I recently recovered from my first ever ski holiday with the Iglu Ski team in Tignes, France. I had such a great time that I am definitely hooked and can’t wait to go again next year.
I learnt so much along the way, I thought I would share my new-found knowledge, from one non-skier to the next.
When you’re up in the mountains, you’re at a very high altitude and much closer to the sun. This means whether the sky is blue or grey, you are still being exposed to high intensity UV rays; so whilst you think you may not be affected, there might just be an unsuspected goggle tan creeping up on you.
Try to wear Factor 50+ on whatever skin is exposed. It might also be a good idea to get a lip balm with an SPF. Bring moisturiser and after sun too – just in case you only realise before it’s too late!
When you face such weather and temperature extremes, it’s difficult to know what to pack. I would recommend anything and everything, here, we have a breakdown of essentials; but what people don’t tell you is – the wackier the better.
To those that plan to snowboard – this is irrelevant, but to the skiers amongst you – snow ploughing will become a way of life. For some, parallel skiing may come naturally, but once you’ve got this move down, the rest of your week is set.
Ski boots are not the most comfortable footwear. Non-skiers might be familiar with the cramp feeling you get from ice-skating boots – imagine this, and then imagine wearing and dancing it out in these all day. Take plenty of comfortable ski-socks with you – they’re worth the investment!
Allow yourself at least 3 half days for ski lessons. This is enough time to learn the basics and build your confidence; private lessons and group lessons both have their benefits – it depends what sort of holiday you are looking for.
This means you have been working hard, plus, an element of fearlessness goes a long way. Falling over is all part of a beginner skier’s day’s fun so don’t let it knock your confidence.
Helmets, goggles, sunglasses, heavy jacket, light jacket, ski socks, sun-cream, gloves, salopettes (not trousers) – they all offer protection. Stay safe. Do as Jonah says.
When considering your holiday costs, don’t forget to account for your lift pass hire. Once you arrive in resort you still need to get up the mountain to learn how to ski down. For beginners, you may not need a full 6 day hire; 3-5 may suffice.
Beginners lifts are available in most resorts and these are often free – reference your local piste map or resort representative. If you are taking lessons, your instructor will take you through the basics.
If not included in your holiday package, you can often buy a pass by day or half day – depending on your mood. Pre-holiday, your travel agent can help you arrange this. You can also purchase this anywhere in resort or from your chalet representative. Recommended ski resorts for beginners.
Gently rest your bottom on the button lift as it gently pulls you along; sit down too comfortably and it might take you back into the air!
In your first few days, you might not want to go for a full day’s skiing. Why not take a pedestrian pass and enjoy the piste on foot?
Once lessons are over, it’s down to you to navigate your way around the slopes. I spent the first half of my week thinking everywhere looked the same, a piste map will help keep you on the right track. Normally, the difficulty of the slopes is signposted very clearly.
Remember: Green, Blue, Red, Black
It’s not all about skiing or boarding, it’s about creating memories with your friends and family…or potentially losing them due to excess apres. There are hundreds of bars on the slopes and in resort for you to enjoy. With DJs, live music, dancing and great food to suit all tastes. Best ski resorts for apres ski.
More often than not and depending on which chalet or hotel you are staying in, you will be spending a lot of time with the same chalet staff throughout your stay. They will be with you at breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea. Look after them and they’ll look after you – a sure guarantee that there won’t be an empty wine glass in sight at dinner.
During a week’s stay in the average chalet, there will be one day of rest for the kitchen and chalet staff. You will still get your usual continental breakfast but this means no cooked meals. Take advantage of this day to go out and experience some traditional local food – think fondue, tartiflette, steak amongst anything else you might not expect to see on the menu.
Where did you manage to ski or snowboard this year? Did you go to a French favourite, maybe Tignes, Les Arcs or 3 Valleys? Or did you venture to Austria in search of the best après? Or do you crave powder and ventured off to Canada, Japan or a secret gem? Hundreds of thousands of UK holiday makers head to the slopes each winter, but what resorts are the most popular? We have looked at our customers this season to find out. Did you know we work with over 50 ski tour operators so we can offer ski deals in over 200 ski resorts in 16 different countries? This huge selection of holidays gives us the top variety of ski deals anywhere so we can find our customers the perfect getaway. With so many ski holidays to offer we send customers to a tremendous range of ski properties and resorts all over the world. Being able to do this gives us a brilliant insight to the UK market’s favourite ski destinations. We have looked at where you have chosen to ski and snowboard this winter and put together the top 10 ski resorts of this ski season.
