A Guide to the Best ‘Late Snow’ Ski Resorts

Posted on October 17, 2016

If you’re planning a ski holiday later in the season (i.e. March-May,) you must book your resort carefully, to avoid being disappointed by a distinct lack of snow. The key things to consider are; altitude, northerly latitude and reputation for snow (both real and manmade).

To help get your research started, we’ve listed our top 10 ski resorts for ‘late snow’.

Argentière (Chamonix), France

Renowned for its world-class off piste, extreme sports opportunities and atmospheric town, Chamonix is a great European option for late winter sports, because the snow in the north-facing parts of the Grands Montets area stays in great condition until spring.

Ischgl, Austria

With most slopes north-west facing and above 1,800m, Ischgl is a great option for spring snow. They also boast lively après ski events (the opening and close parties are not to be missed), a glitzy urban village and wide, well-groomed slopes.

Livigno, Italy

Most of Livigno’s slopes are above 2,000m, and this altitude mixed with extensive snowmaking creates a season which lasts from November to May. Prices are relatively low by European resort standards, and the slopes are suitable for intermediaries.

Mammoth, US

With world class terrain parks and a season which lasts until June, Mammoth is well worth the long haul flight. The terrains on offer include challenging above-the-tree-line couloirs, steep wooded inclines and plenty of beginner/groomed slopes.

Obergurgl, Austria

Winner of the highest slopes in Austria (3,082m), Obergurgl’s pretty village, broad slopes and guarantee of snow, makes it the perfect late season destination. (Plus, the neighbouring Hochgurgl village is higher still.)

Sölden, Austria

With some of the highest slopes in Austria (most above 2,000m,) and vast snowmaking (covering two thirds of their pistes), you’re pretty much guaranteed snow until May in Sölden. If you’re not yet a seasoned pro then head to the glaciers for blue slopes, more adventurous intermediaries can head to the main red slopes.

Val d’Isère/Tignes, France

Val d’Isere offers north-facing slopes, and Tignes offers high altitude skiing (up to 3,400m), allowing them to remain open 9 months out of 12 each year – so you’re pretty much guaranteed snow. It’s no wonder that so many people (from families to freeriders) flock there every year.

Val Thorens, France

Europe’s highest resort, Val Thorens in France has slopes reaching 3,230m, so you’re guaranteed good snow coverage and a long season – up to early/mid-May. With a piste running through the resort, lots of events and ski in/ski out convenience, Val Thorens is a great option.

Verbier, Switzerland

Despite having south-facing slopes, Verbier uses extensive snowmaking installations to ensure the powder remains topped up on the lower slopes. If you prefer natural snow, you should still find good coverage on the upper slopes of the Mount Fort Glacier.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt is open 365 days a year, thanks to its northerly latitude and heavy investment in snowmaking facilities for the summer months. It also boasts Europe’s largest glacier ski area and the continent’s highest ski lifts.

 

If you’re planning a late season winter sports trip, just remember to invest in specialist winter sports travel insurance to protect yourself, your trip and your equipment against any unexpected holiday disasters. Ask us for more information and a free quotation.

Related content:

A guide to staying safe on the slopes

The best budget ski destinations in Europe

Planning a winter sports holiday

Winter Sports with Children – How to Stay Safe

Posted on March 21, 2016

Kids take to a lot of things like ducks to water – particularly activities which require a bit of adrenaline and could be considered scary. Riding a bike, learning to swim, riding a skateboard – it’s the fearlessness of many children that mean they often pick up these skills faster than a first-time adult!

You can add winter sports to that list too – especially skiing and snowboarding. That’s why winter sport holidays are all the rage for the whole family; these are incredibly fun activities that everyone can enjoy, and the kids will certainly thank you for letting them master them while they’re young.

There are extra safety concerns where your children are involved, though, so you’ll want to make sure you take the proper precautions. Here are some tips on how your whole family can stay safe on your winter sport holiday.

Research the resort

The first thing to decide when going on any trip is ‘where are we going to go?’ It’s a fun deliberation process, but when you’re taking your kids to participate in winter sports there needs to be a serious element too.

Make sure you research what’s on offer at each resort; for first-timer skiers and snowboarders, regardless of age, you’ll need a resort which provides well-regarded instructors and a high-quality lesson plan. You can often enrol in lessons at the same time as making your reservation.

