If you are planning your first beginner ski holiday you may feel excited but also a little daunted about what lies ahead. Whether you’re planning to go away in a mixed-ability group of skiers, as a family of novices, or if you’re the only beginner on your trip, you’ll want to make sure the resort has everything you need for a great holiday.
Morzine in the French Alps is a great resort for beginners to experience skiing culture and learn their first turns, but don’t take our word for it. We spoke to James Wakelin, avid skier and hotel manager of The Farmhouse Hotel in Morzine, to get his thoughts and top tips for beginners coming to ski in the resort for the first time.
Why is Morzine great for beginners?
A beginner ski holiday is something you will never forget. Going from never having tried on a ski boot, to skiing down a piste and using a chairlift is a major achievement. That’s why it is important to choose your resort wisely; you want to come home hungry for more, not loathing the sport. There are several good reasons why Morzine is great for beginners:
- Morzine is a friendly resort that caters for a wide range of clientele, from families to couples and groups of friends. It’s not super trendy, prestigious or encouraging of that age-old rivalry between skiers or snowboarders. Everyone is welcome here, and there’s no judgement.
- Morzine boasts a great number of ski schools and private instructors, and the quality of tuition is very high. Whether you prefer to start in a small group or in one to one lessons with an instructor, it’s easy to find what you are looking for, especially if this is a beginner ski holiday.
- It’s easy to get back to Morzine at the end of your day. A great choice for novices, Piste B is a really fun, gentle way to wind down the mountain and finish your day on a high. With no major steep sections, even beginners can enjoy this privilege and earn their drinks at Le Tremplin, the main après ski bar at the bottom of the run.
- Modern ski lifts are an absolute bonus when you start out skiing. Fortunately, Morzine will not let you down, the resort has invested heavily on its lift infrastructure. Gone are the days when the chairlift swooped round to catch you on the back of the legs (ouch!), and you’ll have a hard job finding a button tow or T bar on these mountains. The chairlifts here are padded and slow down for you to get on, before speeding up again to get you to the top in no time at all. Plus learner slopes are kitted out with a ‘Tapis’, often referred to as a ‘magic carpet’, this moving carpet is indeed magical as you simply step onto it to be transported to the top of the slope– easy peasy!
- A wide range of pistes. Although you probably find it hard to imagine what comes after learner slopes, it’s good to be reassured that there are plenty of novice pistes that you can progress onto and enjoy. And this is where Morzine – and the wider Portes du Soleil – really excels. There are miles and miles of cruisey blue runs, you can even pop over into a different resort, such as Les Gets or Avoriaz to meet friends for lunch and discover yet more amazing views.
What should I organise before my trip?
It is worth pre-booking:
1. Private or group ski or snowboard lessons. You don’t want to be fending for yourself out on the slopes, those all-important first lessons will set you up for safe, enjoyable skiing for many years to come. Instructors get booked up months in advance so book early.
2. Ski or snowboard equipment. Pre-booking equipment can get you a better deal and with some companies you can arrange to have this delivered directly to your accommodation, making it one less thing to think about when you arrive in the resort.
3. Ski passes. These are sometimes ordered through the ski schools, online, or directly with your hotel. Having your ski passes waiting in your room when you arrive is another good move. The queues at the ski lifts for passes can be really busy, so save yourself the time and hassle by planning in advance.
Most ski schools meet at the top of the Pleney télécabine, which is a ski gondola you can access from the centre of Morzine. Your ski pass will be ‘hands free’, meaning you just brush straight through the turnstile and step into the bubble. It is best to keep your ski pass in a secure pocket (which is a staple on the sleeve of most ski jackets) away from your phone or credit cards otherwise it won’t work.
Once you have met your instructor it is a short walk to the magic carpet, which will take you to the top of your first slope. This area is designed specifically for beginners so you will be in a safe environment to hone your skills with your instructor on your beginner ski holiday.
The first thing to remember is you are on the mountain to have fun – and it will be! Your senses will be buzzing as you get to grips with your ski kit, the ski lifts, the people all around you and the amazing scenery.
You will be in the hands of an experienced instructor who will quickly get you up and running. The great thing about the learner areas is they are flat, safe and usually sheltered.
Before you know it, you will be gliding down the mountain and wondering why you did not start skiing sooner in life.
Like all sports different people progress at different speeds but once you are ready you will ski your way down to a chairlift. This will take you slightly higher up the mountain and offer you a longer slope to practice on. It will also offer you some fantastic views, so make sure you enjoy the moment!
Be sure to take a break!
You will be up at 1,505 metres as you experience your first turns on the slopes. The scenery is spectacular so take the time to soak it all up. There are plenty of excellent restaurants on the slopes if you feel like a vin chaud to warm the bones, or perhaps a well deserved lunch after you have burnt all those calories learning how to stop!
How do I know which runs to go down?
The ski runs are colour coded by order of difficulty:
- Green: Everyone needs to start somewhere, and these are the slopes you will be hitting as a learner. They are wide and shallow pistes with very gentle gradients. This means you will not be hurtling down the slopes too quickly and can take your time getting familiar with your ski equipment and the snow.
- Blue: Once you have got used to stopping and turning left and right you will move on to these slopes. The slopes will be a little steeper and there will be more people. They will be skiing quicker than you are used to so keep your wits about you. Remember not to stop in the middle of the piste, always move to the sides.
- Red: These slopes are classed as advanced and are the next step up from the blue slopes. These runs are for confident skiers who can link their turns quickly and are able to control their speed on steep gradients. These runs will usually have some bumpy sections and parts of the slopes will be narrow and twisting.
- Black: These slopes are very steep and designed for expert skiers who have many years of skiing behind them and ski at a high level. You will know when you are ready to progress onto these slopes.
Now we’ve given you the low down on what to expect from your beginner ski holiday in Morzine, don’t forget to pop into The Farmhouse Hotel for a drink, or check out our stunning bedrooms for a luxurious spot to rest your legs after fun days spent on the mountain.
Until next time.