Category : Product Updates

About Manchester Airport Facilities, Parking, Hotels & More

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

You’ll find Manchester Airport at Ringway, Manchester. Last year it was Britain’s third busiest airport as far as passenger numbers are concerned, and the 21st busiest in Europe – in 2013 almost 21 million passengers passed through its gates.

It’s also the biggest regional airport in the UK with more than double the passenger numbers at the next biggest, Edinburgh. You can fly to 225 destinations, more than any other British airport, via more than 50 airlines. It offers three terminals, two runways and the capacity for an impressive 61 aircraft to take off every hour.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport – United Kingdom

A quick guide to Manchester Airport

Here’s our one-stop-shop guide to Manchester airport hotels, airport facilities and much more. Whatever you need to know, you’ll find it here.

First, the history bit…

The history of Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport started life as Ringway Airport back in 1937, like many British airports a product of Word War Two. During WW2 it was a base for the RAF, a vital cog in the military aircraft production and parachutist training machine. After the war it reverted to civilian status. In the early 1970s, when package holidays emerged as the next big trend, the M56 motorway opened and improved access. In the 1990s a rail connection was established, and two more runways added. The control tower is very new, built in 2013 to replace the original. At 60m it’s Britain’s second highest.

How to get to Manchester airport

  • By car – The airport connects directly to the motorway network, just off the M56 junction 5, and has its own approach road. It is very well signposted on all local motorways including the M6 and M60.
  • By cab – You’ll find taxi ranks outside all three terminals and the tariffs are clearly displayed at each rank.
    By taxibus – Airportcarz operate a taxibus service from all 3 terminals. You’ll find details in each terminal’s Arrivals area.
  • By bus – Frequent services operate to and from the airport 24/7. Buses connect to the city centre and depart every 10 minutes. National Express also runs a coach service to and from the airport.
  • By train – The airport connects direct with the rail network with its own station, called The station. There are frequent local and regional trains to the city’s main rail station, from which you connect to Britain’s  national rail network.
Manchester Airport Bus

Manchester Airport Bus

Terminals at Manchester

Terminals 1 and 2 handle scheduled and charter flights. Terminal 3 handles domestic flights, some scheduled EU flights and American Airlines flights to The States.

  • Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by travelators, a 10-15 minute walk
  • Terminal 3 and 1 are linked by a covered walkway
  • A Skylink connects all terminals to the airport railway station

The 10 busiest routes from Manchester

Manchester is a particularly popular hub for the USA and Middle East as well as for EU destinations. Their top ten busiest routes are:

1. Spain
2. UK domestic flights
3. USA
4. Germany
5. UAE
6. Turkey
7. Greece
8. Ireland
9. France
10. Italy


As one of Britain’s busiest hubs, Manchester is no stranger to customer service and they provide excellent facilities, more or less anything you could possibly want including all the expected shops, bars, restaurants and cafes plus:

  • Smart airport lounges, one at every terminal (which you can book direct through us)
  • A space for worship
  • Help if you’re scared of flying
  • Car rental
  • WiFi
  • Express check-in and fast-track
  • Duty free and travel money
  • Showers
  • Leisure facilities
  • Entertainment for the kids including play areas and places to watch the aircraft
  • FREE WiFi
  • Trolleys
  • Business facilities
  • Support for disabled and less able people
Manchester Airport Shopping

Shopping at Manchester Airport

Cheap Manchester airport parking

Bear in mind there’s a strict no waiting policy on all surrounding access roads, put in place after the 2007 Glasgow airport terrorist incident. Pick-ups must take place via the official short stay car parks, multi-storey affairs situated right next to terminals one and two.

Terminal 1 short stay multi-storey was smartened up recently and features handy colour-coding for the different levels, great news when otherwise they all look the same, and handy when you’re in a rush.  Every parking space has its own sensor and light, and if a space is empty the light shines green.

You’ll also find long stay parking at Manchester near the terminals and there’s a regular courtesy bus. One car park serves terminals 1 and 3 and there’s another for terminal 2.

There are also a couple of long stay ‘JetParks’ less than a mile from the terminals, a cheaper choice than on-site car parking. There’s a 24/7 shuttle bus that runs every quarter of an hour.

There’s also a special Shuttle Park for long term parking, with its own courtesy bus, located off-site to the east of terminal 3. And there’s a handful of privately owned and operated car parks close by, all with shuttle buses.

How to get the best deals on parking at Manchester airport? Do it through us and get an excellent price, booking before you go for convenience.

Manchester Airport Map

Manchester Airport Map

Hotels near Manchester airport

As you’d expect from such a busy hub, there are plenty of excellent hotels close by and on-site. According to Expedia the most popular include:

  • Hilton Manchester Airport - Less than 5 minutes to the airport by courtesy bus, with 12 meeting rooms to cater for up to 250 people.
  • Bewleys Hotel – Easy access to terminals 1 and 3, a 24 hour free shuttle service plus long-stay parking
  • Crowne Plaza – Free shuttle transfers, modern and comfortable
  • Etrop Grange – Something a bit different, a lovely Grade II listed Georgian Mansion built in 1780, near the city centre and the airport, with meeting rooms for as many as 150 people
  • Radisson Blu – Great facilities including a private car park, pool and spa, WiFi and  a fully equipped gym
  • Manchester Airport Marriott – close by with a countryside setting, leisure centre, spa and hair salon
  • Hallmark Hotel – a relaxed boutique hotel with 4 stars, just 3 miles from the airport
Crown Plaza Hotel Manchester Airport

Crown Plaza at Manchester Airport – from

Manchester airport hotels with parking

If you don’t fancy leaving your car in long stay, you can leave it at a wide variety of convenient hotels near the airport, perfect if you’d rather sleep comfortably close by and fly fresh in the morning instead of travelling at all hours of the night. It means you’re less likely to be delayed too, with no missed flights to worry about. You can either book a room on its own or combine a stay at a Manchester Airport hotel with parking.

