Is Poiana Brasov Europe's most expensive ski resort?

Our annual whinge about the state of Romania’s ski resorts. For last year’s, see here.

Bucharest Life – then known of course as Wimbledon Life – spent Christmas 1990 in Romania; in Sinaia, to be precise. In those days, skiing in proper resorts was still beyond the pocket of a junior civil servant, so we had to make do with what we could afford: Andorra, Bulgaria, Romania.

And in those days, Romania was bloody cheap. Even with the scourge of ‘foreigner price’ to deal with it was impossible to spend all that much. In fact, you had to be careful not to exchange too much money and end up with a load of useless paper which you couldn’t spend, because there was nothing to spend it on; nor in those days could you change lei back into real money. It wasn’t even soft enough to wipe your backside with.

Those were the days.

Back then, there was not even such a thing as a proper piste map in Sinaia, and in many ways it is heartwarming to know that 20 years on there is still no proper piste map. This utterly unhelpful map is all we have ever found:

A prehistoric piste map for a prehistoric ski resort

We have said in the past that the best place in Romania to develop a proper ski resort would be Balea Lac, high in the snow-sure Fagaras Mountains. The Valea Dorului at Sinaia is an option (as there is already something resembling a skiing infrastructure, snow is guaranteed and it is not too difficult to reach from Bucharest and its airports), but the issues which we picked up on in this post make any development there unlikely in the near future.

We did read last week that Petrosani/Parang would see development soon, complete with seven chairlifts and a whopping 30km of piste: that’s enough to keep a decent skier happy for at least a few hours. (That, of course, is if those 30km will actually be real kilometres. In our experience, a kilometre in a Romanian ski resort tends to be a little shorter than elsewhere).

Quite how people will get to Petrosani is another matter: it is hardly in the most accessible part of the country. Another concern would be that the highest part of the Parang ski area is 1699 metres: snow at that height is not guaranteed.

Anyway, these things are probably irrelevant: we have filed the project under ‘we’ll believe it when we see it.’

Until Petrosani/Parang becomes a worthwhile alternative, Romania’s ‘top ski resort’ (everything’s relative) will remain of course good old Poiana Brasov, a place which, pound for pound, offers less value for money than probably any ski resort in the world. Indeed, in our wholly unscientific survey (carried out yesterday afternoon on the back of an envelope) we have found it to be the most expensive place to ski in Europe.

A not entirely accurate piste map of Poiana Brasov

This coming season, a day’s lift pass in Poiana Brasov will cost 125 lei; that’s €30 for 13km of piste, or €2.30 per km. Bansko, in Bulgaria (Poiana’s biggest regional rival), offers 75km of piste for €25 (2009-2010 prices), or €0.34 per km. The Three Valleys in France offer 600km of piste for €47, or €0.08 per km.

Of course, maybe Poiana Brasov makes up for its lack of piste with other things, such as perfectly groomed, rock-free slopes and modern, high-speed lifts free of queues.

Or maybe not.

45 thoughts on “Is Poiana Brasov Europe's most expensive ski resort?

  1. There is a twofold reason why Poiana Brasov and other Romanian resorts are more expensive than many superior examples from Western Europe and elsewhere: one is the euroisantion of Romania’s economy stemming from its EU membership and another is the existence of a near captive market from which these resorts draw their customers. The near captive state of the market comes from the poor and expensive transport links between Romania and the rest of Europe and the infatuation of the locals with their overrated facilities.
    The only example in which that particular dreadful market situation has been dented is that of the Romanian Black Sea resorts, which are now in state of shock from the direct competition of the nearby unquestionably superior and less expensive Bulgarian resorts. The completion of the motorway to Constanta and Mangalia, coupled with the generally more affordable prices in neighbouring Bulgaria, will deal a fatal blow to those eye sores such as Mamaia, Costinesti or Neptun relegating them even further to third rate places where the masses of Basescu and Udrea voters spend their so-called holidays.

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    1. Bansko last year was full of (ordinary) Romanians: only Brits had more visitors in the town. My take on Poiana is the same as that on Mamaia: local wealthy types like to go there to be seen being wealthy and rule the roost. In Bansko (or elsewhere) they would be merely ordinary tourists like the rest of us and nobody would pay them any attention.

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      1. What about Monaco, why don’t they go to Monaco? :-s

        How would people see the local Romanian wealthy types in Monaco?

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    1. *Yawns*

      Lives in Romania (and looking at your IP address it would appear you do not…) married to a Romanian, kids half Romanian and at Romanian schools… Yes! It is clear I hate Romania ‘so much.’

      Being critical does not mean you hate everything. I have been through this more than enough times on these pages I do not even know why I am even bothering to defend myself.

