Fear of making an idiot of yourself is the single biggest turn-off for beginner skiers, so here are ten things to do before your first ski holiday.
Here is our fully updated guide:
1. Don’t Buy: Borrow
You want to look good, right? You want a knock-out suit that might possibly distract from your less-than-pretty ski technique? Perhaps you’ve got your eye on a Prada all-in-one?
Well, put your credit card away this instant. The golden rule of ski wear for beginners is this. Don’t buy: borrow. This goes for men, too. Even if it means wearing your neighbour’s fading all-in-one from way back when. After a few days on the slopes you may decide, as some people do (though we can’t understand why), that skiing is not for you. And you will be stuck with an outfit you’ll never wear again and a hefty bill.
So borrow as much as you can – gloves, hat, fleece, goggles, sunglasses, ski helmet. Do buy your own thermals though, and ski socks (who likes to borrow socks?). Stores such as Ellis Brigham and Snow + Rock have a good selection of base layers and socks. Try searching Amazon, too, as they sell a good range of ski clothing and accessories.
2. Book a Chalet, Not a Self-Catering Apartment
Ski holidays can be dirt cheap – especially if you book a self-catering apartment. But I wouldn’t suggest a self-catering holiday for beginners. A ski resort is a pretty baffling place if you’ve never been to one before, and the way to learn the ropes is to book yourself into a catered ski chalet (or chalet-hotel) run by a British company such as Ski Total or Le Ski. In a catered chalet you get not just breakfast, tea, unlimited wine, and six out of seven dinners laid on.
You also get the services of the resort manager to guide you to the ski hire centre and the nursery slopes; as well as the advice of chalet staff and other guests about the best bars and mountain restaurants.
For the first trip, it’s also a good idea to book a chalet company that offers chartered flights and transfers too. That way, you won’t have to worry about driving up to the ski resort yourself.
Bear in mind before you book a trip that the price of a week can vary dramatically. Avoid school holidays if you can (especially the Three Valleys at half-term), and instead target the last three weeks of January or early March. You’ll save yourself a small fortune in the process.
You can make further savings if you shop around for early or late-booking discounts. But don’t be guided entirely by price – you need to make sure your resort is beginner-friendly by cross-referencing with our resort reports.
Particularly good resorts for beginners include Mayrhofen in Austria, Alpe d’Huez, La Plagne, Flaine, Val d’Isere and Courchevel in France, Cervinia in Italy and Soldeu in Andorra.
By the way, if there are no chalet holidays available in your chosen resort, then pick a hotel as close to the ski school meeting point as you can afford – and either book it direct or through a tour operator with a good reputation for the quality of its resort staff, such as Inghams.