Where to start skiing

I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who love the idea of a ski holiday but think that they are too old to start, not sporty enough, prone to breaking bones etc…

Well, enough of the excuses! It’s time to go for it and get hooked on skiing. I didn’t start skiing until my mid 20s but I have not looked back since. Yes, the first few days were not easy and I thought I would never ‘get it’. People kept telling me that it will just suddenly click, which seemed very unlikely as I sat frustrated on the edge of a green run, unable to master the art of turning. However, after a few deep breaths, I dusted myself off, got the snow out of some hard to reach places, and tried again. I was surrounded by the most spectacular views of mountains and trees laden heavy with snow. Not a bad place for humiliating myself with a group of French girls who ‘got it’ after half an hour.

After that low point, I am so happy that I didn’t give up, and around the 3rd day I actually started enjoying it.

In my opinion, it’s a great idea to have a couple of lessons in a ski dome or on a dry slope before you go on your first holiday. Somewhere like the Chill Factor in Manchester is an ideal place to get to know the basics. You’ll be shown how to use a poma lift (a type of drag lift to get you up the slope, also known as a button lift) and learn how to do some of the basic things. This way when you arrive in the mountains you can enjoy the experience from the start, and will not waste precious time being shown how to clip your boots in to your skis. Make sure you book some more lessons in resort as well. I enjoyed doing adult group lessons as there is a certain amount of bonding over falling over and seemingly endless attempts to put your skis back on. However some people develop a lot quicker during one on one private sessions with an instructor. In this case you might benefit more from 2-3 private lessons than you would from a week’s group sessions.

If you are not sure which type of lessons would best suit you, then check with your ski school. They may let you trade some group lessons for a private lesson or vice versa.

Make sure you choose your ski school carefully, and ask around for recommendations. It’s true what they say – “You never forget your first ski instructor”. A positive, cheerful instructor will make the experience a lot more enjoyable! If you feel like your group is holding you back, or that they are a bit too advanced for you, then don’t be scared to join a different level.

No matter where you start your lessons, the key is patience, perseverance and a good attitude. I can guarantee that you will have an amazing time! Yes, it can get frustrating at times but you have to laugh it off and carry on. You don’t have to be sporty or particularly fit to learn to ski, it’s all about confidence! 😉

Another thing to remember when booking your first ski holiday is that some resorts are better suited to beginners than others. Some resorts have special ‘Learn-to-ski’ packages for complete beginners, with lessons and a limited lift pass included. If you have done some lessons before your holiday then you will probably want a local area lift pass for a bit more variety.

Here are some of the best ski resorts for beginners

Bansko, Bulgaria

Bansko is a relatively small resort, but 35% of it is given over to slopes suitable for beginners. In addition to this, Bansko is much cheaper than other European ski resorts so it is a good place to give skiing a go if you are not sure you are going to love it.

The closest airport to Bansko is Sofia – click here to get the best prices on transfers from Sofia Airport to Bansko.

Flaine, France

Flaine is a great resort for beginners for a few reasons. It is easy to get to, being just over an hour from Geneva airport. It is mainly a ski in, ski out resort meaning that you can avoid walking around carrying your ski gear. Finally, it has a great snow record and many of the beginner areas are close to the centre of the resort.

The closest airport to Flaine is Geneva – click here to get the best prices on transfers from Geneva airport to Flaine.

Soldeu, Andorra

Soldeu is a great place to learn to ski. There are a number of English ski schools and the great nursery areas are close to the resort centre.

If you are going to Soldeu, you can fly to Barcelona, Girona, Carcassonne or Toulouse.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Barcelona airport to Soldeu.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Girona airport to Soldeu.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Carcassonne airport to Soldeu.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Toulouse airport to Soldeu.

Courchevel, France

Courchevel has a reputation for being one of the most expensive places on earth, but this is down to the highest village of Courchevel 1850. However, Courchevel 1650 (Montriond) is a great option as there is a beginners area near the resort centre, and there are some very long blue runs to progress on to. You can also stay in Courchevel 1550 and take the fast gondola up to Courchevel 1850 where there is one of the best beginners areas in the world.

To get to Courchevel, you can fly to Geneva, Chambery, Grenoble or Lyon.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Geneva airport to Courchevel.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Chambéry airport to Courchevel.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Grenoble airport to Courchevel.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Lyon airport to Courchevel.

Obergurgl, Austria

Obergurgl has vast areas for beginners to practice, and also has a good number or wide, long blue runs to progress on to.The ski schools in Obergurgl are also very good.

The best airport to fly to for Obergurgl is Innsbruck.

Click here to get the best prices on transfers from Innsbruck airport to Obergurgl.

What is Megeve like for a ski holiday?

We posed this question to a local expert, Mike Beaudet, and here is what he had to say:

Megeve, the heart of the French Alps.

By Mike www.SkiProsMegeve.com

Megeve is well known by few and is a jealously guarded secret among those that frequent its ski slopes; Michelin Guide rated hotels and restaurants, high-end shopping stores, Casino and quaint narrow cobbled streets. The village is dominated by the traditional church belfry, and a square all in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Horse drawn sleighs carry tourists all over during the peak periods adding a festive and memorable experience for young and old. A truly civilized ski area of real old world charm, with a history that goes back for more than 1000 years. The village still has over 40 working farms from where the milk is used to produce the local cheeses that are known all over the world.

