Mystery shopper: Widnes, a last-minute ski trip

Mystery shopper: Widnes, a last-minute ski trip

Location: Widnes, Cheshire
Wanted: Having seen the reports of heavy snow on the news, four friends are wondering if they can get a good deal for a last-minute ski trip. Looking at the Alps but open to suggestion.
Budget: £500pp

Thomas Cook
29/33 Albert Road
83%
The modern shop was well laid out and felt spacious and welcoming. I was acknowledged straight away and I waited six minutes to be seen by an enthusiastic agent. He offered two options, both slightly over budget. The first was Crystal Ski Holidays’ Le Grand Chalet Studios, in Bride-les-Bains, France, for a week self-catering. It also included economy skis and lift pass and Jet2.com flights from Manchester to Chambery on February 17 for £578. They also offered a self-catering Inghams trip to Lapland at Levi Log Cabins with tuition package and flights on Jet2.com from Manchester to Kittila on February 25 for £675pp. The agent explored many options.

Tui
Unit 4, 37/47 Albert Road
79%
I was welcomed straight away and given two week-long options with Crystal Ski Holidays. The first was for Hotel Wieshof, in Rauris, Austria, B&B with Tui Airways flights from Manchester on March 3 for £417pp, plus £275pp for lift passes, ski and boot hire. The second was Residence L’Adret, in Chantemerle, France, flying Tui Airways from Manchester to Turin on March 4, self-catering for £537pp and £323pp for ski equipment and lift passes.

Hays Travel
24 Albert Road
69%
Too many signs made the shop look cluttered. I was greeted by a friendly but hurried agent and was given one quote that was quite over budget. I was offered four nights’ B&B at Hotel Terrace in Engelberg, Switzerland with Flexiski. It was £952pp including lift passes, flights with Swiss from Manchester to Zurich on March 26 and rail transfers. The agent was negative about the budget, which brought down the experience.


Winning agent

Shaun Graham, Assistant Manager

“We sell a lot of ski but it’s usually booked early rather than last-minute. Price is a factor, but people want the right slopes for their ability and want to know about the après-ski options.”


Verdict

Despite a tight budget, no agents looked outside of the Alps to cheaper alternatives such as Bulgaria. The Cook agent offered the most varied options so came out on top.


Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location

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