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Mark Warner
 
atol
 
0844 273 6459
Open today: 09:00 - 19:00 | Other days

Ski Holidays For Beginners

Learn to Ski this Winter

Skiing can sometime seem like an elite club! What with the technical jargon, specialist equipment and ski resorts that sound like they should be in the Chronicles of Narnia, it is slightly daunting for those of us who want to learn. We warmly welcome beginner skiers and our aim is to help you on your way to loving the sport as much as we do. Our sales team are on hand to answer any questions you might have however small, and in resort our experienced hotel managers and staff are only too happy to help and will get you to ski school on time. We will help you with everything from purchasing the right ski pass, organising your ski hire and advise you on ski school.

Adult Beginner Ski Weeks 2014:

Chalet Hotel Berangere, Les Deux Alpes
23rd March 2014 - £995

Chalet Hotel Christina, La Plagne
23rd March 2014 0 £979

Price includes: Direct flights, fuel supplement, transfers, accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner with wine, lift pass, ski/snowboard hire (helmets at small charge) and 5 half days of group ski/snowboard lessons.
How to book: Call our sales team and book your 'Beginners' Week.

Useful Information

Ski & Snowboard School

Ski and Snowboard School

Picture

Would you like to try your hand at skiing but think that only kids go to ski school? Not so, in all our resorts, our chosen ski schools run adult classes for beginner skiers and snowboarders and lessons are taken in small groups by an English speaking instructor. The making of a good skier or snowboarder is learning the basics correctly from the outset, and from there progressing to feeling comfortable on your skis or board. Once you have got the basics, you will start to enjoy the sheer thrill of the sport.

All the ski schools that we work closely with, are selected for their professionalism, value for money and experience (many have won awards in the past).

Ski school places are pre-bookable in the UK and we advise you do so as places are often in high demand, especially over peak season. We ask guests to put themselves in one of the below categories when booking ski school.

Level 0 Never skied before or half a day on a dry slope
Level 1 Can do basic snow plough turns happy on green slopes
Level 2 Strong snow plough starting to parallel turn
Level 3 Parallel turns on blue slopes
Level 4 Confident parallel turns on blue and red slopes but needing confidence for black
Level 5 Confident on all slopes
Level 6 Competition standard - free-ride & free-style

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started is always a bit bumpy, and the only way to learn is to enrol yourself in ski school and be taught the basics by an expert. As a beginner, you can be assured that on your first day out on the slopes, you will probably fall over! But a little perseverence and you will be making parallel turns down the mountain in no time and will even know how to stop!

Skiing as a beginner is a little more tiring than for the more experienced skier, and at the end of the first couple of days you will welcome the return to your Chalet hotel. A lovely hot bath and an apres ski drink at the hotel bar soon eases away those aches and pains.

At all resorts we cater for the beginner skier, however, some resorts are better for learning than others. Take a look at the resort maps and highlighted information on each resort page as a guide, but do remember that as a beginner you will be mainly skiing on nursery and green runs for your first few days, progressing to blue runs by the end of the week.

Beginners often think they have to miss out on the aprés ski fun if its up the mountain, but that is not the case at all. Most resorts have a free bus service which takes you from the village to the slopes where there are some super bars and restaurants. Alternatively take the cable car down at the end of the day and rest those tired legs.

Holiday prices include flights, resort transfers, accommodation, breakfast, tea, dinner with wine, ski hosting and lift pass collection service.

Ski Packing

Ski Packing

After you have booked your ski holiday your thoughts will soon turn to what you need to pack for your trip. Ski, snowboard, boots and helmet hire are available at all ski resorts, and we recommend you do hire these items as a beginner skier.

Below is our checklist of what to consider when packing. 

Equipment

If this is your first time on a skiing holiday, you may wish to rent your equipment while you are out there. Our ski hire shops will recommend what is required for you to get the best out of your first ski experience. Experienced skiers will usually have their own boots (tried, tested and they know they are comfortable) and often their own skis, but this is certainly not recommended if you are starting out. It is far more economical to hire your boots, so that you have the ability to change them if they are not comfortable. Once happy with the comfort of a boot, and you are loving your skiing, then it is well worth purchasing them.

The biggest complaint of the complete novice is cold feet. Or sore feet. Or cut off circulation. This is because the boots you are using don't fit. Boots should allow you to wiggle your toes. If you can't wiggle your toes, then your feet will be cold. But, boots should not allow you to turn your foot side-to-side within the boot. If you can turn your foot inside the boot, you won't have a chance to control your skis. Don't be rushed in the ski hire shop and try as many boots as you need before you find the right ones.