There’s plenty of choice including:

  • Bewleys  – A great quality 3 star hotel with secure APH parking close by, a mere 3 minutes walk from Terminals 1 and 3
  • Britannia –  A 3 star hotel with on-site secure parking just 15 minutes from the airport
  • Cresta Court – 5 minutes from the airport, 3 stars, parking at the secure APH Manchester car park or use the special APH Meet and Greet service
  • Crowne Plaza – 4 star luxury just 2 minutes from the airport, on-site car parking at the Hotel as well as the secure APH car park
  • Premier Inn North Manchester Airport  – 5 minutes from the airport, parking at either the secure APH car park or off-airport at JetParks
YouTube Preview Image

Enjoy watching the action from the Airport Hotel pub

If you enjoy watching approaches, landings and take-offs, whether or not you’re flying, you can visit the excellent Airport Hotel, a Robinson’s Brewery pub half a mile from the airport itself with a beer garden facing the end of taxiway J.

About Stansted Airport: Parking, Hotels & More

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

Stansted Airport lies near Stansted Mountfitchet in Uttlesford, Essex, just 30 miles north east of central London.

Open 24/7/365, Stansted is one of London’s big five. It offers more than 150 destinations in 30 countries across the world, some of the most popular of which include the international destinations Malaga, Rome, Athens, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Rabat, Barcelona, Dortmund, Prague, Alicante, Fez and Dubrovnik.

It handles domestic flights too, some of the most popular of which include Edinburgh, Dublin, Derry, Guernsey, Jersey, Glasgow and Belfast. At the British end it provides excellent access to the fertile heart of the London-Cambridge corridor, vital for business.

Stansted Airport

Your Guide to Stansted Airport

What awaits you at the airport? And what facilities do they provide? Here’s a run-down about Stansted airport facilities, hotels, plans, history and more.

Car parking at Stansted airport

It’s just a short bus ride from the airport’s car parks to the terminal and the short stay facility is only a short walk from check-in.

  • Long stay – 10 minutes’ transfer time, perfect for trips of a week or more
  • Medium stay – 5 minutes transfer time, ideal for short breaks
  • Short stay – 1-2 minutes’ walk to the terminal, no bus required
  • Meet and greet – Fast and easy, 2-3 minutes’ transfer time, just drop your car next to the terminal
  • Valet parking – 1 minute transfer time, leave your car at the forecourt, plus fast-track security for as many as six of you

Remember to take full advantage of our Stansted airport parking comparison tool to find the right service and deal for you.

Stansted airport car park

Car Parking at Stansted Airport

Airport facilities

There’s everything you’d expect from a major hub on tap at Stansted, including cashpoint machines and currency exchange facilities, car rental, a post office, baby changing areas, trolley and porter services. There’s even a place to pray.

There are 125 check-in desks, more than 25,000 airport car park spaces, 110 aircraft parking stands and it’s a mere 47 minutes to central London by rail, with a train leaving every quarter of an hour. In fact the public transport links are so good 50% of passengers take advantage of them instead of driving. There’s a good choice of buses, trains and taxis and the airport has its own rail station, directly below the terminal and staffed every day except Christmas Day.

Some brave souls even cycle to and from the airport. There’s a special free bike shelter in the Red Zone of the short stay car park and another next to the terminal, just behind the coach station.

When you’re on business and time is at a premium, you can take advantage of a meeting room at the airport itself or a nearby hotel.

  • Radisson Blu Hotel – a 2 minute walk from the terminal, with 26 meeting and event rooms for as many as 400 people plus a fully equipped business centre
  • Hilton Hotel – in the airport itself with 16 meeting rooms, catering for anything from two to 250 people, plus a fully equipped business centre
  • United Business Centre – a short drive from the terminal with a courtesy car transfer if you need one, convenient for Junction 8a of the M11. It offers meeting rooms for 2-30 people, broadband, phones, fax and full secretarial support

If you want to freshen up before departure there are smart, clean showers in the departure lounge – after security – and more in the international arrivals area.  There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars. And you can tap into Wi-Fi everywhere in the terminal, free for an hour a day for every registered device.

Stansted airport shops

Shops at Stansted Airport

What about shops? At the time of writing this post there are these shops to explore within the airport:

  • Dixons Travel
  • FatFace
  • Boots
  • Hamleys
  • JD Sports
  • WH Smith
  • A Duty Free outlet
  • Glorious Britain
  • Rituals
  • Spar
  • Spectrum Interactive
  • The Body Shop

Hotels at Stansted Airport

Most of the hotels at the airport offer car parking as an optional extra, as you’d expect. You can stay in a comfy, spotless hotel just minutes away from the terminal, arriving fresh at your destination rather than worn out and ragged at the edges! You can book your Stansted hotel room at a great price right here with us.

Hilton London Stansted Airport Hotel

Hilton London Stansted Airport Hotel – from

The airport lounge at Stansted Airport

If peace, quiet and comfort is a must on your journey, there’s a smart airport lounge to enjoy, the No.1 Lounge at Gate 49, after security control, a 15 minute walk from the domestic gates, with easy access to gates 40-49.

You get free drinks, snacks, newspapers and magazines in with the price and it’s a great place to chill out while you wait for your flight. There are remarkable views of the runway as well as unlimited WiFi, board games, TV and even special kids packs to keep the youngsters entertained.  It’s open from 4am to 9pm and you can book yourself into Stansted airport lounge through us.

Special assistance at Stansted Airport

Do you need assistance at the airport? If so you need to let the airline know at least 48 hours before you fly, both for the outbound and inbound journey. It’s advised you turn up at the Special Assistance desk, ideally at least 2 hours before your flight time and no later than an hour before departure.

Sustainable development

Stansted plans to attract more airlines and new long haul routes, including more flights to and from the Middle East and USA.

They’re looking at ways to maximise their single runway and improve access links, all of which will be done bearing the latest environmental rules, regulations, laws and recommendations in mind. They believe it’s entirely possible to handle 40-45 million passengers with just one runway, without making serious infrastructure changes. And they feel they can do it within current environmental limits, in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

The terminal is part-way through an impressive £80m transformation, which is in turn part of a massive £260m investment project. Phase one of the new international departure lounge was officially opened in late September 2014.

