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Recommendations - i need to sell skiing to the Mrs

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Ladies and Gents of distinction,

I am planning a ski trip for my wifes 30th this year (~Jan18), she has never been skiing before or been to a nice alpine resort. Im looking for resort that is good for beginners and has some nice places to eat and do in the evenings (not nightclubs). We are currently looking at Chamonix but I'm not sure if that's a good place for beginners? Chamonix is easy to get to.

I have been skiing loads and will have had my fix this year so I'm literally going wherever will sell it to her! I would prefer France (I can speak French and like the food), Switzerland or Austria.

We will be flying from Aberdeen so flights to ABZ>LHR>GVA (BA) seems to be appealing.

Any suggestions welcome

Thank You
David
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Saas Fee. Only box it doesn't tick is that the local language is German, but English is spoken everywhere, menus are in both languages etc.
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Thank you, I found another couple on this forum so I'm looking them up at the moment.

- Wengen
- Grindelwald
- Verbier
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@Daviejohn1983, welcome to Snowheads! For a beginner, the most pleasant experience will be the one with the least 'faff' and ski in ski out. Thus not Chamonix where you need to get buses etc. My suggestions would be to look at Avoriaz or flaine.

From Aberdeen you can fly direct to Geneva with EasyJet also. You can also get to the west coast of Norway easily, but I'd bear that in mind for the future Wink
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You probably want a nice charming village too I imagine for a birthday, so that would rule out Avoriaz and Flaine!

Kitzbühel or Lech would work well in Austria. Both are glitz and glam enough that even if she doesn't take so well to skiing it'll feel like a special holiday.

In Switzerland probably Zermatt?
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How about Courchevel 1650 aka Moriond? Good native English speaking ski schools/instructors; and good accessible skiing for a beginner. Below the tree line, which is good if you are going in Mid Jan and the
weather closes in. It has a very swanky new swimming complex too.
You might also want to look at Les Carroz. Not the biggest resort, but part of the grand massif area, with again, lovely tree skiing. A pleasant village with a few nice restaurants and bars.
Chamonix wouldn't be on my list, and neither would Verbier as it's not the easiest for beginners.
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For a beginner I think the most important aspect is the quality of the ski instruction. If she hates the actual skiing then the rest of the holiday won't make up for it. I'd therefore choose a resort that has a British ski school so she'll be taught by an instructor with English as a native language. I'd recommend Les Gets if you weaned to fly to GVA - plenty of chalet and hotel options with an easy transfer from the airport. You could book ski lessons with The Snow Institute.
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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!
Thank you everyone, I'm opening up a number of tabs in IE as we speak haha

I have been to Les Carroz a couple of times and really liked it, it was on my hit list. The advice about the british speaking ski school is a good idea, I had overlooked that. We had planned 3x 2.5hr lessons, ill bum about for a couple hours then see what she wants to do (ski, eat or cry).

Verbier is off and cham is dropping down the list after reading a few reviews.

I'm going to investigate
- Zermatt
- Les Carroz
- Les Gets
- Kitzbühel

Keep em coming, thank you everyone - appreciate it.

The reason for BA rather than EasyJet is that we are planning to go for 5-6 days and the flight combos are rubbish from Aberdeen.
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Doesn't sound like there are many budget restrictions?

Is she quite sporty?

Presumably you are looking for Hotel accommodation?

Agree lack of faff and good ski instruction are key.

January is cheap and quiet but can be cold and bleak. I would suggest good tree skiing is a must.
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Daviejohn1983 wrote:


The reason for BA rather than EasyJet is that we are planning to go for 5-6 days and the flight combos are rubbish from Aberdeen.


FWIW I used to regularly fly with KLM from Aberdeen to Munich via Amsterdam or Frankfurt and it was always pretty straightforward. Adds maybe an hour/1.5 hours to the travel time, which is easily better than travelling to EDI or Glasgow. Plus no issues with ski bags.
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Zermatt would be my choice, but it depends on the type of person you're taking I guess.

