How do I prepare for a ski holiday? As with any holiday, you need to do a little planning, however we’ve compiled the key things to consider when planning your first ski trip. If you want even more detail check out our in-depth guide on ski holiday planning.
What time of year to go skiing
Choosing the time of year to go skiing makes a big impact on what type of holiday you will have. The ski season in Europe generally runs from early Dec through to late April. Here are the pros and cons of skiing in each month.
- Early December is a cost-effective option. Many resorts offer discounted lift passes and the slopes are generally pretty quiet. However, you do run the risk of having little snowfall this time of year. It’s the time of year to head to a higher, more snow-sure resort.
- Christmas & New Year getaways are sometimes exactly what you need. And if you book into a catered chalet you can have someone else basting the turkey & making you mince pies (more on that below). Christmas is usually quieter than New Years week, but both weeks are filled with loads of families taking advantage of school holidays. It can be a magical time in the mountains though with the snow and Christmas decorations, you truly feel like you’re in a winter wonderland.
- January is the time to year to ski if you’re looking for both a bargain and loads of snow. You’re more likely to have chilly days and less sunshine, but the snow is near guaranteed to be good this time of year. It’s a great time to learn to ski as the snowpack is likely to be good, and the slopes are bound to be quiet. Plus you can often find New Year’s discounts on accommodation.
- February is peak season and probably the busiest month. With half-term holidaymakers hitting the slopes, prices shoot up as well. If you don’t have children, avoid these peak weeks with their high prices and busy pistes. However if you sneak a week in early Feb or late Feb, you can miss the school holidays and still take advantage of great snow, whilst the days are starting to get longer.
- March brings warmer weather and longer days. This is a great time of year for leisurely lunches and afternoon drinks on sun terraces. However, normally the snow is still quite good, especially in the morning. The higher temperatures do mean that the afternoon snow can become slushy on lower pistes.
- Once April hits, it’s well and truly spring skiing. Expect long sunny days, slushy slopes and BBQs aplenty. There is usually a fun vibe in resort with many end of season parties and events happening. If the quality of the snow you ski isn’t so much a bother to you but sunshine is, April might be just the time for you. The last few weeks of the season also often have discounts on.
For beginners without school age children, we recommend learning to ski in January or March. This way you can take advantage of better deals, quieter pistes and still be quite certain the snow will be good.
If your children are in school, don’t be put off by the busyness of those peak weeks. Skiing with your children is an amazing family experience and an activity that you all can enjoy together. If you want to bring your little ones out, some of these blogs might be useful to you.
What resort to go to?
Choosing the right resort for you can feel like a big task. Here are four aspects of resorts to research into, so that you can find the best one for you.
Price – Ski resorts vary in cost. Some are more budget and others are more exclusive. Depending on your budget, do a Google search on how expensive that resort it. The cost of lift passes, food and accommodation will all be impacted.
Atmosphere – Are you looking to have a bit of a party and spend your afternoons après-skiing in the sunshine? Or are you looking for a quaint, traditional French village? Or perhaps you just want somewhere that has some great kids activities and family-friendly restaurants.
The Skiing – What is the skiing like? Some cater to more advanced skiers whereas others have more gentle terrain. You don’t want to show up for your first time skiing in a resort that has very few beginner-friendly slopes. Here’s a guide of some of the best ski resorts for beginners to help you.
Choose the right type of accommodation
There are a few different types of accommodation in most ski resorts, depending on what you’re looking for. One of the key things to look for – no matter what type of accommodation you have – is where is it located within the village. For example can you ski out from the front door? Or will you need to get a bus to the pistes? Some chalet companies will offer lifts around resort if your chalet isn’t within walking distance to the slopes, but this is something to enquire about at time of booking.
Catered chalet – These are all inclusive packages where you usually have a chef and host working in the chalet most days of the week. They cook breakfast and dinner and provide afternoon tea each day. This is a great option for those who want everything taken care of for them.
Shared chalets – Unless you book the whole chalet for your party, then you will probably share with others. Most chalet guests are like-minded folk and this makes for a fun and sociable setting. Just be prepared to mix and dine with other parties.
Self-catered apartment or chalet – Alternatively if you prefer the flexibility of choosing your own meal times and opting for more meals out, self-catered options are becoming more and more popular in resort. Cook for yourself, eat when you want and have more of your own space in your accommodation than a catered chalet.
Hotel – Hotels in ski resorts frequently are bed-and-breakfast with the option to eat in the hotel restaurant in the evening.
Airbnb – It’s becoming easier to find Airbnbs in ski resorts. However in general there are fewer here than you’ll find in a city.
Ski Lessons, Ski Hire and Lift Passes
Here are another three key aspects of your ski holiday that you will need to sort.
Ski Lessons – A quality ski lesson is crucial to a great first experience on skis. We recommend you book adult group ski lessons for your first time on skis.
Ski Hire – You will want to hire your ski equipment for your first time skiing. This includes ski boots, skis, and poles. You can also hire a helmet as well if you do not have your own. We recommend you book this is advance as usually you can get a better rate if you do so.
We’ve partnered with 3 different ski hire companies across France, Switzerland and Austria. You can book your ski hire through us for an exclusive discount.
Lift Passes – You can organise your lift pass purchase before you come out on holiday or get it once your in resort. Most chalet companies or hotels offer a small discount if you purchase your lift pass ahead of time, through them.
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