Save 15% on spring travel!
Thanks to the InterRail Off Peak Spring Promotion, European residents save up to 15% off the regular price of all InterRail Global Passes purchased between February 1 and March 31, 2014. Travelers can then activate their pass anytime before May 16, 2014.
One of the joys of taking the train in Europe is being able to hop on and off trains from one country to the next with a single rail pass. Here are some destinations where you could end up:
The Netherlands are known for their tulips, windmills, bicycles and canals. Simply put, walking down the streets of cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam is a more pleasing experience during spring.
Portugal has a glorious seafaring history, with few equals in the art of fishing and coasts filled with stunning beaches. Visit destinations such as Braga, Porto, Faro and Lisbon for a taste of their sizzling seafood recipes and gorgeous riverside views.
Turkey is vibrant and colorful with destinations such as Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara showcasing the country’s long history and diverse culture. This spring, try haggling your souvenirs from bazaars and public markets, where bargaining is the norm.
All in all, the InterRail Global Pass is valid for train travel in a total of 30 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
The InterRail Off Peak Spring Promotion is valid on the 15-day, 22-day and 1-month consecutive passes and the 5-day within 10 days and 10-day within 22 days flexible passes in First and Standard Class for adults, children, seniors and youth.
Eurail is offering an Early Bird deal which offers non-European residents free travel days on Eurail Global Passes purchased from Feb. 1 through March 31.
Early Bird Passes have a six month pre-booking period and include 15 days, 21 days and one month validities. The offer applies to both first and second class Eurail Global Passes and are open to all travel categories: Adults, Child, and Youth, including Saver Passes intended for groups of two to five people, offering an additional15 percent reduction.
The “Early Bird” campaign offers two extra travel days for the 15-day Eurail Global Pass, three extra travel days for the 21-day Eurail Global Pass and five extra travel days for a one month Eurail Global continuous Pass.
Last year’s Early Bird promotion proved very successful, boosting sales in March of the Global Pass by 96 percent. The opportunity to receive extra travel days motivated nearly twice as many customers to buy the Eurail Global Pass.
Generating more than 55 percent of total sales revenues, the Eurail Global Pass continues to be the most popular pass in the Eurail portfolio. With its 24 participating countries, it covers nearly most of Europe (including free or discounted travel on some major shipping lines) and gives travelers the largest variety of countries to choose from.
Eurail Group G.I.E., the organization dedicated to the marketing and management of the Eurail and InterRail Passes, is wholly owned by thirty participating railways and shipping companies. In addition, the Group has many benefit partners, including hotels, transport companies and museums, which offer their services either at a reduced rate or free of charge to rail pass holders.
The most expensive ski destination in Europe is located in Austria. That takeaway is according to a new survey from TravelMag.com that compared all major European ski resorts based on the cost of their lodging.
Specifically, the survey established for each destination the price a guest will have to pay, on average, to stay in the cheapest available double room during this upcoming February and March, the high season for ski tourism.
The Ischgl resort, located in Austria`s Tyrol region, clearly revealed itself as the most expensive European ski resort at an average of 346 Euros per night. Runners up on the survey were Val d`Isere, located in the Savoy region of France, and Ischgl`s neighbor, St. Anton. Average rates at these two resorts came in at 326 and 323 Euros, respectively.
Austria and France boast the honor of being home to almost every destination inside the Top 15. The only exception is the Verbier resort, located in in southwestern Switzerland. It ranks seventh most expensive at an average price tag of 236 Euros for the least expensive double room.
The table that follows lists the 10 most expensive ski resorts in Europe. The rates indicated reflect the price skiers will have to spend, on average, for the most affordable double room inside the respective resorts during the months of February and March 2014.
1. Ischgl (Austria) 346 Euros
2. Val-d`Isere (France) 326 Euros
3. St. Anton (Austria) 323 Euros
4. Tignes (France) 286 Euros
5. Val Thorens (France) 256 Euros
6. Zurs (Austria) 249 Euros
7. Verbier (Switzerland) 236 Euros
8. Solden (Austria) 234 Euros
9. Kitzbuhel (Austria) 232 Euros
10. Les Gets (France) 226 Euros
For the full results of the survey, check: www.travelmag.com/articles/most-expensive-ski-resorts-europe/
Avalon Waterways has announced another two new stylish Suite Ships will join its fleet in 2015, giving it a total of 10 Suite Ships and the most modern river cruise fleet in Europe.
