A beginner’s guide to skiing holidays

Skiing guide for beginners staying at our luxury retreats

For those who’ve been before, heading to the slopes for a winter skiing holiday may seem like second nature, and you’ll never forget that feeling of having the wind in your hair as you speed effortlessly down the mountains. But for those who’ve never been, a skiing holiday may seem challenging and even daunting at first. We’re here to dispel the myths about skiing holidays, with our guide below giving beginners everything they’ll need to know before heading on their first ski break.

What can I expect from a ski holiday?

Along with learning to ski and improving your skills, your ski holiday will also be about enjoying your time out on the slopes, which are always surrounded by some truly incredible scenery. With so much snow on the mountains, the cold is definitely expected, though it’s a different kind of cold than we’re used to in the UK – a crisp cold which may even fool you into thinking it’s warm after a few runs down the slope. It’s easy, however, to be fooled by the temperature, and when the sun’s out, you should always remember your sun cream. The opposite can happen too – when a ‘white out’ happens, the snow will be so heavy that you won’t be able to see past it, so instead you’ll perhaps want to embrace this as an opportunity to enjoy some hot chocolate or vin chaud.

Skiing aside, a mountain getaway is also about enjoying time at the resort and creating some wonderful memories, whether you’ve come with a group, as a couple, as a family or even if you’ve travelled alone. Off the slope, other activities such as ice skating and snowshoe walking are also on offer, all of course within the beautiful mountainside surroundings. And then there’s the après ski, when the bars and restaurants at our luxury retreats and resorts come to life and you’ll be able to socialise with like-minded people.

What will my first skiing experience be like?

Though, like with any sport, learning to ski can be frustrating at first. The first couple of days especially will be tough, especially when the achiness first kicks in, though most people find their feet very quickly. After a week on the slopes, most people will be fairly competent at skiing, especially if you have lessons every day. If you’d like to get a taster of skiing before you do it for real, be sure to head to one of the indoor dry ski slopes found across the country.

Some of the equipment will also be new to you, especially the ski boots, which can be uncomfortable at first, and are tight-fitting in order to support your ankles. To make sure you have the best possible fit, make sure you’re wearing your ski socks during your fitting.

What will I need to pack?

The world of winter sports has a fashion sense all of its own, from outrageous bobble hats to very brightly coloured jackets and trousers. Though its tempted to get carried away, below are the essentials you’ll definitely need to bring with you:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Salopettes/skiing trousers/waterproof trousers
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Thermal layers
  • Googles/sunglasses

It’s also worth thinking about changes of clothes for the evening. Snow boots or moon boots are especially comfortable, grip better than many shoes and are also easy to slip on and off.

Do I need to have lessons?

It is highly recommended that you take lessons before heading out on your own – if you can, you should also have them before you go as well as while you’re there. There are several indoor ski slopes across the UK where you can pick up the basics with qualified instructors on real snow, as well as dry ski slopes where you’ll learn on a special material much like snow. At the resort, you may even have friends who could teach you for free, though nothing matches the quality of tuition you’ll get with proper ski school lessons.

Image: ADT 04, available under Creative Commons

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.