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1st holiday, advice needed!!!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all, I'm planning my first ski/snowboard holiday for the week before Christmas but have no idea where to start looking.

We have only had a few day lessons (few more planned) in chillfactore Manchester so obviously don't need miles of steep slopes.

Like couple of drinks of a night but dont want to waste a day in bed hung over

If prefer self catering but a package will be fine if cheap enough.

Any ideas/experiences will be appriciated. I've been looking at Andorra but I'm open to anywhere. Thanks in advance Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Welcome to snowHeads @Phildooley1 snowHead

Tignes or Val Thorens or somewhere in Australia with a glacier. Week before Xmas is very early season and in some places the snow may be no better than Chill Factors.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Phildooley1, welcome to Snowheads. Where are you flying from (or are you driving)?
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I think @DaveOfTheMarmottes means Austria too not Australia! Very Happy

But as he's right, aim for a high resort, somewhere like Avoriaz might be good too, some very mellow beginner slopes though not as high as the likes of Tignes. Deux Alpes also an option.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Sun 7-05-17 7:28; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
UCPA through Action Outdoors - prices won't be out till August, but they are cheap and all inclusive apart from travel, though flights will be cheap then and they offer airport transfers and coach travel from the UK as add-ons.
https://www.action-outdoors.co.uk/activities/winter/skiing/beginner-ski/summary
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La Plagne also has height and plenty of cruisey runs.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
IMHO, a trip in Dec should be seen not so much as 'a ski trip' but as a holiday, during which it would be nice to ski if possible.

Height improves your chances but there's no guarantee, that early, unless you have a glacier as back-up. Even the extensive snow-making of the major domains is no help if the temps haven't dropped eg. 2015-16

Apart from the PSB in the first week of Dec, which is backed up by a glacier, the snowHeads bashes don't begin until mid-Jan for that reason. Even then, the arrival of [natural] snow has been scarily close these past 2 years.

Surely we couldn't get 3 late starts in a row, could we? The laws of statistics say otherwise Confused
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Phildooley1, I think for your first trip, having as much as possible organised by someone else is a big plus. There's plenty to think about learning, sliding and navigating around.

Most UK tour operators have packages (incl. apartments) to most areas, departing 16/17 Dec 2017. Personally I'd wait until a week or so before departure, see what snow conditions look like. Then if OK, you should have no problem picking up a good late deal.

Plenty of friendly advice from snowHeads on specific options if wanted. I certainly wouldn't book Andorra months in advance. They generally had good snow in 2016/17 but risky early season.
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Obergugl starts early and is relativity snow sure if there isn't enough there solden isn't too far away. When we went there one day a couple of weeks before Christmas we also did a day tip to Innsbruck to visit the Christmas markets.
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Unless you are hugely adventurous, dislike being organised and love deciphering foreign public bus timetables on the internet before you go (in a vain attempt to reassure yourself... when you get there it is all much easier than it seems) and can mile munch then a TO is the way to go for the first few trips. Given your level- as noted above- now is the time to concentrate on learning and improving. Leave the do it yourself until later. You'll have a much better idea of what and where you like and what matters to you and where you can compromise before you plan your trip. I did and I'm glad. I now enjoy both, depending on what we want and who we go with. Madeye-Smiley . Given the time of year you should aim high as also mentioned.
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Thanks for the replys, I'm gonna be flying from liverpool or Manchester. The idea was originally to spend 4-5 at a ski resort and spend a couple of nights at a Xmas market.

Work sort of dictates I've gotta go then unfortunately, so anywhere with a bit of snow, fake or real will be fine. I dont think it'll make much difference to novice like me to be honest haha. And I've been to Australia in December and there is certainly no snow to be seen......

This might be a stupid question but is there much to do in these resorts when there isnt much snow?

Basically, what I'm asking is if you had to go somewhere the week before Christmas, where would you go.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Phildooley1, I stand by my suggestion of Obergurgl- when we did it we did a special "white week" deal (a good number of years ago) through inghams. It including lift pass, transfer to solden if no snow, drinks with dinner, and came out as very good value. Don't know If they still do them.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Phildooley1, depends on the resort but by and large there isn't a huge amount to do without snow. You'll also pay a premium if you spend part of the week in resort and part elsewhere. Arguably somewhere in Austria would be a bit better for doing alternative stuff, but is lower down (although last year they had some really good snow pre-Christmas).