Even if you have a pair of old skis or boots, learning to ski on a modern pair of skis is not only safer than skiing on old skis, but, it will help you progress faster. Skis come in all shapes and sizes and the ski hire shop staff will advise on the best ski and boot for your height, weight and ability.

Equipment Checklist

  • Day rucksack - Many people simply load their pockets, but the greater capacity of a small rucksack can be useful on the slopes
  • Helmet - A personal preference, but highly recommended, particularly for children. It also has the added advantage of keeping you warm.
  • Wrist guards (for beginner snowboarders) – Your wrists can come under strain if you take a tumble, so wear wrist guards to protect them against injury
  • Water bottle
  • Clothes

It is highly recommended that you by your ski wear here in the UK. Don’t just look in snow specialist shops, sport outlets often have ski sections where ski clothes can be cheaper and Primark is always a good spot to pick up an end of line ski jacket. If you are buying clothes for children, look for items which will stand out so you can easily spot them in groups but also unisex outfits which can be passed on to siblings once they are outgrown.

Ski/Snowboard Wear Checklist

  • Waterproof ski/board jacket - ensure it's one designed for the slopes and has snow specific features such as a snow skirt
  • Waterproof ski/board trousers - also known as salopettes. Make sure they allow you full unrestricted movement
  • Waterproof Ski/board gloves 
  • Goggles and sunglasses - Take both: goggles are essential for when it's snowing and poor visibility on the mountain, but sunglasses are more comfortable if it's sunny and warm, especially at lunch stops
  • Warm hat - Essential for covering your ears
  • Scarf or neck warmer - Neck warmer tube style scarves are less likely to unravel and fall in the snow
  • Thermal and long sleeved tops for base layers - This will be in contact with your skin all day, so make sure it's sweat wicking
  • Thermal bottoms to wear under your salopettes; leggings, long john, tights
  • Breathable fleece top for cold weather - This will be the mid layer of your clothes layering system
  • Long ski/boarding socks. These specialist socks are worth the extra money, especially for skiers as they have extra padding on the shins


Resort Wear Checklist

  • Walking boots or snow shoes
  • Swim suit for sauna, hot tub or pool
  • Casual clothes for the evening, layers are key as hotels and chalets can be warm.
  • Over the shoulder bag. You don’t want to be clutch a bag in busy bars and clubs.
  • Mountain Specific Toiletries
  • High factor sunscreen - The sun can be unforgiving up on the mountain, reflecting off the snow. Apply to all exposed skin and re-apply often.
  • Lip protection with high SPF - Lips can get cracked up in the cold dry air so lip protection is a must.

Day Checklist

There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the first lift and realising you have forgotten your lift pass, so here’s our mountainside checklist:

Day rucksack

  • Cash - For when you fancy lunch, or a drink on the mountain.
  • Lip salve and sun screen - If you're in a group, you can always borrow this off someone else, but having your own is more convenient.
  • Snack - Being on the slopes all days uses a lot of energy. Something small and high energy like a cereal bar or flapjack is perfect
  • Water - Just because it's cold, don't forget to drink!
  • Lift pass - Put it in your ski/boarding jacket pocket (preferably one designed for lift passes) and don't take it out during your holiday.
  • Piste map - Essential for planning your route across the resort
  • Insurance details

Ski Glossary

Mark Warner Ski Glossary

A

Air

Air, as in ‘catching air’, refers to jumps and tricks where the skier or boarder leave the slope to become airborne. The greater the height, the bigger the ‘air’.

Altitude Sickness

Sickness that occurs at high elevation, usually above 8000 feet and is caused by the lower level of oxygen found at such high altitudes. It rarely affects holiday skiers and the more severe symptoms of altitude sickness tend to occur at altitudes of 3,600m (about 12,000 feet) and above.

Après-Ski

Après-Ski refers to drinking on the mountain side or in resort bars ‘after skiing’ and if you’re up for it, partying too! It often involves a glass or two of Vin Chaud, Glühwein or some other variety of hot wine.

Average Annual Snowfall

The amount of snow a ski area gets within a year. For example, the resorts of Courchevel and Val d’Isere in France each receive around 6m of snowfall a year. If you are concerned about the amount of snow it’s worth considering higher altitude resorts and those with good snowmaking facilities and coverage.

B

Base Layers / Thermal Underwear

Undergarments, including thermal tops and legging-type bottoms for giving skiers and snowboarders an extra layer of insulation. Natural fabrics, such as merino wool, are good, itch-free, breathable options.

Beanies

Head-hugging, brimless, knitted hats.

Bindings

Bindings are the fixtures that attach your boots to your skis or snowboard. Bindings are set to a skier’s ability, height and weight and it is essential to seek assistance from a certified ski technician to have bindings mounted and adjusted so they operate safely.

