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Erna Low is 80 – Chalet Holidays, School Ski Trips, Apres Ski – Blame Erna

The real start of the UK Ski Holiday industry probably happened some 80 years ago this week, although the first ever ski package trip was arranged to Chamonix in 1898 by Dr Henry Lunn, the Ski Club of Great Britain being formed only 5 years later.

In 1932 Erna Low put an advert in the Morning Post (a UK national newspaper that was bought by the Daily Telegraph in 1937) saying “Austria, fortnight, £15 only, including rail and hotel, arranged by young Viennese Graduette for young people, leaving Christmas“.

On Thursday night in London, Erna Low celebrated 80 years and the launch of Mark Frary’s biography detailing the life of Erna and her remarkable life in creating and defining the ski holiday industry as we know it.

From that first trip in order to finance her journey home to Austria for Christmas, to organising house parties in the forties, the first Ski Chalet Holidays in the fifites and the first School Ski Trips in the seventies to the full tour operator, apartment agency and property selling company they are now.

Erna Low is the oldest ski tour operator in the UK offering holidays to over 80 resorts around the world.

It looks like Erna invented Apres Ski too… in some of the archive photos, film, letters and notes that we were treated to on Thursday night there was the comment “and we were dancing in our ski boots after finishing skiing” – and this from the 1940’s – Top work, we owe you Erna…

“Trigger” and Graham Bell on stage

With top skier and Ski Sunday presenter Graham Bell hosting the evening, Peter Hardy of Welove2ski and skiing correspondent for the Telegraph and Daily Mail presenting a video of himself and Graham trying to ski on 100 year old wooden skis (to be fair Graham nailed it Telemark style) plus actor Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger of Only Fools and Horses who’s mother was a great friend of Erna’s) led a heartfelt tribute to Erna.

The current owner and CEO Joanna Yellowlees-Bound who has worked for the company for 30 years said “Helping Mark sift through thousands of photos, letters ad albums, has reminded me yet again what an extraordinary life Erna had… I am proud to see this book put on record the achievements of an extraordinary 20th century lady”

A fascinating night, check out the video for an insight in to the Erna Low story. Remarkable too that Walter Ingham, also from Vienna started off at almost the same time in a similar vein with Inghams still going strong today as another major player in the UK ski industry.

The Erna Low Biography, Aiming High by the respected travel writer, consultant and Times correspondent Mark Frary is released on 1st January 2013 and is available to by at

We’ve got an advanced copy signed by Mark to give away – email with your oldest skiing memory that made you get hooked on a lifetime of ski holidays… We’ll pick out the best one and get it sent to you before the snow falls for another Winter…