Poor snow cover will definitely make a difference to a beginner, often the pistes will be more difficult to ski as they won't be able to groom them quite as easily/often. For that reason I'd look to get high up, but even then it's no guarantee and you could be skiing on ice for a week (effectively you're trying to predict the weather from 7 months out when even a 7-day forecast is woolly at best). However reasonably safe bets in France will be the high mega-resorts like La Plagne, Val Thorens, Tignes etc. In all of those though you'll want to be reasonably high up, staying in the lower villages (such as Les Coches in La Plagne) might make things tricky as a beginner.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Phildooley1,
Quote:

Basically, what I'm asking is if you had to go somewhere the week before Christmas, where would you go.

Caribbean?

Seriously.... there's some good advice above. Do go high and consider waiting until the very last minute before booking. Availability should be fine everywhere for that week. For your first trip I'd suggest Austria. Aparat from anything esle it's easier to avoid the ESF (French ski school system) who are pretty awful.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I'd generally agree with everyone saying go with a TO for your first time. Really tricky to organise everything yourself, especially if you haven't done it before.

The other benefit of this is that most TOs would only be operating in resorts which will offer skiing at that time. However, don't get too concerned about resort height etc as some people suggest. If you've never skied before then you need an open piste and a good instructor. Snow quality irrelevant, in fact it's almost a positive if you learn in less than perfect conditions. And you won't know any different anyway!

Skiworld, Crystal and Club Med all offer good prices early season.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@froomie,
Quote:

However, don't get too concerned about resort height etc as some people suggest. .... Snow quality irrelevant,
It's not the quality that people are concerned about for that week, but the existence. I'd suggest that's pretty important.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you're at ANY major French resort then there's going to be some pistes open using artificial snow if needed. I was in Chamonix over Xmas just gone and although cover was poor, there were nursery slopes open in the town and on Brevent/Flegere and Grand Montets. If you read the media you'd be forgiven for thinking that everywhere was shut which was simply untrue...
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
suec wrote:
Unless you are hugely adventurous, dislike being organised and love deciphering foreign public bus timetables on the internet before you go (in a vain attempt to reassure yourself... when you get there it is all much easier than it seems) and can mile munch then a TO is the way to go for the first few trips.

Personally I would suggest that unless you are a brain dead idiot DIY'ing is perfectly reasonable though tour operators may be financially advantageous they are certainly not necessary.
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@Phildooley1, with your preferred plan of skiing and Christmas markets, my suggestion would be flights to Munich and then go to one of the resorts within reach of there. You don't have to book accommodation for that period now and you could even wait until a couple of weeks beforehand to see what the snow is doing before you decide where to ski.
If there is good snow coverage, then the Zillertal valley or Skiwelt would be good options, if not then Solden may be OK (or if not then on to Obergurgl) or there is the glacier at Hintertux amongst other options.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I would definitely wait until the last minute before booking, the week before Xmas will not be fully booked, Start looking with one week to go.

Check reports of current snow conditions, and check the forecasts. Look at the Ski Club of GB website for both. Look for somewhere that has snow and a forecast for cold sunny weather. Avoid going somewhere that has a forecast for heavy snow and poor visibility.

With a short list of resorts look at TOs last minute deals. I would start with Skiworld [ mainly chalet holidays ] and Skiline who deal with many companies.

Watch out for resorts that have runs with long flat sections [ snowboarding hell ]

Here are three good choices Arinsal La Rosiere and Les Arcs.
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@Phildooley1, If you head to Les Arcs, then they host the annual Film Festival in that week - http://lesarcs-filmfest.com/home/index.php?

This year (the 8th version) it is 17-23rd Dec. albeit they haven't announced the competitors or the theme as yet. It's high enough for pretty much nailed on snow, there's Bourg St Maurice for a Christmas market, and since the festival caters for 'new-to-skiing' and non-skiers alike, plenty to do when not sliding.
I was lucky enough to be given 'all access' passes for this year, and although not able to take full advantage (injury cut short our stay) there was plenty on offer.
You could stay in Bourg if you'd prefer the valley; giving easy access to Rosiere or Arcs, or Arc 1950 for the main festival village and ski in/out accommodation.

HTH
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T Bar wrote:
suec wrote:
Unless you are hugely adventurous, dislike being organised and love deciphering foreign public bus timetables on the internet before you go (in a vain attempt to reassure yourself... when you get there it is all much easier than it seems) and can mile munch then a TO is the way to go for the first few trips.

Personally I would suggest that unless you are a brain dead idiot DIY'ing is perfectly reasonable though tour operators may be financially advantageous they are certainly not necessary.


