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First time skiing - how does it work?

(14 Posts)
Babyrooboo Mon 27-Apr-20 22:15:46

Can anyone offer some advice on family skiing holidays? We are a family of 2 adults, 3 kids (14,12 and 8). We were thinking of Austria next year.
What websites should I be looking at?
Is ski school a must? (My kids have never been keen on kids clubs or splitting off from us on holiday)
Are family lessons a thing?
I am totally clueless so thanks in advance for any info.

OP’s posts: |
Pollaidh Mon 27-Apr-20 22:31:16

Ski school - if none of you have ever skied before then I would absolutely recommend ski lessons. You can have family lessons, or you can split up. Children can go to ski school. Usually you can do either morning or afternoon, about 2.5 hours a day. You can do both am and pm but your kids will be absolutely exhausted and it might put them off. You can get English language ski school if needed. There are different levels, so your children might be split up. I'm only familiar with French ESF levels. They will start on nursery slopes in groups of 5-8 per instructor approx. If you look up ESF you can see the levels of ski school.

You can book a private instructor from the same ski school to do the whole family. Might work out cheaper anyway and makes sense if all similar novices.

Look for resorts that have a few green and plenty of blue slopes and some reds. If you are all novices, then you want lots of easy slopes to start with and slowly gain confidence. Different resorts have different emphasis. Some are heavy on black slopes or even all black, so no good for novices (don't be tempted to do more difficult slopes than you are ready for. That way lies injury, and frankly you could kill someone else.)

Look for resorts that have other activities as it's unlikely you'll all be skiing all day (you will be sore!). So pools, ice skating, snow shoeing, massage etc are all good options.

Ski in ski out is very convenient but comes at a premium. Also look carefully as some say they are SISI but in reality there's quite a trek in stiff heavy boots and lugging skis. True SISI means you can put your skis on just outside the hotel/apartment block door, and slide to your first lift. Avoid anything involving coaches to the resort, though it will be cheaper.

It's really expensive - ski school, lift passes, gear rental, clothing, food at the little shop, restaurants etc. Book what you can in advance.

Hotel or self-catering or luxury catered chalet... depends on how much you want to spend. Some resorts are also just much much more 'smart' and expensive than others.

rookiemere Tue 28-Apr-20 11:32:58

You do need ski school, but couple of options in your circumstances. As there are 3 DCs it may work out cheaper to actually hire a private instructor for the lessons so they can all be together- and maybe the adults as well. If you do go for group lessons pick a resort that has English speaking instructors and small class sizes - New Generation are great. DS 14 didn't have great fun on our Feb trip to Ellmau as all other DCs in his class were German speakers.

SkiYetiMagic Fri 01-May-20 18:46:14

As there are a few of you and your children are older I think it would make sense for you to get a private instructor for your family (f you think you will prob all be of a simillar ability). It doesnt work so well if there is a huge variations in ages and abilities.

I would suggest also looking at Italy as there are some great resorts that might be a bit better value than the majority of the Austrian ones. The ski schools in Italy can be a bit more laid back and friendly too.

Which resorts have you looked at and what kind of accommodation would be ideal?

SkiYetiMagic Fri 01-May-20 19:10:48

Most of the main package ski companies like Crystal, Neilson, MW etc cover the below:

Obergurgl in Austria
Nassfeld in Austria

Kronplatz in Italy
Pila in Italy
La Thuille in Italy

Montgenevre in France
Combloux in France

Hope thi is helpful!

Africa2go Fri 01-May-20 22:45:44

Can I ask why Austria? I think there are more family friendly resorts (think Italy is great for families - really children oriented, generally great beginner / intermediate slopes, cheaper than Austria and pizza!).

I really would recommend you all have lessons here at a snow dome before you go so you can all snow plough at least. You'll get so much more out of the holiday.

SkiYetiMagic Mon 04-May-20 10:27:06

I've just remembered I wrote an article on deciding on ski lessons that might be helpful:

PickleSarnie Sat 09-May-20 11:12:43

Lessons are an absolute must. When we go, the kids go to ski school in the morning whilst we get as much childfree skiing in as possible. We've only been to France with the kids and ESF are really good at shuffling kids around into the right groups (although very 'French' i.e.v matter of fact and brusque to a certain extent which some people don't like but, personally, i do) Can't speak for ski school in Austria.

Since you're all going to be at the same level and you don't have wobbly small children to worry about, family lessons might work. Although, be prepared for the kids to pick it up quicker than you!

I think morning lessons are probably best. Then you can choose to ski more later if you want but, if you're tired (and skiing with tired children is really stressful) then you can just head home.

Definitely find a resort with non skiing activities like swimming, skating, sledging etc.

I'd second getting lessons at a snowdome/dry slope. It will seem like a faff but will help you enjoy what is an expensive week abroad a lot more.

TeetotalKoala Sat 09-May-20 21:46:28


We went for the first time this year. We went to Rauris in Austria as it was recommended to us as somewhere that was perfect for families and beginners, which we were. And it was!

My children were 8 and 6 when we went. We opted to put them in all day ski school (930-12, meet for lunch wherever the instructor told us to at 12, lunch 12-1, then lesson 1-3). They loved it and only once did my 6 year old ask for the morning off as he was worn out - on the Thursday. On that day I left him in the apartment with DH, dropped DS1 at ski school, skiied alone for the morning, and then we all met for lunch and DS2 joined back in with the group for the afternoon.

