If you’ve always fancied the idea of swooshing down the slopes in the fresh mountain air before indulging in a little apres-ski, this may be the time to bite the bullet and book a snowy escape.
The best resorts for first-time skiers
If you are planning on going skiing for the first time, there’s a lot of things you need to think about – and one of the biggest decisions you will need to make is where to go.
While you may have heard people rave about resorts such as Courchevel in France, Verbier in Switzerland or St Anton in Austria, if you’re on a budget, you can have just as much fun in lesser-known resorts for a fraction of the price. Good-value alternatives include Bansko in Bulgaria and Bardonecchia in Italy.
When planning your trip, think carefully about whether you’re prepared to put in the legwork – researching, booking and paying for flights and accommodation separately – or whether you’re prefer the convenience of a package deal. It might surprise you to know that in some cases, a package may be a cheaper option – especially if you get your flights, accommodation, lift passes, equipment and ski school included.
The best accommodation for a skiing trip
When it comes to accommodation, you may think that a fully catered chalet is the ‘only’ way to do a ski trip, but this will not come cheap. If you’re watching your budget, look at options such as a two-star hotel, a hostel, or an Airbnb apartment instead. Equally, if you’re 100 per cent set on staying in a chalet, make the price more affordable by taking the remaining spaces in a part-filled chalet booked by another group or family.
Save money by opting for a chalet with half-board so you only have to worry about lunch on the slopes. Make even bigger savings by opting to self-cater but bear in mind this is not always convenient after a long day out.
Should I take skiing lessons if I’m a beginner?
Heading to ski school while you’re away can be an extremely fun part of your ski trip, but to avoid arriving at the slopes as a complete novice, think about signing up to a few lessons at a dry slope or indoor ski centre in the UK before you go. Group lessons are reasonably priced, and options include The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, SnowDome in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and the Chill Factore in Manchester.
If you are planning on going to ski school at your resort, pre-book from the UK as this should work out cheaper. Also note that as most people want to ski in the morning, afternoon sessions may be discounted.
The cost of skiing
As a first-time skier, you may not realise that your ski pass may be one of the biggest expenses. Do your research and see if there are deals on passes for families and groups, or discounts if you buy a weekday pass.
Bear in mind that as a first timer, you may mostly be on the nursery slopes. As many resorts don’t charge for drag lifts on these slopes, you may be able get by without a ski pass – at least for the first few days.
Another way to save is by getting a lift pass included in your package.
What should I wear skiing?
Resist the temptation to splash out on getting kitted out on all the latest designer ski clothes before your trip. You’re only going to wear them for a few days a year – and if it turns out you don’t like skiing; you will have wasted a lot of money. Ask friends and family if they have stuff you can borrow or check out discount stores such as Primark and TK Maxx, as well as second-hand sites such as eBay and Preloved.
If you do need to hire gear – such as skis, boards and boots – at the resort, always shop around and book in advance. This is usually cheaper than turning up at the hire shop – and you may even get your kit delivered to your accommodation. While you can rent a helmet, you may want to invest in your own one.
The skiing checklist
When getting organised for your trip, it’s vital to pack the right insurance. Note that winter sports are usually included as standard with some higher-priced policies, but that most standard policies offer it as an ‘optional extra’ to be purchased as an extension. Be sure to check the levels of medical cover – as treatment, rescue and repatriation charges can be extremely costly. Also check for cover for loss, damage and theft of sports equipment. Other benefits which can be useful to have include compensation for lost or stolen ski passes, and cover for piste closure. Note that many policies could restrict coverage if you’ve been drinking – so save the apres-ski for the end of the day when you’re safely down from the slopes.
As well as getting some local currency ahead of your holiday, don’t forget to pack your plastic. With a Caxton multi-currency card, you can spend and withdraw from ATMs on the go – and avoid getting stung at an airport bureau de change. You can also lock into a favourable rate before jetting off, rather than having to accept the rate available when you travel. Plus, no one wants to be carrying wads of cash as they're jetting down the mountain!