What to check for when booking ski holiday insurance

Avoid taking a tumble on your winter sports insurance1 this winter here, we guide you through the small-print pitfalls.

As the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail and it s certainly true of insurance. At best, we might cast a quick eye over the general levels of cover but how many of us actually read the small print? Yet the conditions and exclusions which lurk in the policy we buy can cost us dear. Here are some questions to ask when choosing a winter sports policy before signing on the dotted line.

What should I check first?

The conditions governing cancellation and curtailment. If you re ill, your costs should be covered but if you have to abandon your Discount Holidays © holiday because a dependent is ill (whether it’s the person you are planning to travel with or a close friend or relative at home), your claim could be refused.

What To Check For When Booking Ski <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Insurance Make sure you check terms to ensure the whole family is covered

Any conditions regarding cover for ski pack ?

Ski pack is the term for pre-paid lessons, lift passes and equipment hire. If you are ill or injured and can t use this, make sure you ask for a doctor s certificate so you can prove your claim later.

When does piste closure mean piste closure ?

If you can t ski or snowboard due to lack of snow, too much snow, high winds or risk of avalanche2 you should be able to claim on insurance, but you’ll need to check your policy wording. You may find that a high percentage or all the ski lifts and schools have to be closed to qualify, or your tour operator may reserve the right to transfer you to an alternative resort which is miles away.

What To Check For When Booking Ski <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Insurance Avalanche danger can cause pistes to close Credit: Bigstock

Some insurers waive this cover when a policy is bought within 14 days of departure as the conditions may already be predicted to be poor.

What about cover for lost or damaged equipment?

A range of get-outs may apply to this part of the policy. Cover could be waived while the equipment is in the care of an airline or even when you re actually skiing. Unlocked skis left outside a mountain bar or restaurant3, or skis left within view on a car roof rack are also unlikely to be covered.

What about off-piste?

Some policies exclude off-piste skiing4 and snowboarding entirely, some require policy-holder to be with a companion, and some require the companion to be a professionally-qualified guide. You also need to show that you followed the resort s off-piste rules, taking sensible notice of local advice and weather5.

What To Check For When Booking Ski <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday InsuranceSnowboarders play football on the snow Play! 01:35

How about the ski school slalom race at the end of the week?

Most specialist insurers will cover these fun races, but not all. Check before you take part. The same applies to terrain parks.

Surely I can rely on my cover if I injure myself on the slopes?

Well yes, you d think so, but but all travel policies will contain exclusions relating to use of alcohol, so steer clear of over-indulging at lunchtime.

And apr s activities?

Tobogganing and ice-skating (on a public ice-rink) are usually covered but snowmobiling, dog-sledding and parapente may not be. Watch out for high excess charges on claims arising from high risk activities too.

What To Check For When Booking Ski <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday InsuranceThree ways to make your airport experience less stressful Play! 01:52


  1. ^ winter sports insurance (
  2. ^ risk of avalanche (
  3. ^ restaurant (
  4. ^ off-piste skiing (
  5. ^ weather (

Hero nurse saves a child’s life while on holiday in Majorca

A nurse has been hailed a hero after saving a young boy s life whilst on Discount Holidays © holiday in Majorca. Sister Wendy Hadfield is back at work at Tameside Hospital after giving emergency treatment to the five-year-old after he stopped breathing while swimming in a hotel pool. Quick-thinking Wendy, 39, was on Discount Holidays © holiday with her family when she was called into action.

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A young girl spotted the youngster unresponsive, lying at the bottom of the pool, and shouted for help. After a man jumped in and carried the boy from the water, Wendy, from Mossley in Tameside, raced over to help.

Dominic Salter Hero Nurse Saves A Child's Life While On <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday In Majorca Sister Wendy Hadfield

She knew something was seriously wrong when she discovered the lifeless child, who couldn t swim very well, had no pulse. Working with a lifeguard, Wendy gave the boy mouth-to-mouth and CPR in a desperate bid to save him.

Thankfully, the child s pulse returned, before paramedics arrived and gave him oxygen.

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When he finally came around, everyone around the pool began to cheer and applaud cool-headed Wendy for her heroic efforts. The little boy, who lives in Surrey, soon made a full recovery from his ordeal and was splashing around again in the pool within a few days.