The additions of Avalon Tapestry II and Avalon Tranquility II are revealed in Avalon Waterways’ new 2015 preview brochure, now available for download from the Avalon website.
The brochure provides a glimpse of Avalon’s 2015 river cruise season and allows travellers to book select itineraries ahead of the main season release in coming months.
Designed with Australian travellers in mind, Avalon’s Suite Ship concept has grown rapidly since the debut of Avalon Panorama in 2011. With two entire decks of all-suite accommodation and 30 per cent more cabin area than the average competitor, Panorama set new standards in space and style.
New Suite Ships have entered the Avalon fleet every year since. Each features wall-to-wall panoramic windows that slide back to turn the entire cabin into an open-air balcony, allowing passengers to enjoy the outdoors without compromising space.
Avalon’s 2015 preview brochure features 28 of its most popular river cruise itineraries, ranging from eight to 24 days.
Ardent ski bunnies may be happy with just the white stuff, but there’s so much more to mountain holidays than skiing and more skiing. From Verbier and The Dolomites reputation as gourmet destinations to Megeve’s shopping mecca, there’s everything from dog-sledding, heli-tours, cookery lessons and even golf going on in The Alps this winter.
A foodie’s guide to the slopes
Verbier is home to a kaleidoscope of legendary restaurants. Perfect piste-side pitstops include the bright, airy and child-friendly Le Dahu (accessible by gondola for non-skiiers) and the bustling and atmospheric La Vache at the top of Les Attelas chair, opened last winter by 3 celebrity Verbier fans including James Blunt, Lawrence Dallaglio and Carl Fogarty.
Cosy chalet charm is the vibe at Le Namaste, a nineteenth century panelled gem below the blue Planards. Valais cuisine is on the menu finished off, in the evening, by an (optional) quick toboggan run down to the village for the fun-loving. Chez Dany is another snuggly charmer, just off the red Harrey, specialising in imaginative local cuisine and also open in the evening with a snowmobile or toboggan return.
For the adventurous after hearty Swiss mountain fare, Les Chottes is a fabulous converted barn next to the eponymous draglift en route to the far end of the 4 valleys, whilst Cabane Tortin is a blissfully isolated hideaway beside the glacier and only accessible by experts or on snowshoes.
Back in the village, Cordee des Alpes serves Alpine haute cuisine in glamourous open-plan surroundings whilst La Grange defies its unprepossessing exterior with delicious homely gourmet food and an impressive wine list to boot. More relaxed options include Fer a Cheval, a lively favourite with locals and seasonaires and the basement Le Caveau, a cheese-lover’s dream with raclette and fondues to die for.
A hit with locals for its terrific value regional cuisine, Relais des Neiges remains ever popular whilst the Offshore Café, with its surfer dude décor, pink VW beetle inside the door and delicious brunch/burger offerings, is packed with instructors …..no need to say more.
To sample Verbier’s culinary delights, stay in Chalet Bella Coola, a spectacular new sensation on the Verbier scene. Full of surprises, this traditional-looking chalet conceals a host of designer delights, ranging from ultra-modern bathrooms and kitchens to 4 sumptuous en-suite double bedrooms reminiscent of the Raj and a triple single for extras. Add in a master suite complete with study, dressing room, bathroom and private terrace, fully networked entertainment systems, in-house massages and beauty treatments, a brilliantly stocked vaulted wine cellar and full-sized Jo Malone toiletries for total bliss.
Alternatively, Chalet Montana is one of Verbier’s most stylish private homes. A palatial ski-in ski-out expanse set over 4 floors linked by stairs and an elevator, it offers a soothing yet lavish décor with neutral fabrics, reclaimed 17th century wooden panelling, carved 18th century ceilings and natural stone floors. It also has sensational views, an enormous library with a home cinema, 7 deliciously comfortable bedrooms with dedicated bathrooms, a huge children’s playroom cum disco and oodles of space.
Having one’s cake and eating it is the deal in the Dolomites, where a private rental with the full service back up of a seriously swanky hotel is a dream combination come true. In the heart of San Cassiano in Alta Badia, Hotel Rosa Alpina is the elegant mothership for Penthouse Alpina and Chalet Iergl, offering room service, a Michelin star restaurant and the facilities of the 5 star Daniela Steiner spa as part of the package. Set within Rosa Alpina itself, the luxurious and intimate 2 bedroom Penthouse Alpina is the epitome of contemporary mountain chic, whilst Chalet Iergl, a beautifully restored, family-friendly farmhouse, furnishes a state-of-the-art modern interior that combines minimalist chic with cosiness, 4 heavenly bedrooms, all the tecky gizmos the young can’t live without and a sauna and Turkish bath for older aching muscles. It’s one of the most stunning chalets on the circuit and guaranteed to be a hit with those achingly cool children.
