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Party on the Piste

  • Popularity of the winter gap year is on the rise
  • 44 per cent of young Brits would prefer a snow holiday to the sun
  • 13 per cent of those who visited ski resorts avoided snow sports altogether
  • Over a third admit they prefer to go on the piste with friends as opposed to their partner or family

Winter “gappies” are overtaking the clubland sun-seekers in the British holiday stakes, as 44 per cent of UK holidaymakers admit they prefer ski resorts to beach resorts. The phenomenon of the ski season gap year is growing rapidly in popularity, a study by my Travel Cash* found.

In spite of skiing being notoriously expensive, young people are favouring luxury ski resorts thanks to the increase in party destinations and budget ski deals on offer. The study found that 1 in 5 British holidaymakers are abandoning the booze cruise and shunning sunny shores in favour of luxury ski resorts to holiday with friends.

Winter holiday hotspots like Val d’Isere and Tignes have shot up in popularity**, where the action on the slopes is nothing compared to what happens back at the lodges.

The survey by my Travel Cash revealed that off-the-snow activity is the top trend for ski resort tourists. Even for those who like to take to the slopes, 68 per cent spend at least a day and a half of their holiday enjoying food and drink at the cabin facilities, as well as shopping and sight-seeing, rather than hitting the slopes. While many people are choosing to spend a week in a ski resort with 13 per cent avoid taking part in any snow sports whatsoever.

A ski instructor at the French ski resort of Morzine confirms that it’s not the stunning landscapes and unbeatable sporting opportunities that offer the biggest pull to young Brits: “Ski season means party season and the night-life is as important as the daytime activities in Morzine. Apre-ski starts at around 4pm and continues in to the early hours, then those that do ski or board will get up to clear the hangover with fresh air back on the pistes.”

For those that do partake in the sporting activities, a ski season offers the chance for tourists to pad out their CVs while simultaneously enjoying the party lifestyle. Morzine’s employee continues: “It’s common for Brits to become qualified ski instructors while they do a season. This looks good to employers and is an alternative to doing promo or holiday repping in Ibiza.”

Of the ski enthusiasts, over 50 per cent typically spend 3-5 hours in the snow a day, while a more energetic 33 per cent practice their piste performance for up to 10 hours a day.

Ian Johnson, Sales Director at my Travel Cash, said: “It’s interesting to see an increasing number of customers within the 18 to 24 age bracket opting for extended holidays in popular ski resorts, because it marks a departure from the traditional sunny summer holiday, towards a new mainstream party holiday of choice.

“Overall, snow holidays are currently more achievable than previously thought. Pound Sterling has recently experienced it’s biggest high since 2007 against currencies including the Euro*** meaning holiday money can stretch a lot further than people might think especially in European destinations.

“my Travel Cash offers three prepaid MasterCard® travel money cards for travellers to take on a snow holiday – Euro Currency Card, US Dollar Currency Card and Multi-Currency Card – which provide a convenient way to carry, spend and access money abroad.”

Top 10 snow destinations highlighted by the research conducted by my Travel Cash:

  1. France (35 per cent)
  2. Austria (31 per cent)
  3. Italy (9 per cent)
  4. Switzerland (9 per cent)
  5. Bulgaria (5 per cent)
  6. USA (4 per cent)
  7. Canada (3.5 per cent)
  8. Spain (2 per cent)
  9. Norway (2 per cent)
  10. Germany (2 per cent)

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*Survey conducted by my Travel Cash of 490 UK adult respondents in November and December 2014.