Have you thinking about hitting the slopes for a while now, but every winter season that passes, you say ‘there’s always next season’? Well, now is the time to grab your woolly hat, and finally throw yourself headfirst (not literally) into your new hobby, which I assure you, you will be addicted to by the end of your first ski holiday in Europe.
There is nothing more satisfying than a week or weekend ski break, with spectacular scenery to appreciate, sloping runs to negotiate, and après ski to recover from the morning after. Alpine ski resorts often provide an inviting and friendly atmosphere, where almost every person you bump into will share a common interest. Whether you’re traveling with a group of friends or as a single traveler, we’ve highlighted some of the dos and don’ts you may want to consider as a first-time snow traveler.
1.Resort –There are some great deals out there for specific resorts, but avoid booking blindly without doing your research. Some alternatives such as Zermatt in Switzerland are more suitable for intermediate and expert skiers, offering mostly red and black runs, which, unless you are a natural – or mad – you most likely won’t achieve on your first trip. Many resorts offer gentle green runs from the mountain range’s summit, so you won’t miss out on the magnificent panoramic views, before safely descending via your beginner run.
2. Equipment – If I could advise on one thing, it would be to wear a helmet. You could be the most natural of skiers; however, you will never anticipate who will come flying around the corner into you. It’s a common sight across Europe to see 60-70% of skiers and boarders on the mountain wearing helmets. It’s not worth the risk, and you can rent one cheaply enough from your equipment rental provider. For your skis or board, go for the basic package – it’s all you need for your first time.
3. Accommodation – If you want to save yourself some money, it’s always a good idea to rent self-catered accommodation as eating out continue can get pricey in a European ski resort. Dining in can be great fun, especially if there is a group of you sharing, and you can take turns with the cooking and cheaply get in your alcohol. It also means you can prepare packed lunches for the slopes, an absolute must, with mountain restaurants often charging extortionate prices. Self-catered accommodation can often provide more generous space and communal lounge areas for relaxing after a long day on the slopes. Alternatively, some great half board deals can be found, where your travel, room, breakfast, and dinner is included. Visit Southwest Airlines Reservations to get cheap flight fares with extra offers on vacation packages to Europe.
4. Lift Pass& Lessons – It’s a good idea to do your research on this one too, as some resorts offer mini passes at a reduced rate that covers select lifts and a reduced number of slopes – perfect for beginners. If you are eager to get off the greens and explore the mountain, then make sure you buy a pass that covers you for the duration of your stay, as this often works out cheaper than buying it at the daily rate. Although some may find it embarrassing trailing behind an instructor, you can do the best thing to get a lesson. Even if you are traveling with a competent skier friend, you could still pick up their bad habits, so it’s worth starting by learning the proper way.
5. Après ski – The essence of a great ski holiday – everyone should experience après ski at least once on their ski break. Coming off the slopes at around 5 pm, the atmosphere in the resort is electric. Happy hours are everywhere, with live music, and punters dancing in their ski boots (that’s why I choose to snowboard, as the shoes are much more comfortable to dance in!) Terraces and patios are packed with skiers huddled together under heat lamps and blankets, sipping on beers or mulled wines. It’s a great experience, but it knows when to call it a night that is tricky to ensure you’re fresh as a daisy for the next day’s activities.
6. Going solo – Your friends or family may not be the slightest bit interested in skiing, but it’s certainly not a reason for you to miss out. So many solo skiers travel independently every season and meet friends along the way. Package coach ski holidays are a great option, where you travel with, and stay in the same hotel as those around you. There are also several ski forums you can post on to find travel buddies to ski and share the room cost.
Catherine Luther writes for Zermatt ski apartment provider, Loving Apartments. Catherine enjoys snowboarding, swimming, travel, and blogging about her experiences.