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Best resort for beginner skiing

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Good afternoon all,

I am looking to take my good lady for her first ski holiday in January and looking for recommendations on resort.

Having done some research I think France would be best given the quality of the ski instruction and think that Alpe D’Huez or Avoriaz could be suitable but wanted to ask if anyone had any other ideas or best advice?

I have been to Les Arcs and Mayrhofen myself and would like to continue my development in resort on reds and hopefully my first black run this year.

Thanks in advance Toofy Grin
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I can't help with a resort but i would start by asking for instructor or ski school recommendations and go from there...that will be the make or break
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Welcome to snowheads, @BramhallSki snowHead . @holidayloverxx is right - it's the quality of the instruction which is the key thing, and that can be found in many resorts. There are superb instructors in France but also pretty dire ones. And that's true of all countries! If possible you want to book lessons in a guaranteed small group (not more than 6). Is your partner quite sporty? If not, some work prior to your holiday to strengthen her leg muscles would be a good investment.
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Are you thinking of group lessons? If so, I'd be wary about using ESF in Alpe D'Huez. Why are you thinking of France?
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
That’s interesting... I had ESF lessons in Les Arcs and the instructor was really good.

I had the idea of France due to the high qualification the ski instructors need to have, thinking that it would mean we get the best quality instruction.

It seems @holidayloverxx’s comment may be good insight - it’s all about getting the right ski school it seems
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BramhallSki wrote:
That’s interesting... I had ESF lessons in Les Arcs and the instructor was really good.

I had the idea of France due to the high qualification the ski instructors need to have, thinking that it would mean we get the best quality instruction.

It seems @holidayloverxx’s comment may be good insight - it’s all about getting the right ski school it seems

Ah, I think that's a bit of a misconception about ski instructor qualifications. As far as I know, not all of the ski instructors ESF use are fully qualified. Some are "stagiares". The quality of instruction with ESF is a bit of a lottery and group sizes can be huge. Personally I now still to recommended instructors, generally for whom English is a first language, but that may be a tricky ask for beginner lessons.

Something to take into account is what level of skiing you're looking for. There are some resorts that are brilliant for beginners, but might be a bit limiting for intermediates upwards. Are you going to have lessons too?
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Thank you for your advice.

Yes the plan is to both have lessons in the morning and then ski together in the afternoon.

For myself, the aim is to develop confidence on steeper pistes and improve on skiing parallel consistently
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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!
@BramhallSki, Alpe D’Huez would be an excellent resort for a beginner. Though I like Les arcs a lot IMHO it is too steep for a beginner
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BramhallSki wrote:
Thank you for your advice.

Yes the plan is to both have lessons in the morning and then ski together in the afternoon.

For myself, the aim is to develop confidence on steeper pistes and improve on skiing parallel consistently

When we had a beginner with us in Alpe d'Huez, the ESF group lessons she had seemed pretty poor.
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Any big resort ski school is a lottery, with a mix of instruction quality. And unless you are guaranteed small groups you could be in a big one. But small group lessons are much more expensive - naturally. The British ski schools also tend to charge high prices whereas the basic Austrian or French resort schools will be cheaper. Qualifications are less important than an instructor having a genuine interest in teaching beginners. I have had good and bad lessons in both France and Austria. In a big resort like Val d'Isere there are a whole lot of ski schools, at a whole lot of prices.
This website will you a feel for it. https://www.bass-skischools.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjwxrzoBRBBEiwAbtX1n8-YY7yTCerCLHDNOSOdW4H4hZv9gIexRAwItk014WqdXogHsaMkAxoCgGoQAvD_BwE
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I would recommend Les Gets for a first ski holiday. Nice town, great slopes to move onto. There is a branch of BASS in the town that we used for our and our friends children last year. I love Les Gets. It's also a short transfer from Geneva and is a proper town.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
La Plagne, would be my recommendation if going to France and its purely for skiing. A sense of skiing from one place, nothing too extreme. But if it’s about more than skiing, Austria and one of the spa resorts. Plenty of smaller resorts with mild slopes and happy people.
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A few dry slope lessons are a good investment. Learn how to put skis on standup sidestep and snowplough.