I'm sure plenty of people can reasonably DIY but not everyone wants the hassle, especially if you're on your first trip to ski overseas. Personally I have DIY'd many times and enjoyed it, but I can see why packages appeal to people without the knowledge or experience. Deal with one organisation, place one booking and feel safe that everything is handled for you. Remember that this is a holiday...
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:

Snow quality irrelevant, in fact it's almost a positive if you learn in less than perfect conditions. And you won't know any different anyway!


Vulnerable body parts would soon know if mostly on ice or 'boiler plate' snow for your first week learning. Especially if boarding. In Europe, the sun's as weak and low in the sky as it gets that week.
Another good reason for leaving booking until late, when you can judge conditions, travel convenience, best value deals, etc.

+1 for advice from @TQA, above. Also, if they have decent early season snow, reasonably priced options in Austria could include Niederau, Ellmau, possibly Mayrhofen.
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froomie wrote:


I'm sure plenty of people can reasonably DIY but not everyone wants the hassle, especially if you're on your first trip to ski overseas. Personally I have DIY'd many times and enjoyed it, but I can see why packages appeal to people without the knowledge or experience. Deal with one organisation, place one booking and feel safe that everything is handled for you. Remember that this is a holiday...

I have nothing whatsoever against anyone using a tour operator, just the suggestion that you have to be hugely adventurous or have a great mastery of forieign bus timetables . Traveling in Europe is pretty straightforward and easy, nothing wrong with using a TO but it certainly should not stretch the abilities of lobotomised mouse to work out another way should a TO not be practical or convenient and there is often not a lot on offer from the TO's particularly if you want to leave from a provincial airport pre Xmas.
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Agree that you should wait till last minute to see what the snow conditions are. The default option in France if the snow is poor below around 1800m would be Tignes or Val Thorens for me as you will have real snow there and plenty of easily accessible (ski in ski out) slopes for beginners. They aren't pretty resorts but are very snow sure.

Igluski.com is a good resource for last minute deals-many of the tour ops feature their holidays there.

For your first trip you want somewhere with good instruction on tap. I can't speak for Austrian resorts, and I know they can be very good for beginners, but one of the big advantages of Tignes for example is there are good native english speaking ski schools. I am also a big fan of Courchevel 1650 (now known as Courchevel Moriond) and Courchevel 1850-also with a decent selection of ski schools-also more attractive skiing with more trees. The latter has a swanky reputation, but in the week before Christmas there should be plenty of good value chalet or self catering packages on tap. They both have excellent slopes suitable for beginners where you can ski right back to base. (It can be a bit confidence sapping if your last run of the day is a steep icy horror- I can still recall the screaming thighs and jelly legs!).

The DIY option in terms of flight and accommodation are fine if you know what you are doing, but as a newbie, I'd go for the package as transfers can be a right PIA to sort out and also expensive. (Unless you are heading to a resort with a railway station).
The idea of Les Arcs might be good if you really do want to have the ease of heading down the hill to Bourg for a spot of shopping (or up the hill from Bourg for the skiing).
Bon voyage!

If there is a good pre Christmas week dump, then there are innumerable options beyond the above. No need to go high and its nice to head somewhere with trees as it helps with visibility in snow conditions as well as being prettier. I'd still look at Courchevel 1650.
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I'd recommend Finland over the Alps. Sure, there will only be 4-5hrs daylight but that means late starts and fairly early finishes. This will reduce your chances of being completely knackered by day 2 and getting injured. Once you're accustomed to 3-400m vertical (as opposed to 20m at CFe) then the 1000-2000m verticals in the Alps won't be as intimidating and you'll actually be able to travel around the ski area rather than spending the day doing the baby slopes, then manage 1 run once you start to improve. Snow is guaranteed and likely to be in much better condition. There are loads of other things to do. They may be going quite heavy on Santa that week though. Only pricey if you like to drink wine or spirits, especially in bars!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@what...snow, Hmmmmm -not entirely coinvinced by that logic. The very few resorts with even just 3-400m of vertical seem to be in Lapland. In the week before Christmas they have zero hours of daylight and average highs of -16 degrees.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Just a quick correction in case it prooves important to anyone: in Lapland beyond the arctic circle the sun stays below the horizon that time but it doesn't mean there's no daylight. There's daylight between 10 and 3 o'clock and once it's dark they switch the lights on so you can ski until 8pm. The sun lit about half of Ylläs when I was there on a New year's eve two years ago. And it must be one of the northernmost ski resorts in Europe.
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