How to avoid disappointment on a winter holiday if the snow doesn't fall!

Posted 13-10-2017 by Sally Guillaume

Some people call it “global warming”, others more cautiously call it “global weirding” but whatever you want to name it, one thing is certain: it is happening – and it may be the enemy number one of your next winter holiday.

 So how can you make sure you’ll avoid disappointment and make the best of your winter holiday no matter what, even if you reach a snowless resort at the end of your long trip to the mountains?

Want to get high? Choose wisely.

The unknowns still abound in the global weirding phenomenon – and who knows, it is still possible that most climate experts are wrong when they anticipate a massive snowfall decrease in the coming decades! However, when in the same year, research carried out by scientists at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) and the Cryos Laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Switzerland warn that all alpine resorts may lose up to 70% of their snow cover by the end of the century and the very country (Switzerland) experiences its driest year since records began 150 years ago, it is, indeed, a bit scary…

The truth is that in most parts of the Alps, 2016 was the third year in a row with no or little snow at Christmas. For ski lovers who often travel hundreds or thousands of miles to come enjoy the white stuff, there’s nothing worse than facing closed pistes or poor snow coverage when you have been dreaming of first class skiing!

The solution seems obvious: aim at higher altitude resorts! But beware – if snow will de facto be better at 2500 meters than in a small ski village lower in the valley, chances are that thousands of others will have thought exactly like you. If there are only a handful of pistes at 2500m and higher open for several thousand skiers the skiing experience is quite frankly awful and dangerous. Now do you really want to be in a ski resort with overcrowded pistes and a Tokyo-rush-hour-subway-ride kind of feel? Probably not…

Maybe a more shrewd decision should be based upon what alternative activities are available in the resort and how they will cater for the worse case scenario ?

Be flexible. Think alternatively. 

Because we live in the heart of the Alps, we’ve been carefully observing the phenomenon of unpredictable snow these last 12 years and figured out a long time ago that big resort downhill skiing is far from being the only great activity to be done in the winter mountains: ice climbing, husky sledding, sleeping in an igloo, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat biking, paragliding… These are just a few of the many cool things you can do in the mountains in winter and they don’t all need tons of ski resort snow!

A holiday is something that most of us look forward to for months and months and are ready to spend a substantial sum on. Winter holidays in particular are getting more and more pricey – the bill thus gets even more painful if you are skiing on icy or mushy snow every day on overcrowded pistes! It can be a painful adventure, both for your back and your wallet…

To avoid this grim feeling, make sure you choose a winter holiday that provides enough flexibility in case the winter conditions are not ideal. If the pistes are closed then what else can you do? If it is raining on the day you were supposed to go ice climbing, or if there’s not enough snow to run the husky sledding, will your holiday provider come up with a plan B so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time and money?

With the exceptionally poor snow conditions last Christmas in Europe we faced this problem ourselves as a holiday provider and our alternative activities actually ended up being even more popular than the original ones!  One example that comes to mind is for our clients who had booked on to our igloo expedition which just wasn't possible. We took them to a mountain shelter in the wilderness instead and the activity proved so popular we ended up adding it to our portfolio of regular activities to choose from!!

Bottom line is: to avoid disappointment, you need to find a company with the flexibility, dedication and resourcefulness to be able to guarantee a fun packed holiday whatever the snow conditions. 

Trust the local experts.

 One of the world’s leading accommodation providers recently started promoting the “local experiences” designed and hosted by (paid) locals. The actors of mass tourism seem to be discovering today that meeting the locals and sharing experiences with them is something that tourists like and appreciate.

Well… a few smaller scale companies have been offering this for years!

What will make your holiday truly unique is the local expertise of your holiday provider. How closely are they working with the locals (guides, instructors, accommodations, businesses)? Do they care about you enough to make sure you have a great holiday even if the snow conditions are far from ideal and have they got the local knowledge and contacts to make alternative arrangements? Or, are you just one more number on a spread sheet?

The same goes for the accommodation you’ll be staying in. You can join the masses and end up for a whole week in a sad apartment amidst a bland, uninspiring resort condo – whose dullness won’t be altered by the quantity of snow – or, if you trust smaller companies with a strong local foothold, chances are they will work hand in hand with independent B&B or hotels with much more cachet and owners proud of their services, their establishment and their cuisine to compliment your activities whatever the weather!

 All these seemingly insignificant details are, in the end, what will turn a long awaited holiday into either a memorable experience or into a ‘meh’ trip. They are all, as much as the trip itself, part of why you’ll love your winter holiday – even on a poor snow year.

 Final thoughts...

There's a lot to consider when booking your winter holiday and a raft information to sift through.

If you are ready to start planning your winter holiday skiing or non skiing, then we would love to help guide you through the labyrinth and help you to choose the best option for your party so that you can be sure to have a great holiday whatever the climate throws at you - well excluding earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires....!!

Call us on 0044 (0)345 009 8501 or send us an enquiry and we'll put together some free no obligation quotes and suggestions for you.


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