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An aerial lift on the slopes at a ski and snowboard resort

Compare and book next winter's skiing holiday today

If you are looking for ski holidays or snowboarding holidays, TravelSupermarket can help you to pick the perfect winter sports break. Use our search tool to find ski deals and read our guides for inspiration on where to find the best slopes, nightlife and accommodation.

Why ski insurance is vital

There is one thing that should never be overlooked when considering a ski or snowboard holiday, and that's a good quality ski insurance policy... Read more

When opting for a holiday on the slopes, having an insurance policy to cover you for all eventualities is very important. Too many people set off with inadequate cover or simply rely on an EHIC card to protect them; however it only takes one fall to turn your fun holiday into a break you'll want to quickly forget.

We recommend that all those taking part in skiing and snowboarding buy a comprehensive insurance policy. We recommend the following minimum levels of cover;

• £2m for medical expenses
• £1m personal liability
• £3,000 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
• £1,500 baggage
• £250 for cash
• Policy excesses under £100
• Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure as desirable
• Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours) - with weather related delays not always covered for EU261 compensation (as opposed to welfare and rescheduling), this is strongly advised due to recent unexpected bad winters through winter fog, snow and ice disruption.

In addition, a winter sports policy should cover for no snow, piste closures, avalanche closure and off-piste skiing, as well as losing an expensive ski lift pass.

In the event of a more a serious injury, where extensive treatment and air ambulance repatriation are needed, the cost could rack up into tens of thousands of pounds. It is therefore essential to check whether emergency transport to hospital, such as a helicopter, as well as transportation back home to the UK is included in the medical expenses cover.

Also ensure that you have cover for your ski equipment if you are taking your own as opposed to renting gear. This type of equipment does not come cheap so ensuring you have decent cover levels with a reasonable level of excess is important.

How to choose your resort

Choosing the right resort for your holiday is essential to getting your ski or snowboarding break off to a flying start.

We've put together a list of our favourite resorts to help you out - whether you are a beginner or advanced, you're looking for guaranteed snow or just a quick weekend break away. Click here to see where we reveal as the best resort for your needs.

Never skied before? Read our tips

As a novice skier it can be daunting to know where to start, so we've rounded up our top tips to help make more of your ski holidays.... Read more.

Beginners

Alright - so you've heard people go on and on about how much they love skiing, and you've decided it's time to join in the fun. But how on earth do you get started? The path from civvy street to the side of a snowy Alp is not an obvious one - so here, to get you started, is a brief introduction to skiing and snowboarding holidays for beginners.

5 top tips to remember

• As a beginner, don't try to organise a ski holiday yourself - you won't have a clue what kind of accommodation to book. It's much better to put yourself into the hands of a specialist tour operator, and buy a travel and accommodation package. The tour operators also have reps on hand in the resort to help you through the confusion of the first two or three days.
• Stay in a catered chalet if you can. Catered chalets are mountain houses or apartments offering guest bedrooms and communal dining, laid on by the tour operator's staff. The atmosphere is usually bright and sociable, and you can pick up lots of advice from the staff and your fellow guests.
• Always, always get professional ski tuition if you are a beginner. Never let your friends teach you. Before long they'll get bored and drag you down something terrifying.
• When thinking about beginners' skiing tuition, do an internet search to see if there is a British ski school in your resort (of course, not necessary in North America). Book it separately from the rest of your holiday if you find one.
• Buy as little as you can for your first ski trip. These days you can even rent your ski clothing.

When to go?

Very roughly, the ski season in the northern hemisphere runs from the end of November until the end of April. The busiest and most expensive times are over New Year, during February half term and over Easter. Avoid them if at all possible (if you must go during the school holidays, Christmas is cheaper). All things considered, January is the best time for skiing beginners. It's cheap and the slopes are quiet (as everyone recovers from the expense of the holidays). It's cold too, which means the snow should be in good shape.

Learn to ski

First thing is to get fit. As a skiing beginner, you won't be going fast enough to give yourself a proper workout, but you'll still progress much more quickly if you're in good shape. Concentrate on your cardio-vascular fitness, your legs and your core strength. Running and cycling are good ways to prepare, so too are sit-ups and squats.

It's also worth sneaking in some early skiing lessons. There are five real-snow indoor ski slopes in the UK, and many more outdoor 'dry' slopes (many of which actually use water to improve the skiing surface). A programme of lessons in any one of them will give you a head start on your fellow classmates in the mountains.

What to take with you

You'll be able to hire boots and skis, or a snowboard, in the resort. You can also rent ski clothing in the UK or borrow a jacket and trousers from friends. If you need to buy it, then check out online auction sites or high street discount stores for discounted gear. Other items you'll need are:

• Goggles. Otherwise you won't see a thing if it snows.
• Gloves.
• A woolly hat or a helmet. At this early stage a helmet is far more important for a snowboarder than a skier.
• Snowboarders also need wrist guards or at least a pair of gloves with built-in wrist protectors. And they will be really thankful for some kind of bum protection too - either a piece of camping mat cut to fit down their trousers, or else a special pair of padded shorts.
• Swimwear. This is something most people forget, but there are great pools at most resorts and a Jacuzzi is a great way to rest those tired muscles after a hard day on the slopes.