Much more to Megeve than snow
For those not into skiing, there can be few more alluring mountain escapes than Megeve. Shopping here is an art form, with an array of world class shops that knocks most capital cities into the shade. There are sensational restaurants and spas, endless non-skiing activities for taking in that exhilarating mountain air without the slippy stuff and, just minutes away, one of the coolest chalets in the Alps. For sheer modern élan, there’s little to beat Chalet One Oak. With floor to ceiling windows, stunning views, a lavish contemporary décor, a master suite with a private balcony, fireplace and jacuzzi, a chef who excels in culinary pyrotechnics and intuitive service that produces that glass of champagne before the thought has even crystallised, this is chalet chic at its very best.
Active escapes in the Dolomites
Or for a really whacky winter interlude, why not head to San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge in the Dolomites and throw in a hole or two of unforgettable winter golf? This stunning chalet is quite simply one of the most outstanding properties in Europe. It lies within an idyllic 42 acre estate, cocooning guests in privacy and luxury, pampering them with sublime levels of service and surrounding them with jaw-dropping views over three valleys, countless hilltop village forts and, incredibly, the lodge’s own 19 hole golf course.
For more information and full details please visit www.akvillas.com
Abercrombie & Kent Villas is delighted to have been voted Favourite Villa Rental Company 2013 by Conde Nast Traveller Readers.
2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of Abercrombie & Kent. Founded to take travellers to every corner of the world in comfort, style and safety, today A&K is one of the world’s leading tour operators. With a network of offices in more than 60 countries, a member of the Abercrombie & Kent team is never far away.
Abercrombie & Kent Villas offers a selection of luxury villas in sought after destinations throughout Europe including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal, and The UK as well as a range of luxury chalets in the Austrian, French, Swiss and Italian Alps.
Tucked snugly into the eastern Alpine triangle where the borders of Austria, Italy and Slovenia meet, lies the wholly unspoilt, and largely unknown, corner of Carinthia. Its great natural beauty – snow-capped mountains, 200+ pristine lakes, lush forests and beautiful bathing beaches – have made it the firm “secret” favourite of the discerning Austrian upper classes for centuries, and composer Gustav Mahler wrote his best known symphonies here.
NEW for 2014, leading relaxed activity specialist, Headwater, is introducing self-guided walking and cycling holidays on the shores of the undisputed jewel in the crown of Carinthia: Lake Worthersee, the largest Alpine lake in Europe and location for many famous film shoots.
With a host of aristocratic villas, historic palace hotels and fine lakeside dining options, Lake Worthersee seemlessly combines European elegance with a laid-back flair reminiscent of the Caribbean: street music, chilled beach bars, relaxed and cheerful locals whose friendly smiles perfectly suit the warm, sunny climes and temperate waters – at a blissful 27c, it’s little wonder that the lake enjoys unrivalled popularity with swimmers, sailors, sufers and skiers!
Headwater’s Carinthian Lakeside Cycling trip:
Departs: every two days from 13 May to 20 Sep
Type: is a 6-night, hotel-to-hotel itinerary (bags moved for you), with a 2-bike “moderate” activity grading
Accommodation: 4-star hotels throughout
Meals: includes continental breakfasts and all evening meals
Costs: from £1199 (tour only)/ £1569 (incluing return flights with Austrian Airlines from Heathrow to Klagenfurt, via Vienna); children, over 2 and under 12 sharing with 2 adults, £729/ £1099 all dates
Includes: accommodation and meals as detailed above, plus high quality bikes, local transfers, detailed maps and meticulous route notes, bags transfers between hotels, Carinthia Travel Card (giving unlimited free travel on local ferries, cable cars and free admission to 100+ attractions) and 24/7 support both locally and in UK
Headwater’s Walks around Lake Worthersee trip:
Departs: every two days from 13 May to 20 Sep
Type: is a 6-night, hotel-to-hotel itinerary (bags moved for you), with a 2-boot “moderate” activity grading
Accommodation: 4-star hotels throughout
Meals: includes continental breakfasts and 4 evening meals
Costs: from £838 (tour only)/ £1138 (incluing return flights with Austrian Airlines from Heathrow to Klagenfurt, via Vienna); children, over 2 and under 12 sharing with 2 adults, £579/ £959 all dates
Includes: accommodation and meals as detailed above, plus local transfers, detailed maps and meticulous route notes, bags transfers between hotels, Carinthia Travel Card (giving unlimited free travel on local ferries, cable cars and free admission to 100+ attractions) and 24/7 support both locally and in UK
For bookings and further information, please call Headwater 0845 322 4672 or email email@example.com
The river cruise industry is growing like gangbusters. In 2014, dozens of new river ships will enter service and offer an array of new itineraries in places such as France, the Danube, the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
Here is a look at river cruising’s Class of 2014, the new ships that will enter service this year.