18 random facts about Stansted Airport

  1. Stansted is London’s newest passenger airport
  2. It’s Ryanair’s biggest base, from where they fly to more than 100 low cost destinations
  3. At the moment Stansted caters for around 17.5 million passengers a year
  4. The airport is home to 12 airlines
  5. It’s the third busiest London airport, Britain’s fourth busiest… and all with just one runway!
  6. Stansted contributes an impressive £400m a year to the economy
  7. It employs a total of 10,200 people on and off the premises
  8. The airport sits on the site of a Roman burial ground, more than 2000 years old
  9. The original runway was built by the US Air Force in 1942
  10. In 1944, on D-Day, 600 British war planes flew from Stansted, at the time a designated heavy bomber airfield and operational bomber base
  11. After the war, Stansted used by the Air Ministry’s 263 Maintenance Unit, RAF, for storage
  12. Between 1946 and  1947, Stansted was briefly used to house German prisoners
  13. The BAA took over in 1966, and the airport has been steadily growing ever since
  14. Long-haul scheduled services kicked off in the early ’90s
  15. In May 2010 BAA withdrew plans to build a second runway
  16. Stansted has seen more hijack incidents than you might expect for its size: 1982, 1999, 2000, 2003 and twice in 2013, apparently because of its design and layout. The British government has nominated it as the preferred airport for hijacked planes to land
  17. Stansted’s 1996 control tower used to be the highest in the UK, and is still amongst the country’s tallest
  18. Since MAG took over, the airport has reported a 66% reduction in their carbon footprint

Here’s a useful video guide to Stansted airport.

YouTube Preview Image

Fascinated by airport facts?

If you can’t get enough facts about airports, you’re not alone. They’re fascinating places. Airport geeks unite! Here’s a link to the airport’s Wikipedia page.

About Luton Airport – Famous For a TV Ad

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

Do you remember the infamous Luton Airport TV ads for Campari?

If you were around in the mid to late 1970s, you won’t be able to hear the phrase ‘Luton airport’ without hearing British model Lorraine Chase’s voice, a proper blast from the past.

Chase starred in a series of funny TV ads for the alcoholic drink Campari, together with actor Jeremy Clyde. The ads were shot in exotic locations and featured  the model having drinks with a classy gent. When he asked her, in finest romantic style, whether she’d been “truly wafted here from paradise”, she replied, in a strong Cockney accent, “Nah, Luton airport”. The famous line became so popular it was the subject of a 1979 chart hit by the band Cats UK.

Here’s one of the TV ads, captured on video.

Star of a Monty Python sketch

The airport is no stranger to fame, having also been featured by Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the hilarious Piranha Brothers sketch, starring as the home of an improbable giant hedgehog called Spiny Norman. All very silly indeed. But there’s more.

Reality TV hits home

Between 2005 and 2008 the airport starred in a reality TV series following the site’s staff in their daily lives. The programme shadowed the airport’s duty managers and operations people during a major redevelopment, bringing the inner workings of one of Britain’s most popular airports to the front rooms of millions of fascinated viewers.

London Luton Airport

London Luton Airport

Busy, busy, busy…

In August 2013 London Luton Airport outperformed every other UK airport, enjoying its busiest ever month, with a whopping 11.8% increase in passengers compared to the same period in 2012, a sure-fire winner when the UK airport overall average passenger increase was just 4.4%. During 2013 9.7 million people passed through its doors, making London Luton airport the sixth busiest in Britain. 96% of passengers take scheduled flights, 4% take charter flights, 89% of people take international flights from Luton and 11% fly domestic.

Close to the M1, convenient for central London

The airport sits just under two miles from Luton in Bedfordshire, 35 miles from central London and just a couple of miles from M1 Junction 10a. It’s London’s fourth biggest airport, after Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and joins London City and Southend to make up the big six international airports serving the London area.

Luton Airport Control Tower

Luton Airport Control Tower

More than 100 cool places at your fingertips

London Luton hosts flights from EasyJet, Wizz Air, Monarch, EL AL, Atlasjet, Blue Air, TAROM, Thomson Airways and Ryanair and mostly serves Europe, with a handful of charter and scheduled flights to North Africa and Asia and onward connections to Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Beijing and Bangkok via Tel Aviv. In total the airport services more than a hundred popular destinations.

Top 10 Luton airport destinations

Luton airport employs more than 600 people directly and 8,000 indirectly, so is vital for the economic health for the region.   Luton’s top ten destinations are Budapest, Amsterdam, Dublin, Warsaw, Glasgow, Bucharest, Geneva, Edinburgh, Paris and Palma, with Budapest in the top position.

London Luton airport history

Like many of Britain’s airports, Luton began life during the Second World War. The site was first used for flights in 1938, a base for Royal Air Force fighter planes. After the war ownership reverted to the Council, still home to commercial flights and the home of the famous Percival Aircraft factory until the early ’60s.

Luton Airport Departures

Luton Airport Departures

In a trend set by McAlpine Aviation in the mid 1960s, a handful of executive jet operators and international maintenance companies are still based there. In 1972 Luton was Britain’s most profitable airport, an accolade that came to an end in 1974 when the package holiday firm Clarksons, complete with their own airline Court Line, went bust.

Luton’s new name, London Luton Airport, came about in 1990. And in 1997 an £80 million extension improved the single runway beyond recognition. Wizz Air, Eastern Europe’s biggest low cost airline, celebrated its 10th Birthday at the airport in May 2014, having grown considerably since 2004 and now flying to 13 countries from London Luton.

What about London Luton Airport parking facilities?

All this is fascinating stuff, of course, but our real focus is airport parking, airport hotels and the facilities available. So what’s on offer at Luton?

You’ll find short, mid and long term parking at Luton airport, and you can turn up an hour early at no extra charge when you pre-book on the internet. There’s also an official Meet and Greet service plus arrangements for Priority Set Down, Drop off and Pick Up and Disabled Parking. The facilities are open 24/7 and airport parking charges start from just over £3 per day.