Also remember to take plenty of pairs of socks (ski and snowboard boots are very smelly), as well as fleeces, and some old jumpers with which to layer up if it gets cold.

Safety on the slopes

Provided they book their tuition with a recognised ski school, skiing beginners don't have much to worry about. They won't be travelling fast enough to really hurt themselves. The trouble comes when they are dragged around the mountain by their over-enthusiastic friends once the class is over. It's best to stick to the nursery slopes and practice your skiing there.

Snowboarders need to be a bit more careful. If they make a mistake, they're far more likely to fall heavily on their tail bone, wrists or head. It's best to buy the protective gear suggested above before you leave the UK.

Are you a beginner or an intermediate skier?

Get the most from your ski break - Tips for beginners

Those who have never skied or taken to a snowboard before should read our detailed guide for beginners which is packed full of tips.

Get the most from your ski break - Tips for intermediates

If you are no longer a beginner and already know you love skiing, you should set yourself two objectives - the first is to build your technique and confidence as quickly as possible, and the second is to have as much fun as you can in one week of adrenaline-fuelled action. Here are some suggestions for intermediates on how to achieve both on a skiing or snowboarding holiday.

 5 top tips to remember

 • Get fit before you go. Try to give yourself 12 weeks to prepare, and follow a fitness guide. Nothing you do will help you improve as much as this.

• Intermediates shouldn't assume they'll be able to pick up where they left off. You should book at least a couple of mornings of ski classes to sharpen up your technique.

• Break yourself in gently. Warm up on the easiest blues on the first day. Tackle the more difficult runs later in the week.

• Pay attention to the quality of the snow. When it's icy or slushy, 'intermediate' pistes can suddenly become much more difficult. Under such conditions, it's best to aim for the easiest slopes.

• Get out of bed early. Unless it's icy, the best snow is to be found on the pistes as soon as the lifts open.

Improving your technique

The problem with many intermediate skiers is that they never get beyond the blue and red pistes in the resorts, preferring to scoot around on terrain they know and feel comfortable with. That's all well and good - but nothing in the mountains is more fun than becoming a better skier or snowboarder, and every new skill mastered will deepen your enjoyment of the trip. What's more, if you don't push yourself and improve, you may well find the experience becoming rather stale.

Intermediate skiers should follow an exercise programme in the weeks before they leave, and book themselves into a ski or snowboard school. You may well think you can already ski, but there's a lot of difference between tackling an easy piste and creaming through thigh-deep powder.

What to take with you

You should already have the basics - hat, goggles, thermals and gloves, and maybe your own jacket and trousers too. Now's the time to invest in a helmet and your own ski boots.

The helmet should be obvious. As an intermediate skier, you're picking up speed now, and tackling steeper slopes. A helmet won't save you in a 30mph collision with a tree, but it will make a lot of difference if you fall over and bang your head.

Buying your own boots is just as important. Rental boots are pretty disgusting things anyway - but the real benefit comes from wearing something that fits you properly and gives you proper control over your skis or snowboard. Along with fitness, a good pair of boots will make a huge difference to whether or not you improve.

Invest in a rucksack too - that way you can load it up with snacks and water, an extra layer of clothing (in case you get cold), and that all-important sun block.

Safety on the slopes

Don't push yourself too far, too fast. Skiing or snowboarding at speed is half the fun of being on the mountains, but there's a time and a place to do it. Don't do it on a crowded slope full of beginners, who aren't in control, and may suddenly change direction. Don't do it on steep or icy slopes where stopping will be all but impossible. Don't do it if you can't see what's coming up next, either because of low cloud, a bend or a bump.

Experimenting with new terrain is part and parcel of improving your skiing and snowboarding too. But take it in easy stages. It's better to find a gentle slope with a few small moguls on it rather than launching yourself into a full-blown bump run. And while it's okay to wander off-piste for a few yards to nibble at the powder, going any further can be very dangerous. Just because a slope is within sight of a piste, doesn't mean its avalanche-proof. These days, most resorts publish codes of conduct for mountain users to follow. Check them out and follow the rules.

Choosing your ski accommodation

It's important to choose the right ski accommodation for your trip. Hotel, apartment or chalet? Which is best for you?

There are lots of different types of ski holiday accommodation available. Of course, the idea is that you don't actually hang about in your holiday accommodation for very long, because you'll be spending all day, every day, out on the slopes having fun. But all the same, which type of accommodation you choose for your ski holiday will have an effect on how much you enjoy your trip. Give it some thought before you book.

5 top tips to remember


• Be aware that the size of your party will have a big effect on the type of accommodation you should choose. A romantic couple travelling on their own are best off in a hotel, for example. Small groups do well in self-catering apartments. Bigger groups will love chalets.

