Europe Dec 2017-Jan 2018

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Scot_e17, May 17, 2017.

  1. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    First timer heading to Europe with my partner ( both boarders) from 26/12 - 17/1 and tossing up all of the options/suggested routes and ideas for an epic trip. The only 'lock' so far is 7 days in Val D'isere and we're open to spending another 7 days elsewhere ( thinking Austria ). Will be travelling from Melbourne, hoping for a reasonably priced flight to Zurich, where we will transferring out to somewhere like St Anton, but open to other suggestions. With 23 days away, I'd love to hear the absolute 'must see' places, or resorts which will have a high likelihood of OK snow that time of year. Understanding that we are early in the season, we'd appreciate some ideas for our trip. We're completely open ! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    A little birdie told me Saalbach in Austria can be decent at that time of the year.
     
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  3. CIRCA1962

    CIRCA1962 Active Member

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    Aim for high resorts, with terrain above 3,000 metres early in the season, but also lower trails ( with snow making) for when the weather sets in. This year there was very little natural snow below 2,200 metres prior to the second week of January.
     
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    No shortage of very good options for a week in Austria at that time. Need to know a bit more about what you are after though. What sort of rider you are, whether you prefer groomed trails, offpiste, steeps, trees. Are you keen on the nightlife or prefer it quieter, whether you are interested in sightseeing, shopping as well as snow activities? What made Val d'Isere a lock for you?

    I can understand why you might have chosen Val d'Isere. It is a massive linked region, so will provide more than enough for a week. So I can understand why you though of St Anton and the Arlberg. It is probably the biggest/most famous/most international resort in Austria. It is also easily accessible from Zürich, so it is an easy obvious choice. I wouldn't say it was absolutely a must see. For many people it would be, others (like me) actually prefer something with a bit less of an international feel and more Austrian. But for a first time visitor I guess you need to judge for yourself.

    Other options that would be just as good would include Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Sölden / Obergurgl in the Ötztal , somewhere in the Zillertal or in the Ennstal, Obertauern for starters. hard to go wrong.

    Also if you are travelling from France to Austria, you should enjoy a couple of days on the train through Switzerland. many amazing scenic rail journeys through there, well worth taking the odd detour rather than just the quickest route. eg. Interlaken, Luzern, Glacier express etc.
     
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  5. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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    This is where i like to spend my spare days in January.Going for my fifth run on a 1 pm start. Notice how busy it is at 2 55 pm.
     
  6. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    WOw - where is this?
     
  7. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Thanks so much for your insights - we'd be looking a a good range of terrain, we're both intermediate/advanced boarders, so it would be great to be challenged with some great offpiste runs! Whilst we're keen to do as much boarding as possible, we'll no doubt have a few rest days, or half days, so a resort with other activities is desirable, and nightlife isnt such a big drawcard for us ! Val d'Isere is a lock as its been on my girlfirends bucket list for ever, so we'll definitely go there, and Im thinking of scheduling that part of the trip atthe back end of our 3 weeks so we are a little further into January, giving ourselves a better chance of good snow. Whilst we're thinking of doing 7 days in Val and another 7 elsewhere, we're not adverse to perhaps doing 5 days stints in each resort and then add a 3rd resort to our trip. The only drawback from this option is that we would lose another day in transit. We also have the option of flying into Paris to visit family, so Zurick isnt an absolute lock in for our destination city.
     
  8. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Saalbach, we'll be there mid January next year.
     
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  9. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    St Anton does attract quite a few people after powder so there is the competition for fresh lines. There are people who do guiding though such as http://pistetopowder.com/ There are some similar programs in some other resorts.

    Zürich is probably the best destination if you are wanting to combine French & Austrian resorts. Munich or Vienna is good for Austria while Geneve or Lyon good for France. If you go Zürich you can be a bit more flexible about when and where you ski.
     
  10. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    The 2 x 7 days would work fine for places like Val d'Isere & St Anton. Both provide more than enough for a week. Obviously need a day to transfer from one to the other. You could do others though without necessarily losing a day to travel if they aren't too far eg. 1-2 hr transfer. I skied 14 days straight at 4 different areas in East Tirol this year.
     
  11. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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    Part of the SKICIRCUS - Hinterglemm- Hochalm area off to the right of the lift on the left in first pic . Offpiste heaven. The entire width is attainable from these 2 lifts so yeah its big Pics taken from mid mountain. These are grassy mountains so they require considerably less cover than many other resorts famous for offpiste. Lift company has spent over 270 million Euros in development since 2000. This was Jan. 18 sunny arvo and as you can see not exactly crowded.
     
