Top 10 tips for beginner skiing in Italy (or travelling with beginners)

Although I’m an intermediate skier myself, every year we bring new friends and family along, some of which are absolute beginners to skiing.  I love the more laid back approach to skiing in Italy and love it when friends get the ski bug, so I thought it could be useful to share some of my thoughts and ideas to make a ski beginners ski holiday in Italy more of a success…

1. Have a dry run in the UK

These days there are more realistic and sophisticated indoor slopes that the dry slopes I once tried as a child – try the Snowdome in Tamworth or the Snozones in Milton Keynes or Castleford.  This is a great way to find your ski legs but don’t expect to become an expert.  When I first got to ski school in Italy after my indoor experience,  I was asked to navigate some cones, ploughed through them and ended up in a heap on the ground

2. Get Fit

No need to sign up to a marathon or a 10k but I have seen some friends who are exhausted on day 2 or lose strength in their legs.  Skiing can be strenuous so I would recommend more step / cross trainer in the gym, cycling or lunges around the house in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

3. Borrow or buy reasonably

I know many people who have gone all out and kitted up with high brands and not fallen in love with ski.  For the first season, I would borrow goggles / helmet etc from a friend and buy reasonably. Shops like Primark, H&M and even larger supermarkets now stock some of the basic ski wear.

4. Book ski school

Italy has some great ski schools with friendly instructors.  Even if you are travelling with advanced skiers, the best way to learn is with a qualified instructor so be persistent and book ski school for at least a couple of mornings / days.  I have misjudged some of my friend’s abilities before and have ended up coaching / walking them down a red run for hours with tears / tantrums. Ski school is the way to go!

5. Don’t overbook ski school

I wouldn’t book the first morning unless you are having an early night before – its not get to try and get yourself up on the piste for 10 am. Also don’t overbook – many friends have tried to become an Olympic skier in 5 days and simply not enjoyed the holiday.  Take ski school in the morning 10-12/1. Have a nice relaxing group lunch and then potter in the afternoon trying to practice what you learned in the morning. If you are there for a week, take a day out to relax or visit a spa.

6. Book private lessons

If you really feel like a top-up, then private lessons are great.  They are not too expensive and you will progress more quickly.  I would suggest 2 / 3 days or ski school then a couple of hours of private lessons in the afternoons maybe from mid-week onwards.  If you group together (2 – 4 people), then the cost of private lessons is quite reasonable.

7. Take a rucksack

The weather can be changeable so a small rucksack can really help to get those layers in.  Always keep a water bottle on you as you can get dehydrated and I always recommend Jelly Babies or M&Ms (they don’t melt in your pocket) for a quick energy fix.  There are plenty of nutritional energy bars for the health conscious but you will burn those calories!

8. Pack right 

Here are some basics on what you need to pack:

- Helmet (or hire at the ski shop)
- Waterproof gloves
- Thermal socks
- Footware for a ski resort – shoes with grips and boots – no stilettoes!
- Hat / scarf
- Suncream and lipbalm  - don’t be fooled by cloudy days as you will be high on the mountain and the balm with help your lips against the wind
- Goggles and glasses
- Layers (think thermal tops and bottoms and sport jumpers)
- Salopettes and ski jacket

9. Pre-book your extras 

I would pre-book ski school for at least the first couple of days – to arrive in resort and find its full would be a bad start to any holiday.  We would always recommend getting your pass, boots and ski hire in advance – less faff and stress on day one, so you are ready to hit those slopes!  There have been massive improvements to safety in recent years but I would always recommend taking insurance which has ski cover just in case – its compulsory in some resorts.  Your normal holiday insurance may not include it, so check to be on the safe side.

10. Choose the right resort

Unless you are all beginners, I wouldn’t necessarily book a complete beginner resort.  An all round ski area is usually better as you may progress more quickly than expected to intermediate and your more seasoned friends will not get bored.  Here is my low down on the resorts we offer:

- Sauze D’Oulx: Probably better on the intermediate side but two great ski schools and the beauty of this resort is that you can have a day in neighbouring Sestriere and Mongenevre in France on the Milky Way ski pass, so lots of variety.  A good all-rounder for those looking for group / evening entertainment. Would suit those looking for less than a week due to short transfer time and its easy and low cost to reach from the UK.  Discover More.

- Sestriere: Lots of wide open pistes and 25% of the resort is aimed at beginners, so great to learn here.  Its quieter on an evening, so more restaurant based than neighbouring Sauze. Discover More.

- Bormio: Not very well known but a great resort with nearly half the slopes adapted to beginners. The beauty of this resort is that it is well known for its spas, so an afternoon off relaxing here could be just the tonic. Discover More.

- Livigno: Very good for beginners and intermediates and a great place to shop for those who will really need a break from that skiing.  The transfer time means that a week is really recommended here. Discover More

- Canezei / Selva val Gardena:  Great for beginners with lots of open wide slopes and a cute mountain backdrop – more advance ski friends will benefit from access to Sella Ronda. Discover More.

- Madonna di Campiglio: A really pretty resort with near half the slopes geared towards beginners – lots to do outside skiing also with a nice town and other attractions nearby. Discover More.

Have fun and don’t break a leg!

Useful Links:

Apartments in Sauze D’Oulx
Hotels in Sauze D’Oulx
Apartments in Bormio
Hotels in Bormio
Apartments in Livigno
Apartments in Canazei
Apartments in Selva
Hotels in Selva
Apartments in Sestriere
Hotels in Sestriere
Apartments in Madonna di Campiglio
Hotels in Madonna di Campiglio