For full details about parking at Luton, follow this link to the airport’s official website.

Financial Times recommends for airport lounges

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Nick

Here at, we’ve always been aware of the benefits that a relaxing start to your journey can have and we’ve always been keen to provide travellers with as much information as possible for the 100’s of airport parking, airport hotel and airport lounge services available. It’s always nice however when someone else recognises our hard work and the service we provide, as did the ‘Financial Times’ just last week.

The Stress of the Airport Terminal

Avoid the stress of the airport terminal

In their article, the Financial Times were talking about the various ways in which travellers could lessen the niggles and discomforts that economy flights of 4 hours or more can inflict and, you’ve guessed it, pre-booking an airport lounge was one of those recommendations.

Enjoy The Comfort Of An Airport Lounge

Enjoy The Comfort Of An Airport Lounge

Relax In Style Before Boarding Your Flight

An airport lounge can help you to relax and get into the right frame of mind before you even board the flight. With prices starting from as little as £13.50 per person and inclusive of drinks and snacks, as well as other facilities to help you pass the time in comfort, an airport lounge is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal building. As the ‘Financial Times’ so kindly pointed out, this is where “Sites such as ‘’ can help”.

So next time you’re planning a journey, whether for business or pleasure, why not plan ahead and rather than dreading the airport experience, look forward to it as a welcome part of the overall journey plan.

Win £100 In Vouchers with the Lucky Draw!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 by Nick

Snow is falling and we’re feeling the Christmas spirit at gosimply HQ. With that in mind we’ve got a festive giveaway for you – simply enter our lucky draw for your chance to win £100 in Snow and Rock Vouchers.

Pretty Christmas Star

Christmas Wishes with a £100 Lucky Draw - courtesy of

Snow and Who?

Surely you’ve heard of “Snow and Rock”? No? Well, head on over to to check out some of their awesome products. If you’re off on a winter holiday or know someone that is ski mad (or just a lover of the rugged outdoors for that case), then this is definitely for you!

It’s quick, easy and best of all free

Head on over to our lucky draw, follow us on Facebook, enter your details (so we can contact you if you win), and in a little under 2 weeks, you could be receiving an early Christmas gift from us nice chaps and chapesses at

There’s more…

With festive tunes playing in the office and an overwhelming desire to spread some goodwill we wanted to give you that little bit more. For those jetting off in search of some winter sun (when the airports open again!) we’re offering 10% off our airport lounges. To activate the discount click here then enter XMAS10 before searching for your dates and airport.

* 10% discount code for airport lounges only available for bookings made before 31st December 2010. Free Lucky draw closes 15th December 2010.

Driving in Winter is Snow Joke! Find Out Why…

Friday, November 26th, 2010 by Tim
It’s snowing outside and the weather forecast predicts more is on the way. Whether you’re catching a flight to warmer climes or simply visiting friends, become a winter warrior with our top tips for travelling in the snow.

Winter wonderland or driving nightmare?

Winter wonderland or driving nightmare?

Tweet before you leap

Avoid becoming a statistic. Last year saw thousands of travellers stranded in their cars for hours, and even days. Missing a work day isn’t great, but missing your flight for a well-deserved holiday just sucks. Keep up to date with these tools and you’ll soon be sunning yourself on the beach rather than shivering in the cold.

  • Airport Twitter Feeds – Most UK airports have Twitter accounts that they update regularly informing of delays and closures.
  • Airport Telephone Numbers – Unsure of airport closures? Give them a ring before you jump in the car.

Pimp your ride before you drive

On a normal day the airport may only be an hours drive away, but snow and ice can turn the simplest of journeys into a living nightmare. With a few of these simple precautions, you can be prepared for almost any situation.

Check your car credentials before setting off

Check your car's credentials before setting off

  • Check your engine coolant. Ensure that your vehicle has the right amount of anti-freeze to deal with the dipping temperatures.
  • Top up your windscreen fluid. If in doubt a little more windscreen cleaning fluid is better than too little – it’ll stop it freezing.
  • Fill up your tank. A full fuel tank is a must – if you get stuck or stranded, the fuel in the tank is all that you have to keep the in-car heaters running.
  • Stay snug as a bug in a rug. Pack a blanket and ensure you have warm clothing. It sounds extreme but many that got stuck last year for a day or more wish they had.
  • Charge your phone and grab an in-car charger. There’s nothing worse than a low battery when you need it most.
  • Pack some snacks and drinks. A stash of flapjacks and some non-alcoholic drinks will see you through until help arrives.
  • Snow chains might help. Last year saw a boom in the sales of snow chains in the UK. If you own them or plan to buy some, do you know how to fit them?

It’s as simple as A to B – or is it?

Work out 2 or 3 alternative routes to your destination so that if you do hit a dead end, you already know what alternative options are open to you.

Deer in the road

Oh deer!

Road closures and diversions are a common occurrence when the snow arrives. There’s always a good chance that the most direct route may become impassable for one reason or another. Before setting out, quickly check some of the near real-time traffic services to find out which routes are open and where traffic is flowing freely.

Driving on the slippery stuff

Driving in fresh snow isn’t great but it becomes a lot trickier as it compacts, turning to ice. You don’t have to be a world class rally driver, simply follow these simple tips and you’ll stand a better chance of reaching your destination trouble free.

Speeding car in the snow

Winter is not the time to drive like Lewis Hamilton

Don’t brake if the car starts sliding. Even if they’re anti-lock. Straighten your wheels then ease off the accelerator, this should help transfer the weight forward and help you to regain traction.

Don’t accelerate if you’re stuck in the snow. An ice patch will form under the tyres making it harder to get out. Try pulling out your floor mats and shove them under your tyres. Rock the car back and forth gently to get your wheels on the mats, then gently accelerate off. You may have other items in the boot that you may be able to use such as a camping blanket.