My children have never wanted to go to kiss clubs or be away from us on holiday either, but skiing was do different. They were heading off up the ramp to the meeting point every morning miles ahead of me.
The group all started as beginners on the Sunday, and on the Friday, they went down two short red runs, thus surpassing DH and I who firmly stuck to blues!

DH and I opted for a private instructor rather than a group lesson. We paid for three mornings (2 hours each time) and it cost the same as a full weeks group lesson, but we had the focused attention of the instructor so we were able to progress faster. We would have a lesson with him 10-12, and once the DC went back to ski school we were able to practice what we'd learnt (and spend some time frequenting the bars on the slopes).

You can get family lessons, but I was advised on here, and subsequently found that the children thrived amongst their peers as they do make the kids lesson so much fun. Our private ones were more focused on learning as it was age appropriate.

If you haven't decided on a resort yet, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Rauris. We skiied with Adventure Rauris ski school and got our equipment from them too. Everyone spoke perfect English. My two were the only English speakers in their group so their instructor would give the instructions in German, and then repeat them in English. Their battle cry before setting off was in German, any by the end of the week, they had picked up a bit of German. The ski school and the resort itself was so friendly. As pathetic as it is, I cried when our taxi drove us away. I have never, ever cried leaving a holiday before. There's not much else there except the pool where we stayed, but we didn't need anything else, we were either on the mountain, in the apartment, or at the pool.

For the DC we paid for the lesson/equipment package. For DH and I we paid for 6 hours of private tuition and the equipment separately. We hired boots and skis each, plus DH and I had poles (children don't use poles as beginners). We bought our helmets and goggles before going out there, and got them from Decathlon in the sale so they were fairly inexpensive (about £15 per helmet for the DC and I and £20 for DH).

Gloves are a must and try to get some with wrist straps just for ease as they're on and off all the time and it saves worrying where they are. That said, only mine have wrist straps, no-one else seemed to care.

You will need lift passes, and these can be one of the most expensive things you buy. I think we paid about £600 for the week for the 4 of us. We definitely had the value of them though. We found a great discount website to buy them through before we went (saved us about £100).

If you can get to a snowdome beforehand and get a block of lessons, you'll be at an advantage when you go. However, if you can't, you do pick it up pretty swiftly once you're out there so don't worry too much. You will need more than one lesson before you go to get proficient. We had one on a dry slope which was useful so that we knew how to click in and out of the skis, but we still had to start at the basics once we got there.

You won't regret it, it's the best holiday ever.

Ginfilledcats Mon 18-May-20 14:43:05

I agree with majority of what's been said, search for family or beginner friendly resorts in the main tour operator websites. Don't discount catered shared chalets, we stayed in them a lot and I worked in one as a seasonnaire - essentially half board experience of a private chalet but with some strangers, usually up to about 30 people. Quite cheap compared to posh hotels or private chalets.

100% you all need lessons. If you can, go to a snow dome in the uk and get some taster lessons so your first few days aren't mostly on your bum. But yes either ski school or private for all of you. Whichever would work best for your family. You'll likely progress quicker with private.

You can buy cheap but good gear in TK max. Make sure you get proper ski jacket and trousers and socks, as well as thermals. Ski fleeces and gloves too. Don't cheap out or try and make do with something else. Highly reccomend helmets though you can hire these in resort.

Best think ever! Enjoy

notanothertakeaway Tue 25-Aug-20 15:08:47

I think ski school in Austria is usually morning AND afternoon, whereas other countries you do morning OR afternoon

Some resorts in Austria are low. Make sure you're North facing

EggyPegg Thu 27-Aug-20 19:48:03


I think ski school in Austria is usually morning AND afternoon, whereas other countries you do morning OR afternoon

Some resorts in Austria are low. Make sure you're North facing

The ski school we used gave us the option. My two were in all day Sunday to Friday, but there were others in the group that seemed to pop in here and there. I think one little boy did full days for a couple of days and then some half days, he just didn't go back in after lunch.

DS2 did a half a day on the Thursday as he needed a chill morning. The school wasn't bothered, we'd paid for the session, so it was our money to sink. I just let the instructor know on the morning when I dropped off DS1.

urick987 Tue 27-Oct-20 22:06:36

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

BiddyPop Wed 11-Nov-20 12:33:49

We also were in Rauris as beginners 6 years ago and found it great. We rented boots, skis, helmets and poles for the week, and got a locker at the lift for the gear (it had pipes to dry the boots overnight) and we already had a combination of snow boots and hiking boots between us to get from hotel to lift so it was a nice comfortable walk.

Very friendly, decent food, we had a pool in hotel which was great in the late afternoon!, really nice village, we went to ZellumSee a couple of times (once by bus which was fine). It was also nice to have ski school morning and afternoon to really build skills.

I had a small mishap (my fault) so didn’t do ski school the last day, but did the class races on nursery slope, went up on lift to enjoy lunch on the mountain and then came back down to very quiet nursery slope (late midweek) to practise myself and that was great. I just wasn’t confident enough to go onto the mountain again at that point as I had a swollen eye and didn’t want to misjudge things but I was very happy on skis on the nursery slopes.

And on our last day, we left hotel early to do a Tour of Salzburg which was also thoroughly enjoyable. But a very small airport heaving with people that evening!! (We should have bought snacks in the city as the tiny cafe was mobbed and running out of food as a few flights were delayed).

We have been too busy to go back since but had planned to go to Canada for Christmas and were intending to ski there in the Rockies. Those plans are on hold until after the global pandemic resolved itself. But I would also very happily go back to Rauris.

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