 
• If you've got non-skiers in the party, the type of accommodation you stay in is more important than normal. Chances are, they'll be spending more time in it than usual, and they'll get very grumpy if it's small and cramped. However, be aware space is sold at a real premium in the mountains, especially in the Alps. If you want bigger rooms, be prepared to pay for them.

• Remember, prices vary wildly between different weeks of the season. If you don't have to travel during New Year, February half term or Easter, avoid them like the plague. You'll save yourself a fortune on the price of your holiday.
 
• Prices also vary considerably between resorts. A three-star hotel in an A-lister such as Courchevel is considerably more expensive than it will be in a resort without an international reputation. Bear this in mind if your budget is tight and you're looking for somewhere fairly posh in which to stay.

• Standards of hotel keeping vary too. The Austrians tend to run the best hotels.

Hotels

Hotels are as you find them anywhere in the world, although in the mountains many of them have saunas and pools, as well as boot rooms in which to store your ski equipment. At the highest level, they can be palaces, and are a great place to bring a loved one for a romantic getaway. Lower down the price scale, the quality becomes much more uneven. Some are pretty rudimentary, with comically dated interiors. Others are absolutely charming. It's all a bit hit and miss, frankly, but as a rule of thumb you'll find family-run hotels better than the chains at a budget level.

If you are looking for an all-inclusive ski holiday in the same manner you'd take a summer break, you may be disappointed. There are some hotels that offer the full meal and drink deal; however these are the exception rather than the rule on a ski holiday.

Chalet-hotels

Essentially, chalet-hotels are jumbo-sized chalets run by British tour operators. Guests and staff are almost always British, and usually there's a happy-go-lucky and relaxed atmosphere in them. Many tour operators specialising in family skiing holidays use them, in which case they'll probably have their own nurseries and kids' clubs.

The drawback is that chalet-hotels are often quite dated and standards aren't quite as high as you'll find in normal hotels because the staff are seasonal workers, out to enjoy the mountains rather than professionals making a career in the hospitality industry. As a result, they work well for big groups and undemanding families, but couples and those who like their creature comforts should give them a miss.

Some chalets are run as all-inclusive, so check each one if you are looking for an all-in deal.

Self-catering apartments and chalets


A self-catering ski apartment offers one of the best low-budget options, especially if you're prepared to cook for yourself, rather than eat out in the resort's restaurants. The idea of cooking at the end of a big day on the slopes horrifies many skiers: but if everyone pitches in to help and there's a bottle of wine on the go to liven things up, it can be a blast.

There are other benefits: for a small group of, say, six people, it means getting your own place, rather than having to share with strangers in a chalet. Couples should consider them too because of the privacy. Finally, the kitchens are useful each morning when it comes to preparing sandwiches for your rucksack - a great way of saving money because you can avoid the over-priced mountain restaurants.

One word of warning: the cheapest apartments, especially in France and Italy, are tiny. Never mind swinging a cat - you'd give a mouse a bashing in one of them. So don't bring too much luggage!

Ski chalets

Catered chalets for a chalet ski holiday are the staple accommodation of the British ski holiday scene. These are either free-standing mountain houses or apartments, which have at least one member of staff on hand to cook and clean for the guests. How many staff there are, and the quality of the accommodation, depends on the price you pay. So too does the quality of the cooking!

The best catered chalets are run like mini-five star hotels, and are much loved by the CEO and celebrity set. Professional chefs crank out beautiful food every night, and the champagne flows like water. To stay in them you have to book the whole property, and the most expensive, in a popular week, will set you back £50,000! This is where you can find a truly luxurious ski break and enjoy your winter sports break in style. And many of these luxurious ski holiday chalets operate on an all-inclusive basis, so you never have to worry about dipping into that wallet or handbag for a round of drinks.

At the other end of the market, chalets are often very basic. The food is plentiful, but basic too, and if you're unlucky your cook may be working in a kitchen for the very first time.

At whatever price level, however, all catered chalets are sociable places, because everyone eats together, and relaxes together in the same sitting room. This is why they work so well if they're booked in their entirety by groups of friends. If the social chemistry's right, the atmosphere generated will be one of the best parts of the holiday.

They work well for families travelling together, too, and many tour operators specialising in family holidays use chalets to house their guests. The sitting rooms are great places for little ones to play in if it gets cold outside. Some even have their own crèches.

Romantic couples should avoid chalets like the plague, especially during the school holidays.

Guesthouses, B&Bs and pensions

These are essentially small hotels which don't serve dinner (although breakfast is included). In America and Canada they're almost always a good idea (especially for romantic couples): they're usually run by very house-proud owners. In Austria they're usually a safe bet too, though elsewhere they can be very basic. For some people, basic is brilliant, but if you like your accommodation a little cosier, do a bit of searching round the internet to find one which has been enthusiastically reviewed.

Hostels

Finally, across the mountains, you'll find a scattering of hostels. Tour operators never sell them as part of their packages, but they can be found easily enough online. If you're a single traveller in search of cheap accommodation, this is probably your best bet. Groups of four or more may well find that self-catering accommodation is cheaper - in the quieter weeks of the season at least.