Cham is a real town (a good thing), but it's also steep and the lift system isn't that easy to navigate and it's full of wannabe hard core people.

The big French circus places are just too big: no point in paying for that, and I think I would have found them a bit scary big as a beginner.

Some Austrian places may work, although where Zermatt has those cutesy little restaurants, as Austria has drunken fat people smoking and dancing on tables. At lunchtime.

Overall I'd go for a real place which is also pretty, as a beginner's maybe going to want to do something other than learn the whole time. Easy access to and from the beginner slopes would be useful too. Ski schools.... in Europe they are I believe at least cheap.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Have you considered Saalbach or Hinterglemm? If you're heading in Jan there could be frequent snow falls - Saalbach is pretty much tree lined and easy gradients of slopes throughout the whole area - so she would not find things too difficult if visibility got bad. Both are as good as each other and plenty of nice restaurants, especially on the hills. Tatmans tours has got some info on English instructors based out there but I would be pretty certain the ski school will speak perfect English.
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@ Layne. Not too many budget restrictions, there is obviously a limit at some point. she is quite sporty and the reason Jan is picked is that her bday is the 31st Dec. Id rather wait a bit but I'm trying to head off as close to her bday as possible.

@clarky. I really cant be bothered travelling to EDI/GLA, I could fly to London/AMS in that time
Laughing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Courchevel would be much better than Chamois for a beginner. Excellent english speaking ski school and likely that fellow beginners will also be english speaking so fellow fallers can be fun. 1650 would be my choice. Make sure to take her for lunch at the Bel Air on a sunny day.

Do not go to Zermatt it is less than ideal for beginners. Nursery slopes can be hard to get to and it lacks the long easy runs that beginners need to build confidence.

The following are good beginners resorts with reasonable transfers from Geneva. Avoriaz Morzine Les Gets Flaine Les Contamines Megeve and Chatel.
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How about the MYAsH bash? Next years is on the 20th Jan and it's specifically set up to be easy for beginers/learners with slopes/ski school less than 50m from the hotel and 6x1/2day lessons and equipment included and plenty to keep their skiing friends/partners/husbands/wives busy.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Yep, Austria is all about drunken people dancing on the tables during lunch. Everywhere, even in Vienna! Puzzled
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Les Gets. Great town with excellent restuarants, bars, lively not rowdy apres, proper village museum ice rink spa hotels history. Convenient tree lined skiing, well linked, pretty, british ski schools, hour from geneva, lots to do and good skiing
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Chamonix is excellent for true beginners provided they have snow low enough. The bunny area at Le Tour is one of the best in the world for being completely isolated from thru traffic and there is also Les Planards right in town. Good quality English speaking instruction is a universal.

What it is rubbish for is more advanced skiers who are keen to drag their beginners onto the "proper" slopes and end up terrifying them by taking them up the top of the Brevent or up GMs more or less anywhere.

There is also the advantage of other stuff to do, short transfer & take wife up the Aiguille de Midi on a clear day to sell her on this is why you want to be in the mountains in winter.

Key is having patience. I'd suggest lessons at Le Tour with you spinning back down at lunchtime so you can go for lunch with more time on the bunny slope as appropriate. Key to really ensuring a beginner gets max enjoyment is to not over terrain them for as long as possible i.e. wait until they are pushing for more difficult terrain. Even if that means they get the lift up and down the "real" mountain. You can end up having a very bad day escorting a loved one down the easiest of runs if they freeze up because they feel it's too much/too many people for them.

^rob's suggestion also really good though Les Gets lacks the "wow" of Cham it makes up for it in unintimidating niceness.
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thank you everyone for this , really helpful.

I really thought I had it planned until I asked the question! snowHead
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@Daviejohn1983, As she hasn't skiied before I would avoid Cham. You need to be seriously addicted before skiers of different capabilities can get the most out of it and still have fun. Arinsal isn't bad....it isn't gnarly but is very compact, so you can share a lift, you go right at the top, she goes left with the instructor and you both feel challenged without being overwhelmed. 10 minutes later you can share a lift again. Instruction is all English.

