Finding the right accommodation for your ski holiday is not always going to be too easy and comparing accommodation choices will most likely be the most crucial choice you would have to make. There is a lot to consider if you want to ensure that you and your travelling group get to enjoy the best possible ski accommodation there is available which best fits your requirements both as a group and individually. Ski accommodation across the Alps typically cut across, apartments, chalets and hotels, and each of these accommodation choices offer different experiences but are still each individually capable of providing a cosy and comfortable accommodation experience if you select the option that best suits you and your travelling group.
The ski chalet embodies the quintessential ski holiday and perhaps is the one of mental images that springs to mind when thinking about holidaying in the Alps. Snowy mountain peaks, a few trees below and chocolate-box looking winter chalets nestled in the snow with a slow blowing chimney. Cosy nights inside next to a crackling fireplace, and if it's a bit of a luxury chalet, a spa and steam room to unwind after a day on the slopes. The ideal ski chalet holidays we all would love to experience.
Over the years, as the ski resorts continue to grow and welcome larger numbers by the year, there has been an increase in accommodation provisions at these resorts to cater not only to growing visitor numbers but changes in consumer behaviour, demands and requirements. We have explored a few variations to holiday ski chalets below.
Types of chalets
Catered Ski Chalets
Catered ski chalets are fast growing into the preferred option for ski holiday makers particularly from the UK. Catered chalet accommodation allows guests to fully immerse themselves into enjoying the holiday and not having to deal with the responsibilities of cooking their own meals and cleaning the accommodation areas. It is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Catered chalets range from budget 3-stars to luxury 5 star ski chalets and can be found in most ski resorts across France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The catered chalet board includes breakfast, lunch, dinner which in some cases comes with complimentary wine. Catered chalets have quite often been called or referred to as chalet-hotels, which is not a bad comparison, considering the similar levels of service offered to the guests. Check out our packaged offers for catered chalet ski holidays as you may be able to book one of you look through any of our ski chalet deals.
Standard Ski Chalets
Traditional chalets are large buildings which could have up to at least 5 bedrooms, however, changing times over the Alps since the 1980’s has seen a rise and there are ski apartments that come in significantly smaller sizes and sleep a maximum of 4 people per night. These budget friendly ski chalets are particularly ideal for couples on a romantic getaway who would prefer to stay on their own or with a minimal amount of other guests in shared spaces. These are more known as standard ski chalets and are usually less expensive than larger ski chalets. Standard ski chalets are a great choice if you require a comfortable and cosy atmosphere with a little bit of extra space and Alpine spirit after a long day on the slopes. They are very similar to ski apartments and offer a similar type of basic service although basic chalets offer a lot more privacy and in most cases, more character. Standard chalets are usually available in apartment style buildings with multiple flats included in the building however, some distinguishing features from ski apartments include catering services, more bedrooms and slightly larger living spaces. For example, it is more common for ski apartments to have sleeping sofas in the living spaces which serve as some of the sleeping rooms for some of the guests, however, chalets always have a bedroom for each guest. Opting for a standard chalet allows budget seekers to enjoy cheap ski chalet holidays.
Luxury Ski Chalets
There is no shortage of 5-star luxury chalets in the Alps. If you are out for a bit of self-indulging during your holiday, there is no better way to look after yourself than booking a luxury chalet for the duration of your trip. Luxury chalets are usually standalone single buildings which can sleep anything from 6 to 18 guests per night. They are usually exquisitely furnished with wood and stone finishes in keeping with the Alpine spirit. You can expect large dining rooms often separate from the living room area, wide open living room space with a large fireplace and large balconies and/or terraces. Living quarters will be mostly double rooms and ensuite with bath and shower rooms. Some luxury ski chalets may also come with an indoor swimming pool, spa and a gym area. Large laundry rooms with washing machines, dryers and boot warmers. Most luxury ski chalets are catered and come with private chefs and some may include cleaning services but guests will always retain the option to self cater. Additional services may include child care and baby minders to look after the little ones.
Catered or Self-Catered Ski Chalets: What do I choose?
There are strong cases to be made for catered and self-catered apartments. Ultimately the better out of the two is relative to which one best suits the needs and requirements of the visiting guests. Both chalet types have their pros and cons and profiles that best suit them. We explore a few things to take into consideration.
