Are you still unsure if skiing is right for you? Then keep reading on to find out…
“You’re going to love skiing, I promise.” The words I’m sure we’ve all heard from keen skiiers.
You’ve heard it from a partner, friends or children, who are certain they’ll be able to convince you into running down the side of the mountain. They’ve told you about the thrill of feeding a need for speed, mastering a new skill and celebrating your achievement with the après ski.
But still you’re not so sure. You’ve no idea how to plan it or what to expect.
Here we address those nagging reasons why you’ve never taken the plunge – and give you all the information you need to enjoy your first time on the mountain and keep you coming back for more. You’re going to love it, I promise…
Q. How do I arrange a ski holiday?
If you’re used to booking your own independent travel then you might find it a bit harder when it comes to ski holidays. Transfers are long and can be expensive, and you also need to organise lots of extras such as lift passes, skis and boots and lessons at ski school. So your best option to go with a travel agent that can talk you through the whole process and make sure you’ve got everything in order.
Q. Who can help me?
We can! We use all the specialist ski tour operators such as Crystal, Inghams, Esprit, Ski Independence and many more. Then of course there is always the all-inclusive ski holidays, where Club Med are the specialists and include the whole hog with lunch, drinks, childcare and evening entertainment all part of the deal.
A beginner’s guide | Dos and dont’s for your first ski holiday
- Do get reasonably fit beforehand – improve your cardio and strengthen your core (belly and back).
- Do cut your toenails before you go. Yes, it makes a huge difference to boot comfort. And as you will quickly discover, that is all important.
- Do drink lots of water
- Do apply and reapply sunscreen as if you’ve been swimming every half-hour, even if it’s cloudy.
- Don’t stop for a rest below a ridge or after a blind corner.
- Don’t undo your ski boots; it’s easier to walk heel-to-toe with them done up.
- Don’t cradle your skis in your arms, learn how to carry them on your shoulder.
Q. What if I want something a bit luxurious?
Well then we are here to help. The higher end of the ski market features fabulous chalets and five-star hotels such as the Chedi Andermatt where we were lucky to spend a few days earlier this year. Fancy four days in an apartment with a view of the Matterhorn, helicopter transfers and champagne on tap? Just ask…
Q. What type of accommodation can I stay in?
These have changed since the days of rice-paper thin walls between rooms and dinners of tuna bake with a cornflake topping. Standards and prices vary, but well-trained staff, flexible high-quality meals, and maybe a spa are on offer. These are great if there are a group of you travelling and you can rent out the whole chalet.
Self-catering is good value if you are on a budget. Many blocks are upmarket with concierge service and spas. Don’t overpopulate them with people on the living-room sofa beds even if they say the studio sleeps 6. When on a ski holiday you tend to have more luggage than on a summer break so you want some extra room.
A small family-run hotel has a long-term interest in making you comfortable – and there are plenty of these in the Alps, especially in Austria and Switzerland. If you choose the higher end, then the service and facilities will easily wash away any aches and pains from the slopes. Plus, you can keep yourself to your yourself if you prefer not to socialise.
Very much like chalets, these are run by British tour operators, so you don’t tend to get an international experience, but there are plenty of like-minded people to share your holiday tales with and offer great value. Often a better option for families than a chalet if you aren’t hiring the whole thing.
Q. What if I don’t ski?
Many resorts are Summer holiday destinations so there’s no lack of other activities.
Enjoy the mountains
Most ski resorts have stunning mountain views, many of justifiably famous peaks. Courmayeur in Italy has Mont Blanc, Zermatt in Switzerland the Matterhorn, and Wengen, also in Switzerland, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Walk the trails
Ski resorts are a walker’s paradise even in winter – the piste-bashing machines that prepare the ski slopes also compact the snow on marked paths. Rent some snowshoes and get out there.
Take the lifts
Pedestrian tickets for cable cars and gondolas allow you to meet friends and family for lunch up the mountain. In Wengen, some of the ski lifts are trains – and you can ride one through the Eiger. Once up there, there are thrill rides, too.
Take in a spa
There are ski spa towns, with traditional, natural “take the waters” treatments – all the Bs: Bormio (Italy), Banff (Canada), and neighbours Badgastein and Bad Hofgastein (Austria). Elsewhere, there is barely a four or five-star hotel without a spa – aka a wellness centre.
Q. Do I really need to wear a helmet?
Even before Michael Schumacher’s terrible coma-inducing accident, in which he was wearing a helmet, there was debate about helmets’ effectiveness against head injuries and concussion. It is definitely a good idea to wear one but, while they can protect you from some injuries, they don’t make you invincible. When I was learning to ski in the 90’s no-one wore them and as teenagers would have been horrified to have been asked to wear one, but they are the norm now, so you won’t stand out wearing one.
Q. Do I need to go to ski school?
People often say a friend will teach them. Great idea – what could possibly go wrong? By all means, practise in the afternoons with family or friends, but take professional lessons in the mornings.
These days a new breed of independent ski schools have made lessons much more fun and individual. Always ask for an English-speaking instructor. To up your game fast – and enjoy basking in personal attention – pay the extra for a private instructor.
Q. What about the kids?
Many children can learn to ski from as young as three. They say that if your child is coordinated enough to climb stairs one foot per step, they may be ready.
Q. What if I have one lesson and hate it?
Keep giving it a go until your 3rd lesson. My husband hated the first day earlier this year but by our 3rd day he was much more confortable and actually enjoying himself. You could see the joy at being able to ski a blue run on his own, ok it was slow and I had to keep waiting, but he did it. Don’t give up so soon – you’ll regret it.
So, if you are now thinking that skiing is right for you and you want to give it a try then give me a call on 01603 343555 or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I can find that perfect trip for you.