If you don’t have your own equipment and will need to hire it when you arrive, you can also look into this prior to your holiday. Check out previous customer reviews, and give yourself an idea of what to expect before you get there. You’re looking for good quality skis and helmets.

 

Choose the right equipment

We can’t stress enough the importance of having a high-quality, well-fitted helmet, especially for the kids. Skiing and snowboarding come with a little bit of danger – it’s what makes them such fun and thrilling sports – but head injuries can occur. Make sure both you and your kids are wearing appropriate helmets which meet safety standards at all times when on the slopes and bowls.

You’ve also got to make sure you’ve packed or hired appropriate clothing for these sports. Just because it’s often sunny at winter sports resorts (and you should apply sun lotion to your children’s faces to protect their skin), don’t be fooled – it’s probably going to be very cold. You should all wear several thin layers of clothing underneath your waterproof snow jackets and trousers.

The first layer should be a wicking material which will keep moisture away from the skin, then perhaps a fleece top or jacket as your second layer. Moisture-wicking socks are also essential to keep your kids’ feet dry, but only wear one pair – don’t be tempted to double up. You’ll all need control of your feet, and a good pair of waterproof boots will give you this while maintaining warmth. Throw on some waterproof gloves and your ski goggles and you and the kids are ready to hit the snow.

 

Always be alert

Naturally you’ll always be keeping an eye on the kids, but both you the parent and your children must be aware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye out for signs on your ski and snowboarding runs – they could be letting you know about difficult terrain up ahead. You should also be checking out the terrain yourself; either vigorously as you go or beforehand to make sure everything looks safe before your kids set off.

You should also stress to your children the importance of knowing how to stay within limits – both in terms of exploring terrain, but most importantly in their own skill level. Don’t let your children tackle the black runs when they’ve only just mastered the easiest slope in the resort! Take everything one step at a time.

Oh, and make sure you know when the ski lift is coming so you don’t get hit in the backside!

 

Make sure you’re covered with winter sports insurance

For peace of mind, financial reasons, and for your family’s safety, you should ensure everyone is covered by winter sports travel insurance. It covers your family for all medical emergencies, personal belongings, cash, equipment and more, and with our family policies your children are covered for FREE – saving you money to have fun with on your holiday.

We hope you have a sensational winter sport holiday, and that everyone stays safe while having a huge amount of fun. If you still need to get your winter sport travel insurance, get a quote now.

Choosing Winter Holiday Insurance

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Any type of sport comes with a certain risk attached, whether that risk is damage to equipment or personal injury. Winter Sports are no different, and typically can cause a lot of injury, ranging from bruises and sprains to broken bones and head injuries, and worse.

If you will be participating in Winter Sports during your holiday, such as skiing and snowboarding, it is extremely important that you invest in adequate travel insurance before you depart. Quality travel insurance should protect your possessions and sports equipment, and provide medical help and assistance if you are injured abroad.

Enjoy the Slopes
When purchasing Winter Sports Travel Insurance always make sure that;

  • The policy actually covers you for participating in your chosen sport, and any other activities you may indulge in, otherwise you will not be covered for any resulting bills. Check the policy wording and call your insurer if unsure.
  • Make sure the policy actually covers the country you are travelling to, for example if you purchase a ‘Worldwide excluding’ policy you will not be covered for trips to the USA or Canada.
  • If you can, always purchase a specialist winter sports policy, it will always offer more tailored cover than a standard policy.
  • The cancellation cover is enough to cover the pre-paid costs of your trip, in case you need to cancel your plans.
  • The policy covers your baggage, equipment and personal possessions if they become lost, damaged or stolen.
  • The insurance includes at least two million pounds of emergency medical cover and repatriation (£5 million if travelling worldwide). This may seem extreme but medical treatment abroad can become extremely expensive, especially if you need to be airlifted from a mountain!
  • Make sure the policy covers repatriation, in case you need to be sent home because of illness or injury.
  • Make sure you have declared any pre-existing medical conditions, and make sure your policy covers them. If you have not declared your conditions you will not be covered for any subsequent bills.
  • The policy covers the costs of emergency items of clothing if your bags are lost by the airline.
  • Other things to consider are whether the policy covers; piste rescue, piste closure, personal liability, ski passes, cash and travel documents.
  • Once you have purchased your policy, you will usually be given 14 days to read it through and check that it covers your particular needs.
  • Finally ALWAYS read the small print.