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  12. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    @Scot_e17 - you should have a read of this thread from 12 months ago. It contains lots of info pertinent to your question and your trip planning.

    Long story short; try not to lock in your resort. Rather fly into an airport that gives you options (Geneva, Zurich, Munich for example) and make your resort decisions much closer to the time. The dates you're going are not guaranteed to be decent in Europe. You can be lucky or unlucky. I'm Val d'Isere's biggest fan and its pretty high and snow sure, but its risky locking in for early January. You won't save any accomodation money by commiting this early, in fact you'll likely pay more. Hotels will give you a token discount (maybe 70 EUR pp for a week) for an early booking, but you'll get much better deals booking closer to the time.

    St Anton is a great resort. One of the world's greatest in fact, but it has its drawbacks. Its not the most boarder friendly resort. Lots of flat parts to traverse. I posted a trip review on this page of last year's Euro thread that you may find interesting.

    Soelden, Ischgl or Saalbach (I haven't been Saalbach but I think I'm right in recommending? @Kletterer?) are better options for boarders.
     
  13. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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    Soelden and Ischgl suck when its stormy and you want to get the fresh off piste. Not enough trees for flat light riding. Both get very crowded in bad weather. Same in the Arlberg. Very few flat spots in Saalbach -Skicircus
     
  14. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    Fair enough, but one can't plan a trip this far out, based on suitability in possible stormy weather.

    Soelden and Ischgl both have incredible lift infrastructure and handle crowds as well or better than anywhere in the world.

    I'm hoping to get to Saalbach in early '18!!
     
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  15. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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    I will be there Jan 8- 27 .
     
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  16. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Your insights have been great - thank you. We may just lock in our option for late Dec-NYE and early Jan to be sure to get accommodation. i would presume in places like Val D'isere and St Anton are fairly heavily booked around that time, so perhaps lock that part in, and then plan the rest when we arrive.
     
  17. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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  18. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    I agree with your decision to do Val as late as possible in the trip. If you absolutely must lock something in for Christmas, then my suggestion would be Soelden. It's the most snow sure major resort in Europe, has glaciers and its 10 mins from Obergurgl which is even higher and more snow sure, albeit small.
     
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  19. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    You seem to have you dates locked in but just a note that the time between Christmas and New Year is the busiest and most expensive time of the season for accommodation, so you are probably right to look at researching that early. Can't say from personal experience though as I have always avoided that time. No problem booking close to the date in January though.
     
    #19 Heinz, May 23, 2017
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
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  20. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Thanks for your help....we've decided to mix up our plans a bit to give ourselves the best opportunity of snow in early Jan. We always had the intention of doing 4 days in Prague as a side trip and have now decided we do this between Xmas and NYE, meaning we will be hitting a snow resort on the 2 or 3rd Jan. I would assume that these dates would provide us more flexibility with booking something last minute, based on snow conditions. We would literally book whilst in Prague a few days before arriving. To this point, is there a website you are familiar with that has last minute deals for snow resorts in Austria that we could search whilst in Prague? The idea is to then head from Austria to Val D'isere for the last 2 weeks of our trip in Mid Jan, increasing the likelihood of snow? Appreciate any feedback.
     
  21. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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  22. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Great....thanks very much for your help...only 7 months to go !
     
  23. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    If you are starting in Prague and finishing in France you may want to look at one of the Middle Eastern carriers (eg. Emirates, Etihad) that have multiple European destinations so you can fly to into Prague and out of Lyon or Geneve for example which would save on land transport, although if you have time some of the rail journeys especially through Switzerland are certainly worthwhile.
     
  24. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    If you do plan on starting Prague then heading to Austria I can recommend a short stop in Cesky Krumlov on the way. Been there in spring but I think it would be ok in winter as well. Then maybe Salzburg. Ski in Austria, then train through Switzerland to France.
     
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  25. Zimboo

    Zimboo Addicted Member

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    Christmas / New Year in Prague..............very good beer!!!!!!!
     
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  26. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    Good decision! Do your skiing as late as possible in the trip. Every day counts at that time of the year. The later you get into Jan, the more chance of decent snow.