An artist rendering of the new AmaPura, which will sail in Myanmar
AmaWaterways will introduce the new 56-passenger AmaPura on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River beginning in November. It will operate 10- and 14-night cruises to Yangon (Rangoon) and other centuries-old cultural sites, ancient temples, shrines, cities and pagodas.
The 28 suites have a French balcony, a step-out full balcony or even twin balconies. AmaWaterways also is introducing two new river ships in Europe, the 164-passenger AmaSonata and AmaReina on the Danube and Rhine rivers, respectively. They’ll have twin balcony staterooms and suites, several dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, a glass elevator and a fleet of bicycles.
A file photo of Empress of the North, which will be reborn in April as the American Empress in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s not a new ship, but American Queen Steamboat Company will begin operating its second riverboat, the 223-passenger American Empress, on the Columbia and Snake rivers between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash.
The American Empress formally operated as the Empress of the North for the now-defunct Majestic America Line, but last carried passengers in 2008. American Queen Steamboat is refurbishing the ship before it enters service in April.
Three more Avalon “Suite Ships” will have Panorama Suites with walls of windows that open to create a balcony and let in fresh air.
Avalon Waterways is growing its fleet of “Suite Ships,” adding three more in 2014. The new Avalon Illumination and Impression will each accommodate 166 passengers on cruises on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.
The Poetry II also will sail on those waterways but is slightly smaller, accommodating 128 passengers. The Suite Ships have two decks of 200-square-foot suites, each with a wall of windows that can be opened into balcony.
The new Scenic Jade is a sister “Space Ship” to the Scenic Crystal, pictured on the Moselle River.
Scenic Cruises will launch two new “Space Ships” in 2014 — the 126-passenger Scenic Gem, which will operate 11-day trips in France, and the 169-guest Scenic Jade, which will sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.
The vessels have multiple dining venues and staterooms with walk-out balconies that convert to indoor sealed lounges at the push of a button. Also, a new sister company will begin operations this year.
The less-expensive Emerald Waterways is aimed at a younger demographic and enters service in April with two new 182-passenger ships, Emerald Star and Emerald Sky in Europe.
Tauck will introduce two new 130-passenger river ships this year, including the Savor, pictured.
Tauck, the tour operator, will introduce two new 130-passenger river ships in 2014 — the Savor and Inspire, which comprise the new Inspiration Class. The ships will have staterooms measuring at least 150 square feet and suites of 225 to 300 square feet. Eight cabins on the lower deck of each newbuild will feature a “loft” design with a raised platform seating area and a much taller window that can be opened for fresh air.
Uniworld’s S.S. Cathering will feature elegantly appointed staterooms and suites.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection in March will introduce the 159-passenger S.S. Catherine in France. The vessel, a sister to the S.S. Antoinette, will feature lavishly appointed staterooms and suites with full or French balconies.
The ship will have a main restaurant with an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining, as well as a bistro. It also will feature Uniworld’s signature touches, such as classic furnishings, antiques and touches of marble. Also new for Uniworld in 2014: Starting in May, it goes all-inclusive, with gratuities, beverages, shore excursions and transfers included in the fare.
Viking River Cruises will introduce 14 new “Longships” this year that are virtually identical to the Viking Freya, pictured on the Rhine River.
It’s another big year for Viking River Cruises as it introduces 14 new river ships. The 190-passenger “Viking Longships” will sail throughout Europe. By year’s end, Viking will have introduced a total of 30 new ships in a three-year period. In 2013, Viking set a Guinness World Record when it christened 10 ships in one day.
Among the Longships features are a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, a terrace at the bow of the ship for al fresco dining, and an organic herb garden, solar panels, putting green, and walking track on the sun deck.
