We are specialists in ski trips to the Alps. We can advise you on your choice of resort and find just the accommodation to suit you. We pride ourselves on being the best around when it comes to creating bespoke trips to the Alps and North America. We love skiing, we love the mountains, and we love the way we do business.
Let’s be honest, Brits aren’t best known for their linguistic abilities. Quite possibly the opposite, in fact.
Nevertheless, if you’ve ever been to Italy you may have succeeded in mastering a few phrases – only to forget them when you return home. Which is a shame, because you’re more likely to come across non-English speakers in Italian resorts than you are in France or Austria.
“Parla Inglese?” will always be your best bet on an Italian ski holiday, but if the answer is a dreaded “no”, then I’ve got you covered with Plan B.
Here are some useful phrases that will have you mingling with the locals and really immersing yourself in Italian culture.
After all, there’s no better way to make a good impression and to defy the English stereotype than to have an arsenal of authentic Italian phrases ready.
Italian dictionaries to hand? Bene allora, cominciamo!
Your Daily Basics
For the purpose of this guide, I shall assume you don’t yet speak a word of ‘Italiano’ (the Italian language). We’ll start with some conversational basics before moving on to scenario-based translations.
Buongiorno = ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ if used after lunch
Similar to the French ‘bonjour’, ‘buongiorno’ literally means ‘good day’. A key greeting if you want to make friends on the slope.
This changes to ‘Buona sera’ after dark to mean ‘good evening’.
Ciao = Hi / Bye
A familiar way to say hello or goodbye (or even both at the same time) and probably the most common word you will hear. If you only remember a handful of these phrases, make this one of them.
Non capisco = I don’t understand
I think this one will come in handy more often than you’d be willing to admit. Italians won’t expect you to be fluent in their language, but they’ll love you for trying. So always say if you don’t understand.
Per favore / Grazie = Please / Thank you
I always find it’s the little phrases that make a huge difference to locals. Just remembering the words for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can put a big smile on someone’s face. Add ‘grazie mille’ if you want to sound extra grateful (literally: ‘a thousand thanks’).
In The Restaurant
Don’t let linguistics become an obstacle between yourself and well-earned Italian cuisine after a hard day’s skiing. ‘Il cameriere’ (the waiter) may speak English, but that shouldn’t stop you from attempting to impress whilst ordering your post-meal Italian coffee.
Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per due = I would like to reserve a table for two
There is nothing worse than looking forward to a heavenly Italian dinner after long day on the slopes and then finding that the restaurant is fully booked. I hope this phrase will ensure you can treat your loved one to the romantic dinner they deserve.
At lunchtime ask “Possiamo avere un tavolo dentro / fuori” if you want to book a table inside / outside.
Dov’è il bagno? = Where is the bathroom?
No matter your circumstance, this is a phrase everyone will need to know. It can also prevent you from depositing snow across the restaurant floor if you are coming straight off the slopes!
Io sono vegetariano / vegano / intollerante al glutine = I am vegetarian / vegan / gluten-free
For those who have more specific requirements of their diet, this can be helpful in trying to navigate often extensive menus.
Vorrei la mia carne al sangue / media cottura / ben cotta = I would like my meat rare / medium / well done
For the remaining meat eaters, this is another useful phrase to get across your preferences. Often, you’ll find the waiting staff will offer the chef’s opinion for how the meat is best cooked. Personally, they have yet to disappoint me!
Posso avere del olio picante perfavore? = Can I have some chili oil, please?
If you don’t think your dish is spicy enough
If you’re feeling indecisive…
Che cosa mi consiglia? = What can you recommend?
How about asking the waiter to recommend a dish or wine? If in doubt, ask the waiter to make you a selection of antipasti, pasta and main courses.
Scelga lei = you choose for me
They love being asked this, especially for wine recommendations. Possibly add this to avoid any shocks when the bill comes: ‘non voglio spendere piu’ di euro xx’ = I don’t want to spend more than xx euros.
Possiamo avere un assaggio da dividere = can we just have a taste to share
For a more social experience which, after all, is what eating is all about in Italy!
Tris di primi = a trio of primi (pastas/risotto)
It is common to order a selection of different pastas to share.
Due cucchiai per favore = 2 spoons please
If your companion is too abstemious to order their own Tiramisu but you know they are going to want to try yours. It is a tricky one to pronounce but should be entertaining to try!
Il conto per favore = Can I have the bill please?
The only bad thing about Italian food is that you can’t eat it forever! When you’ve undone the first button on your salopettes it’s possibly time for the bill.
Servizio incluso? = Is service included?
Find out if you need to add a tip to your bill or if it’s included.
On The Slopes
While conversation might not be so important whilst you fly down the slopes, you may almost certainly find that person at the ski hire shop does not speak English. To ensure you are given the correct set of skis you’ll need to know how tell them what level of skier you are.