Black Run

Black is the colour used to mark the most difficult runs to ski on the slopes and should only be tackled once skiers and boarders can confidently handle red runs. Black runs are usually steep and may or may not be groomed or could be groomed for moguls This is quite a wide classification; black runs can be only marginally more difficult than a red, or very steep avalanche chutes like the Couloirs of Courchevel.

Blue Run

Blue is the colour used to mark moderate runs. These easy runs are almost always well groomed, or on such a shallow slope that grooming is not needed.

Boot Fitter

A ski boot fitter is a professional trained to fit ski boots. Ski boots are the platform that transfers the technique, power and precision to the skis, and need to be supportive, stable and comfortable, which is why it’s important to have them fitted by a professional.

Bubble Lift

A bubble lift is a chairlift with a hood that slides over the skiers on the chair to protect them from the elements as they travel up the mountain. The skiers will pull the hood over them with their hands and lift it as they approach the summit before skiing off the chair.

Button Lift

Often used in beginner areas in France, button lifts comprise of poles with button-shaped seats on the end that are suspended from an overhead cable. You put the seat between your legs, then hold onto the pole as it drags you up the slope.

C

Cabriolet Ski Lift

A cabriolet is an open gondola type of ski lift which typically takes skiers from a parking area or a lower part of a resort to a higher level.

Carving

Carving is when you ski a turn with very little skidding, using the edges of your skis.

Catching an Edge

Catching an edge is when the leading edge of your ski or board digs into the snow, making you lose balance and fall, or nearly fall over. It’s a fundamental part of learning to snowboard and also why it is often considered a painful experience. However, when a boarder gains experience they will learn how to avoid catching an edge, spot the warning signs and recover when they get close to it.

Chair Lift

A cable-suspended aerial chair used to carry skiers and their equipment up mountain slopes.

Chalet

A typical building or house native to the Alpine region of Europe.

Couloir

French for corridor, a couloir is a narrow passageway with a steep gradient between two vertical mountain crevasses, resembling a gorge.

Cross Country Skiing

A type of endurance skiing that usually takes place on flatter trials and smaller hills, than piste skiing.

Crud

Crud is snow that is crusty on the surface and soft underneath. It is usually a combination of powder snow and ice.

Cruising

Skiing down a run at a relaxed speed.

D

Downhill Traversing

Skiing down a slope in a zig-zag pattern.

F

Face Shot

When a skier or boarder ends up with a face full of snow when travelling through deep powder.

Fakie

Travelling backwards on your snowboard.

Flex

Flex is the amount of bending resistance a ski has.

Fleeces

Usually made from light weight, soft fabric, a fleece is a warm top often used in mountain sports as an insulating garmet.

Freeriding

Snowboarding across any terrain with no set course, goals or rules to abide by.

Freestyle

Freestyle skiing or snowboarding involves tricks and jumps.

G

Goggles

Glasses used to protect a skier from the sun, snow and wind. Tinted lenses can increase visibility in poor condition, while vents and anti-fog features also help stop your breath from steaming them up.

Glacier

A glacier is a large slow moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains. In some ski resorts ski runs have been created on glaciers.

Glade Skiing

Skiing back and forth through forest.

Gloves

Ski gloves are essential when skiing and snowboarding. Pick a hardwearing, waterproof pair that will protect your hands from the harsh elements.

Gondola

An enclosed ski lift that is suspended by cables and takes skiers and snowboarders up the mountain.

Goofy

Snowboarders who board with their right foot forward. It is the opposite of ‘regular’, which is boarding with the left foot forward.

Green Run

Green is the colour used to mark the easiest runs – the ‘baby’ or learner slopes. They are usually large open and gently sloping areas at the base of the slopes.

Groomed

A piste is ‘groomed’, when piste-bashing machines have smoothed and compacted the surface level of snow to make it more manageable for skiers and boarders.

H

Half-Pipe

A structure that resembles a cross section of a swimming pool and is used in skiing, skating and other gravity sports to perform tricks.

Handwarmers

Heat pads, usually activated by kneading and shaking the pads, designed for keeping your hands warm.

Heli-Skiing

Heli-Skiing is off-piste, downhill skiing that is reached by a helicopter.

Helmet

Helmets are now considered essential safety wear by most skiers or snowboarders. They are particularly important for beginners, children and in icy conditions.

Hydration Pack

A hydration pack is a flexible, light-weight pack that you fill with water and fit into a backpack or attach to your back. Perfect for skiing or boarding, they are ideal for staying hydrated during physical activities.

L

Leading Edge

The edge on a ski or snowboard that is in front with respect to the direction of travel.

Lift Pass or Lift Ticket

An electronic pass that allows you to access the ski area and that usually needs to be scanned before boarding ski lifts.