Val Thorens, France 10. Courchevel This exclusive resort in the 3 Valleys is a firm favourite with customers with the 600km of pistes on its doorstep, the beautiful alpine village and the stunning mountain restaurants. There may be seven Michelin-starred restaurants and two 6-star hotels in resort, but there is still accommodation for all budgets, including apartments and chalet hotels. View ski holidays in Courchevel 9. Alpe d’Huez Alpe d’Huez has so much to offer; 250 km of varied pistes, from the green areas surrounding the resort to the longest black run in Europe; incredible bars to keep you partying from après through to dawn; so many non-ski activities to do, you don’t even have to think about skiing (ermmm...) and super high peaks to give you access to great snow throughout the season. I visited this brilliant ski resort in March 2015, read my 10 reasons why I love Alpe d’Huez.
View ski holidays in Alpe d’Huez
The Peak of the longest black run in Europe (La Sarenne) 8. La Plagne This massive resort is made up of 10 ski villages, all offering a colossal range of accommodations and amenities. From the abundance of apartments in Belle Plagne, to the ski in-ski out hotels across the resort to family ski chalets with onsite crèche facilities, La Plagne has something for everyone. View ski holidays in La Plagne 7. Les Deux Alpes A popular option if you are looking to go on a ski holiday at the start or end of the season. With skiing up to 3600km it is a snow sure resort that is even open to skiers and snowboarders in the summer months. Les Deux Alpes has an extensive ski area, vibrant après scene and a range of budget priced properties making it a top option for groups. View ski holidays in Les Deux Alpes
6. Val Thorens
The village of Val Thorens was purposely built to give guests the best access to the slopes making this an ideal location if you love hitting mountain first thing in the morning. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, with the village sitting at 2300m and the pistes peaking at 3200m and is illustrious for its excellent snow conditions.
View ski holidays in Val Thorens
5. Les Arcs
The only ’non-mover’ in the top 10. Les Arcs is an all-round resort which is popular year after year with families, groups and couples alike. The variety of the ski areas and the villages appeals to beginners on their first ski holiday, and even offers enough to keep a seasoned skier or snowboarder entertained all week.
View ski holidays in Les Arcs
Positioned perfectly in the heart of the largest ski area in the world, Meribel is in an ideal location to make the most of this renowned region in France. The tree lined runs and chocolate box style village charm make it one of the prettiest ski resorts in France.
View ski holidays in Meribel
3. St Anton
The legendary après of St Anton draws in the crowds year after year and is consistently our top selling Austrian ski destination. Ski holidays in Austria have been dramatically popular this season; we have seen huge jumps in numbers year on year to some of the popular Austrian resorts, including Mayrhofen, Lech and Ischgl.
View ski holidays in St Anton
2. Val d’Isere
Last year’s champion has been knocked off the high spot by its ski neighbour. The Espace Killy ski area is a favourite with our customers and ski team every season. The first rate ski area provides a large variety of terrain for all abilities and a snow-sure glacier making it one of the most attractive destinations for a ski holiday.
View ski holidays in Val d’Isere
With the largest share of customers choosing Tignes as their ski holiday destination this year, you have made this outstanding resort the top ski resort in winter 2014/15. With the poor start to the ski season, Tignes would have been a safe option because of the high altitude skiing with pistes up to 3400m on the Grande Motte glacier. With its fantastic snow record it is no wonder why thousands flock to Tignes year after year.
View ski holidays in Tignes
Grande Motte, Tignes
Top 3 France
1. Tignes 2. Val d’Isere 3. Meribel
Top 3 Austria
1. St Anton 2. Mayrhofen 3. Lech
Top 3 Italy
1. Sauze d’Oulx 2. Cervinia3. Selva
Top 3 Canada
1. Whistler 2. Tremblant 3. Banff
Top 3 USA
1. Breckenridge 2. Jackson Hole 3. Killington
Top 3 Andorra
1. Soldeu 2. Arinsal 3. Pas de la Casa
Top 3 Switzerland
1. Zermatt 2. Verbier3. Wengen
Want to see who came out on top last season? Take a look at the top resorts from winter 2013/2014
View 2015/16 ski holidays
What a season it has been! It may have not been the best start to the season, but the snow at the end certainly made up for it. Staff and customers have relished in the top snow conditions during the past month leaving lots of happy faces at the end of our favourite season.
The staff here at Iglu Ski have travelled to some brilliant ski resorts this season and we wanted to share with you our favourite moments from this epic winter.
Where have you been this season? Tignes (with a day in Val d'Isere and Val Thorens), Verbier and Mayrhofen. France, Switzerland and Austria in one season, might be a first for me!
