Where and how to have the best first ski holiday with SNO®
Where should I learn to ski? What do I pack for my ski holiday? Will I even like skiing?! A first-time ski holiday can be a tad overwhelming, so let SNO ease the process for you. With oodles of ski holiday experience, we can help you with where to go, what to pack and what to expect.
There really is nothing better than the fresh air, gorgeous scenery and that amazing feeling when you’ve skied your first proper run! We have some super beginner resorts with excellent ski schools, specialised snowboard schools and large, friendly nursery areas – all making a first ski holiday fantastic.
The best resorts for learning to ski have a combination of excellent, English-speaking ski and snowboard schools and large, friendly learning areas – plus accommodation within easy reach of them. A few of our European favourites include La Plagne /ski/france/la-plagne/ in France, Lech in Austria and Soldeu in Andorra.
In terms of ski area, you’ll want a resort with lots of beginner-friendly slopes. These are coloured green (beginner) and blue (easy) and you’ll find a summary of slopes on each of our resort pages. Ski areas have specific areas for learners, called ‘nursery slopes’ or ‘bunny slopes’ where you can practice at your own pace. Some also have slow slopes –Meribel and Courchevel call them ‘Zen Zones’ - where everyone has to ski gently. In most of the bigger ski areas, the beginner lifts are free – which can save a pretty penny by letting you hold back on buying a full lift pass until your ski instructor says you’re ready.
But it’s more than just the ski area that makes your first ski holiday – some resorts are more family friendly (like Les Arcs) or have lively après ski (like Meribel). Ski in, ski out resorts can also make the week a lot easier, saving you the legwork of long walks to the lifts. Whatever else you’re looking for from your first ski holiday, SNO can find the right resort for you. We’ll set you up with somewhere that meets your needs and budget and give you all the advice you need to have the best possible start to skiing.
Whatever your piste-confident pals brag of their teaching talents, opting out of ski school to save money is not the way to begin your skiing experience… There’s a good chance your friends will tire of the beginner slopes and – take our word for it – nothing’s worse than finding yourself peering down a terrifying steep far before your time.
Learning to ski’s definitely best done in the qualified hands of a ski school. Our top beginner resorts have a range of fantastic British ski and snowboard schools, where experienced instructors will soon see you confidently gliding down the slopes in your own time.
There tend to be two main types of classes: group and private. In a group lesson, you’ll learn with a small bunch of beginners who are similar in age. Everyone’s in the same boat and it’s a super way of making friends who you can ski with outside of lessons. In some all-inclusive properties (like Club Med’s), group ski or snowboard lessons are included with the cost of your stay. The meeting place for lessons is seconds from where you’re staying, and you’ll ski with people you’ll meet around the hotel.
If you pay a bit more for a private lesson, you can fast-track your learning one-to-one with an instructor or in a small group with friends and relatives.
If you’re new to this skiing lark, it helps to know what to pack for your first ski holiday... Ski gear can be an expensive investment, so ask around and borrow or hire as much as you can. If you’re buying your own stuff, shop around: there are some bargains out there if you know where to look (and no-one’s going to notice that your baselayer is last year’s design from TK Maxx).
It’s chilly out there - especially earlier in the season - so you’ll want to layer up. A good thermal base layer (top and bottom) and micro-fleece are two essentials for making sure you’re not shivering on the slopes and more layers can go between if needed. In terms of outerwear, you’ll need a good ski jacket (which can double as a winter waterproof back home) and some ski trousers, a.k.a. salopettes. You’ll also want thick ski socks and walking boots to wear around the resort (or maybe a pair snow boots - the more bonkers the better!). The waterproof factor of your jacket, salopettes and boots is super important – if any water gets through you’ll quickly feel the cold, so it’s a good idea to test everything before you set off, and give it a spray of water protection if needed.
When it comes to ski accessories, there are all sorts of gadgets out there - some more important than others...
Waterproof ski gloves, ski goggles, sunglasses, a helmet and a warm hat that covers your ears are all very important ones. Goggles are expensive and the cheap ones are usually cheap for a reason - so these are a good thing to try and borrow. You’ll be able to hire a helmet alongside your skis, boots and poles. Good ski jackets usually come with lots of pockets, so make the most of them with things like snacks and sun cream (everyone enjoys some chocolate on the ski lifts and with high altitude, you need to avoid sunburn). Tissues, hot chocolate and money are other good ideas – plus a charged phone for keeping in touch with the rest of the world (but mainly taking photos).
If you’re taking the family on your first ski trip, read our advice on packing for a family ski holiday with an “essentials” checklist. Our family skiing top tips might be worth a look through, and there’s also our advice on skiing with children of various ages.
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