Dominic Salter Hero Nurse Saves A Child's Life While On <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday In Majorca Sister Wendy Hadfield

Reluctant hero Wendy, a sister at Tameside Hospital s Critical Care Unit, said: I saw the boy being dragged lifeless from the pool, I legged it over.

I went through four or five cycles of mouth-to-mouth and CPR before his pulse returned.

It was probably the most frightening incident I ve had in 20 years of nursing.

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Usually, I have a team around me and all the equipment around me. This was me, on my own.

It was the first time I d resuscitated someone outside work – and the first time on a child. That s why I was so scared.

The boy is absolutely fine. He had his first day in school last week.

Dominic Salter Hero Nurse Saves A Child's Life While On <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday In Majorca Sister Wendy Hadfield

Modest Wendy might not think she s a hero, but her colleagues disagree. The hospital s chief executive Karen James commended her brave actions and professionalism – and said the boy would have died if she hadn t have stepped in. She added: We want Wendy to know just how proud we are of her.

She won t like the fuss because she s not that type of person.

But as a result of her actions, a little boy is alive today – and a family have not been robbed of their precious child.

Why Portugal’s majestic Douro Valley should be on your holiday wish list

If the label on a port bottle seems something of a puzzle (what, exactly, is LBV? Tawny? Single Quinta?

for answers, see box below), then the region where it is produced, the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, can feel every bit as mysterious. A Unesco World Heritage site since 2001, the Douro is a majestic wilderness, one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, but a surprisingly silent place, apart from three bustling weeks of harvest each autumn. Until now a cruise up the Douro was the only popular way to Discount Holidays © holiday here a lovely way to see the river, but quite time-consuming and not for everyone. So why don t more port lovers perhaps on a short break to Porto make the trip up to these beautiful terraced vineyards where the port grapes are grown? Perhaps because there weren t enough appealing places to stay.

Why Portugal's Majestic Douro Valley Should Be On Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Wish List The bright lights of Porto often overshadow Douro

Also, I m sure, because they just didn t have to. For centuries port shippers have packed off their famous fortified wines to age down river near the coast, where they slumber in oak casks at the huge port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. Gaia is just across the river from Porto, and is geared up for guests, offering plenty of touring and tasting opportunities near the modern international airport, without the rigours of a journey 100km inland to the hot and arid, if spectacular, Douro Valley.

Those that did make the trip often travelled in a creaky old train from Porto s Sao Bento station to the village of Pinhao, which sits by the river at the heart of the vineyards a memorable trip with stunning scenery, but slow and rickety, and stifling in summer.

Why Portugal's Majestic Douro Valley Should Be On Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Wish List “I stayed at the five-star Yeatman hotel in Gaia, which has astonishing views”

The roads felt arduous, too, up and over the Marao mountain range. And, as one port shipper put it, the drive could be really hairy in bad weather. A day or two in the Douro, travelling by car or train, clearly didn t have much appeal. That all changed earlier this year with the opening of a six-kilometre tunnel through the Serra do Marao range along a new stretch of the A4 motorway between Amarante and Vila Real. The driving time from Porto to Pinhao has now been cut by about 20 minutes and it is a much smoother journey, too. At the same time, two new visitor centres have opened up in the port heartland of the Upper Douro.

You can head off around the vineyard for a guided tour, then tread the grapes at harvest time

Earlier in the summer I spent an afternoon at Quinta da Roeda, less than a mile from Pinhao. Quinta means country estate, and the old barns and stables of the grape farm here have been converted by the Fladgate Partnership port group into a visitor centre with a terrace overlooking the Benedita vineyard, dotted round the edges with century-old olive trees. Fladgate presides over the Taylor s, Croft, Fonseca and Krohn ports; you can taste the Croft range at the centre, then head off around the vineyard for a guided tour, and even put your best foot forward and tread the grapes here during harvest-time (though it s best to book that in advance). The other Fladgate ports can be tasted at the Quinta do Panascal estate, also open to the public, near Pinhao.

Why Portugal's Majestic Douro Valley Should Be On Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Wish List The Vintage House Hotel, on the riverfront in Pinhao

The Fladgate Partnership, in particular its chief executive Adrian Bridge, has been key to the development of port tourism in Porto, Gaia and in the Upper Douro. It has also just reopened the Vintage House Hotel on the riverfront in Pinhao, right across the tracks from the pretty little train station. The hotel, first created from old port warehouses in 1998, has had several incarnations over the years, but this is its smartest, with pale blue and yellow rooms that fill with light from the wide glinting river below, and serene green riverside gardens. The wine list at the Vintage House restaurant showcases fine labels from all over Portugal. I chose saut ed salt cold with eggs, olives, roast peppers and salsa verde, washed down with a cool glass of Quinta da Romaneira, a crisp local white wine (no, they are not all red and fortified in port country).