Don’t tailgate the car ahead in low visibility. Although following the brake lights of the car in front is an attractive idea – it’s a recipe for disaster. Turn on your low beam headlamps and fog lights. Dim interior lights including dashboard instruments if you can as this will help with exterior visibility. Probably the most important thing is if you can’t see the road, pull over. If you can’t see the road ahead or the road signs, it’s too dangerous. You may only need to wait for a short time before being able to resume your journey.

For more tips on driving in winter weather, check out the following websites:-

Spend a little, save a lot

Protect yourself from financial losses or expensive bills by investing in some decent travel cover. No matter how well prepared you are, there’s no telling how bad the weather may get or how other vehicles around you will react.

Don't get caught out, get covered by the AA - not snow!

Don't get caught out, get covered by the AA - not snow!

Get Breakdown Cover. Most cover and rescue services are well equipped to deal with roadside breakdowns and if things can’t be fixed, depending on the level of cover you have, they’ll even tow you to your destination or back to your home address, even if it is across the other side of the country.

Grab your Travel Insurance. A good travel insurance policy is a must as these should cover you if you’re not able to reach the airport because of weather conditions or an accident. When taking out a travel insurance policy, read the small print or ask to make sure that these situations are covered.

Be wary of abandoning your car

If you get stuck in snow just a few miles from home or your destination, you might be tempted to continue your journey on foot. One word of warning – during last years heavy snow, thousands of stranded drivers found themselves with unexpected bills after their vehicles were towed away and put into storage.

And finally…

If you do get stuck in the snow don’t do this!

How to Ski and Snowboard Safely (4 of 6)

Friday, November 12th, 2010 by Nick

This week’s Winter Sports blog looks at safety and what you can do to avoid accidents and any unfavourable situations whilst on the slopes. If you’re a newbie to the piste or want to brush up on your ski etiquette, don’t forget to check out last week’s post on what to do before you hit the ski slopes.

Keep cool in unfavourable situations, be safe and have fun!

Keep cool in unfavourable situations, be safe and have fun!

From those little niggles to some of the more serious scenarios, here are some more top tips to help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable winter holiday.

1. Prevention is better than cure!

Ski within your means and be aware of other slope users to avoid a painful accident.

2. Skiing can be tiring so take time out

Tiredness and Fatigue are one of the main catalysts of accidents. Don’t wait until you feel tired, take regular rests and grab a bite to eat

Take a break

Skiing can be a tiring business. Make sure you grab a break now and then

When you’re on the slopes it’s not always obvious when energy levels start to drop. Skiing and snowboarding is an exhausting activity, ensure that you have regular stops to top up on fluids and some sort of energy snack to see you safely through the day.

3. Respect other slope users

You may be on holiday, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your manners at home! Simple as it may sound, ski slopes can be busy places with fast and slow moving traffic. Basically, treat it like a motorway and don’t do silly things that are likely to endanger others.

Treat a Ski slope as you would a Motorway

Treat a Ski slope as you would a Motorway

  • Ski within your ability. Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and to the general conditions on the mountain. Not doing so is one of the quickest ways to an accident and injury.
  • Skiers and snowboarders in front have priority. Make sure you leave enough space.
  • Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder. If they suddenly turn or stop, you’ll still have space to manoeuvre.
  • If merging into a marked run, treat it like a road. Look up and down the mountain before entering to get an idea of what’s happening around you.
  • If you need to stop, stop at piste’s edge. You’re less likely to be in the way and more likely to be avoided by other skiers and snowboarders.
  • Take note of piste signs and markers. Like any road network, pistes have signs and markings that should be obeyed. They are there for your safety and the safety of other people on the slope.

4. Tips for Skiing or Snowboarding off-piste

Off-piste areas are NOT protected from alpine dangers, so extra care must be taken!

Be mindful of avalanche warnings when skiing off-piste

Be mindful of avalanche warnings when skiing off-piste

  • Check that your insurance covers off-piste activities
  • Look for signs around the ski area which will warn you when avalanche danger is present.
  • Even when there is no warning of avalanches, there could be local snow slides.
  • Unless you know an area well, only ski/board off-piste with a guide (in the USA, skiing/boarding “out of bounds” without a guide can lead to confiscation of your lift pass).
  • If in doubt, stay away and stick to the main piste slopes.

5. What to do if there is an accident

The recognised sign for a piste accident is a pair of crossed skis or a snowboard planted in the snow at least 5 metres above the accident area. If necessary, post someone up the hill to give warning to others and prevent anyone from colliding and causing more damage.

Do you know you're first aid?

Would you know how to administer first aid, like these guys?

A little bit of First Aid goes a long way
This is where a St John’s First Aid course would come in handy. If the accident is of a more serious nature use these rules to aid the injured:

  • Circulation – check for a pulse
  • Check that the person’s airway is clear and they are breathing
  • Assess the general condition of the casualty
  • Do not move them if the injury is obviously back, neck or head-related
  • Try to stop any serious bleeding by covering the wound and applying firm pressure
  • Provide warmth, but give nothing to eat or drink, especially alcohol
  • Do not offer painkillers if you have them

If required, contact the rescue services A.S.A.P
In the event of a more serious accident it’s important to stay calm and contact the rescue services giving clear details of:

  • Place of accident (piste name and nearest piste marker)
  • Number of people injured
  • Type of injury

Ultimately, the safety and well-being of the injured person is your priority, but if you’re able to collect these additional pieces of information it will help if there is police involvement:

  • Names and addresses of people involved and of witnesses
  • Place, time and circumstances of accident
  • Terrain, snow conditions and visibility
  • Markings and signs

By following these few simple rules, you’ll hopefully stay safe on the slopes, and if you do come across an accident, you should be able to offer some help.

6. Get the right level of Travel Insurance cover

Accidents do happen. Don’t get caught out with expensive medical bills, make sure your travel insurance caters for your Winter Sports activities.

Be prepared, don't get lumbered with hospital charges.