According to APT General Manager Marketing, Debra Fox, with travel trade partners anticipating continuing high levels of interest in the award winning cruise operator’s ‘Royal Experience’ product, the decision was made to release this year’s Preview brochure earlier than planned:
“Last year saw APT achieve record sales in Europe. That’s because we continually exceed expectations, delivering over and above anything else that’s available. Exclusive ‘Royal Invitations’, twin-balcony suites, truly all-inclusive pricing, gold and silver butler services and complimentary beverages throughout each cruise combine to create a truly unforgettable experience.
“For 2015 APT is offering more choice, more exclusive Signature Experiences and more exciting land tours than ever before. The Preview brochure offers the first glimpse of what is to come and allows guests who book early to benefit from incredible savings, securing their favourite suites and preferred departure dates in the process.”
APT’s Europe River Cruising 2015 Preview brochure showcases 24 itineraries ranging from eight to 35 days in length, all of which qualify for one of a number of SuperDeals depending on the itinerary and departure date.
Deals are strictly limited to the preview brochure and APT is anticipating they will sell out quickly. Spaces are therefore limited and bookings must be made by 15 April 2014.
As well as its popular Magnificent Europe, Rhine, Rhône and Moselle, and French river cruises, the Preview brochure also includes cruising on Portugal’s Douro River and a Black Sea voyage.
Land journeys include the Eastern Bloc, British Isles, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and the Balkan Peninsular, Greece and Turkey.
The Preview brochure also unveils a new Signature Experience. In 2015, guests travelling on an APT Magnificent Europe river cruise will enjoy an unforgettable day trip from Passau to Linz aboard the Majestic Imperator train. Taking in the breathtaking scenery of Austria’s famous Salzkammergut region, guests will enjoy morning tea aboard the train before disembarking in Salzburg for a ‘Sound of Music’ tour and the chance to explore Mirabell Gardens and the Great Salzburg Festival Hall. Guests then re-board, enjoying drinks canapés and onboard entertainment en route to Linz.
APT continues to offer guests a fully inclusive pricing structure covering: all sightseeing, excursions and entertainment, all gratuities, airport transfers, Wi-Fi, and port charges, all meals and complimentary beverages throughout the cruise, expert local guides, access to all the must-see sights and hidden treasures and Gold and Silver Butler services for select suites.
Lead in cruise is the 15-day Magnificent Europe, which cruises between Amsterdam and Budapest on the Rhine-Main-Danube river network between March and December.
Austria and Italy look good value for 2013 taking seven of top 12 places in the latest Post Office® Travel Money Ski Resort Report (www.postoffice.co.uk/skireport2013)
· Bansko and Kranjska Gora remain cheapest but Livigno is challenging hard in third place
· 13 per cent price fall helps Zermatt overtake Courchevel, St Anton and Wengen in world-class resorts category
· Transatlantic trips tumble as resort costs fall 20 per cent in Tremblant and Winter Park
As the ski season gets underway in Europe this weekend, the latest Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report¹ reveals that bargain-hunters will not only find the great value they are looking for in Eastern Europe, but in traditional favourites Italy and Austria too.
The seventh annual report, produced in partnership with leading ski-holiday operator Crystal Ski Holidays, compared prices for ski equipment, lift passes, ski school, meals and drinks in 30 ski resorts – 22 in Europe and eight in North America. It found that Bansko (Bulgaria) and Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) are again cheapest, with barometer totals of around £274 and £326 respectively.
However, the Eastern European destinations may have a fight on their hands – especially Kranjska Gora where prices have risen almost seven per cent since last season. As a result low-priced Livigno (£351) in the Italian Alps has gained ground, overtaking Austria’s Ellmau (£368) to take third place and now just £25 behind the Slovenian resort.
Italy and Austria have notched up a total of seven ski resorts in the Ski Resort Report barometer top 12. Sestriere (6), Cervinia (9) and Selva (11) join Livigno in the 12 best value resorts, while Austria’s Mayrhofen (10) and Schladming (12) resort join Ellmau (4).
However, the picture is patchy for skiers planning trips this season. Prices have plunged 13 per cent in Zermatt to around £593 and over three per cent in Morzine (£402), which has helped the popular French resort move five places up the barometer table to fifth position. At the same time rising resort prices and a UK pound almost five per cent weaker against the euro year-on-year mean skiers may have to dig deeper in their pockets.
The biggest rise is in Soldeu (Andorra), which has slipped from fifth to eighth place because of a 14 per cent increase in resort costs to £432. At £600 for the barometer ski and living cost items, Courchevel (France) is 13 per cent more expensive this season while prices are up more than 11 per cent to £639 in Wengen (Switzerland).