For more information, watch our Winter Sports Travel Insurance video:

How to Wax your Skis

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Waxing your skis is an important part of keeping them maintained and in good condition; the wax protects the bottom of the skis and lessens friction to allow best usage. Here are our top tips for waxing your skis;

  • Make sure you purchase the correct products and equipment, if you invest in decent materials now you will give your skis the longest life span possible, and lessen the risk of ruining them. You will need;

– A waxing iron
– Quality Wax (heated to product instructions; if the wax is too hot it will damage your skis, if it is too cold it could be ineffective)
– A brush
– A wide scraper (never use a metal scraper as it will cause damage)

  • Make sure you have properly secured your skis before you attempt to wax them, moving skis are notoriously hard to wax properly. You could consider investing in a proper board which will clamp your skis, or use a DIY clamp, making sure you put a piece of wood between to protect the skis.
  • Heat the wax according to the product instructions, be careful not to overheat or under heat the wax.
  • Whilst applying the wax, make sure you use a steady and constant action, to get the best results.
  • Once you have applied a first coat of wax evenly to the ski surface, allow the skis to completely cool down before you scrape and apply more wax.
  • Whilst scraping, be careful not to be too vigorous, make sure you scrape away all excess wax without going too far and damaging the ski itself.
  • Finally, use a cloth to buff the waxed surface.

Invest in winter travel insurance
Although protecting your skis is important, it is vital to have insurance that protects you against injury and illness as well. A reliable policy should ensure that your property is protected in the event of theft or damage, as well as covering other holiday disasters such as cancellation, medical emergencies, no snow plus much more. It really is a must-have purchase before heading on a winter break.

Packing your Skis for Transport

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Every year thousands of people get on airplanes and head off on ski holidays abroad. Skis are not allowed to be carried as hand luggage on an aircraft, so must be checked in as luggage. To make sure your skis arrive safely and are not damaged during the flight, here are our top tips for packing and travelling with skis.

  • When booking your flights check what the airline’s policy is about transporting sports equipment or oversized baggage. The airline could have very specific rules about the size of baggage allowed on the flight, plus rules about how the equipment must be packed. Be aware that you will probably have to pay an extra charge.
  • The best way to protect your skis is to buy a specialist bag, it may cost a little extra but these carriers have been specifically designed to house and protect skis. Never try to transport your skis outside of a bag, as it is dangerous for baggage handlers, other baggage and your skis.
  • When packing your skis, firstly cover the pointed ends; this will prevent them from snagging on your baggage, causing damage, and also makes it a lot safer for baggage handlers.
  • Next, place the skis in the padded bag and add rolled up items of clothing or towels around them, this will add further padding to the bag and should give them extra support during transit. This should prevent the skis from becoming warped or damaged during your journey, just remember to put any toiletries, shoes or anything hard in another bag, to prevent them knocking against the skis.
  • Always padlock your luggage and include two luggage labels, one on the outside and one on the inside of your bag (in case the outer label falls off). This should ensure that your luggage arrives at your destination safely.
  • Finally, always remember to invest in travel insurance before you depart for your trip. You could spend hours meticulously packing your skis only to find that they have been lost or damaged when you arrive. Quality travel insurance should cover lost, delayed or damaged equipment as standard.

Working Winter Holidays

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If you want an adventure, to work abroad or to enhance your CV this winter season, then a working winter holiday could be perfect for you.

Every year the winter season creates hundreds of job opportunities around the world, as holidaymakers flock to popular destinations such as France, Switzerland and Canada. This extra influx of travellers need to be looked after, and this is where you come in.

Depending on what skills you have, what type of person you are, and what kind of experience you want, there is usually a variety of positions available. Just remember that every company and establishment has different definitions of roles, and different positions available each year.


Generally speaking, the main types of winter season jobs available normally include:

Chalet Host

As a Chalet Host you will have daily contact with guests, preparing their meals, cleaning their chalet and generally making sure they are happy during their stay.

Resort Rep

As a Rep you will usually be responsible for providing customer service and making sure that everything flows smoothly at your resort; you will look after guests, answer questions or queries and help plan events.

Hotel Assistant

This can involve cleaning rooms, serving food or drinks, and generally assisting the hotel in anything they need, it could even involve food shopping and preparation.

Bar staff

As well as serving drinks and interacting with guests, you could also be required to clean the bar, monitor stock, and cash up.

Washer-Uppers

Although one of the least glamorous of the jobs available, this job requires no interaction with guests, and no language skills. The clue is in the title; basically you will do all the washing up.