What have been your highlights? Staying in the amazing Chalet Cosy Corner with Ski Armadillo in Verbier, waist deep powder on the Hintertux glacier and the amazing pork knuckle I had for dinner one night at the Hotel Perauer in Mayrhofen.
Where would you like to go next winter? Next winter I want to head back to Austria and try Ischgl, or perhaps Livignio in Italy.
Nick in Mayrhofen
Where have you been this season?Les Deux Alpes, Verbier and Tignes
What have been your highlights?Catching a bluebird powder day on a 3 day trip to Verbier, sometimes you just get lucky! Also, soaking up some late season skiing and sunshine in Tignes with good friends on our end of season trip.
Where would you like to go next winter?I really want to go to Ischgl next year, after doing a season in St Anton I hear that the only après that compares is Ischgl’s. Also I really want to arrange a trip to Japan for some epic powder, in the 2012 season Niseko had 21 meters of snow!
Top - Jake in Les Deux Alpes. Bottom Left - Late season slashes in Tignes. Bottom Right - Fresh snow and blue sky in Verbier
Where have you been this season?Val d’Isere/Tignes
What have been your highlights?Returning to skiing after 10 years of snowboarding was immensely rewarding and lots of fun. Hitting small mile stones of progress through the week was terrific with the real highlight coming with an incredible blue bird powder run towards the end of the week. Whilst snowboarding will always have a place in my heart it’s great to know my ski legs are still kicking!
Where would you like to go next winter?The Dolomites. Great skiing, beautiful scenery and delicious Italian food and wine – ticks all the boxes. I have already booked Club Med Pragelato to take advantage of the early booking discount!
Laura in Val d'Isere
Where have you been this season? Whistler, Peisey Vallandry and Valmorel
What have been your highlights? In Whistler I stayed at the Pan Pacific Mountainside, my best bits of the holiday was the zip wire trek between Blackcomb and Whistler mountain, and going on the amazing Peak to Peak gondola – it’s so high up! Plus Canadian people are a lot of fun, which made my stay even more enjoyable. In Peisey Vallandry I stayed at Les Chalet Des Deux Domains which is in an excellent location just a stone throw from the first lift. The chalet staff were brilliant, the child care was fantastic and the quality of the food was way better than I expected. Plus we had loads of snow! It was a great week. In Valmorel we stayed at the All Inclusive Club Med Hotel. The evening show was the best I’ve seen in a Club Med Village. The location is ski in – ski out, you can almost ski to the bar! The food and drink at Club has to get a mention every time. The Club Med Valmorel is the best family village; the facilities for the children can’t be beaten. There is access to a soft play room and early dining for children if wanted, plus there is a baby room available in the evenings if you have a baby booked in. Nothing is a problem when you stay here.
Where would you like to go next winter? Has to be the Dolomites, maybe Selva. I love food, mountain views, great skiing and staying in high end hotels. Otherwise Ischgl, Obergurgl, Vail and Breckenbridge are on the list next.
Scottie in Peisey Vallandry after fresh snow
Where have you been this season? Mayrhofen, Alpe d’Huez and Tignes / Val d'Isere
What have been your highlights? Going to Snowboxx festival in Alpe d’Huez was amazing. I love après and watching live music so being able to go to the events after a day on the slopes was so much fun. You can have plenty of late nights in Alpe d’Huez! When in Mayrhofen I plucked up the courage to snowboard down Harakiri, Austria’s steepest ski slope, plus I conquered Sarenne in Alpe d’Huez, the longest black run in the World.
Where would you like to go next winter?A large group of friends and I have already booked Chalet Zita in Ischgl for March, and then I’d like to go to somewhere I haven’t been before, maybe Les 2 Alpes, Val Thorens, Livigno or Sauze d’Oulx.
Top - Krystelle on Harakiri. Bottom Left - Apres at Folie Douce in Alpe d'Huez at Snowboxx. Bottom Right - Val d'Isere slopes
Where have you been this season? I’ve been to Tignes, Val d’isere, Val Thorens, Hinterglemm and Zell am See
What have been your highlights?Apres at the Goat Bar in Hinterglemm and the night tobogganing.
Where would you like to go next winter? I would like to go to Alpe d’Huez next year. I went there over 10 years ago and really enjoyed the resort so would love to go back. Otherwise I’d like to try Canada and combine it with a city break for a few days.