      I would just add, however, that if you want an uncritical look at Bucharest and Romania you should head over to another blog: one that looks at Romania through rose-tinted spectacles. There are certainly enough of them around.

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    2. You are just a sorry little insect, who does not even mention its name (you are not a man, but a typical Romanian “it” who kowtows in front of Basescu and any local power figure). Why are you hiding? :)))) This blog is one of those rare honest forum where we can debate and constructively vent out our frustrations about the many everyday shortcomings in Romania and oriental arrogance of its ‘elite’.

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  2. You forgot to mention the ridiculous accommodation prices in places like Poiana Brasov or Predeal! I saw some ‘Revelion’ prices the other week, made me laugh.
    However, these places are still packed – obviously, nobody can see you if you go skiing in Andorra, so why bother.
    Gits.

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    1. Yes, accommodation is incredibly expensive, but I wanted to keep the comparison strictly to skiing prices. By they way I found out yesterday that Predeal is even more expensive: 130 lei for a day’s lift pass, for even fewer pistes than at Poiana. Having said that, grooming of pistes in Predeal always strikes me as being the best in Romania.

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  3. This is a matter of suppy and demand. The demand for resorts such as Poiana Brasov or Mamaia is still high so the prices are high. If I was a businessman who owned a property in one of these resorts I would also charge a lot of money for an inferior product if I can get away with it. It’s like that romanian saying ” Nu e prost cine cere, e prost cine da”. This situation will change only when the supply will go up (by developing more resorts) or the demand will go down (more customers will realize that they can get better deals in places like Austria or Bulgaria).

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    1. 2013 will be the first year, since January 1997, that I will not be skiing for one or two weeks in Poiana Brasov. I have stayed in the resort well over 20 times, I love the mountains, BUT I can no longer afford what has become an incredibly expensive holiday. I will be going to Bulgaria.

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  4. Help please! I am (maybe was after reading this blog) considering spending a month snowboarding this winter. I can get a months accommodation for £200 which was the major attraction, I was going to stay in a hostel in Brasov and get bus up to resort daily. I ‘guestimated’ I could do the whole month on £1000… but I’m now thinking this might not be such a good idea or even possible! What do you think? Do you know price of a week pass? Do you have any alternative ideas? Any ideas or advice will be much appreciated… Ps I hope it’s not too late to get a reply on this!

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  5. Cheers Craig that’s really helpful.  I think I might come for 10days and explore some other resorts too, thinking sinania and looking in to other resorts do you have any ideas? I’m really looking forward to traveling Romania snowboarding, meeting locals and experiencing the culture. 

    mr rearguard  I’m taking your comment with a pinch of salt and assuming around a 1000 is enough for a month. I’d find it hard to spend 1000 in a week in uk!   Romainia Is super cheap right (apart from lift pass)? alls i want to do is buy food from supermarkets etc that I can cook myself and have occasional beer and meal out.  would 1000 be enough? 

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    1. Seeing the price of the lift pass, not sure if Brasov is in Romania anymore.

      It’s been a lifetime since I last went to Brasov so the rest of the bucharestlife family can estimate Brasov prices better than me.

      As for Bucharest, well – I’m a local and I spend between 700$ and 1000$ per month. Rent not included cause I have my own apartment. What’s included in this price is:

      – one daily meal at a medium-priced restaurant
      – other crap to eat + Coca Cola
      – some light shopping for clothes (a pair of shoes / jeans, a shirt etc…)
      – personal hygiene stuff (perfume, toilet paper, toothpaste, socks etc…)
      – transportation (taxis or your own car – same shit)
      – taking a girl out once a week (or once every two weeks, depends); last time I did this it was on Thursday and we went to Chocolat, next to Caru cu Bere = 135 RON treats for two + 60 RON for some f*cking biscuits but hey… she enjoyed the evening
      – getting laid once a week (if it doesn’t come for free)
      – household stuff + other bullshit that might appear (water, heating, plumber, electrician, medicine etc…)

      So getting a decent life by Western standards costs around as much as it would cost in the West.

      Now if Bucharest costs that much, Brasov may be priced like Monaco?

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    2. 1000 GBP will be fine….just keep streetwise and don’t let locals bend you over and fuck you in the wallet. I can get by on 500-600 a month excluding rent and live pretty easy.

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  6. I realise this was written in 2010 and I’m writing this comment about 2 years later but this is a bit shocking. The prices are supposed to have risen since then, but I still have to completely disagree with your statement: the most expensive place to ski in Europe, seriously?

    Although I spend a lot of time criticising Romania with all its rubbish sides, some friends asked nicely if I could look into skiing there. So what I found was: 6 day ski pass: around £100. Accommodation (3*, 10 min from the ski slopes) about £20-25/night/double room. Flights in January (from Dublin) are around £60-£80. The food is not too bad if you don’t go to fancy restaurants.