    And you're correct - you'll have zero problem getting good deals in January. In fact you'll quite likely be able to get last minute deals that will save you 30%+ off ticket prices. If you're doing a full 7 days starting on a Sat or a Sun, consider the UK package deal sites. You'll get 7 nights halfboard accom incl airport transfers.The deals typically include return flights from the UK too but you won't use these as you'll be travelling from elsewhere. The deals are still worth considering for the accom and meals alone. To take advantage of the transfers, you'd need to travel from the airport their charter flight flies from. Ie. if its a St Anton deal from Innsbruck, you'd have to get yourself from Prague to Innsbruck airport. They'll probably knock £50 off the price if you don't need the flights. Typically the rack rate for a deal like this is somewhere from £699 -£1100 (GBP). The higher the price, the nicer the chalets. In first week of Jan, I reckon you'll likely get 35% of those prices if you wait until a few days before to book. Search this forum for uk deals/halfboard/packages. There's a few threads that go into it.

    http://interactiveresorts.co.uk/
     
  27. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler Addicted Member
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    I spent a Christmas at Val one year when there was no snow and they bused people from other resorts to Val. val still had top to bottom skiing and it's linked to the Tinges glacier which has skiing year round - I think you'll be fine there over New year.

    St Anton I love - great skiing and worlds best après ski. But it's not perfect and it is crowded especially on the home trail at the end of the day. Loads of inbound off piste if you know where to look.

    If you want the 'classics' other options would be Chamonix, Zermatt.
     
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  28. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler Addicted Member
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    I've done this and I like it - food and lodges are decent and big possibility of meeting some other people to hang out with
     
  29. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    True.

    My discount projection may even be conservative. My first ever euro ski mission was a last minute deal to St Anton. 2007. Booked on 27/12. Departed 2/1. UK package. Flights, trans + 7 nights half board. Normal rate £659. Paid £269. The snow was alright. The week was unforgettable.
     
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  30. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Thanks to everyone for input. Its looking like July/August is when the good airfares will start to appear from Melb-Paris or Prague, so will be keeping a keen eye out. Have subscribed to 'Scotts Flights' which I have found great for emails as soon as the airlines release their sales. One last 'novice' question. Im looking to buy a new snowboard for the trip and trying to decide on whether to buy one her in Oz at the end of our season, or will I find prices better to buy one when I hit Europe? My girlfriend wa in USA recently and prices werent that much cheaper there than here!. Is Europe any better? Of course the option of getting one in Europe is appealing so that I dont have to commute the first half of the trip with a board.
     
  31. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Also ...any suggestions of great places to stay in Val D'isere. Will be there from 9/1-16/1 and not sure whether to book this part in advance, or leave it until the last minute to get a good deal. Do the 'better' places in terms of location get booked up that time of year, leaving the discounted options as the least preferred?
     
  32. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

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    if you can get there for a sat or sun change over you will have more options in chalets or self contained apartments as that is there usual change over day. also have a look at chalets direct they have a lot of chalet offers, you can also post a request in the solutions room and will get offers from all the chalet owners etc, you may get a good offer https://www.chaletsdirect.com/default.asp
     
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  33. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Thanks for the tips
     
  34. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

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    have a look at St Foy, 10 minutes out of Val D small town with its own ski field and a quick shuttle to Val or Tignes, you can also link into Les Arcs easily as well, accomm is cheaper and less frantic compared to Val D
     
  35. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    We've just hit up the Snow Expo here in Melbourne and we're led to believe that in late Dec, early Jan the 7 day deals run from a Sunday - Sunday. Our current itinerary has us hitting mid-week. Given we're totally flexible with dates, would it be recommended to change our itinerary to line up with the Sun-Sun schedule?
     
  36. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    I am led to believe that is fairly common for chalets in France, but far less so in Austria. I'm guessing they are referring to packages coming from the UK? I wouldn't be dictated too much by the packages though. If you see one that happens to be just what you want go for it, but otherwise you should still be able to find more flexible accommodation at a reasonable price and combine that with a multi day ski pass. I've never booked a package myself. Recent years have concentrated more on Austria, worked out where and when I wanted to go, then booked pensions accordingly without any problems.
     
  37. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

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    plenty of the uk companies do the week long thing, I have found the changeover dates most common with them this year are Dec16 -23, 23 - 30, 30 - 6 Jan, 6 -13 Jan etc, a few are switching up with a short stay early Jan so the weeks match up better with the UK holidays. Of course others offer a nightly rates but seems to be less common.
    If there are only 2 of you your chances of a last minute deal is very good, always somewhere will have a spare room they will want to fill, Val D specialist chalet companies like YSE http://www.yseski.co.uk/ or https://www.skibonjour.com/ or http://www.skival.co.uk/ will give you an idea of whats out there, but best DYOR, I have heaps in my favourites list but couldn't recommend one in particular.
     
