Our notoriously snow-shy publisher has finally found a suitable ski deal, along with a “time-travelling” escape to one of Europe’s most mystical cities and a 3-in-1 US odyssey
£159 -- Bruges 3-Nt Summer Break w/Ferry, over £70 Off
You might have thought Travelzoo deals were amazing for their quality and price, but what about the supernatural element? What?! Well, let me deal first with earthly things. For a mere £159, this deal gives you a lot of time away from Britain: three nights, including a sedate ferry ride to Calais (boats are almost always preferable to flying nowadays, I find; you rarely get frisked and avoid the shopping purgatory known as airports), then a 1-hour drive through France and over the border to Bruges. Easing your journey is a free AA guidebook, and rewarding you at the end is a box of what are broadly regarded as the best chocolates in the world: Belgian. And the mystical stuff? It’s time travel. With its McDonald’s-free market squares, lazy, stone-walled canals and bleached old almshouses, I’d challenge you to find a city anywhere that beats Bruges in the medieval-resemblance stakes. (Psst! Much of the ancient-looking architecture is in fact from the 19th century, but we won’t go down that cobbled alleyway.)
£495 -- France Catered Ski Break w/Ski Hosting fr 6 Airports
I confess: I am a little frightened of ski holidays. It’s probably because I grew up in Australia and, if you want to ski there, you have to climb to the top of one particularly high mountain and share a patch of snow about the size of a municipal park with coach-loads of other people. (I exaggerate, but still.) I wasn’t brought up like the French, whose children are strapped to skis at the age of three and then go on to embarrass adults like me who think skiing is like the rollerskating they took to in childhood instead. It isn’t, which is why the “break” in the headline above has a particular resonance for me. It shouldn’t for you, though, partly because of the bit that comes after the “break” and makes this such a good deal: ski hosting. For less than £500, this week in the snow from Mark Warner is about as far away as you can get from crashing in a dilapidated chalet in between bullet rides down the black runs. Here, proper chefs -- not youths on pocket money -- prepare your meals, and the chalet-hotel hosts familiarise you with the resort by showing you the best and least-crowded pistes. Tailor-made skiing, in other words, for £70 a day. Now all I need is a French toddler to show me how to do it...
£1399 -- Alaska Cruise w/Vegas & San Fran Stays, Reg £2000+
Planes, trains and... a cruise ship. OK, it doesn’t have quite the ring of that more familiar transportation expression, but when it’s a US deal that’s been reduced to a frankly gasp-inducing £1399, who cares? You fly into Vegas for a couple of days before moving on to the possibly more interesting city of Seattle: great coffee, lots of artsy folk and Microsoft nerds, plus, on the harbour, one of the west’s oldest remaining communities of floating homes. Visit the latter and you’ll be prepared for the next stage of this very comprehensive journey: a cruise along the coast of Alaska, a wild and free US state that has been ill-characterised as solely populated by moose-shooting right-wing nuts. On returning to Seattle, you’re eased into the next stage of the expedition on an overnight train trip (better than Valium or pretty much anything else, in my experience, for sleeping like a baby) to San Francisco. It remains one of America’s most bohemian cities and yet another contrast on this American odyssey that’s more like three trips in (and priced like) one.