Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a first-timer, planning is key to any successful ski holiday. Sure, you don’t have to schedule everything you do to the exact minute and there’s always room on a ski trip for flexibility and spontaneous choices. But there are some things you must consider and decide on well in advance to avoid to ensure everyone has the best time possible. After all, ski holidays aren’t cheap so it makes sense to spend a little time planning to maximise your enjoyment of them! Here’s our skiing holiday guide covering everything you need to know.
Who’s going on your ski trip?
The most important piece of ski holiday advice we can give is to make sure you understand and cater for the needs of everyone going on the trip. If you are only a small group then this will be easier, but for bigger groups, you should start by making a list of everyone’s ability, whether they want to ski or snowboard, what type of accommodation they would prefer, and if there are any children in the group. Once you have all of this information it will help inform your decisions on the key choices that must be made.
When and where to go on your ski holiday
When you go may often be dictated by the availability of your group members but that will have an impact on choosing your resort.
February is usually the most popular and most expensive time as the days are a little longer, the snow is abundant, and many schools are on half-term. Christmas and New Year are usually busy too, but it can be a great time to get away from home and have fun.
If you don’t need to work around school holidays then mid-January is often cheaper and is great for snow. There are also bargains to be had in November or early December but good snow isn’t guaranteed at this time – look for higher, more snow-sure resorts if you’re planning your holiday for the start of the season.
The warmer weather of March and April can be very enticing but this often means slushy conditions on the lower pistes as the snow melts. If you’re an advanced group, though, this may not be a problem if you’re going to be sticking to the higher slopes.
If you have beginners in your group you need to choose a resort with adequate nursery slopes and lessons for them to build their confidence. And even if you’re all experienced skiers it’s worth having a refresher or advanced lesson to help you make the most out of your time on the slopes. Be sure to choose a resort that has the right level of lessons to cater for everyone in your group. And when you’re deciding on a ski school, check their reviews and that their instructors are fully qualified.
Every resort will list the number of slopes they have at each level from green (gentlest), to blue, red, and black (steepest). If you have a mixed ability group then look for resorts that have an even split of all grades to keep everyone happy.
Some resorts are more snowboarder friendly than others. Lots of flat terrain and button lifts aren’t much fun for them, so if you have snowboarders in your group look for resorts that are designed as much for them as they are for skiers.
Lastly, take into account how you’re going to travel to the resort and transfer times if you are flying or taking the train. Depending on the makeup of your group you may want to book somewhere with the shortest transfer time and/or hire a car rather than waiting for scheduled shuttles to and from the resort.
Where to stay on your skiing holiday
If you’re a small group and you want to just focus on skiing and meet other people then a shared chalet is a great option. All meals are taken care of and you’ll get to meet other skiers so this can be a great way to keep your evenings busy and fun. Or if you have a large group you may be able to hire a whole chalet for yourselves.
If chalets aren’t for you then there will be hotels and self-catered apartments nearby. Always check the location of your accommodation, though. Is being close to the slopes most important to you, or would your group rather be closer to the bars and the restaurants for evening entertainment? You’ll likely pay a premium for convenience so you can save money if you’re prepared to spend some time travelling each day. But if you have children in your group it may be easier to stay as close as possible to the slopes to avoid the hassle of shepherding them back and forth.
All the gear and every idea
You don’t have to own your own ski clothes and equipment to go on a ski holiday. Everything from boots and skis to jackets, helmets and gloves can be hired at the resort. But you must book ahead otherwise it might not be available when you arrive. If you’re taking your own equipment, make sure you’ve factored it into your travel plans and costs. And check the average temperatures for your resort so that you can be appropriately dressed when you’re not out on the slopes.
No matter how much planning you do, you can’t control everything and skiing does have more risks than other holidays so it’s worth taking out ski insurance for your trip too. This is separate from normal travel insurance as it covers not only the standard stuff, such as cancellation, lost or stolen luggage, injuries and medical costs but extra incidents particular to ski holidays. Not all ski insurance policies are the same though, so look for one that includes loss of ski pass, damage, theft or loss of equipment, piste closure due to bad weather or not enough snow, and personal liability in case you injure another person. It may be cheaper to get group insurance rather than buying individually so be sure to shop around for the best deal.
Most importantly, have fun! Ski trip planning may seem like hard work but it’s well worth it to ensure everyone has a great time. Once you get to your resort, you want to be able to relax, enjoy yourself, and not worry about anything. Do all your planning well in advance and you’ll be able to pack as much fun into your holiday as you want.