Know the difference between a mogul and a piste? Between a traverse and a schuss? Learn to ski with our guide to the world’s top ski resorts for novices and you’ll sound like an expert in no time.
Weekend ski: France
Avoid the cost of a week-long ski package by testing your skills on the slopes over a long weekend instead. With low cost airlines serving Grenoble, Chambery and Geneva, novices can squeeze in a visit to Alpe d’Huez between Thursday and Monday, providing sufficient time to sample the white stuff. Another appeal of Alpe d’Huez is that it boasts one of Europe’s largest nursery areas and better still, the green runs are all conveniently located close to the village. The ski schools, particularly Stance and Masterclass, also have a formidable reputation.
Cheap ski holidays: Bulgaria
Pamporovo is one of three value-for-money ski resorts in Bulgaria that offers the perfect place to learn to ski without breaking the bank. The resort may not be as attractive as some of its more well-established European rivals and its après-ski is limited. However, the slopes cater well to beginners and the ski school offers small class sizes to ensure personal attention and guidance. The introduction of a six-seater chairlift last winter – the first in the country – on a newly developed mountain flank is part of long term plans to expand the resort’s ski terrain, which is good news for skiers.
Breathtaking business: Italy
Learning to ski can be exhausting, but there’s plenty of extra reasons to pause and catch your breath in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina. Located in the Dolomites, this is undoubtedly one of Europe’s prettiest resorts, thanks to its ring of dramatic, pink-tinged cliffs. The resort has superbly groomed beginner slopes in the Socrepes area – they are wide, gentle and served by a fast chairlift – and the pistes are generally uncrowded, particularly in the afternoons. True to Italian custom, the restaurants receive high marks, while discos and clubs typically open just before midnight, meaning you’ll need plenty of stamina on and off the slopes.
Family ski: Canada
Parents with small tots may be deterred by the long-haul flight to the resort of Big White in British Columbia. However, if you have teens who want to learn to ski powder snow, this is the place to do it. The resort boasts an average 7.6m (300 inches) of snowfall every winter, ensuring even novices can discover the thrill of skiing virgin slopes. With a variety of green and blue runs over the hill, the resort is excellent for cruisers and families with different skiing abilities. As for the village itself, it’s spread out but attractive, with a good range of modern, affordable condo accommodation, sweetening the price of a trip across the pond.
Late-season ski holiday: Switzerland
The charming, rustic, car-free village of Saas Fee in the Swiss Alps is a high-altitude resort with guaranteed good snow, even late in the season. The nursery area is at the edge of the village, but for quick-learning beginners, there are plenty of gentle, blue, confidence-building runs on Felskinn higher up the mountain. If you get bored of skiing, there’a a whole mountain dedicated to walking, paragliding and tobogganing, while novice boarders are well catered to as well. Don’t miss having a gawp at the world’s largest ice grotto too. As for the resort, it has a good variety of eateries (including the world’s highest restaurant) and après-ski options. What more could you want?