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Is it really cheaper to ski overseas?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Is it cheaper to ski Australia or ski overseas? We made our Digital Editor do some fact checking. 

Perisher’s chairlift system. Picture: Alison Godfrey

After a weekend skiing in Australia, someone will inevitably say: “It must be cheaper to ski overseas”.

Over the past few weeks, we decided to put that question to the test.

The results?

Yes, and no. It depends.

If you are going for a weekend, it is still cheaper to ski Perisher, Thredbo or Hotham.  Although the accommodation costs are high, they’re not so high they offset the cost of flights.

But if you want to ski for a week – it can be cheaper to head overseas. Depending on where you want to go, how early you book and whether you want budget or luxury.

“It’s the lift prices that are so high”

Most people who claim it is cheaper to ski overseas will claim it’s because Aussie lift prices are so high.

We started our research by looking at the price of lift tickets in Perisher, Thredbo and Hotham.

Based on 2018 prices for two adults and two children for six days cost:

  • $2036 at Perisher
  • $2244 at Thredbo
  • $2076 at Hotham
Ski Perisher ski Australia

A green run at Perisher. Picture: Alison Godfrey

“It costs too much to stay on-snow”

We found it’s the double-whammy of lift prices and the accommodation that increases the cost to ski Australia for a week.

Once you add the cost of on-snow accommodation to the cost of the lift access, the price rapidly gets out of control for a family of four. Australia only as a limited number of properties on snow and many are booked the year before. Package ski deals for families are harder to find in Australia.

At Perisher, we found the average price for seven nights accommodation was about $7000. On Wotif we found two chalets that would fit a family of four. One cost $7700, the other $8260.

At Thredbo, on we found three available hotels. The price ranged from $5950 to $9555.

At Hotham, we found one property – Mountain Dreaming, for $5600.

Those totals for lift passes and accommodation to ski Australia?

  • Perisher $9036
  • Thredbo $8194
  • Hotham $7676

Of course, you can reduce the cost of an Australian ski holiday by staying at Jindabyne and driving up the mountain each day. Many families can also access cheaper prices through deals with lodges.

Is it cheaper to ski overseas?

We looked at Japan, Canada, and the US in our analysis.  Europe was excluded because it was too far to fly for a week. New Zealand was left out because accommodation had to be on-snow.

July and August are the best months to book overseas ski holidays. Most ski companies will have early bird ski deals at this time. These ski packages include accommodation, lift passes and airport transfers in the costs. That’s how you can make significant savings. But one US resort had to be calculated separately as we couldn’t find a current package deal.

Flight prices significantly change the cost of your holiday. It’s worth keeping on eye out for our Family Travel Friday flight sale wrap and jumping on sale fares when you see them, and talking to our in-house travel agents to secure the best all-in deal for your family.

Which country is the cheapest?

Ski Japan

For $2196, you can get 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift passes and all breakfasts for four people at Shiga Kogan in Japan through Travel Snow.

Ski Japan – wide runs and not so many people during the week. Picture: Alison Godfrey

Remember those lift prices in Australia? Yes, in Japan you could have 7 nights of accommodation and breakfast for the SAME price as 6 days lift access.

But then you have to add on the cost of flights.

Flights to Japan on Qantas for a family of four at the time of the deal cost $4643. So the accommodation, lift passes, breakfast and flights total $6839.

Of course, you could fly a cheaper airline or snag a sale deal. Philippine Airways currently has a special to Japan via Manila which would work out at a cost of $2484 per family of four. If you chose to take this flight the total cost would be $4680.

That’s close to HALF the price of a ski holiday in Perisher.

What about Hakuba or Niseko?

Sure, we know most Aussie’s don’t know Shiga Kogan. So we tested one of the more popular Japanese ski resorts too.

Nomad Lodge in Hakuba had a package deal with 7 nights accommodation, 5-day lift pass, one-way airport transfer, a two-hour mountain guide, breakfasts and a welcome drink for $1166 per person. That’s $4664 for a family of four.

