April Ski Holidays
April ski holidays can be a trip of a lifetime but if you choose the wrong ski resort skiing at the end of the season can be a slush ridden nightmare. Many skiers (and us included) love skiing in April and with our help and advice you too can book the perfect Easter ski holiday.
You will soon discover the benefits yourself but if in doubt here are some great reasons to ski at the end of the season...
1.The days are longer so you have more time to ski and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Also you can enjoy a whole season’s worth of snow as a base to ski on.
2.Off-piste 'spring snow' is a joy. If conditions are right and there have been several freeze/thaw cycles the off-piste snow 'transforms' into what is known as corn (if you are in the USA) or spring snow as it is known in the Alps. Hit this at the right time of day (usually late morning) and you are in for a real armchair ride skiing experience. When the top inch or two of snow depth has melted from the previous night's freeze the skiing experience is like carving through velvet. It can make you feel heroic - it is that easy to ski on. However, if you arrive at the top of your run too late you will find that too much of the snow layer has melted, turning it into a thick unskiable porridge.
3.Ski resorts in April are quieter which means you have more space on the piste and less time spent waiting in lift queues. It also means that there are late season ski holiday deals to be had (especially for the two weeks after Easter) as chalet companies look to sell their unsold beds.
4.Enjoy lovely warm outside lunches. Nothing is finer than taking a delicious mountain lunch on a sunny day whilst admiring amazing views. Surround yourself with friends or family, crack open a bottle of rosé and soak up the mountain atmosphere.
Choosing the right ski resort for an April ski holiday
The warmer days of April does mean the snow is much less likely to stick around. It is important therefore to head for high altitude ski resorts, in fact the higher the better. Some ski resorts also have glaciers on top of their high altitude terrain for the ultimate in ski snow-sure skiing. For example Zermatt, Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens and Les Deux Alpes all have good quality snow depth snow right through to May!
April ski holidays: al-fresco lunches
Lunch is an important aspect of late season skiing in April and Zermatt offers some of the world’s best on-piste dining along with 365 days a year skiing! The resort's high altitude skiing (1,620m – 3,899m) and its glacier make it a safe bet for fantastic conditions and the slopes offer sunshine whether you are enjoying the run down the Klein Matterhorn or relaxing at the EisBar with a cold beer. There are a whole host of fantastic mountain restaurants in Zermatt but a visit to Chez Vrony for a plate of local charcuterie taken on their famous sundeck is a must.
Other good late season ski resorts offering superb al-fresco dining experiences:
Lech and Zurs in the Arlberg ski area of Austria.
Klosters which shares a ski area with Davos in Switzerland.
Val d'Isere and Tignes in France have a good selection of restaurants. Read more: the best mountain restaurants in Val d'Isere and Tignes.
Courchevel 1850, part of the Three Valleys, for fine dining on the mountain.
Verbier and St Moritz in Switzerland.
Cervinia in Italy (which shares its ski area with Zermatt).
Skiing in April: the après-ski party
For anyone looking for a fun end of season ‘party atmosphere’, compete with outdoor bars and the Ibiza-esque atmosphere then the Folie Douce in Val d'Isere is the place to be. The resort fulfils all the criteria for late season skiing - an elevation of 1,850m in the village alone; links to the Grande Motte glacier (3,400m) and a plethora of bars and clubs - Val d'Isere is a mecca for late season revellers. Head to La Frutiere and book a late lunch, you can relax in the sun and watch the performers at the Folie Douce while sitting in luxury before joining in with the party.
Verbier is also a great snow sure option for those who want to avoid longer transfers - the resort is less than 2 hours from Geneva airport. Verbier’s peak skiing is at 3,300m altitude and the prevalence for partying is spurred on by like minded holiday makers and seasonaires. The Hotel Farinet is a top après spot (complete with its sundeck) and the Pub Montfort puts on great spring BBQ’s.
Other good late season ski resorts offering a fun après-ski party:
April ski holidays: for the family
For families looking to enjoy late season April skiing, Courchevel 1850 is hard to beat. The resort’s high altitude elevation means that it retains its fantastic accessibility from piste to village and there are enough gentle, family friendly runs to keep the whole family happy for a week or more. Home to some of the Alps' finest chalets and hotels, Couchevel 1850’s reputation as ‘world class’ is not unfounded. The efficient lift system links to Reberty, Meribel and Val Thorens making Courchevel a great destination for even the most adventurous skiers.
Other good late season ski resorts perfect for a family ski holiday:
Val d'Isere and Tignes offer mile upon mile of wide, gentle slopes. They both offer fantastic high-altitude beginner areas.
Val Thorens in the Three Valleys - for a wide choice of cheap chalets and luxury hotels.
La Rosiere in France linking to La Thuile in Italy.
Alpe d'Huez offers a superb high altitude beginners area which is easily access from the main village.
Plagne Centre, Plagne 1800 and Arc 2000 in France are three family friendly Paradiski domain resorts.
Skiing in April: for good value ski holidays
Les Arcs is linked to La Plagne under the Paradiski lift pass and is made up of several 'village' style bases with altitudes of 1,600m, 1,800m, the excellent ‘Le Village’ at 1,950m and the new residential area of Arc 2000. The ski area reaches 3,200m in altitude with most of the pistes being well above 2,000m providing good high altitude spring skiing conditions in April. There are quite a few catered chalet apartments in the Les Arcs areas and these are quite often reduced in price for some fantastic end of season ski holiday deals.
April ski holidays: how to get the best from the conditions
April skiing is a different kettle of fish to the mid winter months. Daytime temperatures can fluctuate which means pistes can begin the day in a temperamental manner. Our advice is to adjust the timing of your lunchtime stop accordingly.
The warm afternoons followed by cold nights mean that the pistes freeze overnight, often resulting in ‘rock solid’ boilerplate corduroy persisting right through to late morning (if the air temperatures are cold enough). Unless you enjoy icy conditions (read, FAST) and pay good attention to your edges a 9am start to the day may not be for you. The trick is to follow the sun on the slopes. First thing head for the east facing slopes that catch the morning sun full on and then move on to the south facing slopes and then later in the day move to the west facing. North facing slopes should be avoided if the preceding night was clear of clouds as the colder temperatures would have frozen them and they would be unlikely to thaw without any direct sunlight.
Skiing in April - what to wear?
The temperature disparity means that layering is a key ingredient to skiing in April - you do not want to be stuck in a huge down jacket when the locals are out in t-shirts! It is advisable to take a back pack so that you can remove layers as the day warms up.
The Alpine Answers end of season ski trip
Every year we head to a high altitude ski resort for the end of season office ski trip. This is taken sometime between the 20th and 30th April so it's fair to say that we know a thing or two about April ski holidays. In each of the twenty five years that we have been running the end of season trip we have always been able to ski back to the resort, and more often than not we enjoy a fresh fall of snow and some excellent powder skiing. Skiing in April is a fantastic experience and one that we would be delighted to advise you on - get it right and you can enjoy the very best ski holiday!