Be prepared, don't get lumbered with hospital charges

We’ve said it before, but we’re going to say it again. Getting adequate winter sports travel insurance is probably the single most important thing to have in place. For little more than the cost of a nice meal, good insurance cover will not only help with inconvenient issues like stolen or broken equipment; it could also be a life-saver, ensuring that you get prompt and adequate medical treatment without delay, if needed.

Next week…

Join us for the penultimate post in this series where we’ll be looking at apres-ski activities around the resort and sharing some fun pastimes that will provide fun for kids, couples, groups and families.

See you next week (...we couldn't resist the cute picture!)

See you next week!

What To Do Before You Hit The Ski Slope (3 of 6)

Friday, November 5th, 2010 by Nick

Last week, we spoke about the different types of ski resorts and accommodation. This week we’ll look at some of the things you should find out and do when you arrive at the resort  before hitting the slopes.

Unwind and relax before hitting the slopes

Unwind and relax before hitting the slopes

Although every resort is different, there are some basic rules that will ensure your well-being and safety during your stay.

On arrival at the resort

Explore and familiarise yourself with the resort

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings

Take time to find out where everything is, from bars and restaurants, to some of the more important facilities and landmarks. Being familiar with your surroundings and knowing where everything is from the outset can save time and stress during your stay.

Find the nearest Pharmacy & Chemists

From headaches to hypothermia…be prepared!

From a simple headache to emergency medication and treatment – trying to find the nearest chemist or pharmacy in an unfamiliar place isn’t fun when someone’s in pain or distress.

Make time to locate the nearest pharmacy to your accommodation and ensure that at least several others in your group also know where it is, including the quickest way to get there. If the resort has more than one pharmacy, it may be worth locating the other as a back-up plan.

Arrange a meeting point

Lost someone? Hopefully not for long.

Before heading out to the slopes, it’s definitely worth getting the group around a piste map to identify and agree pre-arranged meeting points. These are invaluable if someone gets separated from the group and prevents the need for everyone to head out in different directions to find them.

Check Your Equipment

Do you have it and does it work? Check all your equipment boots and goggles to tissues and antiseptic hand wash.

Check you have all your equipment with you and if renting check the fit

Check you have all your equipment with you

A pre-ski check list is always a good idea to ensure that you have everything to hand that you may need. In true Blue Peter style, here’s one we prepared earlier:

  • Spare ski socks
  • Suntan cream
  • Lip balm / protector
  • Sunglasses
  • Mobile phone
  • Handy packs of tissues
  • Small bottle of antiseptic hand wash
  • Bottled water or other drink (not alcohol)
  • Chocolate bar or other high-energy snacks
  • Small emergency first aid kit with plasters and bandages
  • Piste map
  • Goggle and sunglasses cleaner
  • A reliable watch or clock of some description

Grab Two Piste Maps

Know where you are, and take a back-up map in case one blows away!

Ski resorts usually have an extensive network of ski runs that cover miles and miles. If you get separated from a group or the weather closes in, a Piste Map can help you to regain your bearings and find your way back to a pre-specified rendezvous point.

Check the Weather and Piste Conditions

Know what’s best come snow or shine!

Weather can be a big problem when skiing. A gloriously bright, sunny warm day with perfect visibility can turn into a white-out in minutes. It’s important to check the weather in advance of setting out to get an idea of what to expect and when the conditions are likely to change. This enables you to better plan your day and stay safe.

Roger that!

For a happy and care free winter holiday communication is key!

Keeping in contact with your skiing group is extremely important

Keeping in contact with your skiing group is extremely important

Communication is essential for any group or party heading out to the slopes, not just in terms of having a mobile phone but having all the necessary contact numbers and staying in touch with each other throughout the day. Each member of the group should have the name and phone numbers of:

  • Each group member
  • Emergency services
  • Ski and mountain rescue
  • Hotel, chalet or apartment, if it has one
  • Local doctor’s surgery or hospital

In addition to having the numbers, it’s important that each person communicates their intentions with the rest of the group. If someone gets tired or isn’t feeling well and wants to go back to the apartment or hotel, they should text or call other group members to let them know.

Next week we’re on the piste!

That about wraps it up for this week. Join us next week where we’ll show you how to be safe on the piste whether you’re a skiier or snowboarder, and what can be done if things go awry on the slopes.

Top Ski Resorts and Accommodation Options (2 of 6)

Friday, October 29th, 2010 by Nick

Last week, Part 1 of our winter sports series, we spoke about money saving tips and winter sports planning. This week, we take a look at some of the accommodation options and popular destinations.

Choose a resort best suited to you (Image by Rennet Stowe)

Choose a resort best suited to you (Image by Rennet Stowe)

There is huge diversity in the different types of ski resorts, while some lay on a well balanced portfolio for all abilities, other resorts lean towards a particular market including intermediate, advanced or powder skiers (we mention these later on). For starters, here’s a quick run-down of the holiday durations available.

The Weekend Ski Break

Perfect for those who just want to give it a go.

Weekend ski breaks can be hectic to say the least, but they are the perfect answer for those that aren’t yet ready to commit to a longer holiday on the snowy peaks. Typically, prices start at £199 for coach packages with weekend flight packages available from £300.

Longer duration Ski Holidays

When any other holiday just isn’t an option.

Although some are happy to stay in one place for the entire duration of their ski break, one alternative for longer duration ski holidays is to spend half your stay in one resort before transferring to another, giving a wider variety of slopes. This plan also offers more options for shopping and après-ski, if those are an important part of your holiday.

Ski Accommodation

There is an unsurprisingly vast range of accommodation offered by ski resorts. Of course, the actual location of your hotel or apartment – both in terms of the resort you choose and its proximity to ski lifts and other facilities, may be more important to you than the type of accommodation you choose.

There's a few different types of accomodation to choose from

Apartment or Chalet? There's a few different types of accomodation to choose from


Just the Basics – Clean and Comfy

Apartments often offer the best value, with self-catering apartments offering accommodation for groups of 2 to 12 people. In the US, this sort of ski accommodation is often referred to as ‘condominiums’ or ‘condos’. Many apartments are purpose-built close to the ski slopes, so offer maximum convenience.