Catered chalets rent the rooms out individually and the rooms are priced based on the room capacity i.e a double room is priced as though two people will rent the room, regardless of whether the room has been rented by a solo traveller. For triple or quadruple rooms, the prices will also vary and as such, could be a costly expense for a solo traveller or small travelling group. However, if you are after a hassle-free holiday where you do not fancy lifting a finger to cook or clean after yourself and your family, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the services delivered by catered chalets. Ideal for families or a large group of friends who want to spend quality time together without too much interruption. Also ideal for corporate bookings and work retreats. Might be pricey, but would also be the perfect accommodation for solo travellers looking for an effortless getaway trip to the Alps.
If you love your independence and prefer to look after yourself and cook your own meals at the resorts, then self-catering is perhaps the ideal choice for you. With full control over your meal plans and resort timetable, you have the flexibility to plan your activities without having to consider mealtimes or cleaning times that would be otherwise set and managed by the hosts of a catered ski chalet. Self-catered ski chalets are also generally cheaper than catered chalets and are a fantastic choice for guests visiting on a budget, looking to save a little bit and spend on other aspects of the holiday. Additionally, if you want a cooked meal prepared for you, you can still arrange for catering services from your host or from any independent chef of your choice based at the resort.
Benefits of Booking a Chalet
The space offered by traditional ski chalets are unchallenged compared to other accommodation types in the Alps. Ski chalets will usually include a kitchen, an open plan living room space and dining room or dining area. The bedrooms are usually a double size and are in most cases, en suite. The communal spaces usually have more room which usually comes in handy especially when there are different groups who do not know each other sharing the chalet. The space allows you to keep to yourself and without too much effort. Chalets will also have larger terraces and balconies than hotels or ski apartments.
Booking a traditional ski holiday chalet could actually work out to be amazing value-for-money even for guests travelling on a budget. Skiers travelling as a large group can poll resources and rent an entire ski chalet to themselves. They could get a luxury and catered chalet which takes care of everything for them. With money polled together, it could work out a lot cheaper than one would imagine. This is because ski chalets are rented out and priced based on the property and not priced per head of each guest. The luxury, catered ski chalets in some of Europe's most highly rated ski resorts are not only available to the wealthy but also to the well-planned.
Privacy and Flexibility
Probably the best option of privacy and flexibility in the Alps. If you have hired an entire chalet building for yourself and your travelling group, you will have full privacy to yourselves and full flexibility to plan your itinerary as a family/travelling crew. Apartments and hotels cannot offer a similar level of privacy due to the communal areas shared with other guests. This allows guests to consider traveling to the Alps with elderly family members, disabled family and even pets.
Things to consider before booking a chalet
Sometimes, we tend to overlook the most obvious things in our day to day lives and we often find ourselves taking for granted some of the basic but essential aspects of our day to day lives. Before you start searching for a ski chalet in the Alps, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration. It will serve guests well to be aware of how far their ski chalet is from the pistes and lifts; how far it is from the resort centre; what sort of child entertainment is available etc.
Proximity to Lifts, Pistes and Aperitifs
Whatever ski resort you plan on visiting, it would always be a massive convenience to be located close to a key local amenity, be it the lifts, the resort centre, or child care facilities. Location is an important factor that can be very easily overlooked when caught up in the excitement of booking a ski holiday. Spare a thought for your travelling group; do you have any children, elderly people or people with a physical disability? Can they easily make it to the lifts? If you were unable to secure a chalet close to the resort centre, look out for any chalet that is within proximity to a shuttle bus stop. They will usually have you in the centre at a good time.
Ski chalets are generally designed to welcome large or small groups depending on the type of chalet specifically selected. Whether you are visiting the Alps with a large extended family or as a pair or trio of friends, it's always important to keep the size of your travel group in mind when booking your ski holiday chalet. Regardless of how large or small the travelling group is, you will need to know the exact number of guests and the exact age of the children in the group. This could be the difference between renting a standalone chalet or taking single rooms within a chalet.
How long can I book my chalet stay for?
Ski chalets have always been traditionally booked for 7 day minimum stay which would usually commence on a weekend. This trend has started to shift in recent years with accommodation providers and big tour operators offering shorter stays and flights to ski holiday packages. There has been a steady increase in shorter and mid-week exchanges in ski chalet rentals, however, this will ultimately lay with the tour operator or independent chalet provider with whom the booking is being made. If provided with an option, consider a mid-week exchange so as to avoid the weekend traffic jams on the motorways to and the resorts, long queues at the airports among others. Mid-week exchanges have far less pressure.