You want lessons in English ideally with fellow Brits. A predominately French/German group will have most of the teaching in French/German with a few " bend ze knees " thrown in.

You want easy access to at least one easy wide blue to build confidence.

Avoriaz is good and is the least awful of the French purpose built resorts. Les Gets is good too but low. Courcheval has wide blue motorways
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
In France: Les Houches, Alpes d'Huez, Courchevel 1650 (recommended ski instructor: Andrea Vitton of NewGen)
In Austria: Solden (recommended ski instructor: Karel of Snowlines). I imagine Saalbach-Hinterglemm too, based on their skimap, but I haven't been there yet.
Choose a place you'll want to be based on your access to airports, budget etc. Check their green/blue pistes mileage on www.skiexpert.com and then check their access and distribution on skimaps at www.skiresort.info
If you'll ask here, people will be able to recommend you good instructors in any ski resort they've been to.
Enjoy Little Angel
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

I imagine Saalbach-Hinterglemm too, based on their skimap, but I haven't been there yet.

Indeed, both these villages have excellent ski schools and village-level nursery slopes. I know a few highly-rated British instructors who work for them - send a P.M. if you would like contact details.
Some consideration should be given to whether group lessons or private lessons are preferred. In my neck of the Austrian Alps, group lessons tend to be for four hours per day, finishing at 3.00pm, and with a break for lunch. I’m aware that elsewhere it might be possible to get morning-only lessons. There is actually a drift towards more people favouring private lessons -say four hours of intensive instruction over two days, as opposed to three days of group instruction at four hours per day.
Only one ski school in Saalbach is now offering group lessons, but several others seem to thrive on providing private lessons.
I don’t recognise the suggestion that superior tuition tends to be found in French resorts; in fact I’ve often seen the contrary view expressed in this forum. However it’s no doubt inappropriate to generalise too much. No doubt good instructors exist in all countries (my kids were taught by an excellent Zimbabwean instructor in Baqueira Beret, which is incidentally a resort worth considering).
If the preference is for France (despite what we hear about escalating prices), I can certainly vouch for Alpe d’Huez, which is blessed with excellent, extensive, sunny (important in January), and easily accessible nursery slopes, with some more challenging terrain to progress on to. There is also a good British-run ski-school there, called “Masterclass” (just google it).
However, if you want Alpine charm and tree-lined runs (in case of bad weather and poor visibility), look elsewhere.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
sugarmoma666 wrote:
Personally I now still to recommended instructors, generally for whom English is a first language


Whilst a generalisation, I think this really does help with grasping certain aspects of what you are being told and the nuances of language can sometimes be a deal maker or breaker. Like I said, definitely a generalisation but as you don't know who will be your ski instructor it's what I would choose.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously lots of opinions on this - I learnt in Soldeu in Andorra. Great beginners resort with lots of runs to progress too, and good snowmaking. Plus a fantastic ski school generally made up of British ski instructors. I couldn't fault it.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Four letters for you - U.C.P.A.
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1. Lech.
2. Courchevel 1850.
3. Klosters.
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I would recommend La Rosiere and Montgenevre for excellent beginner slopes and very good ski schools. Les Saisies also has plenty of gentle slopes nearest the village.
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@snowymum, seconded, La Rosiere in particular has very good beginner slopes and a choice of excellent ski schools.
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Les Saisies has ideal beginner slopes and plenty to progress onto for a third-time skier but group lessons in the ski schools will be French, as it's not a "package deal" destination (thankfully.... wink ). Private lessons are cheap, though and it's an attractive resort with stunning scenery. I'd recommend the ESI ski school "Glisse Passion" rather than ESF.
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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!
A highly qualified doer is not a highly qualified teacher. My experience in France made me swear to never pay ESF another cent. As you’ve seen, others are different Smile

Generally good experiences in Andorra (Soldeu), who employ native English speakers. Not a guarantee of teaching skill, but I prefer their teaching style of explaining, rather than “follow and copy me”.

