Booking your first skiing holiday can be daunting – there seems to be so much to think about, and it’s often talked about in a language you’re not familiar with (what the devil is parallel skiing, for instance, and what’s a magic carpet?!). You may also be nervous about learning how to ski in itself – will you be terrible at it and will you make an utter fool of yourself?
It’s our job at Mark Warner to ensure you have the ski holiday of a lifetime, whatever your level, so we’ve put our heads together to share our wisdom on how to have a brilliant ski holiday as a beginner – one that will get you hooked for life!
• Learn the lingo with the aid of our ski glossary. You’ll feel much more confident when you know what everyone’s talking about!
• Get in shape. While you learn to ski, your body is going to have to cope with unusual movements and postures as well as operating at an altitude it is unaccustomed to, so unless you’re fit enough, you are going to get tired very easily. There’s no need for intensive gym sessions, but do take some form of exercise that gets your heart rate up, and do work on your leg muscles by cycling and/or walking more than you normally do. Reckon on starting this regime about three months prior to your holiday. When you’re in resort, use your hotel’s or the resort’s pool and sauna facilities to ease aching muscles between sessions on the slopes.
• Opt for a package holiday at a chalet-hotel. You may be tempted to save money by self-catering, but you’ll probably be too tired to cook, shop and clean, and you’ll end up spending more money eating out than you anticipate. Similarly, an organised holiday will take care of things that can be hard to fathom as a beginner, such as airport transfers and ski hire.
• Allow yourself to be tempted by early- or late-booking deals, but think foremost about your resort’s suitability for beginners – all of Mark Warner’s resorts are great for those learning to ski, whether children or adults.
• Book lessons at an indoor ski centre. If you have the basics – being accustomed to the feel of skis and ski boots, and having the hang of the snowplough – you’ll make faster progress on holiday.
• Budget for ski lessons – learning with friends or relatives is a false saving as they’ll probably inadvertently take you at a faster level than you’re ready for and perhaps even put you off skiing altogether. Take group classes in the morning then use the afternoons to practise what you’ve learnt. And if possible, choose accommodation close to the ski school meeting point.
• Borrow, don’t buy, your ski kit – or at least as much as you can. Once you’ve been on your first holiday, you’ll have more of an idea of the kind of gear you’d like to invest in. With kids, borrow as much as possible anyway – they grow out of it very quickly.
• Be prepared – keep an eye on the weather and snow forecasts in your resort, but take a rucksack out with you so that if it turns out you’re overdressed or underdressed, you don’t have to suffer. You also need to take water, snacks and sunscreen.
• If you’re planning a first ski trip with children, read our feature on A First Family Ski Holiday.
• Most importantly, perhaps, go at your own pace and don’t compare yourself with others – it’s all about fun and doing your own thing, not impressing people. If you want nothing more to poodle around on gentle pistes, go with it!
Best Beginners’ Resorts
As a place for learners – including children – to progress, this family-friendly Paradiski resort has plenty of fantastic nursery slopes and superb English-speaking tuition by Oxygène. In January and March 2017 our Chalet Hotel Christina is hosting two adult beginner weeks here, too.
Les Deux Alpes
This Grandes Alpes resort became much more beginner-friendly last year with the addition of a new blue piste down from the Crêtes ridge, providing a home run from the learning area at the top of the mountain.
Ever-more family-friendly (but great for beginners of all ages), this classic Three Valleys Resort has a great choice of gentle slopes within easy reach.
Read more about learning to ski with Mark Warner, including Adult Beginner Ski Weeks in La Plagne.