In our Ski Special we track down the very best hol­i­days, whether you are on a bud­get or a blow- out, with fam­ily or friends

Whether you’re look­ing to make fresh tracks, chas­ing a good deal, or feel­ing a bit more flaithiúlach, Lau­rence Mackin, Conor Pope and Leonie Cor­co­ran have the ski­ing hol­i­day for you

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE - Leonie Cor­co­ran

Do you strug­gle to see the at­trac­tion of ski­ing? If the idea of a snow hol­i­day leaves you colder than get­ting stuck on the chair­lift in a bl­iz­zard, we’re here to help.

It’s too ex­pen­sive It re­ally isn’t. It was, but now there are plenty of op­tions for snow bun­nies on a bud­get. A two- to three- star deal in Söll, Aus­tria, in­clud­ing di­rect flights from Dublin, trans­fers, six nights’ B& B, six- day ski pass, ski, boots and hel­met rental comes in at about ¤ 920pps. With tweaks you can re­duce this: book early or last- minute, avoid school hol­i­days, and buy a five- day ski pass. Ex­clude your ski pass and rentals, you can get a week in Livi­gno in the Ital­ian Alps for ¤ 399pps. A week in Gran Ca­naria on the same dates costs ¤ 634pps, in­clud­ing flights and six nights B& B but with no snowy fun. When it comes to gear, you need a water­proof, breath­able jacket; snow­pants; a base layer; long socks and gloves. Try TK Maxx, Lidl or Aldi, and all the snow stores have sea­sonal sales.

I want sun on my face, not sleet We aren’t tak­ing the piste, you will get a tan. Or tan lines to be more spe­cific. Gog­gle tan is a “thing”. If you visit the moun­tains in the spring you can hope for big blue skies, bright sun­shine and slopes cov­ered with a sea­son of snow. You’ll need SPF50 and at lunchtime, grab a deckchair, sit back and soak up some high- al­ti­tude Vi­ta­min D.

I’ll be on my bum for the week. Okay, it will hap­pen. You will end up with a mouthful or pants- ful of snow at some point, but be­gin­ner falls bruise your dig­nity more than your body. If you are a new­bie, take lessons – pri­vate, if you can af­ford it – and you’ll be carv­ing down the slopes in no time. Note: if you are snow­board­ing for the first time, you will most likely fall from your hands to your bum and back. Pack gloves with wrist sup­ports and, em, en­joy it.

Ex­er­cise ? I want fun on hol­i­days Ever gone hik­ing or even for a strong walk? Re­mem­ber the smug feel­ing as you tucked into a calo­rie- loaded din­ner after­wards? Add snow and ski­ing to the mix and you can mul­ti­ply that smug­ness by 10, which means more melt­ing Alpine cheese for all. And yes, tech­ni­cally you are spend­ing hol­i­day time ex­er­cis­ing, but is that re­ally so bad?

I hate cheese. What else is there to eat? So much, but who doesn’t love melt­ing cheese? True, most piste restau­rants won’t wow your taste­buds, but shar­ing a beer and a wood- fired pizza half way up a moun­tain is an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. Save your fine din- ing for evening, when most re­sorts of­fer lots of choice, from Miche­lin- starred ( head for San Cas­siano, Italy; Val d’Isère and Val Thorens, France; and Aspen, US) to fine din­ing restau­rants ( try the old chalet of Les Man­darines in Megève; Cap Horn in Cha­monix and Chez Vrony in Zer­matt, Switzerland) to sim­ple, high- qual­ity eater­ies. If your ho­tel food isn’t ex­cit­ing, skip the half- board op­tion on a night or two and eat out.

Ho­tels are very ba­sic at ski re­sorts We beg to dif­fer – see page 38 for some eye- pop­ping lux­ury chalets. These are a big trend, es­pe­cially in the Alps. There are movie rooms, wine caves and even pri­vate chefs if you have the bud­get. And if you don’t, there are a choice of ho­tels, catered chalets or self- ca­ter­ing apart­ments which in­clude ac­cess to the sauna and steam rooms. Airbnb means there are even more pri­vate houses, chalets and ma­zots avail­able.

I’m too old to learn to ski Oh come on, 60 is the new 40! Se­ri­ously, age isn’t a fac­tor in ski­ing, and you will see that on the slopes. If you have any mo­bil­ity con­cerns, con­sult your physio pre- trip and every­one should fol­low some ba­sic ex­er­cise ad­vice be­fore they travel to strengthen their core, feet and an­kles and quads.

Ok, fine, I’ll try the ski­ing but I’ve no in­ter­est in do­ing it ev­ery day Fan­tas­tic, be­cause there is so much fun to be had on the snow. Ice skat­ing, snow- shoe­ing, dog- sled­ding, ice- driv­ing, ski­jor­ing ( horse- or dog- drawn ski­ing), horse- sled­ding, beau­ti­ful walk­ing routes, spas, ther­mal suites and roar­ing fires and a good book. Book a re­sort that has at least some of these and you will please all the fam­ily.

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PHO­TO­GRAPH: ADIE BUSH/ GETTY IMAGES

You will end up with a mouthful or ski- pants- ful of snow at some point. But be­gin­ner falls usu­ally re­sult in more bruises to your dig­nity than to your body.

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