking of them freely among yourselves.
Why Choose Self-Catered Ski Holidays?
Every resort will have options for self-catered accommodation available through a tour operator, with options available for private chalet and flat rentals, and hotel rooms with kitchen facilities.
Whether due to financial considerations, dietary preferences, health, or a desire for maximum privacy during your ski holiday, there are notable benefits to going on a self-catered ski holiday.
There is the option to combine self-catering and outside care by choosing a half-board all-inclusive package and filling in the gaps with your own special shopping and cooking.
However you envision your family ski holiday, there are options to make it what you want it to be.
Apply these tips, adapt them to your own particular family needs and preferences, and meal planning and preparation can become a positive part of your ski holiday, allowing you unforgettable family time, both on – and off – the slopes.