Jobs such as Ski Instructors, Nannies and Chefs are also available, but mainly require previous experience and qualifications.

Before you make any decisions or commit to anything, make sure;

• You are booking through a reputable firm or website.

• Whether you need a working visa (If so you need to apply for this weeks in advance – check our Visas, Passports and EHIC page for more information)

• Exactly how long your contract will last, some are a few weeks, and others expect you to work the entire winter season, which could last months!

• Always remember to invest in adequate travel insurance which will cover you for working abroad and any activities you might partake in. (For more information visit our Winter Sports Travel Insurance Buyers Guide.)

• Make sure that your university or employer knows about your plans.

New Ski Kit

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Boots

  • Because you are going to be wearing them for most of the day, your boots should be comfortable, they must help you keep your leg and ankle fairly firm so that they work together when you want to move on the snow, but still allow your ankle some flexibility. Most importantly of all, your boots should hold your foot firmly in place.
  • All boots are, basically, constructed in the same way with a rigid outer shell, and a soft inner that is removable. If you can afford them, the more expensive boots can actually be heat moulded to fit your foot; this makes them more effective, and comfortable.
  • Now you’ve bought your new boots how do you get the best out of them?
  • It is always a good idea to walk around the house in your new boots to ‘break them in’ before your trip – your friends will be impressed with your Frankenstein impression! Another good idea is to cut your toenails so that they don’t rub, and make sure that your socks are pulled on correctly – no rucking!
  • Try not to over tighten your boots or to overdo the first couple of outings – if you bruise your shins, it will spoil your trip, because the boots will continue to rub. When you get on the chairlift you should loosen the boots if possible.
  • Once you return to the hotel, remove the inners if they are wet or damp, and make sure that you leave your boots in a heated room overnight.

 

 

Skis

Of course in order to ski, you need to have a pair of skis – however it is not a simple as taking any old pair off the rack, just because they are a nice colour and have great decals! Your skis should be an extension of your body if you want to get the most out of the Piste; so you have to take the time to find a pair that is suitable to your height and the type of skiing you want to do. Are you a beginner, intermediate or expert? Downhill or Cross Country? Racer or Slalom?

 

  • When picking your skis, you should look for the same quality, performance and engineering as you would a car.
  • Is it easy to turn in them? Do the edges grip well? Do they lose stability at speed? Are they the right shape? Do they absorb vibration? What are they like in different conditions? Are they forgiving? How heavy are they?
  • Finally …. Do they look cool?

 

Bindings

So – we have the boots, and we have the skis, all that we need now is some contraption that will keep the boot fitted to the ski. Let’s look at bindings.

 

  • Bindings are meant to hold your foot firmly to the ski whilst at the same time allowing your foot to come away cleanly in the event of a fall, or pulling the boot back to the centre of the ski should you manage to correct yourself and prevent a tumble.
  • Like skis, bindings will differ depending on the type of skier you are.

Bindings are made up of the following parts:

  • Heel-piece – clicks into place when you step into your skis and designed to open in the event of a forward fall.
  • Toe-piece – the boot slides under this when you step into your skis, but it is designed to free the boot in the event that as you fall your foot twists.
  • Brake – this is released when you step into the ski, and should engage when you come out of the skis (either at the end of your day or if you fall) this preventing the ski from careering down the mountain and injuring someone.

 

 

 

Poles

No matter how good you are you will need ski poles (unless of course you are Eddie the Eagle and just want to launch yourself into mid air!)

By now you will not be surprised to discover that even the humble ski pole is a technological marvel. It is not just a stick with a handle at the top and what is known as a basket at the bottom. Ski Poles come in different shapes and sizes, again depending on the type of skier you are. Here is what you need to look for:

  • How long should it be? Well, according to the experts if it is upside down and you hold just below the basket, then if you bend your knees slightly your forearm will be horizontal.
  • To avoid having to keep going back for your dropped pole after a fall, you should ensure that the handle has a loop of webbing to attach to your wrist (a fall can be embarrassing enough without having to hunt around for a lost pole).
  • When it comes to baskets, size doesn’t matter (unless you are skiing in powder, when a larger basket can be an advantage!)
  • The shaft of the pole can be made of various lightweight materials, and can be straight (suitable for most skiers), slightly bent (can assist with correct planting of your pole) or aerodynamic (only useful if you are a downhill racer or speed skier …. Not for posers!)

 

 

Please note, Holidaysafe's online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices.
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