Skiing hey? Me, the woman who sometimes loses her balance standing at the stove stirring a pan of beans. You might think that I’d be a bit hopeless at skiing.
You’d be right.
When we set off to the French Alps with Snowbizz on March 9th is was with high hopes that by the end of the week I would be the next Eddie the Eagle, but unfortunately my natural cackhandedness won through and it was not to be. When I stepped out on to the snow that first day in my ski boots and immediately fell flat on my back it was a sign of things to come. You’ll notice that there aren’t any pictures in this post with actual skis in – this is because I didn’t trust myself to carry a camera or phone of any kind whilst my skis were within a 100 yard radius.
Fortunately, my lack of natural skiing ability definitely didn’t stop Belle and I enjoying the stunning scenery, beautiful weather and copious amounts of meat and cheese. Seriously, it was gorgeous – 17 degrees every day by 10.30am and stunning deep blue skies as far as you could see. I came home with an entire suitcase full of clothes I didn’t wear at all because it was so hot.
We were met at the airports by two ‘Pink Ladies’ – the name given to the girls working with Snowbizz, running the crèche, and supervising our activities. They were all absolutely adorable – so sweet and enthusiastic that you felt you could ask them anything at all. When I dropped Belle off at ski school on the first morning and was too scared to walk down the slopes in my boots I barely felt stupid at all asking Lucy for help.
“Don’t be silly,” she said sweetly, “it feels weird for everyone to start with. Even I have bad days still, it’s nothing to worry about!”
We stayed in a two bedroom apartment right in the centre of the resort, with brilliant views out over all the action from our balcony. In the morning we were woken by the crunching of snow under dozens of pairs of ski boots and by night we were treated to an array of fairy lit, snow covered buildings. Our balcony was also a great sun trap, making it the perfect spot for relaxing with a cup of tea and a magazine.
Our apartment was simple, but had absolutely everything we needed and lovely touches like bottled water and a litre of milk in the fridge waiting for us. (Top tip: check the facilities before you pop to the resort supermarket – we bought four ‘bake in the oven’ baguettes and then got back to discover we only had a hob and a microwave! There was a dishwasher though – an essential for any relaxing holiday.)
The instructors were all excellent too, and extremely patient, especially with me. Our instructor spent most of his time skiing backwards, holding both my hands, while I made squealing noises, but not once did he tell me to grow up and stop being such a baby. They were really brilliant with the kids too, especially the younger ones in the snow garden.
Belle and I had a private lesson one afternoon to try and boost our confidence and our instructor was very swift to untangle us and stand us upright when I accidentally skied at speed into Belle, knocking her to the ground. Belle was very brave and only bought it up about 27 times during the rest of the week. I did apologise, (I yelled ‘SORRY SORRY SORRY!!! as I ploughed into her), and she was very forgiving.
As we seemed to spend most of our time on our bottoms, sledging felt like a much more natural option for us. The Snowbizz team had a big stack of sledges for visitors to borrow (as well as DVDs for when you needed to put your feet up afterwards) and Belle really enjoyed digging out tracks for herself and getting good and snowy. I enjoyed the sledging too, although was a little put out at the heartiness of Belle’s laughter as I
rolled like a screeching heffalump whizzed gracefully down the slopes.
Another thing I hadn’t expected were the relationships you could quickly build up with the other skiers on the trip. I don’t know if it’s because Snowbizz is a family run business, and this rubs off on the group, or because of the fantastic personal service, but it’s very easy to get to know other people in your group. The other families staying at the same time with us were all very friendly and supportive, giving a lovely extra dimension to the holiday.
Because I’ve never been skiing before it’s difficult for me to compare Snowbizz to other ski companies I have known. I did meet one woman in the pool though, who told me a bit about her experiences.* This woman had skied the world. She was a properly hardcore skier, who had learnt as a child and skied through blizzards in Canada. She told me that it was once so cold on a trip to Canada that if you lifted your head up out of the hot tub, your hair immediately froze solid. That’s serious commitment.
This was her third trip with Snowbizz and she had nothing but positive things to say about the resort, the staff and the skiing. If this woman has come back three times, I figured it must stack up pretty well against the competition.
*It was a tricky conversation as I was trying to get that difficult balance between being low enough in the water to stay warm, but not so low that my boobs bobbed awkwardly out of my inappropriately low cut swimming costume. I don’t think she noticed though.
A huge thank you to Snowbizz for having us as their guests for the week!