The Picture Postcard Snow-covered Chalet

Strangely enough, chalets are largely a British phenomenon and are generally run by Brits across the Alps, particularly in Switzerland, Austria and France.

Chalets generally provide a full-board experience with three good meals a day, plus high tea when the lifts close, and often with local beers and wines on offer. Staff usually get a day off each week, when you will need to plan a meal out.

Up-market chalets often provide a greater level of comfort and facilities that may include hot tubs, steam rooms, games rooms, private ski guides and tours.


From Bed and Breakfast to 5 Star Luxury

Hotels usually offer a variety of stay options from bed and breakfast to half or full board. As with any hotel, ski hotels usually work on a star rating basis from zero to five-star. In France, the highest rating is four-star.

  • Basic ski hotels are commonly offered by British tour operators in most mid-range resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees and are ideal if you are on a budget.
  • If budget isn’t an issue, there are some serious high-end ski hotels that provide everything you could possibly need, including swimming pools, gyms and health spas.
  • As a compromise, traditional hotels may not be as convenient for slope access as many of the apartments and chalets, so it’s always worth investigating this if access to the slopes is a top priority.
  • Also, look out for variants on the standard hotel, including Chalet and Club Hotels, which are run to a chalet style, and ApartHotels, which are apartment complexes with optional hotel facilities and services.

Match a Resort to Your Ability

As with any type of holiday, it’s all about location, location, location. Depending on what you’re looking for in the perfect winter break, you can guarantee that there will be a resort that offers everything you desire. Here are just a few of the ‘closer to home’ possibilities that might be worth checking out.

For the Beginner

Nice and easy!

Choose the right location for beginners in your family

Choose the right resort for your budding little skier

1. Les Arcs | France

Les Arcs has nursery slopes directly above each of the resort’s main villages, of which Arc 1800 has the most variety. It also has a free beginner’s lift, plus a good range of more advanced slopes as you progress. The best ski school is the award winning Brit-run New Generation in Vallandry. Their friendly instructors will instil confidence in the most timid of beginners.

2. Soldeu | Andorra

One of Europe’s best beginner resorts, Soldeu has two extensive nursery areas and excellent ski instructors who are native English speakers. When you progress, there’s also a good range of slightly harder runs. The weather is usually good (Soldeu translates as ‘Sun God’), the nightlife is pretty messy and, of course, Andorra is a duty-free zone so it’s cheap.

Intermediate Skiers

Ready and raring to go

Woah, that guy over there is busting some crazy tricks!

Woah, that guy over there is busting out some crazy moves!

1. Chamonix | France

Avid skiers, snowboarders, and partiers flock to this popular resort, and they are not disappointed. The scenic Chamonix Valley is nestled among some of the highest mountain peaks in the Alps, including the famous Mont Blanc massif.

There are 145 trails weaving throughout the area, adding up to 140 kilometers (87.5 miles). The favorite runs in the area are Le Brevent, Vallée-Blanche, and the Grands Montets. Chamonix is known for its fantastic off-trail skiing and snowboarding opportunities, as well. Including the off-trail slopes, the area offers up to 30,000 acres of skiable terrain.

2. La Plagne | France

La Plagne is a great resort for intermediates, particularly now that the link to Les Arcs gives you more options for day tours.

As many of the connecting runs are scenic blues, even early intermediates can explore most of the mountains, but there is enough challenging and varied terrain to keep stronger skiers entertained; the wide expanse and different expositions guarantee a good sense of travelling through the mountains. The slopes of La Grande Rochette offer some of the most challenging intermediate skiing, though all the reds off the back of Les Verdons are great, particularly the wonderfully long Mont de la Guerre.

Advanced Skiers

Are you brave enough?

Are you brave enough to do this!? Check out advanced skier resorts

Are you brave enough to do this!? Check out advanced skier resorts

1. St. Anton | Austria

With intense terrain to satisfy the more experienced skier, St. Anton attracts extreme skiers looking for the ultimate challenge. Only the most advanced skiers should attempt Valluga’s notoriously difficult north face. After the breathtaking and terrifying descent, you will discover beautiful powder slopes as you head towards Zürs. As well as the 276km of groomed piste, skiers in St. Anton can enjoy miles of off-piste.

2. Verbier | Switzerland

Verbier is considered by many to be the home of extreme skiing and hosts several competitions each year, bringing in the best Big Mountain skiers in Europe. With short hikes from the cable cars you can get to legendary runs like Stairway to Heaven or Rock Garden. A tour over the back side of Mont Fort will really get the adrenaline flowing. From the top of Mont Fort you can also see the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, so be sure to take a camera.

As you can imagine, there are thousands of ski resorts all around the world including New Zealand, China, Japan, Argentina, India and, of course,  the US, Canada and Europe.

To end Part 2 of our 6-part series on everything to do with winter sports, winter holidays and travel, here is possibly one of the most remarkable ski destinations anywhere in the world.

Strange but True!

Is that a Mirage in the Desert?

It may be boiling outside, but it's nice and chilly in here! (Image by Doudlers)

It may be boiling outside, but it's nice and chilly in here! (Image by Doudlers)

Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. This amazing construction covers a massive 22,500 square meters, is open all year round and covered with real snow.

Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and steepness. The longest run is 400 meters, with a fall of over 60 meters, making it the world’s first indoor black run. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels can enjoy the variety of slopes and practice stunts on the 90-metre long quarter pipe. There is also an interactive Snow Park for children and families, which is the largest indoor snow park in the world, covering over 3000 square meters.

In Part 3 of our Winter Sport Holiday series, we’ll look at what to do before you hit the ski slopes alongside some useful advice for when you arrive at your resort.

Top Tips for Winter Holidays and Ski Insurance (1 of 6)

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by Nick

Whether you’re a skier, boarder or après-ski enthusiast over the next 6 weeks, will be posting a series of hints and tips to help you save money and get the most out of this years winter holiday season.