In addition to rating 22 resorts in Europe, Post Office Travel Money and Crystal Ski Holidays have expanded the cost comparison to cover eight resorts in North America. The good news for those considering a transatlantic ski holiday is that prices are down by around 20 per cent in both Tremblant (Canada) and Winter Park (USA).
Tremblant (£619), located in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, has benefited from an increase of almost six per cent in the value of sterling combined with falling resort prices. However, Winter Park is cheapest of all. At just under £528 for the barometer items, the Colorado resort is almost 15 per cent cheaper than Tremblant and nearly 36 per cent less expensive than Breckenridge (£821), highest-priced of the eight North American ski resorts.
A full list of the best value resorts can be found by visiting www.postoffice.co.uk/skireport2013
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: “The continuing weakness of sterling and all sorts of other pressures on the pocket in everyday life means that resort costs are bound to be a key factor in determining ski destinations this winter. Skiers on a budget have great value resorts to choose from if they head east to resorts like Bansko and Kranjska Gora but the Italian resorts we surveyed are strong contenders too.”
In fact it was a clean sweep for Italy in the World-class resorts category. The Italian resorts of Sestriere (£406), Cervinia (£439) and Selva (£445) took the top three places in the best value chart for skiers looking for world-class ski runs. At the other end of the scale, prices in Wengen, the most expensive European resort surveyed, are 57 per cent higher than in Sestriere while the barometer total is double that of the Italian resort in Vail, USA (£813).
In the Best for Beginners cost comparison, the Finnish resort of Ruka (£415) has joined Bansko and Ellmau as offering the lowest-prices for novices – all three boasting a good range of nursery slopes. And while Ellmau remains cheapest of the five Austrian resorts surveyed, prices in Kaprun are pegged at last season’s levels, making this another good choice for budget-watching beginners.
Bansko (£885) is also cheapest for a family of four in the Best for Families comparison. However, under £50 separates the runners-up – Kranjska Gora (£1,150), Soldeu (£1,193) and Ellmau (£1,197) – which provides families with plenty of budget choice.
Andrew Brown said: “Families should do their homework and compare resort costs before booking a ski holiday as they can make a big difference to the overall price when paying for three, four or more people. A good way to save money is to resort-swap within countries. Families can shave 25 per cent off their ski costs in Austria by choosing Ellmau rather than Kaprun and 15 per cent in France by visiting Morzine instead of Les Deux Alpes².
“Change holiday cash before leaving home rather than at the airport or ski resort where you risk getting a poor rate. Take enough cash to cover ski and living costs and be aware that transactions of over £500 will attract a better rate in our branches or on the Post Office website. Another option is to load money onto the prepaid Post Office Travel Money Card, available in euro, Swiss francs, US and Canadian dollars.”
Simon Cross, Managing Director of Crystal Ski Holidays said:“Last year we predicted that 2012/13 would be a turning point with skiers returning to the ski slopes and this indeed was the case. For this forthcoming winter, we’ve observed that ski companies keep on inspiring customers with good value holidays and more skiers than last year have already booked.
“Heavy snowfalls in European ski resorts and in Western North America over the past few weeks, with Whistler opening their ski area earlier than planned, fuelled stronger demand for the three big destinations of Austria, France and Italy. Christmas, New Year and February half term is nearly sold out as well as the first week in April, the first week of the Easter holidays.”
Skiers can purchase euro over the counter at more than 10,000 Post Office branches. Currencies for other Ski Resort Report destinations, including the Swiss franc, Canadian dollar and Bulgarian lev, are available on demand at over 1,600 branches while an additional 2,600 stock US dollars. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery, where a range of travel insurance policies suitable for ski trips are also available.
Business has boomed on the direct high-speed service between Barcelona and Paris since its launch in December.
The twice-daily (6h25m) service is enjoying close to 100% capacity across all of its three classes, a major improvement on the service it replaced, the overnight Elipsos Trenhotel.
Other high-speed services running between France and Spain include Barcelona-Montpellier (2h50), Barcelona-Toulouse (3h02), Barcelona-Lyon (4h40) and Madrid/Barcelona-Marseille (7h03).
Manager Australasia of Rail Europe, Richard Leonard, said leisure and corporate travellers are now enjoying even more seamless and faster services between the two countries without the previously required train changes at Figueres.
“With less travel time involved, leisure travellers are also more encouraged to go beyond Paris, Barcelona and Madrid to explore other cities,” he said.
Direct France-Spain superfast trains run at speeds up to 320kmph. Facilities aboard include free wi-fi, restaurant and bar areas.
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