Liftie

A nick-name used to describe ski lift operators.

M

Moguls

A series of lumps on a run, formed when skiers push the snow into mounds or piles by taking similar paths down the slope. Moguls are challenging for all but the most advanced and are sometimes purposely constructed for advanced freestyle skiing.

Mittens

Often snowboarders opt for this type of glove as they have extra padding and tougher materials for hands that are in more frequent contact with the snow and ground. They can also be warmer as your fingers remain grouped together, retaining the warmth for longer. For skiers, however, it can be harder to grip a pole when wearing mittens.

N

Neck Gaiter

One piece of circular material that goes over your head to sit next to your neck and protect you from the wind and cold. Neck gaiters can be warmer and more practical than scarves as you do not need to worry about them unravelling and getting in your way.

O

Off-Piste

Skiing away from the marked trails and runs on ungroomed terrain. Beware that the snow texture will change and if it has snowed recently you will sink into the soft snow. If you would like to try off-piste skiing make sure you check that your winter sports travel insurance covers you for it and consider hiring a guide to get the most out of the experience, whilst staying safe on the mountain.

P

Packed Powder

Snow that has been compressed and flattened by skiers, boarders or mountain grooming equipment.

Parallel Skiing

This is a skiing technique where your skis stay parallel to each other throughout each turn. This is generally considered to be the proper way to ski when you are ready to advance from the snowplough. The skier is usually facing straight down the slope and changes direction slightly to control speed and navigate around objects.

Park/Snow Park

An area of the resort marked off for freestyle skiers and boarders with kickers, rails, boxes and often a half/quarter pipe used for performing jumps and tricks.

Piste

A downhill area in the form of a ski run or path marked for skiing, snowboarding and other mountain sports. Pistes are usually maintained by piste-bashing machines, which compact or groom the piste to even out bumps, remove moguls and redistribute the snow.

Poles

Poles that skiers use to improve balance and propulsion.

Pommel Tow

Also known as a ‘Pomalift’, this is a skiing rope tow with a plastic plate that you put between your legs to be dragged uphill.

R

Red

Red is the colour used to mark intermediate level runs.

S

Salopettes

Waterproof trousers worn by skiers and snowboarders to keep legs warm and dry. Choose a style that has the appropriate features, such as breathable or highly insulating fabric, zip vents and reinforced layers, for your chosen sport, as well as the weather conditions of the resort you will be visiting.

Slalom

A race that combines downhill speed with technical ability. The course is marked by gates made by poles that the skier has to manoeuvre through with a series of quick turns.

Ski Boot

A purposely designed boot for skiing in, which is fitted to skis with bindings.

Ski Jacket

A snowproof jacket that is waterproof and insulated. Skiers and boarders can choose from all sorts of features, such as detachable hoods, mobile phone pockets, internal lift pass pockets, and should look for one with an elastic gaiter, known as a snowskirt, for preventing snow from flowing up the jacket should they fall.

Ski Lift

Lifts used to take skiers and boarders up mountains to designated ski areas.

Ski Run

A ski run is a trail or path that skiers and snowboarders follow to get down the mountain. Ski runs are classified by the colours; green, blue, red and black, with green being the easiest and black being the most difficult run.

Ski/ Snowboard Socks

Socks designed for skiing or snowboarding. The most comfortable ones are shaped and cushioned, warm and breathable. Look out for a technical sock which will have padding in the toe and heel area and cushioning around the shin to protect against the top of the boot, whilst the fabric ensures warmth and ventilation.

Ski Tubes

A type of ski sock that has no tailored heel.

Snow Boots

Normal shoes will not keep you dry and warm, or have enough grip for walking around snowy ski resorts. Snow boots are boots especially designed for this reason and come in a range of fashionable and practical designs.

Snowmobile / Ski-Doo

A motorised land vehicle with skies designed to travel on snow and ice.

Snow Plough

This is a braking ski movement skiers use to slow themselves down. It involves making a ‘V’ shape pointing downhill, which can be widened to create more friction and slow you down further.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses specifically designed for skiing, snowboarding and alpine walking are made for environments with high levels of natural light. If you are not wearing goggles these are essential as on the mountainside, light is reflected from the snow and twice the normal amount of UV rays enters your eyes.

T

T-Bar Lift

A lift shaped like an upside down ‘T’, made from a metal bar suspended by cables, which can take two skiers up the slope when placed under their backsides.

Trailing Edge

The edge on a ski or snowboard that is at the back with respect to the direction of travel.

W

Wrist Guard

Protective guard for the wrist. Can be strapped under gloves or come as part of the glove in the form of a plastic splint running along the underside of the wrist onto the palm to the hand.

Contact

Best to contact?