For even the most avid of snow bunnies, booking a last-minute ski holiday can seem like a risky strategy. Here at Travelzoo, however, it's a common for us to find an absolute bargain on the slopes for those ready to travel a week or even a few days in advance.
A last-minute deal for any type of holiday usually equals a great price with a strong discount. But, when it comes to the piste, one also enjoys the added bonus of being able to get an almost-live read on the snowfall and weather conditions; something which, if you're booking months in advance, can involve a hefty bit of guesswork and the possibility you might not quite get what you're looking for. Paul Choy, Travelzoo Photo Editor and one of our resident ski lovers, sums it up: "You know what the snow conditions are going to be when booking last-minute. You take a gamble if you book in advance, as the snowfall is very unpredictable".
Unsurprisingly, flexibility is the key to securing the best ski bargains, not least in terms of destination. Europe's most popular ski resorts don't often have the need to discount, but if you're desperate to head to one of them you might be lucky if you wait until the very last minute. If you want to play it a bit safer and don't mind where you go, keep your eyes peeled for fantastic deals to the likes of Andorra, or certain spots in Bulgaria, which tend to be less well-known and therefore where we usually find some of the best offers.
It pays to still think ahead even when booking at the 11th hour, as we're often asked by subscribers if we know when deals will be available so they will know when to book time off work. The best suggestion is to book the time off work in advance, and then when it comes to a week before you want to depart, you can research the snow reports and scope out the best offers. Don't forget to make sure your passport is valid and that you have suitable travel insurance, as many policies -- like those that come as part a value-added bank account -- may not actually include winter sports cover.
If a package isn't what you're after, there are usually some great last-minute deals on flights to be had. Tour operators tend to either buy chartered flights or a set of fares in the hope that they will sell them all. If they can't put the required number of bums on seats a week or a few days prior to departure they will then heavily discount the price, meaning you can pick up a real bargain and just book accommodation when you arrive. One of this week's top picks is via Fly.com, where we found easyJet return flights to Geneva for £73, departing on Saturday 19 January. Take inspiration from Travelzoo's Head of Hotel Advertising Sales Cemlyn Jones, who recently bagged a fantastic deal for flights and transfers only to Meribel. Upon arrival, he headed for the tourist information and paid just £200 cash for a week's half board.
Click here for a selection of ski deals.