A hotel with a pool or jacuzzi can soothe tired muscles at the end of the day.
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I'd pick recommended ski schools first off, there are a few I've had good lessons/coaching with which are:

http://www.skimarmalade.com/ - Meribel

https://www.britishskischool.com/BASS_Resorts/Morzine - Morzine

http://www.tdcski.com/ - Val D'Isere, I skiied with Steve Angus who does a very good blog on here, his wife, Clare also does lessons as an independent (I think) https://clareangussnow.wordpress.com/


Another option would be to look at any summer deals for beginners skiing at a local snowdome, which could then be supplemented with summer sessions from https://www.insideoutskiing.com/
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I recently went through the same process with my OH, now I don't want to 'dish out advice' as you need to assess what's best for your OH. Instead, here's my experience:

Some context; my OH had never seen snow outside the UK, let alone skied. While she's sporty and the type to get stuck-in, I was very conscious the first trip can be a make or break experience. I didn't want to physically exhaust her too much, hence I put a lot of emphasis on the off-snow experience.

My view was (and remains) that a beginner does not need a large famous ski resort, after all they tire easily and the mileage you pay for will be wasted on them. Key criteria were:

1. Relatively snowsure (we went end Dec)
2. Easy access to slopes (even if we have to drive 5min, as long as it's not a long walk carrying skis in ski boots)
3. Village resort charm (I wanted her to like the pre- and post-skiing vibe)
4. Relatively good value (didn't have to be bargain basement, but definitely not one of the mainstream rip-off resorts......there's no need to tell her just how expensive my hobby is)
5. Good food and wine (think: date night every night for week)
6. Non-ski activities as a back-up (Plan B)

I narrowed it down to Italy with Austria a close second. In the end it turned out to be Bormio, Italy, which despite the lacklustre snowcover had enough snowcannon coverage to keep us entertained. Airbnb was cheap, the drive from Milan was easy (included a pit-stop at an Italian salami/olive/wine shop, which went down a treat), she loved the ski lessons (Italian charmer instructor rolling eyes ), empty slopes, spa party for NYE (ok that was expensive but worth it) and dining both on & off the mountain were excellent value & top quality.

Other Italian resorts on the radar were, Livingo, Passo Tonale and Cervina. Although I am sure there are others.

A few years later, I take her to mid-tier resorts (Les Contamines, Soelden/Obergugl) where she tracks the blue and red mileage with relative ease and I can push her ability a little every time (cheeky black run). Now that she loves it and is hooked I would I take her on a UCPA trip, selling it based on the value for money.

Other lessons I've learned:
1. Invest in protective equipment, specifically elbow-pads (!!!) (couple of quid on ebay) and helmet
2. If you can, cough up for private lessons and/or go to your local fridge first!!! The learning curve is much quicker.
3. Put personal snow ambitions aside e.g. I am a snowboarder, but when I'm with her I always ski to balance our abilities. Now that we ski all day together I might get 1 or 2 cheeky solo runs blasting it.
4. Be patient!

In the end it's all totally worth it Smile

Good luck
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Another vote for Soldeu - a brilliant ski school for either group or private lessons. If you book with a TO, the "ski pack" will be great value. You may consider doing just 3 days ski school then move on to private lessons for the remainder of your week? This is a really good way to make solid progress and we have found some really excellent instructors here. Perhaps book the 5 days option with a TO as the difference between 3 and 5 is negligible. If your OH is having a ball with her group, it gives her the option to stay for another couple of days and join in the end of week races etc. You will find plenty of fun runs of a variety of difficulty too.
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