Sono un principiante / una principiante = I am a beginner (male/female)
If it’s your first time on the slopes, this is definitely one to remember. Other skiers suddenly become a lot more forgiving when they realise it’s your first time. Make sure you don’t stand out by reading our bluffer’s guide to gearing up.
Sono uno sciatore medio / una sciatrice media = I am an intermediate (male/female)
This is especially useful if you don’t want to spend all day on the nursery slopes in the beginner ski class. Of course, you must have the skills to back up the statement…
Sono uno sciatore esperto / una sciatrice esperta = I am an expert (male/female)
A phrase that will come in handy if someone starts shouting to inform you that it’s a double black diamond run you are about to go down!
Mi scusi, sto ancora imparando = Sorry, I’m still learning
Perfect for diffusing any hostility after a collision or accident.
Mi sono perso = I am lost
If you find yourself separated from your group and without a piste map, this is the perfect phrase. Of course, if someone lends you their own piste map you still have to be able to read it.
In The Bar
No list of skiing phrases would be complete without a section devoted to après ski. Many people encountering foreign languages can find it intimidating to try out their new found phrases and often find that bars are the best time to practice when inhibitions are not as high. Especially if you’re having a big night out the following phrases will no doubt become useful.
Cosa vuoi bere? = What would you like to drink?
Because the best way to make friends is to buy them a round of drinks. And they’ll be even friendlier when you ask them in Italian.
Una bottiglia di vino bianco / rosso = A bottle of white / red wine
or Un bichiere di vino bianco / rosso = a glass of white / red wine
or Un terzo / quatro di bianco / rosso di casa = 1/3 or 1/4 litre of white / red house wine
An elementary phrase for those amongst you wishing to embrace one of Italy’s fondest ways of life.
Quattro Peroni per favore = Four Peronis please Una birra media = a large beer (half litre)
If you decide to opt for beer instead of wine, this will certainly come in handy. Remember to always get a friend to help you carry the drinks back if you’re wearing ski boots!
E occupato? = Is it occupied?
If you need to ask if anything is taken, be it a stool, table or if someone is using the toilets.
Possiamo avere un espresso, un macchiato e il conto, allo stesso tempo per favore? = Please may we have an espresso, a macchiato and the bill at the same time?
If you are in a rush to make the last ski lift back up the slope this is the way to ask for it all at once. Also to note there are many more varieties of coffee to be enjoyed whilst you are in Italy, be sure to sample each – don’t forget our guide to drinking coffee like an Italian – and return home with a new favourite!
Practice Makes Perfect
From personal experience with foreign languages, I assure you it’s difficult to learn all these phrases if you don’t give yourself the opportunity to try them out.
Hopefully, this has whet your appetite for a ski trip to one of Italy’s great ski resorts next season and perhaps you will have a chance to try some of these phrases out during a summer holiday as well. Just let us know if there are any other phrases you think would be useful.
Get in touch to talk about how we can start planning your tailor-made ski trip.
Now that it’s the end of the ski season, it’s the ideal time to go shopping for ski boots for next season’s ski holiday.
Not only do you have the time to find the perfect ski boots without the pressure of a ski getaway breathing down your neck, but you’ll also be able to grab a discount at most stores, such as Snow + Rock, as they need to sell their winter stuff to make space for summer or next season’s equipment.
And I’m sure we all know what good ski boots can do for you. If you need a reminder – let’s take a look at my ski boot journey.
Where It All Began
Here I am, looking fashionable as ever clad in my mum’s rolled up ski pants with three thick pairs of socks to wedge my feet into my older sister’s leather ski boots that were at least three sizes too large:
Ice-nibbled feet with skis too long to manoeuvre was my baptism to skiing. And what an impression it made, clearly!
Somehow it wasn’t enough to put me off, and years later here I was again, still wearing incredibly uncomfortable and highly oversized skis with an unimpressed smile…
The only difference was that at last I had (slightly) better clothing. I really had to crank the buckles to the absolute max to anchor my feet in the boots, resulting in cut-off circulation and painfully cold feet.
But The Years Flew By…
Fast forward and I’m still the best dressed on the mountain, naturally.
I became a ski guide with Bladon Lines and Ski West, and the company got us a great deal with Salomon boots and Dynastar skis. My adult ski boot experience started with the Salomon SX90s and progressed to SX92s.
And my god – those foam buckets really were the best. To this day, they’re still the comfiest ski boots I’ve ever worn. Rear entry was the magic element – this meant that you could also unclip the back and stand straight – a perfect standing-at-the-bar position.
Well, that’s where my quest for the perfect boot began.