Hakuba total cost with Qantas = $9307

Hakuba total cost with Philippine Airways = $6948

Depending on your flight choices, it can be cheaper to ski Hakuba Japan than to ski Australia. Shiga Kogen Japan is definitely cheaper to ski than Australia.

Ski Canada

Canada was the real surprise in our research. It came up a lot cheaper than we expected. Largely because Canada offers some seriously cheap early bird discount ski packages.

Big White Canada

With Ski Max, 7 nights in a two-bedroom condo at Whitefoot lodge in Big White Canada, 6 days lift passes and breakfasts cost $3280 per family.

Flights to Canada are more expensive than Japan. At the time we checked the cheapest was on Korean Air at $3890 for a family of four. The best direct, on Air Canada, cost $5925. You could reduce the flight cost by up to $1000 by choosing to fly one leg via Los Angeles. But for the purpose of our research, we will use the best direct flight price.

The total cost for Big White Canada worked out at $7170 or $9232 depending on your flight cost. That’s comparable with Australia.

Just to make sure we weren’t crazy, we asked Travel Plan if it was cheaper to ski Canada than ski Australia for a week.

Travel Plan’s package to Panorama Canada includes seven nights’ ski-in/ski-out accommodation at Panorama Springs in a 2 Bedroom Apartment, 6-day lift pass, local taxes and transfers. It costs $2358. To get to Panorama you need fly to Calgary. No direct flights exist. To fly via LA will cost $1390 per person or $5558 for a family of four. The total = $7916.

Ski United States

Canada’s flight costs really push up the price. The United States has much lower flight prices due to a higher volume of travellers.

Mammoth California. Picture: Shutterstock

It is possible to get seven nights in a one bedroom condo (apartment) at Mammoth, California for four people, including taxes, resort fee (yes, a resort fee!), and lift passes for $US3340 ($A4600).

Direct flights to the US in January currently cost $850 per person on Virgin giving a total of $3397 when children’s discounts are added.

That’s a total of $7997 for a week of ski in Mammoth.

To get to Mammoth you can either use your savings to fly – or bank them and catch the train from Downtown LA’s Union Station for $50 each return.

Big Bear is even closer to LA – just two hours from the airport.

We couldn’t find any package deals for Big Bear – so we did it ourselves. Big Bear has loads of accommodation. Prices average around $150 per night. We chose a 1 bedroom condo for four, Lakeside at Lagonita Lodge on Expedia. It costs $A1024 for seven nights. Lift passes at Big Bear cost $US41 per day for adults and $US17 for kids – a total of $US696 ($A958) for a family of four.

Total accommodation and lift tickets at Big Bear = $1982. Add the flights to LA and the total cost for a week ski at Big Bear is $5379

It is MUCH cheaper to ski America than to ski Australia.


Of course, the one problem with going overseas is that you will be tempted to “add-on” to the experience. You could stop at Disneyland on the way back from Canada or the US. And it would be hard not to spend a few days in Tokyo after a week of skiing in Japan. Here’s where having a travel agent really comes into effect as your secret weapon in planning your dream family ski holiday. They will tailor your trip to make sure you all get the most out of your time away.

The price to ski Australia also did not include the price of one week’s National Park access – which you must have to enter Thredbo and Perisher.

All prices for the US were converted at the current exchange rate – this could fluctuate.

Flight prices were calculated on the day this story was written and are subject to change.

Tips for booking

Keep an eye on flight prices using our Family Travel Friday flight sale wrap.

Consult a travel agent to help finalise the finer details of your family holiday – like accommodation, transfers and additional activities.

Consider collecting frequent flier points to reduce the flight costs even further.

Book a ski package deal including airport transfers, accommodation and lift prices.

If you really want to reduce the cost to ski Australia try staying at Jindabyne.

Ski Australia verus ski Japan Canada US

Is it really cheaper to ski overseas? Costs in Australian dollars. Prices use direct, higher cost flights. Picture: Family Travel


Lessons from a disaster ski holiday with kids

Why you should stay in Jindabyne for the snow

Travel insider tips to find cheap flights online[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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