Get ready to swoop with sheer delight
ou’re going to love it, I promise.” Ah, the words of the skiing or snowboarding evangelist. You’ve heard it from a skiing spouse, zealot friends or enthusiastic children, who are certain they’ll be able to lure you into the chapel of the mountain. They’ve told you how skiing combines the swooping exhilaration of surfing with the cyclist’s sense of journeying. They’ve told you about the thrill of feeding a need for speed, mastering a new skill, communing with nature ( just don’t mention mindfulness) and celebrating your achievement with the après ski.
But still you’re not so sure. You’ve no idea how to plan it or what to expect. Or perhaps you’re just unwilling because you’ve heard tales of derring-do, of first-timers being taken by friends to the top of steep slopes and told, “You’ll work it out soon enough”, of adults being thrown into a class of five-year-olds because they were so hopeless.
Here we address those nagging reasons why you’ve never taken the plunge – and give you all the information you need to enjoy your first time on the mountain and keep you coming back for more. You’re going to love it, we promise…
QYHow do I even arrange a ski holiday? If you’re used to independent travel, you might find things trickier in the mountains. Transfers are long and These have changed since the days of rice-paper walls between rooms, dinners of tuna bake with a cornflake topping, accompanied by Château de Vinaigre wine. Standards – and prices – vary, but well-trained staff, flexible high-quality meals, and maybe a spa are on offer. Some accommodate as few as four people (and there are also romantic, single-room bolt-holes). making you comfortable – and there are plenty of these in the Alps, especially in Austria and Switzerland. If you choose the higher end, then the service and facilities will easily wash away any tumble-related aches and pains. Plus, it’s easy to keep
steep, and you need to organise so much – lift passes to get you (and the children) up the mountain, skis and boots, lessons at ski school. So book a package holiday, at least the first time.
Q Who can help with that? Specialist tour operators such as Crystal (crystal.co.uk) offer specific beginners’ packages. For families there are experts such as Esprit Ski (espritski.
com), which will arrange childcare and lessons. For all-inclusive ski holidays, specialists such as Club Med (clubmed. co.uk) go the whole hog with lunch, drinks, childcare and evening entertainment all part of the deal.
Qyourself to yourself if you prefer.
Like chalets, these are run by British tour operators, so no eclectic, international experience, but plenty of like-minded camaraderie and a whole lot of value.
What if I want something a bit luxurious? Worry not. The higher end of the market features high-spec chalets and four and five-star hotels, provided by the likes of Consensio (consensio chalets.co.uk) and Scott Dunn (scottdunn.com). Ski-orientated travel agents and bespoke specialists include Ski Solutions (skisolutions. com) and Momentum Ski (momentumski. com). Fancy four days in an apartment with a view of the Matterhorn, helicopter transfers and champagne on tap? Just ask…
QWhat if I don’t ski? Many Alpine resorts were holiday destinations before crazy Victorians tried “ski-running”, so there’s no lack of extra-curricular activities.
Stick at it and you’ll soon be smiling, main; children quickly get the hang of it, below left
Chalets have come a long way