The Fladgate Partnership is not the only port company developing tourism here. The Symington Family Estate (which makes Graham s, Dow s, Warre s, and Cockburn ports among others), last year threw open the doors of Quinta do Bomfim, less than five minutes walk from Pinhao.

Why Portugal's Majestic Douro Valley Should Be On Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Wish List Barrels of port wine maturing in the Offley cellars in Porto

This visitor centre is notable for its museum containing old winemaking and vineyard equipment with 19th and early 20th-century photographs of the Douro. You can take a vineyard tour here, too, enjoy a tasting and, during vintage, watch the various stages of winemaking. They even provide picnics, complete with wine. The two visitor centres could be seen as rivals (as might the two port houses that own them), but with several decent hotels now open, there is no reason not to stay in Pinhao and see both.

And once there, the most appealing way to travel up and down the Douro, seeing the various quintas, is by traditional rabelo boat. Flat, wide, wooden barcos rabelos were used for centuries to transport port barrels down river to their resting places in the lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia. Today the old cargo boats still float outside the port lodges of Gaia by the city, and are spruced up for the annual rabelos port shippers race on June 24, St John s Day. Back in the Douro Valley, you can jump into one outside the Vintage House and be taken for a more peaceful hour afloat.

Why Portugal's Majestic Douro Valley Should Be On Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Wish List Douro valley vineyards Credit: Hemis / Alamy/Hemis / Alamy

Once back in Porto, with a night to spare before the flight home, I stayed at the five-star Yeatman hotel in Gaia, with its astonishing views, a swoop of city scenery that takes in a steely-grey expanse of river, stunning high bridges across to Porto and a mosaic of ancient buildings in white, orange and tan across the river. Surprisingly, until the hotel was built in 2010, this site was unused. The Yeatman is now a seriously swish hotel. It has a fabulous spa, so vast I got lost in it, what with all the Roman baths, tepidarium, hammam, saunas, and Caudalie Vinotherapie treatment rooms (which use grape products in their body wraps, exfoliants and creams).

The hotel s wine cellar, presided over by the youthful and dynamic Beatriz Machado, can deliver 83 wines by the glass and 1,300 by the bottle to the restaurant which is also known for inventive port cocktails and delectable seafood.

You can take a vineyard tour, enjoy a tasting and watch the various stages of winemaking. They even provide picnics, complete with wine

The Yeatman is also owned by the unstoppable and acquisitive Fladgate Partnership, which this summer opened a new large-scale Taylor s port visitor centre next door to the hotel, and has also recently bought the hotel Infante Sagres in the heart of Porto. Apart from the port trade, there are enticing food shops, busy bars, baroque caf s and seafood restaurants in the city, which is fast becoming a popular place for a short break. It may be tempting to stay in town for the whole of your trip. But I recommend that you take to the new fast road, drive through that tunnel, or go by train, pitching up for a day or two in port vineyards.

The Douro can now be done at more of a dash and it isn t going to be quite so mysterious in the future.

Know your ports | A quick guide to fortified wine1

Where to stay

The Yeatman2, Porto: double rooms from 290. From a decanter-shaped pool and the 25,000-bottle cellar to the grape-pip treatments at its spa, this stylish hotel revolves around wine. It has a Michelin-starred restaurant and mesmerising views over Porto, with spacious rooms to boot.

The Vintage House3, Pinhao, Douro Valley (00 351 254 730 230): double rooms from about 130. Fladgate s newly reopened wine hotel.

Six Senses Douro Valley4, Lamego: double rooms from 429. Another new hotel on the Douro scene, this 19th-century manor house is set high above the river. It s essentially a resort hotel, and facilities include a luxury spa and a wine library .

Getting there

Flights to Porto: British Airways from Gatwick. Easyjet from Gatwick, Manchester, Bristol and Luton.

Ryanair from Stansted.

TAP Portugal from Gatwick.

The best hotels in Portugal


  1. ^ Know your ports | A quick guide to fortified wine (
  2. ^ The Yeatman (
  3. ^ The Vintage House (
  4. ^ Six Senses Douro Valley (

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