    I just spent Christmas with a friend in the French Alps, went to visit some resorts, and I couldn’t even afford to buy a souvenir!

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    1. It’s a simple equation: cost of a day’s lift pass divided by the number of available kilometres of pistes. I doubt you will find anywhere in Europe more expensive than Romania.

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    2. You’re comparing the French Alps to Romania in a completely different way to Craig. There’s a difference between a comparison in absolute or nominal terms (what you seem to be doing) and a comparison in relative terms (what Craig was doing). That’s why, for example, things like the GDP of a country can be expressed and compared to another as a nominal GDP (the absolute comparison) or as PPP or Purchasing Power Parity GDP (the relative comparison).

      In absolute terms you’re absolutely right. A week-end in the French Alps is likely to cost you more, perhaps considerably more, than a week-end in Poiana Braşov. In relative terms, or at least in the relative terms used by Craig, Poiana Braşov is a rip-off.

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  7. wow.. what an assessment of price for value. you divide price by total kilometers??? what kind of logic is that? is there a name for this kind of rubbish logic? so my friend you are assuming that once you ski down a trail you cannot ski down the same slope again? like your kilometers are exausting? eat some bananas and think again

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      1. No, a ski resort is judged by the amount of skiing it offers. The world’s best resorts are those where – during a week’s holiday – it is almost impossible to ski the same run twice. Places like Courchevel, La Plagne, Val d’isere etc.

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    1. Let me make it easier for you. Imagine an all you can eat buffet which offered just one kind of food. You’d expect it to be cheaper than an all you can eat buffet offering a cornucopia of culinary treats? Or maybe you wouldn’t.

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    2. I think the logic is fine. I wouldn’t pay €30 to ski down the same 13km over and over again when I could ski on roughly six times as many kilometers of ski runs for only €25.

      If I charged you €30 for a CD featuring only one song and €25 for a CD with 6 songs of similar quality to the first one, and you had to buy one of these CDs, you’re telling me that you would have no problem paying €30 for the first one?

      I mean, no one is stopping you from listening to the same song over and over, and it’s not as if you’re exhausting the song by doing it, but by the sixth time you do it I have feeling you might regret not buying the cheaper one with more songs.

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  8. si aici ma refer la toti care scriu aceste prostii. Fratilor, ca in orice loc, o sticla de apa costa de la .5 la 10 Euro. Depinde de tine, cat vrei sa dai!!!

    English: You sound like some parrots. Like everywhere in the world, 1 bottle of water may cost from 0.5 to 10 or more Euros. You decide how much you pay.

    Now, regarding the slopes. You sound like amateurs, which you probably are. If you go “hiking” in gondolas, indeed RO is not the place. Mountains are for real people, not for ladies.

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      1. Not for Gigi Tare. He only deals with real people who can only be men. He drinks with them, fights with them, climbs mountains with them and makes sweet, tender love to them. How could ladies be of any use to a man like him?

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      2. To be honest I might have some sympathy with him on the subject of summer mountain excursions: walk up and walk down, none of this cable car up, walk down nonsense. The only problem is that this is a discussion about winter sports. Is he suggesting we walk up the pistes, with our skis over our shoulder, in order to ski down?

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      3. The other Gigi said God gave him feet so why would he put on skies cause if God wanted him to ski he would have given him skies in the first place.

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      4. Ah, perhaps you’re correct. The other Gigi has used “parrot” so often that I may have been confused about this :p

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  9. No comments for a year?
    I’ll add one just for fun.
    Spent a few days in Brasov, didn’t find it that expensive compared with the rest of Europe.
    The lift tickets for the ski hill are the most over priced.
    The accommodation and food seemed reasonable.
    50 Euro a night for two rooms, family of five, descent 3 star
    35 to 45 euro per meal for five, this is two adults three teenagers.
    Just spent one day and a night in Liechtenstein.
    The most expensive ski day in my life.
    1000 euros for a day.
    The lift tickets were the best deal, about the same as Brasov.
    BUT….the accommodation was 4 times as much
    AND….the food!!!! 67 CHF each for a lame breakfast
    That’s over 250 euros for breakfast for 5
    Ski rentals are double anywhere for those who don’t own them.
    We didn’t bring them for 4 of us as we were coming from Canada,
    So I could have bought a new set at home for the price of the 4 rentals.
    Spent 2 days in Germany, And a few more in Austria, they are also expensive.
    I don’t know what everyone is comparing to here, but Brasov isn’t expensive compared to the west anyway.
    Best deal is in Alberta Canada.
    World class skiing, for much less money.
    I didn’t know I had the best skiing in my back yard till I came to Europe.

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