Get ready for this year's Winter Sports Season

Make the most of this year's Winter Sports Season

As with any journey or for that matter, almost anything in life – planning is the key. As the famous quote goes, “Fail to plan, then plan to fail”. With that in mind, we kick off Part 1 of our winter holiday and sports travel advice series with these top tips before your flight:

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Get the frustration of learning something new or brushing up on existing skills out of the way on a dry slope before you go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect! Lessons and exercise will help you get more from your ski holiday

Learning anything new can be very frustrating. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before you’ll hardly want to spend half of your well-earned holiday frustrated and angry, while everyone else whizzes past you with apparent ease.

There are two things you can do right now to get a head start:

  1. Grab some lessons. Get at least 6 dry ski slope lessons in before you head off for the real white stuff. It may add to the overall cost, but in the long run it will be worth it. It’s technically more difficult to ski on a dry slope than the real thing, although it is much slower. Learn the correct techniques on plastic before you go, and your experience on snow will be far more enjoyable.
  2. Build legs like Linford Christie. Okay, so it may be a long shot, but exercising before your holiday will prepare you for the constant battering your legs will likely receive.

2. The Right Tools For The Job

If you’re a newbie, pop into a ski shop to familiarise yourself with the equipment and how it should feel. Take your time when trying on or testing equipment.

the right tool for the job

Know your shoe size, don't act it!

Equipment is personal. What is perfect for someone else may not be perfect for you. We’ve all done it: bought those much wanted must-have shoes that are half a size smaller than you would normally wear, thinking, “They’ll soon stretch”. Our advice would be to take your time when trying on the various makes and sizes of boots.

  • Boots. You’ll need a pair of ski boots that will not only fit you like a glove, but will be comfortable for long periods and be able to keep with the shape of your feet as they expand and contract throughout the day. As with almost all shoe and clothing sizes, the actual size can vary between manufacturers, so a size 9 made by one brand may match a 9 and a half of another. Options available for the ultimate in comfort and control include gel and custom made boot inserts, but these come at additional cost to the standard boot.
  • Socks. Make sure you buy the best socks you can afford. This is one way to improve comfort and ensure your feet are well placed in the shoe. Always pack several sets of ski socks and thermals so that you can swap while others are being washed and dried.
  • Sunglasses and Goggles. Buy the right level of protection for your eyes. You’ll get alot of reflection and glare on a snowy mountain which can lead to snow blindness.
  • Sun tan lotion. It’s easily overlooked, but you will get sunburnt without it. Buy a high factor cream and lip balm to protect you from the sun’s rays. The high altitude will mean the atmosphere is thinner and you’ll be susceptible to the more damaging rays.
  • Clothing. Thermals and undergarments are an essential part of the kit – helping to keep you warm, whilst letting your skin “breathe”. Although things can get very hot at times, you also have to be prepared for periods of inactivity if the weather closes in resulting in a near white out, or if you find yourself unlucky enough to be suspended on a ski lift during a break down. One of the top brands are Icebreakers.

3. Carry Essentials & Know Your Limits

Make sure you take a back pack or other hold-all with you, so you can take a drink and some energy bars whilst on the slopes. Tiredness and fatigue can creep up suddenly, so be prepared.

You needn't pack as well as these guys, but some essentials help!

You needn't pack as well as these guys, but some essentials help!

More than somewhere to carry your MP3 player and mobile phone, a back pack makes good sense. Use a backpack to carry an emergency supply of snacks and drinks, they could be a life saver. Skiing and snowboarding is hard work; hydration and energy levels can drop quickly, meaning that tiredness can creep up too.  A tired skier or boarder is more likely to make mistakes that could result in accident or injury.

4. Keep Photos And Video Safe

Damaged or stolen camera equipment can be easily replaced, the photos and video taken cannot. Make back-up copies or store online for safety every day.

Never point your camera at the sun, especially if it's this big!

Never point your camera at the sun, especially if it's this big!

Firstly, ensure that cameras and video equipment work before you travel, and that batteries are still holding their charge well. You don’t want to arrive having to make a trip for a new camera or battery as the first thing you do.

When away, if you have access to the internet, send yourself images via email or upload to a photo storage site such as Flickr. Your photos will then be safe and retrievable if your camera gets lost or damaged at any point. Video can also be backed up or stored online for safety.  Camera equipment can be easily replaced, the photos and video you’ve taken on your travels cannot be.

5. Adequate Winter Sports Insurance

Something that we probably wish we could do without, but will be hugely grateful for if it’s needed in an emergency.

Where'd my gloves go? Get the right equipment cover for loss and theft

Where'd my gloves go? Get the right equipment cover for loss and theft

Obtaining the correct Winter sports travel insurance is essential. Skiing and snowboarding is obviously a time to have fun, but accidents and mishaps do happen. Insurance policies can vary widely, so make sure you check the small print,  if something feels too cheap – question it! The cheapest ski insurance, isn’t necessarily the best. The average insurance policy comes out at around £25 a week.

Everyone is different, so make sure the insurance is customised to you. You will often get companies offering a “blanket cover” – based on some assumptions and averages. Although these might look attractive, you may be paying for cover that you don’t need (i.e. ice skating) or won’t cover what you want to do (heli-skiing). Your winter destination will also affect the cover required, breaking a leg in Switzerland can make your wallet £25,000 lighter, while the cost of flying you back from the USA with the same injury would be £70,000!

All being said, make sure you at least compare and look out for the following options:-

  • No snow. It’s snow joke. In this instance, the grass should not be greener on the other side, so make sure you are covered if the worst happens.
  • Piste closure. White-outs, avalanches and rain. It’s natures way of having the last laugh – but if you’re covered and compensated by your insurance policy, it might be you laughing louder.
  • Equipment. Make sure your policy covers any hired equipment, or if you are taking your own skiis or board, ensure it covers loss and damage whilst in transit as well as on the slopes.

So here ends Part 1 of 6. Next week, in Part 2 of our winter holiday tips we’ll be exploring some ski resorts, giving the low down on some of the top destinations, whatever the budget.