The must-read Muddy skiing guide
Want to book a ski holiday this year but not sure where to go? Snow problem! Whether you’re a family with beginners, hitting the après ski with friends or want an extreme mountain peak adventure, read on.
BEST FOR FAMILIES & BEGINNERS
Italy’s Courmayeur Mont Blanc is a great choice for families because everything’s set up for ease (though admittedly it’s quite luxe and pricey). Book the kids into a five-day Courmayeur Ski & Snowboard School and they’ll be set for life – group lessons have a max of five children – or if they’re already keen skiers, add on private lessons or off-piste adventures with a freeride pro. Teens will want to hit the snow park, have a go at fat bike riding and ski mountaineering. And if you want to take to the slopes child-free, there’s the awesome Baby Club run by the Monte Bianco Ski School, which takes care of kids 0-10.
STAY: Family rooms at the iH Hotels Courmayeur Mont Blanc (sleep four, from €214pn) are a bit of a bargain as you’re in a four-star in the heart of the village, which is car-free, but a short stroll from the cable car which carries the kids to ski school. Also, we’re digging the two heated pools and sauna, roaring fires and three dining options.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Muddy loves Zell am See in Austria for good-value family skiing. Overlooking a lake, it’s super scenic and has a really great ski school for beginners (mini Muddies have been here and there were no tears, only smiles). Big love for Schmitten Dragon Park which has fun runs and the Schmitten dragon mascot sometimes skis alongside (making us wish we were six again!). Plenty of other things to keep them amused here, including an alpine rollercoaster, sledge track and horse-drawn sleigh rides. *Austria’s currently in lockdown meaning bars, hotels and restaurants are closed, fingers crossed things change for 2022.
Levi in Lapland might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think skiing, but actually the gentle, uncrowded slopes are a fabulous place to learn. Muddy had a refresher ski lesson here while on a Santa-seeking holiday and it was excellent (if very cold). And don’t forget there are LOTS of other things to do here if you don’t want to ski the whole time, from husky sledding to ice fishing. Inghams is offering seven nights half-board and including flights for £729pp this season.
Muddy also rates Avoriaz for beginners – we switched skis for a snowboard here a few years ago and found starter slopes super close to the car-free resort, plenty of ski and board schools around and lots of lovely wide, gentle blue runs. We fell over a lot boarding, but we also fell for the resort. Skiworld has some great deals this season, such as seven nights in a ski in, ski out self-catering apartment for four in the centre of the resort from £377pp.
BEST FOR YOUR SQUAD
Group getaways don’t get much better than buzzy mega resort Val d’Isére in France. For starters there’s a huge artificial snow-making plant so skiing is guaranteed throughout the season, then there’s the vast ski area that links to Tignes next door (better for beginners) and lots of great restaurants, bars and clubs to party in – like the legendary La Folie Douce.
STAY: Live the high life in Aspen House, Loft 2 (seven nights from £7914), a penthouse for up to ten people. Imagine stepping off the slopes and into a spa then sitting down to a catered dinner…all possible at this four-star stay in the heart of the resort. Too pricey? Tour op Skibeat has cosy Chalet Crystal 2 (sleeps nine) from £989pp which includes breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner, transfers and return flights.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Meribel in France has a major après ski scene and lots of chalets and apartments ideal for groups – Igluski’s catered chalet deals start from £399pp. St Anton in Austria is super pretty, easy to get around and has lots of bars and restaurants. Muddy’s been there with family and friends and can guarantee fun will be had.
BEST FOR SHEER LUXURY
Courchevel in France really spoils you, from the Michelin-starred restaurants to the heated pavements to the children’s ski village – you’re not going to be wanting for anything here. After carving around one of the largest ski areas in the world (Courchevel’s part of the Three Valleys), off-piste there’s excellent shopping and spa action, not to mention all the posh nosh.
STAY: It’s ski in, ski out at luxurious Six Senses Residences Courchevel, private apartments in the centre of 1850, the main lift hub and ski school meeting zone, with a 24-hour concierge, indoor pool and outdoor hot tub. Seven nights from £2800pp. Cheval Blanc Courchevel is the best in the biz – if you like heated indoor pools, butlers, contemporary furnishings and three-Michelin starred restaurants that is. Reopens on 10 Dec, rooms from en eye-watering €2097pn!
ALSO CHECK OUT: Exclusive St Mortiz in Switzerland has been frequented by celebrities from Coco Chanel to Kate Moss for good reason, it’s posh, private and you can get up to mischief without being papped.
BEST FOR UNDER THE RADAR RESORTS & BARGAINS
Cauterets in the French Pyrenees National Park isn’t somewhere you’re going to bump into anyone from the school run. This is where locals from south-west France and northern Spain like to swoosh down the reds, but it’s also a great little place to learn as the beginner slopes aren’t packed, there are ski schools and an Oakley Freestyle Park too. Low prices make it a bit of a bargain – ski passes, food and booze are far cheaper than your Meribels and Courchevels.
STAY: Asterides Sacca (from €139pn) has a sauna, lounge with fire, hearty meals and slightly less in-your-face pine and more modern decor than expected.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Bankso in Bulgaria, for 75km of pistes and a decent ski school – Crystal Ski has deals from £299pp. Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, a 90-minute drive from Innsbruck, is still relatively unknown (no big tour operators go there) but a ski insider tells us it’s great for families – gentle runs, good ski schools, reasonable prices and lots of other activities like tobogganing, sleigh rides, igloo building and ice skating.
Shhh…the French don’t want you to know, but Les 7 Laux is where they like to ski with family. Trysil and Myrkdalen in Norway are lesser known and there’s the added bonus of seeing the Northern Lights if you’re lucky. And Soldeu in Andorra is worth investigating if you want more ski for your buck and decent apres ski.
BEST FOR OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
We’re not going to lie, this isn’t our specialist area (Muddy’s more of a blue run followed by a swift gluwein and pasta sort of skier), however we know some of you are adrenalin-pumping, throw yourself down a mountain types. Those in the know tell us Chamonix is up there when it comes to crazy off-piste stuff, with Chamex offering off-piste and steep ski courses so you can head up a mountain with an expert who will guide you through gullies and help you climb couloirs with an ice axe and crampons….