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Best ski holiday destinations for groups of beginners

July 2nd, 2009

When booking a ski holiday, it is important to choose the right destination to suit the level of your group. This is especially true for beginners.

Nothing can put a beginner off skiing quicker than a week spent trying to ski down unsuitable steep terrain, or have to travel for miles to get to the beginner ski slopes.

We have therefore compiled our “Top Ten Ski Resorts For Beginners” list:

1. Les Arcs, France

Why is it good?

  • Excellent nursery slopes directly above each of the resort’s main villages.
  • Free beginner’s lift.
  • Good range of early intermediate slopes as you progress.

2. Bansko, Bulgaria

Why is it good? 

  • Beautiful World Heritage Site.
  • Modern lift system.
  • Good range of nursery slopes.
  • Great value – skiing here won’t break the bank.
  • As you progress there is an excellent 16km intermediate run from the top to the bottom of the mountain (2560 m to 935 m).

3. Cortina, Italy

Why is it good? 

  • Breathtaking views over the Dolomites.
  • Widely regarded as being one of the world’s most beautiful ski resorts.
  • Superbly groomed beginner slopes in the Socrapes area.
  • Instructors who are especially good with kids.

4. Killington, US

Why is it good?

  • No language barriers.
  • Ski schools are excellent.
  • Large nursery slope areas.
  • “Discovery Centre” for complete beginners showing how your equipment works before you start to ski.

5. Lech, Austria

Why is it good?

  • A classic alpine resort.
  • Picturesque village with fine hotels.
  • Very well regarded ski schools with good English speaking instructors.
  • Plenty of runs for intermediate and advanced as well, so a good option for mixed ability groups.

6. Poiana Brasov, Romania

Why is it good?

  • An excellent place to try skiing without breaking the bank.
  • Two nursery areas.
  • Helpful and enthusiastic instructors.
  • Excellent nearby excursions (such as Dracula’s castle).
  • Cheap and cheerful food, wine and entertainment.

7. Soldeu, Andorra

Why is it good?

  • Widely regarded as being one of Europe’s best beginner resorts.
  • Two extensive nursery areas.
  • Excellent ski instructors who are native English speakers.
  • Good range of runs to progress to.
  • Usually good weather (Soldeu means “Sun God”).
  • Excellent nightlife.
  • Duty-free zone, so can be cheap.

8. Tignes, France

Why is it good?

  • High and very “snowsure”.
  • Good range of easy to access nursery slopes.
  • Good range of intermediate/expert slopes so a good destination for mixed ability groups.
  • Lots of accommodation to choose from.
  • Lots of non-skiing activities and great après-ski.

9 Wengen, Switzerland

Why is it good?

  • Spectacular location under the north face of the Eiger.
  • A great destination for families, with a well renowned ski school.
  • Lots of non-skiing activities.

10. Chatel, France

Why is it good?

  • Easy resort to reach either by flying into Geneva, or driving from Calais.
  • Great range of beginners slopes, and good English speaking instructors.
  • Part of the world’s biggest ski area (the Portes du Soleil) so plenty of runs for all abilities.
  • Regularly receives on average the most snowfall in the alps, so one of the most snowsure non glacier resorts.
  • Beautiful village with bags of charm and plenty to do off the slopes.

We also have some tips for beginner skiers, which should help make your first time all the more enjoyable:

  1. Try and get some lessons in the UK before you leave, preferably in one of the real snow domes. This means that once you get to your resort, you already have an idea of the basics (how to put your skis on etc.).
  2. When booking ask if there are any ‘Learn to Ski or Snowboard Packages’. This may include lessons, gear rental and a lift pass if needed. 
  3. Check to see if beginners can get away with buying a cheaper “local area” of “beginner” lift pass. There is no need to buy a pass for a huge area if you are only going to ski on beginner and early intermediate slopes.  
  4. If you want to learn snowboarding, check if the schools in your resort offer beginner courses for boarders.   
  5. Check that the accommodation is close to the pistes, the lifts and general amenities. 
  6. Rent gear to start with – it’s a lot cheaper.

Above all, remember that skiing is meant to be fun!

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Shakeups in the Ski Chalet Industry

September 8th, 2008

Catered Ski Chalet Operators in Verbier face toughest challenges and possible closure this season.
 
Skiers and Wintersports enthusiasts considering a Ski Holiday in Verbier this coming 08/09 season will be confronted by a number of changes in the way their favourite catered ski chalet is operated, if it has not fallen victim to the new and strenuous set of restrictions imposed by the Swiss Authorities on foreign operators, who were responsible for the phenomenal growth of “catered” ski chalets in the Alps and consequently the massive popularity of certain ski resorts; Verbier being the mother and father of them all.
 
The decision by the local government insists that foreign operators comply with a number of onerous conditions that include….
 
1. The requirement that a member of management of each recognised and authorised chalet operator in Verbier has an officially recognised ‘Patent’ (Hotel/Restaurant license) in order to open their doors this winter. This requires months of study and a very difficult exam until now only available in French and Swiss German. This restriction alone will cause the closure of over 50% of the existing ski chalet operators this coming winter.
 
2. The requirement that the actual Chalets and their facilities used to accommodate clients, and kitchens where food is prepared, are now for the first time having to comply with a  strict code of Hygiene and Safety Laws  that is required of  commercial establishments. Suddenly the private kitchens designed for regular family requirements are no longer acceptable, and the hygiene safety and fire escape requirements are being strongly enforced.
 
3. Great lengths are being taken to ensure that staffing of foreign companies are fully in compliance with local labour laws and staff are assured of minimum wage and maximum weekly work requirements.
 
All Verbier Chalet Operators have been contacted recently by the Verbier Tourist Office and their attention drawn to the fact that -” if they don’t have the authorization from the Police to operate for the 2008/2009 season then no work permits will be provided to the offending companies.”
 
This is the most blatant warning to date and evidence that the Swiss authorities are sincere in their efforts to clean up the act and ensure the greatest amount of protection, both financial and health-wise to the clients of the many “foreign ski operators” operating in the resort . What is more the authorities have the fullest support of the more established and experienced operators. Too long has the opportunity been available to abuse the system and over time there have been a number of fly-by-nights that have all too easily put the reputation of those more serious and competent chalet operators at risk.
Whilst there has been a scramble the past few months to achieve compliance, the Tourist Office by its recent communications is warning many of those operators who have not yet received authorisation, that the authorities are serious and that they will not be able to open their chalets to guests unless full compliance with the regulations can be proved and authorisation provided.

Anyone with an advanced booking or considering a ski holiday in a catered chalet in Verbier this 08/09 season would do well to ensure that the particular operators providing the accommodation and related services have the necessary authorisation, to avoid disappointment and inconvenience. 

This press release was supplied by Chalet Mont aux Sources.

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