Do you struggle to see the attraction of skiing? Do you shudder a little when friends recount their escapades on the slopes? If the idea of a snow holiday leaves you colder than getting stuck on the chairlift in a blizzard, here are the answers to all of your doubts.
1. It’s too expensive
It really isn't. It was, but now there are plenty of options for snow bunnies on a budget. A two- to three-star deal in Soll, Austria, including direct flights from Dublin; transfers; six nights' B&B; six-day ski pass; ski, boots and helmet rental comes in at about €920pps. With tweaks you can reduce this: book early or last-minute, avoid school holidays, buy a five-day ski pass (you will be encouraged to buy a six-day pass – you don't need it). Excluding your ski pass and gear rental, you can get a week in Livigno in the Italian Alps for €399pps. A week in Gran Canaria on the same dates costs €634pps, including flights and six nights B&B but without any snowy fun. In many resorts, especially in Austria, ski passes for children under 16 are half price, and under-sevens are often free. When it comes to gear, you need a waterproof, breathable jacket; snowpants; a base layer; long socks and gloves. Try TK Maxx or Aldi, and all the snow stores have seasonal sales.
2. I want to feel the sun on my face, not sleet
We aren’t taking the piste, you will get a tan. Or tan lines to be more specific. Goggle tan is a “thing”. If you visit the mountains in the spring you can hope for big blue skies, bright sunshine and slopes covered with a season of snow. You’ll need SPF50 and at lunchtime or early après-ski, grab a deckchair, sit back and enjoy soaking up high-altitude Vitamin D.
3. I’ve never skied before. I’ll be on my bum for the week.
Okay, it will happen. You will end up with a mouthful or ski-pants-ful of snow at some point. But beginner falls usually result in more bruises to your dignity than to your body. If you are a newbie, take some lessons – private if you can afford it – and you’ll be carving your way down the slopes in no time. Note: if you are snowboarding, good luck. You will most likely fall from your hands to your bum and back again. Pack gloves with wrist supports and, em, enjoy it. At least you know you are on the piste to becoming one of the cool kids.
4. Holiday plus exercise? I want fun on holidays
Have you ever gone hiking or even for a strong walk? Remember the smug feeling as you tucked into a calorie-loaded dinner afterwards? Add snow and skiing to the mix and you can multiply that smugness by 10, which means more melting Alpine cheese for all. And yes, technically you are spending holiday time exercising, but is that really so bad?
5. I don’t like cheese. What else is there to eat?
So much, but who doesn't love melting cheese? It's true that most restaurants up the slopes won't wow your tastebuds, but sharing a wood-fired pizza on a picnic bench, sitting halfway up a mountain in the snow with a cool beer is an incredible experience. Save your fine dining for the evening. Unless you are in Courmayeur, where turning down truffle shavings in the snow (ie on your pasta dish on the terrace of La Chaumière restaurant) just seems wrong. Back at base, most resorts offer a host of restaurants from Michelin-starred (head for San Cassiano, Italy; Val d'Isère and Val Thorens, France; and Aspen, US) to and fine dining restaurants (try the old chalet of Les Mandarines in Megève; Cap Horn in Chamonix and Chez Vrony in Zermatt, Switzerland) to simple, high-quality eateries. If your hotel food isn't exciting you, skip the half-board option on a night or two and eat out.
6. Hotel options are very basic at ski resorts
We beg to differ. Luxury chalets are a big trend, especially in the Alps. There are movie rooms, wine caves and even private chefs if you have the budget. And if you don’t, there are a choice of hotels, catered chalets or self-catering apartments which include access to the sauna and steam rooms. Airbnb means there are even more private houses, chalets and mazots available.
7. I’m too old to learn to ski
Oh come on, 60 is the new 50 and that’s just a lazy excuse. Seriously, age isn’t a factor in skiing, and you will see that on the slopes. If you have any mobility concerns, consult your physio pre-trip and everyone should follow some basic exercise advice before they travel to strengthen their core, feet and ankles and quads.
8. Ok, fine, I’ll try the skiing but I’ve no interest in doing it every day
Fantastic, because there is so much fun to be had on the snow. Ice skating, snow-shoeing, dog-sledding, ice-driving, skijoring (horse-drawn skiing), horse-sledding, beautiful walking routes, spas, thermal suites and roaring fires and a good book. Book a resort that has at least some of these and you will please all the family.