To be honest, after nearly a decade on here, if I was starting again I would PM rob@rar, find out where he is working and just go there. I don't know him, have never met him, probably never will but I like the way he thinks and deals with people.
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I think @rob@rar is right about this one. What makes things work for beginners is quality of instruction. If she hates the skiing she will not enjoy the holiday. Personally, I would stack the deck in your favour here and go with a female British instructor. That may mean compromising on resort choice in order to get the right individual. I have ended up spending more time in Meribel than I would personally like as the choice of BASI ISTDs is better than anywhere else.

If you go with Les Gets then I would take Rob's advice. For Courchevel, I would think about Lara (bookable through the independent ski co) and Millie (bookable through Marmalade in Meribel). Both of them are good with female beginners.
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IMHO, you want to minimise the faff factor, in every way possible. So:

- direct, well timed flights
- easy access to slopes, bearing in mind the carrying of skis, etc. will be unfamiliar.
- as Rob says, good, easily accessed lessons with English speaking instructors.

Inter alia.

If you can get direct Geneva flights, great, Any of the usual suspects would work. Chamonix could work but you'd just need to be selective on accom situation, etc. does have the advantage that there are alternative activities. More so that in some locations.

Your requirements are hardly burdensome, it would be hard to go too far wrong.
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My first thought was Lech. Not cheap, but immaculately groomed slopes and excellent restaurants. A very civilised resort from what I saw on several forays there from St Anton. My limited experience of the Arlberg Ski School at St Anton was excellent (as was the instructors' English) - so I doubt the ski school at Lech would let you down. That said, rob@rar is very well qualified to advise you, so in your shoes I would also be checking out Les Gets.

Just one thing, encourage your wife but don't pressurise her (not that I am saying you would). I once saw the wife of a wealthy bloke having private one-on-one lessons as beginner and clearly hating it. I really hope your Mrs takes to the slopes and has as much fun as all of us here have had - but be understanding if she doesn't!
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Daviejohn1983 wrote:
Thank you, I found another couple on this forum so I'm looking them up at the moment.

- Wengen
- Grindelwald
- Verbier

I think Wengen is a great idea....Verbier, less so for a beginner.

I also agree with Saas Fee.
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Wengen actually a good idea as beginner lessons in village centre.
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Austria?
http://www.onthesnow.co.uk/gallery/p/photo/1090/2015-male-ski-instructor-calendar-mr-december-id218083 Laughing
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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.
I wouldn't rule out the Grand Massif - this guy Lynne Stainbrook gets a lot of good reports: http://www.flaine.com/en/winter/self-employed-ski-instructors-non-precise-flaine-ski-clinic-95-34--34-details-0.html

I would look at the newish Terminal Neige from the Sibuet hotel group in Flaine http://totem.terminal-neige.com/fr/#!hotel-flaine/sejour-montagne

or the Milk Hotel or les Servages in Les Carroz.

Advantage of Flaine is that a) really is ski in/out b) beginners dont need passes at all and then "cartes a points" .
Those hotels are also bookable by the night so you dont have to have a full week.

I would go in March, after the last of the French school holiday weeks and before the brits start - quiet and hopefully sunny .
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Ok so if your not worried about your own skiing. Can I suggest Seefeld in Austria. Language is not a problem, English is a 'second language'. The resort is limited for more experienced skiers , but great for beginners. The ski school is second to none. The village is attractive, loads of entertainment and good restaurants. Innsbruck is close by train. Rent a car and St Anton is possible.
village has Very nice public spa, (inside/outside pool) ice rinks, langlauf, walking, tea rooms, cinema, casino, night clubs. All very compact. It's not a Resort on the big circuit, its lower in altitude than others mentioned. (1200m) But worth a look at. A slightly older clients than hinterglem, but also good for young families. So, by inference, a bit quieter.
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I wouldn't rule out the Grand Massif - this guy Lynne Stainbrook gets a lot of good reports: http://www.flaine.com/en/winter/self-employed-ski-instructors-non-precise-flaine-ski-clinic-95-34--34-details-0.html

I would look at the newish Terminal Neige from the Sibuet hotel group in Flaine http://totem.terminal-neige.com/fr/#!hotel-flaine/sejour-montagne

or the Milk Hotel or les Servages in Les Carroz.