The Goat Bar, or 'Goaßstall', and ski slopes in Hinterglemm
Where have you been this season? Mayrhofen, Valmorel (with a day in Val Thorens/Les Menuires) and Tignes
What have been your highlights? All three are top notch resorts, so I won’t go on about the skiing too much. I’m lucky to have been able to go for 3 weeks in total this season, all with plenty of good snow. Mayrhofen: Harakiri, Austrian Après – you can’t beat the Europop, the Iglu White Lounge bar, Bus Warten Schnapps and Bruck’n Stadl. Valmorel: Club Med are great, every single one of them I’ve been to have been fantastic. The fondue in the specialty restaurant and some Veuve Clicquot was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday in style! Skiing with 3 of the best skiers in our office made this trip the most challenging skiing-wise. A short drive over on the sunniest day for some great powder skiing in Val Thorens was very much worth it. Tignes: I’ve been to the Espace Killy loads before, but this time with the best crew! It was the Iglu Ski end of season trip and a large group of us stayed in the brilliantly located Chalet Hotel Curling. The lowlight on this trip was when I managed to pop my knee out on the Piste “A” on our way back to the village, the highlight when I potted 2 balls with a train in pool that NOBODY saw!
Where would you like to go next winter? Japan in December if I can afford it, Austria in March (maybe Saalbach) and then somewhere high in France in April, I’d love to go back to Val Thorens or Alpe d’Huez as I’ve not been there before.
AJ and Linda in Val Thorens
Where have you been this season? Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens, Whistler, Niederau, Kitzbuhel, Park City, Deer Valley and Morzine.
What have been your highlights? New Year in Val d’Isere was really fun; I had an amazing powder day in Kitzbühel with a local guide and finishing the season in the sun in Morzine was perfect.
Where would you like to go next winter? Colorado, the snow parks in Breckenridge and Keystone are two of the best in the world.
Phil in Whistler
Where have you been this season? St Anton, Lech, Morzine, Park City, Canyons, Tignes/Val d’Isere and Verbier.
What have been your highlights? Trying Austria for the first time was a great experience. America was awesome although the snow this year was far inferior to Europe this season. I love Morzine and the Portes du Soleil, so going back is always top of the list for me.
Where would you like to go next winter? Love to try Japan in December or the Dolomites is high on the list.
Top - Beautiful blue bird day in Verbier. Bottom Left - Fresh tracks in Morzine. Bottom Right - Out of Bounds in Park City
Skiing in March and April is our favourite time of the ski season. Days get longer and temperatures start to warm up so you can relish in the brilliant ski conditions in the morning then hit the bars in the afternoon and soak up après in the sun on a mountain top terrace. End of season skiing is a popular option for skiers and snowboarders as there is more availability in favoured accommodations and families can enjoy a cheaper ski holiday in the Easter break compared to the high prices at Christmas and half term. Here are our top 5 reasons why we love spring skiing:
There’s nothing better than carving up the mountain with the sun beating down on your back. You don’t have to cart around lots of layers, you can sunbathe in between ski runs and you’ll have that special code worn only by fellow skiers and boarders – a cracking goggle tan so that everyone knows you’ve just returned fresh from the slopes.
More sunshine = longer days = lifts are open longer = more time out in the snow! Do we need to say any more?
As the slopes get emptier, the prices get cheaper, meaning that a last minute ski holiday is a great way to save the pennies. You'll have a bigger choice of accommodation as chalets and ski in - ski out accommodation won't sell out quite so fast. If you’re looking to squeeze in your second holiday of the season without using up all of your budget, then now’s the time.
If you don't have the time to enjoy a full week on the slopes, there are a number of Weekend Ski Breaks available so you can squueze in that last ski adventure of the season.
Take a look at Last Minute Ski Deals
As the spring months draw nearer, the slopes become quieter and quieter. Airport transfers become much smoother and faster and there are much smaller queues for chairlifts, lunch stops and bars. You’ll have more time to enjoy the breathtaking mountain views, rather than rushing to be first on the lifts.
You'll find that there's much more space on the pistes and if you are lucky enough to enjoy a late season powder day, you’ll be able to ski more fresh laps.
Spring is also a great time to bring along the kids and those who are just learning so they can focus more on their riding and less on trying to dodge others!
Experience some top après as resort bars aim to drink dry the last of their stock, ready to close down for the summer. You’ll find plenty of closing celebrations at just about every resort with live music, BBQ’s and of course, snow – a perfect combination!
The end of season also brings along a lot of festivals, such as Snowbombing, Snowboxx and Zermatt Unplugged.
Snowboxx festival at Folie Douce, Alpe d'Huez
View Ski Holidays in April | Ski Next Weekend | View Snow Reports
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