London, United Kingdom (PressExposure) February 27, 2009 -- Ten years ago ski holidays were for the elite. The high cost of travel certainly didnât help to make the sport accessible for all. However added to that was a label of mystique and upper class snootiness that had marked the sport down as unattainable for the masses. Skiers were âspecial peopleâ; people who had been weaned on mountains from a young age. Public school ski trips and expensive locations didnât exactly help the sport adopt a classless image; it simply instilled fear of a âmembers onlyâ past-time for most.
The birth of Snowboarding seems to have brought a new clientele to the mountains. A younger demographic, fixed on the âcoolâ image of boarding, armed with the notion that it âcanât be as hard as skiingâ. Snowboarding has stuck two fingers in the face of our snooty sport of skiing and ripped down the boundaries of pretence that have shadowed a sport revered by most.
The advent of Easy jet and other budget airlines have helped fill the airport lounges with a broader holiday maker, breathing a fresh lease of life into the stodgy old sport of skiing. New money and interest in snow sports has spurred the industry and benefited ski development, the choice of ski holidays, resort facilities, and brought along a livelier and more dynamic aprÃ¨s ski scene - thus pushing the industry to new levels and with it an even broader market appeal.
Snow sports have never been so popular! The media have latched onto snowboarding with a vengeance, using it to sell anything from cars to drinking water and washing suds. The resorts have been reaping the benefits: those quaint Savoyard villages have made enterprising farmers into very rich people, as we have seen property prices grow by up to 500% in the last 5 years alone!
New Express ski lifts have stepped in to whisk the growing numbers of skiers up the mountain at lightening speeds, (when compared with their oily, creaking predecessors). Property development has bettered the landscape as the new money and demand for luxury accommodation and hot tubs have urged the developers to think about things a little more. No more are they unimaginatively moulding great dollops of concrete into high rise shapes; residences are now chalet style and full of wood and atmosphere.
The new breed of snow user also demands a greater level of attention on the mountain and the range of specialist ski schools now on offer has given the Ecole du Ski Francaise (ESF) â who once had the monopoly on ski tuition - a much needed kick up the arse. Lessons are now English speaking and learning has been made easier and cheaper.
The modern demand of skiing has created the niche ski chalet operator who has made ski holidays more accessible and attractive to those who have not had the benefit of skiing from a young age; or to those that prefer the cosiness and luxury of a modern ski chalet to active pursuits on the mountain. Dad can take the kids for a blast which Mum enjoys a glass of Vin Chaud by the chalet fire side.
However letâs not forget the Butlins style 18-30 ski holidays that are also more prevalent than ever before; mainstream operators are chartering planes and selling off their over committed seats for bucket shop prices to the lower level resorts. Skiers on a budget are now willing to stay 45 minutes down to mountain in a soul-less ski resort, but they pay just Â£250 for their âAllocation on Arrivalâ ski holidays. Not my idea of the perfect winter break, but nevertheless it gets many who have not previously had the privilege of skiing out onto the mountains for beach resort prices, and ultimately brings more money to an industry dogged by fears of global warming â which can only be a good thing I think?â¦