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!
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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.
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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
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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