The ski area is laid out in such a way that the summit of Mont Blanc is almost always in view when skiing Megeve ski runs. The runs are cut through the trees; a very welcome change to most ski areas in the Alps that are above the “tree line”, adding a touch of green to this Haute-Savoyard village! Great skiing for all levels with a particularly pleasing predominance of upper intermediate skiing terrain.

The “Espace Mont Blanc” domain is a whopping 445 Km, 220 Pistes and with over 111 lifts make Megeve and partner ski areas (la Giettaz, Saint Gervais, Saint Nicolas de Veroce, Combloux, les Contamines Montjoie and Cordon) in the top 6 longest skiable areas in France. I often bring clients on a beautiful day to see and ski what I think is the best vantage point to view the French Alps and the Mont Blanc:

The most scenic views of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, are visible from the top of the “Epaule” chairlift of the Mont Arbois side of the Megeve Ski Area. From the top of this chair lift you will want to turn immediately left to stay on the piste, a right turn will take you immediately “off piste”! You should be a good intermediate skier to do this run, in several places it is quite narrow and in whiteout conditions not advised at all. However on a brilliant sunny day you will want to look around you and make a visual picture that even the best of cameras could never capture…. the whole of the French Alps in all their beauty right before your eyes! After taking it all in, it is time to ski all the way down to Chatrix, the longest of runs in the domain.

…. But don’t tell anyone how nice it is!

Author Bio

Mike Beaudet a Colorado native, a University of Denver graduate and now lives in France with his wife and twin boys Tom and Lucas. Known as “Megeve Mike”, he is the founder/director of Ski Pros Megeve, The “Affordable Megeve English Ski School” in the Village of Megeve. A team of elite American French British Independent Ski Instructors and Resort Guides are available to make your skiing holidays the best ever. Megeve is located in French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc, a 1-hour drive from Geneva International Airport. Day ski tours, private and small group ski lessons for skiing enthusiasts of all levels and ages are available in the French Alps, Italian Alps and Europe.

Mike has an extensive background in skiing, teaching group and private ski lessons. Mikes credentials include Full Certification in Professional Ski Instructors of America-RM, the prestigious French Government “Ecole National de Ski et Alpinisme” in Chamonix as a Moniteur de Ski Diplome and a member of the first PSIA National Academy held at Mount. Hood Timberline, Oregon. Mike has over 35 years of ski school and ski teaching and coaching experience in the US and in France and has taught in all the major ski areas in France and America.

Contact: Megeve Mike +33 (0) 681610615

Copyright ©2014 Megeve Mike – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Packing list for a ski holiday

Packing for a ski holiday can be a rather stressful experience so we thought we would help you with our packing list to give you a better idea of what you really shouldn’t leave at home!

  1. Paperwork – this should be the number one on anyone’s priority list! Put passports, money, travel insurance details, ski hire/lift pass/ski school/accommodation details all in a secure travel wallet and place it in a safe pocket of your hand luggage. This is the one thing that you do not want to forget as having to rush home for passports left on the kitchen table is probably the worst possible start to any holiday. It pays off to be organised!
  2. Ski/Snowboard clothing – right, most of us store these things in one place so this should be fairly straight forward. Make sure you make a list though so nothing is left in the back of the drawer under the bed! Our rough list includes: helmet, ski socks, base layers (thermal), sports bras (ladies only), fleeces, ski gloves, goggles, sunglasses, ski jacket (but you might want to wear this), ski pants.
  3. Other clothes – don’t be tempted to pack the high heels and the UGG boots – both equally useless in snow! A pair of comfy jeans, a couple of hoodies, a few T-shirts, PJs, underwear, socks, gloves, scarf, hat, boots (suitable for walking in the snow/on ice) should see you through the evenings just fine!
  4. If you are taking your own ski/snowboard equipment then make sure you pack it all safely in a suitable bag. If you are taking it on a flight then make sure to check the weight and size regulations of the airline – otherwise your trip could get a lot more expensive than you thought! Once again just a basic list: skis/snowboard, ski/snowboard boots, poles, small rucksack, Transceiver/shovel/probe pack if you own one, etc.
  5. Other stuff you shouldn’t forget: Sunscreen (with high SPF and keep reapplying it!), Lip salve (with SPF), phone + charger, travel plug adaptor, toiletries, moisturiser, camera (if your phone doesn’t have a decent one), iPod, book/tablet/ereader, basic medication (paracetamol, ibuprofen, diarrhoea relief, blister plasters, plasters, deep heat) or if travelling with kids then maybe more than just the basics, stuff to keep the kids entertained (favourite toy, colouring book and other baby essentials if needed.
  6. If you have room left… Small jar of marmite (or not), hair dryer (if your accommodation doesn’t have one), travel iron (no, I am just kidding!!!), water bottles, freezer zip bag for sandwiches, chocolate/granola bars, hand warmers, iPod speakers and fancy dress (might be an essential actually..).

If you don’t fancy dragging all this from your house through the airports to your destination then you should consider using a luggage concierge service. Prices are similar to ski carriage with most airlines but someone takes your bags from your house and leaves them at your accommodation so it is all ready when you arrive. We think it is a lot less stressful and more enjoyable way to travel. We have teamed up with Deliveries to the Alps who offer a 15% discount code to FindTransfers users!

We hope this article will help you with your packing! Have an amazing holiday!