I am probably the only person at Iglu who has never skied…
I started at Iglu after working onboard cruise ships for over five years, so needless to say my cruise knowledge is more extensive than my ski knowledge. However, with the winter season rapidly approaching I was anxious to improve this.
As the UK's largest independent ski agency, it's no suprise that amongst a team of ski and snowboard enthusiasts I was one of the only who had never set foot on a slope. As colleagyes shared their snowy experiences with me through stories, videos and pictures my interest in all things ski only increased to the point in which something had to be done to quench my growing thirst for snow.
This is my opportunity…
So, I began looking into where, if and how I could take ski lessons and found the perfect opportinity at the Go Ski Go Board launch at Hemel Hempstead. They were looking for somone who had never skied before to take part in a one hour lesson...this was definetely my chance!
I was so excited, although admittedly slightly nervous. Someone compared it to surfing which put me at ease as I like to surf, although I wasn't too convinced it was similar!
Gloves, hat, coat, boots…
The day I had been waiting for arrived. Ironically a boiling hot day in London, I took a swift train from London Victoria, one hour to Hemel Hempstead. It is also accessible via car, just ten minutes from junction 20 on the M25.
Upon arrival we were met by the organisers who took us to get our boots and skis. Our instructor, James told us a little bit about himself, what we would be doing and reassured any doubts we had. He made me feel at ease and I was eager to go out and learn.
The Snow Centre is an indoor slope that boasts real snow and as soon as I touched it I was filled with adrenalin to get started. First, James explained how to put on and take off the skies and went through some basic techniques. He was very patient and explained everything thoroughly.
Our next stage was to learn how to stop, an important stage for me! Again, James was extremely patient and helped us with anything we felt nervous about. Once I knew how to stop, there was no stopping me! James even noted "you do not have much fear for a young girl who has never skied".
We went on to learn different techniques for changing direction and turning. Every time we learnt something new it was explained in an understandable way and with great patience. I was enjoying myself so much that I did not realise we had been on the slopes for nearly two hours. I looked over to the intermediate slopes and could see the skiers and boarders speeding down and performing amazing tricks, I asked James if he could teach me to be like them, to which he laughed and replied "sure!"
My time on the slopes was unfortunately coming to an end but I really did not want to leave.
At the end of the lesson I felt fulfilled with what I had achieved and it has completely inspired me to learn more.
When I had first arrived at The Snow Centre with my nerves, I never thought I would be feeling like this by the end of my lesson.
I cannot commend James enough for his patience and excellent teaching skills. He made me feel completely at ease and comfortably pushed us that bit further. He had an excellent way of engaging with us on an equal level and making the lesson fun.
I would definitely recommend taking ski lessons, and even more so with the Go Ski Go Board programme. The only warning I have is that you may become hooked!
Watch this space…
During work the next day I couldn’t help but keep watching videos on YouTube of skiers and boarders and thinking how much I want to step into their world!
I cannot express enough how great skiing is. Take that from someone who has never been interested in winter sports! People are often put off as they think it will be too expensive, but this new programme offers affordable lessons and great rates on different courses.
I cannot wait to see what the winter season has in store for me and I hope I will be confident on the slopes by the new year! Watch this space!
This week’s Top 5 is all about families!
A ski holiday is a great opportunity for the family to spend some quality time together. With family-friendly accommodation, ski schools and a range of family fun, there is no better way to spend time away with your family.
We spoke to 11 year old Zara and here is what she had to say:
"I love skiing, I have been skiing for seven years now and visitied lots of ski resorts. My favourite ski holiday was Meribel, I love the snowpark and the beds in the Hotel Tarentaise are super comfy. Tignes is a really friendly resort, Evolution have great English speaking instructors and after a day on the slopes I love skiing back down to resort and hearing the music blasting from Loop Bar. I go to the swimming pool most evenings and love the husky rides. In La Plagne it is so easy to go bum boarding after skiing as the hotel is on the piste. There are lots of children in La Plagne so ski school and kid’s club was really fun."
Here are our Top 5 Family Friendly Resorts:
With a huge range of beginner and intermediate pistes, it is the perfect resort for a family holiday. Children benefit from plenty of beginner friendly ski areas, and will love the mini boardercross and animal themed Moon Wild.
Skiing in Tignes in so vast, it is great for all abilities. There are several free lifts for beginners and has excellent ski and snowboards schools. Children will love the après ski in Tignes, with ice skating, bowling, swimming pool and Husky rides.
3. Saas Fee
Saas Fee has one of the largest beginner areas separate from the main slopes, yet is still next to town and right behind the Chalet Hotel Annahof. Families will love the Ice Pavilion and the 3500m high revolving mountain restaurant.
4. La Plagne
This skiers Paradise is an ideal choice for families of all abilities. There is an excellent selection of family friendly accommodation throughout the resort and has a great reputation for it’s encouraging ski schools.
Children will love skiing at the Home of Santa Claus. Families can enjoy the thrill of Reindeer sleigh rides, husky sledding and snowmobiling. Ski resorts are much smaller in Finland but there is so much more to experience in this magical winter wonderland.
What are your favourite family ski resorts? Let us know @Igluski!
We're delighted to announce that when you visit Igluski.com on your phone, you will now enjoy a whole new lovely experience. Here's a whirl through five key features:
1. Helpful Header
At the top of every page you'll see this header. We wanted you to be able to do all the key, useful stuff you already can do from our desktop website without compromising simplicity and clarity. We spent a lot of time crafting this area to get it just right.
At the top, you can search for any words (or phrases) — that's for finding specific pages or words across our site. On the right is the phone number and it's just a tap to give us a call from any page. We were careful with the opening hours too, sometimes they're a bit too dense and cluttered, we've reduced them to this simple one line. You'll notice that when we're closed, this switches to show when we next open. We think on a phone you just want to know the score right now. You can still find the full breakdown on our Contact page.
Underneath those are the three main points of navigation: 1. Search for a holiday, 2. Browse our current deals and 3. Check out the snow. We get all sorts of traffic on our site, but those three things cover the vast majority of requests, so all are an easy tap on every single page.
If you compare it to our existing desktop site, you can see just how much we've reduced it down:
2. It's Beautiful
Modern phones allow us to make the site look truly beautiful. If you've got one of the latest iPhones or Android phones, you'll be treated to wonderful high resolution photos and icons. Afterall, nothing beats a lovely, crystal-clear shot of Chamonix.
And naturally we had to choose a quality font that matches that great look. As phone screens become higher in resolution and quality, it means typefaces that are traditionally used for print now look great on screens too. So if you're on an iPhone, you'll get to enjoy browsing our site in Gill Sans.
There are also plenty of other neat touches around, from subtle dropshadow to soft patterns, giving a really solid and high quality feel as you browse.
On a phone, you've got data speeds and bandwidth to worry about. When you're on a train and browsing with 3G (or — shudder — EDGE), there's nothing worse than a stop-stutter website that's cruising through your data usage. We put a great amount of effort into keeping our site lightweight and quick. Everything (other than photos) is pure code, which means it's quicker to load and it's much more efficient than before.
With a desktop site, you have to support a lot of older browsers and therefore sites often get designed without a lot of the latest technology to make them easier support. With current iPhone and Android phones we were able to make great use of all sorts of better tech, without compromising load times.
Even our logo is pure code — no, seriously:
4. Everything is There
One thing we desperately tried to avoid was removing any useful functionality. A complaint we often hear about mobile sites, is that a missing feature forces people to switch to the desktop site. Although a lot had to change, pretty much everything key is still there. So for example our handy date grid on holidays is too big and unwieldy for a phone, but you can still change dates and airports whilst seeing prices really easily:
On top of that we've made templates for almost every existing page, so even if you find some of our most obscure pages via Google, you'll still end up on a mobile-optimised page with all the content that is present on the desktop page. And if you are struggling to find something specific, just use the search box at the top of every page, or browse the sitemap.
What we've found in testing, is that all key functions of our site are now easier. Since the size of a phone screen is so small, we've been able to focus on distraction-free functionality. So searching and filtering criteria is a cinch, snow forecasts are automatically show on all holidays, enquiring by phone is a single tap and even enquiring by web form is just three simple fields and the type of keyboard automatically changes to help you fill them in sharpish.
It means you can do the same actions quicker and easier than you could before — and it's pleasant to do so.
Unlike an app where you've got to go away to the App Store and downloading something, our mobile site just works. You don't even need to follow a special link, just the next time you visit our site on your phone, it'll all be working nicely for you. Try it and let us know what you think: Igluski.com.
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