February marks high season for skiing, with conditions perfect to enjoy a great holiday on the slopes. There are many myths attached to ski holiday and they can seem daunting if you’ve never taken one before. Here’s my guide to ski holidays for the beginner.
There are a number of myths surrounding the idea of a skiing holiday but there is honestly nothing to worry about. The traditional idea of a ski holiday is that it’s an expensive, luxury holiday that only the rich and famous can afford, but this is far from the truth. Whilst there are high-end ski trips available, there are ways of having a cheap ski holiday too. Book your trip well in advance to get a great rate or choose a small resort to save some money. Ski resorts with less runs often have cheaper ski passes. You can even hire ski clothes and helmets online. These days there’s lots of accommodation choices so with enough research and preparation you can bring the costs down dramatically.
As with any activity holiday, there is an element of risk involved but the resorts do everything they can to keep their visitors from harm. If you’re a novice skier, there are fantastic ski classes available across the resorts to give you confidence in the sport and to keep safe whilst on the slopes. The cheapest option is ski school where you learn as a group on shallow runs or “baby slopes” as they’re often nicknamed. For a more intense and rewarding learning programme its best to hire a personal instructor who can build your confidence quickly.
Where to stay
The idea of taking a ski holiday brings to mind staying in a log cabin or a chalet, but there are a number of varying accommodation to choose from in whichever resort you decide to visit. Hotels have sprung up in the resorts and towns and villages that surround them, but for me, a stay in a chalet provides the authentic ski holiday experience. Chalets can be small and intimate or large, which makes them perfect for a group holiday. Hire a self catering chalet to share both the expense and the cooking for a memorable trip with friends. Use a reputable site, such as PurpleSki.com to book your accommodation without worry. Chalets really are the ultimate ski holiday experience, gorgeous log cabins with warm and comfortable surroundings, the perfect place to return to after a fun day on the slopes.
What to pack
As a beginner, there really isn’t any point worrying about what ski equipment to buy and take on holiday with you. You can hire your skis and poles from the resort which will certainly lesser your luggage upon departure! Items such as helmets, boots and goggles are best bought to ensure a comfortable fit though they are also available for hire. If you plan on taking numerous ski holidays in the future then buying is always cheaper. Be sure to buy a helmet too and don’t worry about not looking cool! All the boarders are wearing them these days!
Other items to include in your suitcase include a warm jacket, trousers and thermal base layers so that you can stop the moisture settling in one place. Thick ski socks are also advisable as well as gloves to protect your hands from the elements. Sunglasses are vitally important as whilst it will be cold, the sun when it comes out on the slopes is particularly fierce. To this end, also ensure you pack suncream and lip balm. You’ll be surprised how much sun you’ll get while up on the slopes. Some people even sunbathe at the mountain top cafes and bars!
Top ski destinations for February
Europe and North America offer some fantastic opportunities to ski throughout the winter months. February sits right in the centre of high season so you’ll find many places primed for skiing and snowboarding.
Europe’s Alps offer some of the finest skiing in the continent. Stretching across France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and Liechtenstein. The range is home to some of the tallest skiable peaks in the world including the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Top resorts within the Alps include Zermatt in Switzerland which is home to the Matterhorn and a traditional Swiss village which makes for a picturesque place to stay. Les Trois Vallees is an impressive place to visit, home to the famous Meribel resort and a ski pass which allows you to ski across the interlinked valleys, one of the largest ski areas in the world.
If you’re looking to save on your trip, try Bulgaria for your skiing break. An up and coming destination, the prices here are substantially lesser than their Alpine neighbours. Borovets, nestled within the Rila Mountains, is a great place to take a family break or for a beginner to try their hand at skiing.
North America can certainly match Europe’s skiing resorts, with a number of iconic destinations clustered around the Rocky Mountains. In Canada, visit the resorts in Jasper and Banff for a trip into the Rockies amongst some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world, including Mount Columbia, Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefield. For somewhere less crowded, visit Red Deer to ski in the canyon which is every bit as thrilling but much cheaper than the well-known resorts. Within America, visit Colorado or Utah for your pick of top skiing destinations.