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Skiing Holidays: An Unaffordable Luxury?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

There is truly something incomparable to a skiing holiday. They blend together the luxurious – alpine spas and Aperol spritzes slope side– with the thrill and adrenaline of speeding down a mountain side, surrounded by a landscape that leaves you breathless. 

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that these holidays are increasingly popular, particularly post-pandemic. They really can appeal to anyone – be it couples looking for a romantic getaway, solo travellers looking for a thrill, or family or friend holidays – skiing seems to offer something to everybody.

However, these holidays come with a price. With rising demand, rising prices and a cost-of-living crisis, skiing holidays seem to be more expensive than ever. Of course, skiing holidays were never the cheapest of trips – with the cost of equipment rental, lift passes on top of your usual travel and accommodation cost, it can quickly add up. However, compared to pre-pandemic prices, ski resorts across Europe are now ramping up the prices largely because of the soaring prices of energy bills, with ski resorts needing massive amounts of energy to power snow cannons, ski lifts and mountain restaurants. To combat this, many ski resorts are considering using more energy-saving measures, such as banning the use of snow cannons and less indoor heating. 

Yet, there is another way in which skiing holidays are becoming an increasingly unaffordable, exclusive and ultimately unsustainable luxury: climate change. Even in my own experience this year, on a family ski trip to France, the difference in snow levels was notable – with people staying in lower down resorts often travelling up to ours to seek skiable slopes. Though ski resorts have some measures in place to combat the effect of climate change, such as snow cannons, these still need around -4 °C to work, and also – as I previously mentioned – consume massive amounts of energy that only adds to global warming. Even if skiers retreat to glaciers for better snow, studies have found by the end of the century around only a third of the current ice levels will be left – and that’s assuming that world governments take a stronger stance on their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Now, this all paints a very grim and pessimistic image – but this doesn’t mean that we should just abandon the idea of ski holidays completely. Many ski resorts are finding ways to be more sustainable, while trying to keep down prices – such as using more renewable energy sources, carbon offsetting, using heat recovery systems and more eco-friendly vehicles. 

On top of this there are many things we as individuals can do to try and ski sustainably, while not spending exorbitant amounts. For instance, it is often cheaper to travel by train within Europe to ski resorts, which is also a more sustainable form of travel. If travelling by train isn’t an option, try to offset your travel emissions – such apps as ‘TripIt’ can calculate your flight’s carbon footprint and offers ways to offset it. We can also make more sustainable choices in which brands we choose to rent equipment from (such as EcoSki) or resorts we stay at – such as the French car-free Avoriaz resort or the Green Globe certificated Serre Chevalier resort, known for producing its own renewable electricity. 

Nevertheless, even with all these little eco-friendly moves we can try to make, both on an individual or wider commercial basis, the reality to be faced is that rising prices are a common reality and climate change isn’t slowing down for anyone. With all of this in mind, we may have to make peace with the fact that ski holidays are becoming an increasingly unaffordable luxury. 

Josie Smith

St. Andrews '24

Josie is a fourth year studying philosophy. She is particularly interested in writing about health and well-being topics as well as the unique financial and business issues that women face. Josie feels so excited and grateful to be a part of an editorial that focuses on amplifying and empowering women’s voices.