If the thought of going skiing in a T-shirt warms the chilly recesses of your winter heart, take comfort in the fact that the late ski season is actually the best time of year to hit the slopes.
Glorious blue skies, warm temperatures and long days are what you can expect if you hit the piste in March and April. A late-season ski trip is also more cost-effective for South African travellers on a budget, explains Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) South Africa Product and Marketing General Manager.
“Although in some ski areas the ski season closes at the end of March, there are a number of destinations that remain open until May and even beyond. Skiing in March and April should be more popular among South Africans because it’s one of the best times to ski, there’s still plenty of snow, the days are longer, the weather is clearer, and it’s more affordable,” says Garrett.
If you’re planning a late-season ski trip, it’s important to choose your destination carefully and follow a few tried and tested tricks, advises Garrett. “The snow quality late in the season is better at ski resorts that are north-facing and located above 2,500m like Val d’Isère, Val Thorens or Tignes in France, Livigno in Italy or Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.
“Contrary to popular belief, there’s almost always snow at that time of year. You’ll also want to spend the morning on the slopes because that’s when you’ll find the best snow conditions. By late afternoon, the snow can get a little heavy.”
Here are Flight Centre’s top ski resort picks for the late ski season:
Val d’Isère, France
Location: Espace Killy ski area
Altitude: 1,785m to 3,599m
Level: Easy, intermediate and expert
For high-altitude skiing that suits all levels of skiers, look no further than Val d’Isere, with just over half of its pistes located above 2,500m. Easily reached with a flight to Geneva and two-hour drive, Val d’Isère promises good snow conditions for most of the ski season, and if snow is slow incoming, it also boasts the largest snowmaking facility in Europe as a back-up. Club Med offers an exceptional four-trident and five-trident resort in this charming ski village and, with all ski activities, accommodation, most meals and evening entertainment included, it takes the hassle out of organising your own ski trip.
Les Arcs, France
Location: Paradiski ski area
Altitude: 1,250m to 3,250m
Level: Excellent for beginners and snowboarders
Expect great après-ski at the adults-only, ski-in ski-out Club Med Arcs Extrême. While the area is renowned as a great place to learn how to ski and potentially the home of snowboarding in Europe, its location and access to five ski areas – Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950, and Arc 2000 – means there are plenty of slopes to choose for all levels of ski proficiency. Les Arcs is also connected with the La Plagne area and together they offer 425km of pistes. And after a long day of skiing, the Club Med DJ and entertainment on offer is a great reward.