If you have never been on a ski holiday, this article is for you! Our guest blogger, Matthew Williams, put together a guide that will help you make the many, many decisions that collectively can make or break your ski holiday.
Whether you are planning a ski trip for the first time or simply want some tips for planning your next mountain adventure, we have you covered. In this article we will guide you through all the key things you need to think about, whether that is choosing a resort, deciding how you will travel there, picking the right accommodation, finding a ski school, deciding what to pack…the list goes on!
While it may seem a daunting task, by the time you have reached the end of this article you will have easy steps to follow to create your dream mountain getaway.
When planning your ski holiday, a good place to start is choosing the right resort. While there are many to choose from, not all will have what you are looking for, so we have a few questions that will help you to quickly narrow down your options.
How far do you want to travel?
There are ski resorts located across the world, but of course the further you travel, the higher the transport costs and the more time you spend in transit. If you are traveling from the UK for instance, a ski trip to Austria, France or Italy is just a few hours away.
What mix of slopes should you look for?
If you are a beginner, you will want to choose a resort with a good variety of green and blue slopes. This will give you the best learning experience as you are not limited to one or two slopes and have a choice of more difficult slopes to develop your skills. However, if you are traveling with a mixed ability group, you will need to find a resort with access to a broad range of slopes from greens to more challenging blacks and off-piste opportunities.
What atmosphere do you want?
Some ski resorts, such as Val Thorens, are renowned for being après-ski hot spots where the parties are as important as the slopes, while others have a quiet family vibe. You can of course also find resorts that offer something in between, but it is worth spending time thinking about what you want to do when you are not racing down the slopes.
What is your budget?
There is no getting away from the fact that a ski holiday is expensive, but you can easily find a range of options for all budgets. If you have a smaller budget, avoid the high season during the school holidays, around Christmas and New Year and in February. This is when prices for everything are at their highest. You can also consider traveling to less popular resorts such as in Bulgaria, for example. A good budget conscious choice for skiers who definitely want to visit one of the more popular resorts is to choose accommodation that is not central. It may require driving or taking the ski bus a few minutes every day to reach the ski lifts, but it definitely will save you a lot of money.
Now that you have chosen your resort, it is time to work out the best way to get there.
Flying to a nearby airport and then taking a private transfer is one of the most popular options. It is by far the fastest option and can often work out relatively cheap with many budget airlines offering special winter routes to accommodate demand.
If you are looking to save money, make sure to book as far in advance as you can. This applies to flights as well as airport parking, which many of us tend to forget. If you plan to drive to the airport, chances are you will want to park there and a simple way to find the best price is to use a comparison website. For UK travelers, Parkhero is a great example. If you are looking for Leeds Airport parking, simply enter your travel dates, hit search and in seconds you will get all the available options ranked from the cheapest to the most expensive. It is much quicker than searching for the best price yourself and it can help you save up 60% compared to if you simply turned up at the car park on the day!
Train travel is a great option if you want a more relaxed journey with some spectacular views. It is also a fantastic option if you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint. It allows you to cheaply transport more luggage and there are easy transfers to the resort from the nearest station.
If you want greater flexibility during your holiday, then driving to the resort could be the best option. It gives you the chance to stop off at other destinations along the way, allows you to set your own schedule and gives you the opportunity to visit other ski resorts easily. The downsides are that driving can take a lot longer than either flying or taking the train, you will need to fit snow chains on the tires of your car and the route may well take you on snowy alpine roads.
You have to plenty of options to choose from when it comes to ski resort accommodation with something to match every budget and need. There are hotels, chalets, apartments and dorms and many come with the option of being catered or self-catered. Choosing the best for your trip will depend on the resort and how much you are willing to spend.
When beginning your search, you will soon see that the closer the accommodation is to the main village and slopes, the more expensive it will be. Ski-in-ski-out options are some of the most sought after rooms, as they are convenient and mean that you are located in the centre of everything. A good way to enjoy being in the centre and not breaking the bank is to travel with a group and share a chalet or apartment. Chalets usually hold between 6 and 14 people and when the cost is split, they offer a reasonably priced, cosy accommodation.
For the budget conscious, consider staying a bit further away from the centre to find the best prices. This does not mean that you have to compromise on quality, but it will mean that you have a longer journey from your accommodation to the slopes and back each day. If you choose an option that is close to a lift or bus stop to the rest of the resort, you can easily limit your transfer time. Opting for a self-catered option will also help you save money.
No matter your experience on the slopes, it is always a good idea to take some lessons during your trip. For beginners, this is essential, as no matter how patient your friends or family members are, you will always receive the best and safest guidance from a trained instructor.
When searching for a ski school and an instructor, make sure to consider what sort of tuition you are looking for. How do you best learn? How much are you willing to spend? Do you want private or group lessons? You can also check out reviews online to find the best instructor for your needs.
Prices will be higher if you choose private lessons and lessons that take place in the morning.
Planning your first ski trip can be daunting, especially when it comes to deciding what to pack. The mountains in winter will be cold and you will need to be prepared, but you don’t need to stress. You do not even need to bring everything with you, in fact you can easily head off on a ski trip with just your hand luggage!
If you are wondering what to wear on the mountain, then think layers. Skiing is a very active and tiring sport; you are going to get warm and the last thing you want is to be too warm. Simply pack long thermal underwear, leggings, ski socks, a few breathable t-shirts and a thin jacket. You can also bring a balaclava, a warm hat and thick gloves.
If you plan to visit the sauna or swimming pool during your stay, you will also need your swim gear.
On top of your base layers you will need warm, waterproof ski wear and that is where the super convenient SkiGala service comes in. Instead of the hassle of having to purchase your own bulky gear to transport to the resort, you can hire ski clothing online and have it delivered directly to your accommodation. SkiGala provide high-quality ski jackets, trousers, gloves and goggles for both adults and children, allowing you to travel lightly and avoid a needless investment in expensive clothing.
The SkiGala service will make your trip a lot simpler, so make sure to check out your options here.
Besides your clothing you will also need to hire skis or a snowboard, ski poles, ski boots and a helmet. These can be hired at the resort and can be reserved online to save you time when you arrive.
It is important to take the advice of a professional when choosing your gear as everything needs to be the correct size to keep you safe and make your ski experience as easy as possible.
If you still have the energy after a day on the slopes, there are plenty of activities you can try, whether you are looking to relax or party all night.
Relaxing options can be as simple as spending some time hanging out in your accommodation, especially if you are lucky enough to have a hot tub! You can also visit a spa with saunas, swimming pools and massages on offer to help those tired muscles recuperate.
Active pursuits at ski resorts can include husky sledding, tobogganing, ice diving, cooking lessons, star gazing and a whole host of other memorable options. If you have your heart set on one of these activities, make sure to book ahead, especially during the busy periods.
Those wanting to party into the small hours will find lots of exciting options in the larger resorts. Après-ski parties can start as early as midday at some resorts and continue on into the early morning with world renowned DJs and artists being a common fixture.
If you do your research and choose the right resort, you will easily find plenty of different activities to keep you entertained during your trip.We hope you have found our advice useful and that you have a fantastic mountain adventure, wherever you decide to travel. If you want further advice,
make sure to check out our other blogs.
Matthew Williams, December 2020