Its an argument as long as modern day travel has been operating and feelings are very strong on both sides. Are you a beach lover or a powder hound? Do you prefer a beach holiday in the warm, or a winter sports holiday up a mountain in sub zero temperatures?
Arguments rage on both sides about which is better but do you really have to choose? Here are 4 arguments people use when I ask about choosing a ski holiday for the first time and why I really don’t think they matter.
Skiing Is Too Expensive?
Relatively speaking, yes, skiing is expensive but instead of sitting on a sun lounger all week the cost of your week in the snow will generally include a lift pass (local or area). When you think that some of the largest ski resorts in the world cover over 400 kilometres of runs, the cost for a week pass (nearly £200 for some of the larger resorts) is a bargain compared to what you would pay in taxi fees or for public transport to travel an equal distance.
If you are just starting out is there really a need to head to a large resort? Skiing takes time to learn and for that you only need a nursery slope until your confidence builds. Bulgaria is fast becoming a top choice for many Europeans to ski in because of its low price point when compared to more established resorts in France, Italy and Switzerland. Area lift passes in Bulgaria are a fraction of the cost of those in France and Italy as is the on the mountain cost of living. Another popular and cheaper alternative to the main resorts is Poland. While the resorts aren’t huge they are becoming more established year after year.
If it’s your first time, cut the base cost of the holiday by choosing a smaller resort that won’t be as expensive. Because it is smaller the lift pass will be proportionately cheaper and look out for money saving discounts from the main package operators.
If you know your dates booking in advance can bag big discounts with the main operators such as half board for a B&B price or 2 for 1 on lift passes. These discounts tend to be more popular with the smaller resorts as operators try to even out the crowds. Skiing doesn’t have to cost much more than a standard week away. You just need to be a little more organised about how you go about booking it.
If you want to leave it late your best bet at bagging a deal would be an allocation on arrival where you either won’t know your resort or accommodation or you know the resort but not where you’ll be staying. In return for charging you less the operators have a chance at filling up spare rooms they might not otherwise sell.
It’s Too Cold
By definition you need sub zero temperatures to be able to generate and keep hold of the snow. First time skiers or boarders though are surprised at how warm you can get while on the mountain. A skiing holiday is about exploring the area and while out and about you will generate a lot of body heat.
Even sitting in the sunshine outside at a mountain top bar you will be surprised at how warm things are because of the sun being reflected off the snow and the thinner atmosphere at altitude in the mountains. Because of the thinner atmosphere you are actually more susceptible to sunburn than at the beach so make sure you take some high factor suncream with you.
If extreme temperatures are a worry go in the late season for skiing, March for better snow conditions in the northern hemisphere. Nights are still sub zero but the days can be gloriously warm and sunny. Going too late in the season though and you risk there not being any snow. I would never travel after mid March without scrutinising the weather in resort first.
I Can’t Ski
Skiing takes time and practice to master but when in your life have you done anything worthwhile that didn’t take practice? The feeling of freedom you get once you can ski or snowboard is hard for many people to give up. The fact that you’re also getting some exercise while having the time of your life is a bonus.
If it’s your first time on the slopes invest in some lessons. I used Evolution 2, a ski and outdoor adventure specialist in Italy who were superb. If booking on a package tour it’s worthwhile finding out who the operator uses for lessons and make sure the groups aren’t too large, especially for beginner groups.
Learning to ski can be hard work but its also it’s own reward. You will meet new people, make new friends and learn a bit about the resort from your instructor at the same time. I loved meeting new people every year as I progressed through the ski groups until I feel confident enough that I can take on the mountain myself.
I Go On Holiday To Relax
A week away skiing isn’t always about the skiing. Sure, a lot of people only go for the skiing and will be out on the mountain from the moment the lifts open until they close but ski resorts these days realise that they need to offer a broad range of activities for the whole family to keep people coming back.
Aside from the obvious outdoor pursuits a lot of the bigger ski resorts will offer multiple ways to fill your days without even putting a pair of skis on. From indoor water parks with stunning views of the mountains to solariums, spas and any number of relaxing ways to enjoy the views. More traditional ways include cinemas showing the latest flicks or indoor bowling and shopping. If someone you love falls in love with skiing but you don’t there will be plenty to do in resort to keep everyone occupied.
Every year I see more and more people snowshoeing (basically hiking in the snow) as a way to get out on the slopes and see some of the truly breathtaking scenery without the hassle of first having to learn to ski.
What frustrates me more than anything is people discounting the thought skiing or boarding without even giving it a go. If I had said no initially when I was asked if I wanted to try it I would never have discovered a new found love of skiing. That in turn has led me to seek out experiences that are slightly outside my comfort zone.
Without that initial step I would never have contemplated zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle or taking a leap of faith on a 60 meter tall Tarzan Swing, go caving or canyoning when I have only taught myself to swim in the last couple of years. I love the unique perspective these experiences give but, more than that, I feel glad to be alive. Why not find out for yourselves if a winter sports holiday is for you. You may just find a new passion but if you don’t try you will never know!