Winter sports have long been on your bucket list and finally, you’ve arrived at your chosen ski resort.
Where do you start?
With so much to take in, it can be overwhelming.
Luckily, snow sports are no longer the reserve of the intrepid or experienced athletes. In the recent past, skiing and snowboarding are now mainstream activities for the whole family.
To tap into this opportunity and keep up with the demand, ski resorts have built an array of supporting facilities and infrastructure. Some of these include hotels and lodges, efficient and high-speed lifts, ski schools, and convenient means of conveyance.
For snow lovers, it’s the snow that counts. Snow resorts also invest in snow-making and snow grooming infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted fun on the slopes.
The following are some of the most common features you’ll find in any ski resort around the world.
After a fun day carving the slopes and shredding powder, you have to rest your weary legs and replenish your energy.
In addition, it would be great to hit a karaoke bar with friends and strangers and relax as the day fades away. As the night wears on, you also need a warm, sumptuous meal and a cozy place to spend the night.
Ski holiday destinations offer different types of accommodation that suit different budgets and needs. The following are the most common types of accommodation facilities at a ski resort.
These are stand-alone hut-like buildings that are designed in an alpine style. Catered chalets are great options for groups and families and often include five or six days of catering. This means that you get to enjoy your snow holiday without having to worry about cooking or cleaning.
On the other hand, self-catered chalets come with a fully-featured kitchen where you do your own cooking. They are often referred to as a home away from home due to their cozy nature.
Chalets often include airport transfer services, private rooms and bathrooms, bundled Wi-Fi plans, and dining areas and lounges.
These may occur in larger buildings as blocks. They may include private bedrooms and bathrooms, dining areas, and kitchens. Apartments range from self-contained deluxe suites to budget options with more limited amenities. Some apartments can be ski-in/ski-out.
These often offer luxurious and high-end services. Most first-class hotels include indoor or outdoor swimming pools, onsens, dining areas, bars, ballrooms, and private lodging areas. Most hotels require prior booking, especially during peak seasons, and may offer airport transfer services.
These are the best budget accommodation options. They are often communal and tend to be cheery and enjoyable. They may not offer deluxe services but are fun, warm, and homely.
The Airbnb online service is gaining traction in alpine resorts. The service enables you to stay in someone’s apartment for a fee. You can find great deals on Airbnb where you can get a nice and cozy apartment at a bargain.
Other types of accommodation facilities include:
Most accommodation facilities are located in ski villages. These villages may also have other amenities such as supermarkets, petrol stations, and other shopping opportunities like gift shops.
Skiing or snowboarding would not be as enjoyable without lifts.
Imagine having to climb Zermatt’s almost 2,133-meter vertical each time you ski or snowboard downhill. It would not only be exhausting or even impossible, but it would also be less fun.
Lifts are great inventions in the snow sports realm that have been in operation for many years. Ski resorts invest in various types of fast and efficient lift systems to convey thrill-seekers up the mountain.
The first ski lift was built by a German farmer and innkeeper Robert Winterhalder in 1908, in Schollach/Eisenbach, Hochschwarzwald. To use this early lift, skiers glided uphill by hooking handles to an overhead water-powered cable.
Ski lifts are often a paid service and you require a pass to use the lifts. Some resorts have collective ski passes that allow you to access different ski areas using a single pass.
The following is a summary of the most common types of lifts used in ski resorts.
These convey passengers up the slope while suspended off the ground. There are open and closed types. They include:
These lifts help skiers scale slope inclines while their skis remain on the ground. They are common on beginner slopes and include:
These transport thrill-seekers up the mountain using carriages that can be either suspended off the ground like a gondola (cable cars) or pulled uphill by a cable over a rail (funiculars).
Whether you’re a complete newbie looking to learn or you just want to get slope-ready, a ski school comes in handy.
A typical skiing or snowboarding school (or both) teaches skiing and/or snowboarding to newbies, less experienced persons, or kids. Ski/snowboarding schools are typically located in the ski village, on gentle slopes.
Modern ski schools borrow from the works of Hannes Schneider, an Austrian pioneer who invented it. In the 1920s, Hannes formalized ski school instruction methods upon which ski/snowboarding schools base their teaching curricula.
There are different types of skiing/snowboarding schools that offer different levels of training including:
Some ski schools employ current and former athletes as instructors. For example, the ski school at Ski Portillo in Chile is staffed by former Olympic medalists. Most ski schools also offer lessons delivered in multiple languages to suit their varied guests.
When you hit the slopes, you want to be at your best.
To perform those impressive tricks and have a great time on the slopes, you also need to have the best equipment. In addition, to avoid injury and embarrassing mistakes, your equipment needs to be in great condition.
Chances are, you bought your first snow sports equipment at a ski resort when you were a newbie.
Most ski resorts in the world have ski equipment shops that offer snow sports gear sales and rentals. Sometimes you may arrive at a ski resort without your gear for whatever reason. You may then opt to buy new equipment or winter sportswear (which may be quite costly) or you may rent the gear.
Gear rental services vary and may include day rental options or until you’re done with equipment. Either way, you are solely responsible for the gear and may have to pay for replacement in case of loss or theft.
There are three main advantages to renting gear:
Do you know the significance of your ski bindings or their purpose?
Do you know how often you should have the bindings inspected, adjusted, or replaced?
If you answered in the affirmative, you’re all set. However, if you’re unsure, a visit to a repair shop may be necessary.
Equipment repair services help repair your gear if it’s damaged or if it needs maintenance. This is essential and keeps your snow sports equipment in perfect working condition.
Service packages vary in thoroughness and price from resort to resort. However, you can expect the following services at repair outlets:
Tip 1: Bindings need to be calibrated to conform to an international standard known as DIN. The DIN is determined using some very specific calculations based on factors such as your weight, height, age, ability level, and ski boot sole length.
Tip 2: Ski sharpening is essential to ensure that the edges bite into the snow more easily. This enables you to corner easily and reduce sideways skidding especially if the surface is hard or icy.
So you have chosen your ski destination and have arrived at the nearest station or city. What next?
Often, ski resorts are located further from airports or cities and require a connecting means of transport known as a transfer. Transfer options allow convenient movement of thrill-seekers to the resort’s base.
Once at the resort, you’ll need to move around the slopes or between ski areas. Some ski fields operate free shuttles or buses to facilitate such movement. There are also linked snow areas with lifts that allow movement in between them.
The following are the main transfer and mobility options.
Rental vehicles are a popular means of conveyance and transfer if you want to drive yourself. A rental vehicle offers you more flexibility when you want to explore or access more than one snow area. Most resorts offer overnight parking services at a fee if you intend to spend the night at the resort.
To get around the resort’s village or between resorts, you may take a taxi. Most resorts have Uber or Lyft services that offer convenient and affordable transport services. They are often used as airport transfer options to bring visitors to the resort. Some resorts are car-free but provide electric vehicles for mobility.
These can be either public or private and transport revelers within or without the ski village/resort. Some resorts operate free buses that allow transport between linked resort areas, stopping at designated bus stops. For example, in Utah, the Park City transit system also operates free buses that link Deer Valley to Downtown Park City.
To facilitate a convenient transition from the airport or the city, some hotels arrange transport services to their facilities for booked guests. This may be free or included within the accommodation package. Some also offer transport using luxury vehicles in specific deluxe packages.
Now that you know what to expect when you get to a snow resort, we’d like to help you plan your next winter destination. Brealpa curates a wealth of accurate and up-to-date information to help you choose the best location for a fun-filled holiday. We provide handy information on: