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.
Snowboxx took over Alpe d’Huez for a week of vibrant festivities. When I mean takeover, you couldn't look anywhere without being reminded that Snowboxx was in town. From colourful onsies on the slopes, to gondola cabins kitted out with karaoke systems, to parties spread between nearly 10 venues every day throughout the week. After 2 years of successful festivals in Vallnord, Andorra, Snowboxx moved on to larger pastures to Alpe d’Huez in France. This fine resort hosts 250 km of pistes and is already renowned for its lively nightlife, making this resort the perfect place to ski hard all day and party even harder by night. Read more about Alpe d’Huez here: 10 reasons Alpe d'Huez is a must-ski destination
Horse Meat Disco at Folie Douce. Photo: Gregory Ke
The Ibiza style, grand terrace après parties at the Folie Douce was definitely one of the highlights of the week for me. Even after 4 ski seasons and countless après shindigs, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. As 3 pm strikes, skiers and snowboarders flock to the 2500m high mountainside venue for a 2 hour session of dancing in your ski boots. Eton Messy and Horse Meat Disco headlined the 2 Snowboxx après sessions at the Folie Douce, with these huge DJ acts, the theatrical fun and stunning panoramic views blazed in sunshine, nothing else quite compares to this extraordinary party atmosphere. As it hits 5pm the mountain is evacuated as everyone takes the last run home to carry on the party in town.
Jungle headlining the main stage Other parties included a tropical tea party at L’Etalon Rum Bar, Sticky Banit at Zoo bar, Tom Misch at Smithys, pool party, Retro Rentals Disco at Taburle, plus so much more. With packages starting from just £229 pp it is a great budget choice for a week in the mountains, as well as the access to an outstanding week of partying and experiencing top music acts in the snow. This was such an epic week, the music was amazing, the town was buzzing and the crowds were smiling all week as everyone was having such a fantastic time. The festival sold out again in 2015, and I’m very excited to see what they have in store for 2016. The Snowboxx line up included Jungle, 2manydjs, Blonde, TCTS, Eton Messy, Horse Meat Disco, Tieks, Anushka and more.
Photo: Sam Neil
View more information on snow festivals
The Royal family are famous for heading to the slopes each winter and their holidays are often heavily publicised in the press. From the upmarket playground of the 3 Valleys to the swanky Swiss ski resorts, the Royals have holidayed in resorts across the Alps. A ski holiday is the perfect time to feel like royalty. Here are our top 5 resorts that are fit for a queen:
Klosters has acquired international status from the presence of Royals. This picturesque luxury Swiss resort is said to be Prince Charles’ resort of choice and Kate’s relationship with William was first publicised when she was invited to Klosters with the royals in 2005. The Royal Family have a long history at Klosters and would be the most likely destination to bump into them on a chairlift. If you want to stay where the Royal Family have stayed, Charles favours the 5* Walserhof hotel.
View more about Klosters
Situated at the heart of one of the world’s premier ski areas it is no surprise that the Royal Family love it in the Three Valleys. With the fantastic ski schools in resort, will this be where Kate and Will will bring George on his first ski holiday!
View more about Meribel
This year Verbier was the chosen resort for Prince Harry and Prince Andrew’s ski trip where they stayed in a luxurious chalet. The resort isn’t as romantic as Klosters but has world class skiing and world class private chalets to match that cater for the super-rich.
View more about Verbier
Lech is a popular holiday destination for both Royals and celebrities. The resort is renowned for its 5* hotels, exclusive bars and fancy restaurants and is often seen as the Courchevel of Austria. Being linked to neighbouring resorts Zürs , St Chrisoph, St Anton and Stuben it is becoming one of the world’s greatest ski destinations.
View more about Lech
Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s top ski areas and is often counted in the world’s top 5. WWith guaranteed snow, sun drenched slopes, skiing up to 3500m and beautiful views of the Matterhorn, it is no wonder that this resort in a firm favourite with the Royals. The wintery fairy tale wonderland offers so much more than just a prime ski location. How about visiting the Igloo village, relax on a sunny terrace of a gourmet mountain restaurant or après in a boutique lounge or champagne bar? This traditional resort is one of the most stunning resorts you will ever visit and is definitely a resort fit for Royalty.
View more about Zermatt
View the Ten Most Exclusive Ski Resorts in the World
Panoramic alpine views, flamboyant dancing, stunning sunshine, high mountain peaks, vibrant coloured flavoured rum, world class skiing, scrumptious fondues, late nights and a humongous list of activities off the piste, is just a small taste of what to expect on a ski holiday in Alpe d’Huez. Alpe d’Huez is one of our most popular ski holiday destinations. This all-round-resort boasts 250km of ski runs, 2 snow parks and 50km of cross country trails. The height of the resort and ski area means snow is guaranteed throughout the season and is a popular choice for late season holidays.As the UK’s largest independent ski travel agency we work with over 70 ski tour operators to offer you the widest range of ski holidays and find the perfect trip for you. Inghams is one of the largest operators we work with and invited Iglu Ski along on a trip to Alpe d’Huez for Snowboxx festival where we stayed at the popular Chalet Hotel Les Cimes.
With so much to do in resort, here are your 10 must-dos in this amazing ski town:
Last season the famous French après chain extended into Alpe d’Huez, to what may be my favourite location of all. Try to imagine dancers dressed in black feather wings, men in leather high heels, champagne showered down from an elevated DJ booth and a saxophonist prancing around on the bar as you purchase drinks. It’s like something out of a Baz Luhman film and an excellent way to way to get the party going. Après may have only started at 2, but by 2:15 there are already people dancing on the tables and making the most of their short time in this spectacular cosmos. In addition to the epic party that the Folie never fails to deliver, you go weak at the knees staring at the stunning views off the dance floor balcony.
Top left and bottom photo: Gregory Ke Photographie
Appropriately labelled as ‘The Best Fondue in the World,’ La Fondue En Folie was of course our first choice for dinner on the chalet staff’s night off. How good was it? Well, how often do you get to the bottom of a cheese fondue... Never? We polished off it all. And the meat fondue too. Plus we were still infatuated enough with cheese the next day to stomach a round of Croque Monsieurs at lunch. There is an extensive menu filled with various meat and cheese fondue options. The restaurant size is modest so booking early in the week is recommended.
La Fondue En Folie: When the tables are full, food is placed in hangers above!
Alpe d’huez is a glacial resort that offers high altitude skiing and some of the longest descents in the Alps. The 3330m Pic Blanc glacier summit is the start of the longest black run in Europe, Sarenne that has a 2220m descent over the 16 km piste. On a clear day you can spot the peaks of Mont Ventoux, Taillefer, Belledonne, Chartreuse, Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles d'Arves. As a high ski resort, snow conditions are great throughout the winter season and there is even skiing on the glacier during the summer months. Yes the skiing is fantastic up on the glacier, but what really took my breath away was the astounding vista. There are panoramic mountain views as far as the eye can see and the ocean of clouds make you feel like you are on top of the world.
Views from the peak of Pic Blanc
When you think of the perfect mountain eatery, what do you imagine? Large sun-soaked terrace overlooking the ski slopes, an extensive selection of your favourite alpine foods, and a large chilled beer in your hand? All the boxes get ticked at this lunch stop. Perfectly located at the first DMC stop, near the snow park and the green pistes, it is easy meet point and accessible for everyone, non-skiers and beginners included. The hefty menu has all the alpine favourites of cheese and meat combinations including croque monsieurs, tartiflette, burgers, pizzas and salads. The calzone and montagne croque monsieur (raclette cheese) were our top picks after an active morning ski.
The fantastic large sun terrace
Les Cimes is a great value hotel for this fantastic resort. The large accommodation is brilliantly situated less than 100m from the slopes, taking you to the Grande Sure chairlift and straight up to fantastic Signal pistes. Perfect if you are keen to get out on the slopes first thing. The south facing positioning means the sun terrace gets the sun in the afternoon and the front bedrooms have an incredible view of the alpine landscape.
A weeks stay on half board chalet catering basis starts from £503 pp which includes accommodation, transfers and flights. A six day lift pass costs £189 per adult (aged 13-64) when pre-booked through us and ski and boot hire costs from £105 per adult when pre-booked. View more information and ski deals at Chalet Hotel Les Cimes
Top - the amazing views at sunset from the front rooms. Below - the hotel exterior and large breakfast selection
Head to the Underground Bar for a brilliant night you will probably end up not remembering! The super friendly staff create a welcoming and fun atmosphere that is a favourite amongst the seasonaires in resort. If you are like me and prefer a cider over a beer, well great news, they have it on tap here! Most nights the owners band plays live music so expect to keep dancing into the small hours. Our other favourite night venues in Alpe d'Huez included Sphere bar, L'Etalon Rum bar and Igloo bar
Lots of different flavours of homemade rum at the pirate themed Etalon bar
If you like long lasting ski runs, there are 5 pistes in Alpe d’Huez that add up to an impressive 10 000m of height difference. L’Enversin d’Oz (2205m), La Villette (2035m), Oz en Oisans (2000m), Huez (1880m) and La Serenne (1830m). As much as I loved being at the peak of the glacier, my favourite ski runs were on the other side of the mountain at Signal and the ski runs down to Oz and Vaujany. If you are a fan of long ski runs then this is the side of the ski area is for you. Get first lifts up to Signal and enjoy the stunning, wide, corduroy pistes down to the TSD Le Villarais chairlift. This area is normally quiet first thing as the crowds head to the main ski lifts around the green slopes. For more lengthy slopes you can take the runs from 2100 at the first DMC stop or from 2050 at L’Alpette down to Oz en Oisians at 1350 or Montfrais, towards Vaujany, at 1650m.
Top of Signal
This wondrous festival turned Alpe d’Huez into a spectacular wonderland for an entire week. The popular ski resort is already known for its varied and vibrant nightlife, but Snowboxx came into town and took the party to the next level. At every moment of the day you had the opportunity to join in with the festivities, from a waterslide competition or disco dodgeball in the day; to Meat Horse Disco at Folie Douce for après on the mountain or an afternoon terrace party back in the town; to evening events including tropical tea parties, pool parties or joining the headliners 2 Many DJS, Eton Messy and Jungle at huge open air gigs. The possibilities were endless, but you were guaranteed to have an awesome time wherever you ended up. The festival crowd was fantastic fun; there was always a sea of fancy dress and smiles to get you in the mood to party, even if you are still brushing off the hangover from the night before. Snowboxx has now sold out for 3 years in a row, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the ski crowds in 2016.
Snowboxx festival 2015. Top - Fun at Folie Douce. Bottom - 2ManyDJs
Discover an unforgettable experience whilst on holiday in Alpe d’Huez and conquer the legendary 16km Sarenne by moonlight. This brilliant evening takes place every Wednesday which fits in perfectly with chalet staff night off. After taking up the last cable car at 4.30 pm to the peak of Pic Blanc you watch the sun set over the breath-taking panoramic view at 3330m whilst sipping on a vin chaud or hot chocolate. When nightfall’s the group is joined by qualified ski instructors and ski patrollers as you ski down the 16km piste by moonlight (and supplied headlights). The run takes about an hour to ski down and once you have reached the bottom you are rewarded with a 3 course mountain dinner at the Auberge de la Combe Haute. After a cheese filled evening you ski back to the village and a shuttle service is provided from 10:15pm to transport you back to resort. The excursion is subject to good snow cover and weather conditions. You must be a good skier or snowboarder to take part and you are advised to book early. Cost is approx 75 Euros. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
Panoramic views at the top of Sarenne
With every 6 day lift pass you can benefit from 1 entry to the swimming pool, ice rink and the sports centre. So after a day on the slopes you can head to the outdoor pool for a relaxing afternoon or if you fancy just a half day on the mountain, you can head into town for lunch and a skate on the ice rink, all for free!
This is what’s great about Alpe d’Huez, it’s so much more than just a ski resort. There are plenty of ‘off-piste’ activities to keep any children or adults occupied if their ski legs are feeling tired. Other entertainment includes: Dog sledding, snow mobiling, paradliding, helicopter rides and ice driving.
Snowboxx festival, is without a doubt, been the highlight of this ski season. It was the best fun to experience a music festival in a ski resort whilst surrounded by the iconic views of Alpe d'Huez. March is a perfect time to visit this stunning ski resorts as you get to enjoy the brilliant spring skiing conditions, and the snow was still good enough to make it to the end of Sarenne! View more photos from this ski trip.
View ski holidays in Alpe d'Huez
For more information on Alpe d’Huez Grande Domaine Ski please visit www.alpedhuez-granddomaine-ski.fr
For more information on Snowboxx visit www.snowboxx.com
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