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Slope off to the ski trails this winter

Summer has just disappeared from view and it doesn't seem right to be thinking about the snow yet. But if you are a skier and you want to get the best deal this winter, it might be worth your while to start planning your winter trip. Peak weeks are starting to book up, and you might also want to take advantage of one of the early-booking incentives on offer.

The good news for skiers is that the calendar falls very neatly around the key holiday weekend departures. Many resorts will open on either December 8 or 15, which creates two good-value weeks before Christmas. Departures for Christmas week are mostly on December 22 and 23, and for New Year on December 29 and 30.

If you’re not sure where to go, take a look on the website of a specialist ski tour operator like Crystal Ski. Because they work with dozens of resorts across several countries, you can browse through their available holidays and select the options that work best for you. For instance, the website can compile a selection of holidays for you after you tell it which airport you would like to fly from, which country you prefer to ski in and which level of board you want to opt for.

If, for example, you choose to fly out of a London airport to Andorra, you’ll be offered a choice of three different resorts which can accommodate you. Located in the Pyrenees Mountains, in between France and Spain, Andorra offers great value, high altitude skiing and tax-free shopping for an all-round winter getaway. One of the resorts which Crystal Ski works with is Pas de la Casa, the highest resort in Andorra within the extensive Grandvalira ski area. The resort has an excellent snow record and a modern lift system, and you’ll find plenty of off-piste action alongside wide, well groomed and confidence-boosting tracks. Pas is also excellent value for money, as children aged 6-11 years receive a free lift pass and there are ‘buy one lift pass, get one half price’ offers available with the package. Many Ibiza DJs make Pas de la Casa their winter residence, so it has a thriving nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

As well as Andorra, ski holidays are available at resorts in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Skiers can choose between exclusive resorts like Verbier in Switzerland or newer, less expensive trails in emerging ski resorts in Bulgaria and Slovenia.

For example, the company has links with Zürs in Austria, one of the most loved winter sports resorts in the world. With a vast high altitude domain of over 250km of piste, the village of Zurs offers high quality hotels, fine dining and great après ski. The village is full of international flavour, attracting a wide scope of visitors from all over the world - including royalty.

You don't even have to ski in Zürs to experience the stunning mountain scenery. As a traditional winter sports destination you can have as much fun off as on the piste. Walkers can take a snowshoe walk into a hidden winter world of nature and tranquillity. Guided walks are offered including full moon night tours for a truly unique experience. Zurs is also one of only two villages in Austria which offer heli-skiing.

For read more about these and other resorts and to take advantage of Crystal ski deals, clink on the link.

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