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
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.
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.