Advantage of Flaine is that a) really is ski in/out b) beginners dont need passes at all and then "cartes a points" .
Those hotels are also bookable by the night so you dont have to have a full week.

I would go in March, after the last of the French school holiday weeks and before the brits start - quiet and hopefully sunny .
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Seriously though I'd fully agree with @rob@rar, and the quality of instruction will be important. There have been some good suggestions and some less good. I've also noticed that you are planning for mid-Jan departure. Based on the last couple of years snow conditions you might want to think about aiming for a high altitude resort. Tignes/Val d'Isere might be a good suggestion and there are apparently some great instructors out there wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Sella Ronda followed by a few days in Venice. If you want serious brownie points a hotel I've stayed at on the Grand canal is Ca Sagredo with an amazing restaurant. Happy
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@GlasgowCyclops, And if you are going Sella Ronda, Alpenroyal Hotel in Selva.......
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Ooh..lots of posts since my last one! Re Zermatt... not the best resort for a beginner BUT, such an iconic place to ski..if you can afford it. There are some amazing hotels too..for a 30th it might be worth a splurge!
I happen to know a couple instructors who will be there this winter too.
Back in the real world...the Milk Hotel in Les Carroz is very nice. Piste side too.
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@Daviejohn1983, Megeve or Les Gets. Did you say what type of accommodation you prefer?
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@immediate & rob@rar & everyone.


I've been doing a fair bit of rejigging and les gets certainly ticks the boxes, the other half is even getting a little excited! She appreciated all the feedback.

I've request a few quotes for local hotels (bellveue, chamois d'or and another that I cant remember).

If she is doing lessons- 4x2hr (never been on a ski before), do I need to buy a ski pass? She might want to ski in the afternoons but likely to just stick around the greens.
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Daviejohn1983 wrote:


If she is doing lessons- 4x2hr (never been on a ski before), do I need to buy a ski pass? She might want to ski in the afternoons but likely to just stick around the greens.


For you or her? She will need a lift pass to partake in lessons.
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Quote:


If she is doing lessons- 4x2hr (never been on a ski before), do I need to buy a ski pass? She might want to ski in the afternoons but likely to just stick around the greens.


Depends where you are. Entirely possible that she won't need one until moving off beginner slopes.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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The lift pass question is for her, I'll get a full weeks pass but wasn't sure if I should get one for mrsDJ if she's just chilling on the nursery slope.

I'll do a bit of research today, it may be easier to get a half day pass on the days she wants to do something extra. I'm just not sure if you need a pass to stay on the greens. Hopefully I'm making sense?

I'm relatively confident we will stay in les gets.
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Have you thought about going to one of the snowdomes before going on holiday?
I found it very valuable getting the real early snowplowing out of the way in the UK, if you do go to a snowdome check what boots they have before booking anything, the ones I got given first day I went wrecked my big toe, which made me buy my own boots the next week but I'm a little bit daft like that.
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@Daviejohn1983, almost certainly MrsDJ would benefit from a pass covering all Les Gets slopes. Ski school may insist on it anyway. Lift pass price structure makes half day and day passes expensive. Personally I wouldn't buy passes until I arrived in resort.
You, as experienced skier, would probably enjoy going beyond Les Gets to other Portes de Soleil areas, if you wanted to and it fitted your plans.
Portes de Soleil website should show all lift pass options, prices, etc.
Agree with@Daishan, about benefits of Snowdome lessons, if available nearby. I'd save the Cairngorms for a special treat for her some other time wink
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