Auld Lang Syne

I don’t think I am alone in saying that New Years Eve in North London is invariably a disappointment and a rip-off. Whilst being aware of the concept of supply and demand, I deem a pre-paid £40 ticket to my normally empty local ridiculous.

This is why for the last few years I have chosen to spend my New Years Eve skiing in either the Tyrol or the French Alps, not because it is cheaper than £40, but I think it better value for money. However, this couples’ recent Euromillions win has got me dreaming of a New Years Eve with no expenses spared – to the same extent that the realisation of financially fending for my thrifty self has me scouring for deals.

Here is my attempt to put a dent into my £101 million, followed by my attempt to spend as little as possible… (Based on 2 adults for a week flying out on 31/12/11). Finding ski rental prices out of season is nigh on impossible, and I have my own kit so I have left that for now

Deer Valley, Utah

First Class flight from London Gatwick to Salt Lake City – £21,916 return

Airport Transfer in Cadillac Escalade SUV – £256 return

Black Diamond Lodge – £10,970

Lift pass – £386

Meal out at the Mariposa – £192

Total  – £33,000

Popova Sapka, Macedonia

Budget flight from London Luton to Skopje – £169 return

Airport transfer – £65

Hotel Granit – £92

Lift Pass – £51

Meal Out – £10

Total – £391

So what do you get for your money?

The flights have the biggest price discrepancy, and with BA offering you 400-thread Egyptian cotton and your own pyjamas why wouldn’t you pay over £5k per flight?  Well, maybe because Wizz are the Kings of Eastern Europe offering flights to ski destinations in Romania and Slovakia as well as Macedonia. The choice is yours!

The transfers speak for themselves – Both are about an hour away, so unless you have a burning desire to be driven in the same car as Tiger Woods or Anna Kournikova the difference is nominal.

Both accommodations are ski in/ski out – just hop out of your bunk bed, clip in to the bindings on Hotel Granit’s porch and make your way down to the nearest draglift. In the case of Black Diamond Lodge, if you don’t fancy the perfectly groomed slopes outside your bedroom, merely ask the concierge service where the steam room is.

Deer Valley give you an assurance that once they have reached ‘capacity’ they sell no more lift passes in order to maximize your skiing experience. It also boasts one of North America’s best snow records whilst having an excellent infrastructure due to Salt Lake City’s Olympic games in 2002. In fairness this is not bad value in peak season compared to the Espace Killy or Les Trois Vallées.

In Popova your lift pass does exactly what it says on the tin – just don’t expect working toilets or piste-markers. The benefit of this however, is that the slopes are so uncrowded you will be unlucky if you don’t find that fresh pow.

Of course, after half a weeks hard work you deserve a meal out, and depending on which option you go for you can have the Sablefish Mariposa or goulash. The Sablefish comes with honey tamari glaze, fresh ginger sauce and shitake mushrooms whereas you can have a generous helping of goulash and two beers each for £10. Honestly – I am struggling to look past the goulash and beer.

Having given Macedonia serious research I am genuinely considering it as an option for two reasons.

1. Beer and food are genuinely cheap.

2. Eskimo freeride offer Europe’s only catskiing service in a disused Pistebasher for incredible rates of only €159 per day. To put this into perspective you could catski every day for 2 Macedonian seasons for the cost of a luxury trip to Deer Valley.

In short – if there is fresh snow and you aren’t on a footballer’s wage, be creative with your destination and reap the benefits…