  38. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    I guess at the expo you will have tour companies promoting the package deals. Was that with the intention more for Val D or Austria as well? Packages may include stuff that you may not necessarily want eg. equipment hire, lessons, etc - check on that. I always prefer to book directly with the pension for dates that suit me and organise a multi day / multi area ski pass myself.
     
  39. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

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    True
    last time we went we pre booked our xmas week in france, but found 4 night stays in Austria and Italy easier in low season January, we were 5 people so should be easier if there are only 2, we found scouring the internet and google maps was good for finding places that do not really advertise much.
     
  40. WaitAwhile

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member
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    Especially when you look at how the season panned out last season, you could quite easily wait until the last minute and make a booking , I doubt that many of the chalets will even be at 60% occupancy for that time of year , your in one of the biggest ski circus's in the world and if have trouble finding a place there, just go to Tignes , or before you head up from Bourg St Maurice get somewhere around Les Arc, La Plagne or the 3 valleys .
    That little area of France ,up in the mountains between Moutiers and Bourg St Maurice has probably the highest concentration of world class mega resorts on the planet.
    Personally I always look for places either right next to a shuttle stop or right next to a main lift, anywhere within a few minutes walk. At that time of the year you really should be able to get somewhere pretty close to a lift.
     
    #40 WaitAwhile, May 28, 2017
    Last edited: May 28, 2017
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  41. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    This may be the case for the chalet package operator who was exhibiting at this expo but it is not true in general. Many packages run Sat to Sat. Many run Sun to Sun.

    Val D'Isere is an amazing resort and my suggestion would be to stay close to the centre if you can. It just makes everything easier. The town is a great one for walking around at night. The supermarkets are handy. Its worth having close walking proximity to the assortment of restaurrants,pattiseries and bars. You don't need to book now. You're going to be skiing outside of school holidays just afetr the Christmas break. You will 100% be able to score good accomodation at a good price if you leave it until a week or two prior to book.
     
  42. mr

    mr Part of the Furniture
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    Im watching this thread too. Some good tips. Was thinking US but a few things have meant Europe more likely. Maybe cham and then courmayeur in italy.....TBC
     
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  43. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    Thanks you all for the advice - we are now set with an agenda. 1 week in Zermatt in early January and the second week in Val D'isere. We scored a great bargain on Booking.com for 7 nights accommodation in Zermatt at a property quite central, with great reviews on Tripadvisor. We are going to wait until closer to the time to book 7 nights accom in a chalet in Val. Our only challenge now is when to book flights. Ive been keeping an eye on all of the specials which have been announced recently and they all exclude the xmas/NYE period. Can anybody shed some light on the best time to book flights for a departure on either Xmas Day or Boxing Day? Will the airlines release sale fares in July/Aug?
     
  44. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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    I would get a move on asap. Very busy time. Most will be already taken.
     
  45. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    Flights will onlyt get more expensive from now so as Kletterer says, book asap.

    If your Zermatt accomodation cancellable?
     
  46. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    Did you see what Zermatt was like this year in early Jan? Dismal.

    I don't know what deal you got but even if a 5* hotel paid me to stay there, I wouldn't lock it in when I was travelling across the world and spending 3-6k on flights for a wintersports holiday in early Jan.

    I really would advise against locking in at this time of year, especially for only two people. Europe is your oyster.
     
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  47. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler Addicted Member
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    Mid Jan is not peak season in Europe so the chalet operators should have empty rooms.

    I've done a couple trips with skiworld and found them really good. It's also a good way to meet other people to party with if that's your thing.
     
  48. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler Addicted Member
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    Christmas Day and Boxing Day quite expensive do it now. They won't discount those dates. You may be ok on Christmas Day as most people want to arrive before then.
     
  49. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
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    For the first 3 weeks of January, most Euro accomodation will not reach 100% occupancy. Even if you were to look at their January bookings on 30/12, I reckon most would be sitting at less than 70% occupancy for those first 3 weeks in Jan. Its a quiet period for them. Snow is uncertain and people have just had their christmas break.

    You could book the day before departing at the majority of places, if there's only 2 people to accomodate.
     
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  50. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Just Registered

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    After much research - the Zermatt accommodation was made via Booking.com with FREE Cancellation up til 30th December, which means we have absolute flexibility to change our minds if there is no snow. Just yesterday booked flights. Cathay Pacific departing Melb on Boxing Day, to Paris, then a further flight from Zurich to Hong Kong for a 3 day stopover on the way home, then HK to MELB, - all 3 flights for $1740 per person, with 30kgs of Luggage. I felt that was a pretty good price. The Cathay Pacific sale is on til 6th July.
     
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