A winter ski getaway in the Austrian Alps seems like a sure way to make a Cheapo's trip budget go downhill fast. Airfare aside, is there any way that budget travelers can afford hotels during ski season, plus lift tickets and equipment rental?
Enter Innsbruck Packages, a Web site run by the city of Innsbruck that offers all-inclusive ski packages that cover accommodation, meals and ski passes.
But are they a good deal, and can you do it cheaper on your own?
Capital of the Alps
The self-proclaimed "Capital of the Alps," Innsbruck boasts nine surrounding ski areas, which comprise the "Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck." The city is so confident that its slopes will satisfy that it offers a "100 percent snow guarantee from December to April."
OympiaWorld Ski Packages
Innsbruck's hotels and resorts have teamed up with the city to offer vacation packages that range from four to seven nights and cover accommodation at three- to five-star hotels, plus half-board (breakfast and dinner), ski passes and bus transportation.
Included in these packages is the Olympia SkiWorld pass, which allows skiers access to all nine ski areas (encompassing 300 km of runs), along with bus transportation from the center of town and access to 90 cable cars and lifts.
Packages start at €369, per person, for a four night/three-day ski pass package, and go quickly up from there, depending on the hotel selected. (Visit the website for pricing and availability.)
Cheapest ski package
I'm considering heading to Innsbruck for some downhill action from January 7-11. The best package deal I could find for two guests was four nights in a double at the Hotel Dollinger, a three-star family-run inn. The €742 ($970) price includes the hotel, a daily buffet breakfast and three-course dinner and two three-day Olympia SkiWorld passes (valid at all nine ski areas, and covering transportation).
Not included? Ski equipment rental, which will add about €57 per person to the bill. (This price varies depending upon your needs.)
The total price for the cheapest four-night package: €856 ($1,119). Not bad.
Do-it-yourself in Innsbruck
Would it be any cheaper for me to steer outside the package and book my own hotel, ski pass and ski equipment?
I can book the same room at the Hotel Dollinger on my own for €99 a night ($129), which includes a buffet breakfast. Two three-day Olympia SkiWorld passes (including buses and lifts) costs €234 ($305), and the ski rental for two will cost about €114 ($149).
Total price: €744 ($973). Although this is €112 ($146) cheaper than the package, it doesn't include four nightly dinners for two people.
Once you include three-course dinners every night at the hotel, the package clearly looks like a better deal. However, maybe you don't want to eat dinner at the hotel every night. Even with rotating nightly menus, you might want to shake it up a bit, in which case, the package might not be worth it.
You could find additional savings by considering cheaper lodgings than those offered in the packages. For example, for January 7-11, the two-star Pension Stoi, located in the heart of the Old City, offers a double with private bathroom for €72 ($94) per night. Another Old City pick, the three-star Hotel Goldene Krone, has doubles for €71 ($93).
You could stay even cheaper in a hostel, like the Pension Glockenhaus, with dorms for €19 ($25) a night and twins for €56 ($73).
At these hotels (and several more that we recommend on EuroCheapo in our guide to budget hotels in Innsbruck), you could cobble together your own Cheapo ski package for about €636 ($832) -- or even €572 ($747) at the hostel.
Of course, you'll still be fending for yourself for dinner. There are, of course, wurst situations to be in...