My Quest for the perfect ski boot
During the ’80s, I went to Snow Fun in Val d’Isere, where they started with setting me up with some custom-made insoles and then proceeded with a foam injection. Suddenly it was as though my skis had been awakened – my whole experience was totally transformed, as my skis actually reacted quickly to my movements.
The next decade was all about the Strolz shop in Lech that used to actually custom-make ski boots. I was happy in those days with my Nordica 22 Grand Prix boots. The race foam injection, stiff competition shell, the extra shin pad… I mean, you could ski with these boots unclipped – that is what I call a perfect fit.
I wore those for years until they fell apart, before moving back to some comfy Salomons again. But the time was approaching to invest in something that would better my performance, as well as being comfortable when hanging around with my children.
My next ski boot shopping experience took place slightly closer to home, in Fulham. And this is where I learnt my first piece of ski boot wisdom to share with you.
Lesson Finally Learnt: Don’t Go By Brand
The boot fitter in Fulham established the right size and shape boots for me and before I knew it, I was introduced to my first pair of Atomics. Never in my life had I pictured myself wearing Atomic.
It goes to prove that within each brand there are the right and wrong shell sizes for every person. So seriously, don’t be swayed by your favourite brand names – take expert advice and choose your boots based on what fits your feet best, not what brand you think sounds the coolest.
Right, that’s my ski boot life story done with. Now I want to help you find your ski boot soulmates using the lessons I have learned, so pay attention…
Vital Ski Boot Facts to Know Before Purchasing
Over the years, I’ve managed to gather some important facts on ski boots that you must take into account before deciding to buy, as told by ski boot fitting legends.
Ski Boots Fall into Three Categories
A ski boot’s a ski boot, right? Wrong – have you not been listening to a word I’ve had to say so far?
There are three main categories: Alpine, telemark and touring. Alpine boots are what most people use; telemark boots are for use with telemark bindings; and touring boots are essentially a combination of the two, allowing for both downhill and telemark skiing, as well as making hiking up hills much easier.
Once you’ve decided which type of boot you are after, find a shop with a great selection of brands and options for your feet. By options I’m talking variations of flex, liners, width and volume for your foot and a good boot doctor to make you the perfect footbed.
You’ll Need To Spare a Couple of Hours
Allow plenty of time for ski boot shopping, as you’ll want to ensure you try a variety of shapes and styles. And once you’ve found a pair that fits well, I’d recommend wearing them for a while to ensure they still feel comfy after a prolonged period of time. And you’ll need even longer if you opt for custom fit.
Things have progressed since my loose leather boot days, and now you can opt for custom moulded footbeds to fit the contours of your feet. A custom fit takes about two hours. It can take up to two days for World Cup racers. So if you plan to buy ski boots, it’s best to make an appointment and set aside a couple of hours.
They Will Loosen Up (So Loosen Up…)
Bear in mind, after your purchase, the boots will feel tight and small, particularly if you are used to renting. Shops tend to upsize, whereas boot doctors make you downsize.
They may be tight for roughly three days but you will settle in, so don’t fret.
Some Niche Brands Offer Customised Boots
Choose from the likes of Dale, Dahu, Apex, and of course Strolz in Lech who have been making the same shells for years and years with unlimited width options.
Look at this one below. The idea is that you take the shell out after skiing and you can drive your car!
Be Honest About Your Ability
When you see the boot doctor, don’t overstate your ability or they will simply recommend the wrong boots for you. I’ve been there, and boy was it unpleasant.
Picture aching feet in heavy hike boots resulting in a lot of hard uphill work for a powder-less outcome. If you say you are an expert but you lean back when you ski off-piste, your ski boots just won’t work for you.
So ask yourself: are you really an expert?
You scoff, but think about this one carefully. Most people think they are experts. An expert is not someone who is just capable of bombing down the mountain.
To claim this title you need to be confident (and in control!) when skiing in all conditions, from ice, to bumps to white-outs! .
So, to my skiing friends and clients out there, as winter season comes to an end and the perfect time for investing in ski boots has come, make the best future investment for next season and treat yourself to a gorgeous pair of ski boots.
And don’t forget, any clients of Momentum Ski are entitled to a 15% discount, off full-price items, not only at Snow + Rock but also their 3 other sister brands, Cotswold Outdoor, Runners Need & Cycle Surgery.
Oh, and if you’re interested in heading out to any of the ski resorts I’ve mentioned here, perhaps for a ski weekend that combines time on the mountain with a trip to one of the famous boot doctors, we can make it happen for you.
Get in touch today and we can start planning your tailor-made trip to one of the world-class destinations we offer.
I’d love to hear your feedback, too. How many pairs of ski boots have you owned? How did you finally get it right?
Imagine two firm friends with very different personalities, joined by their love of the snow.
The way these two friends go about things would be quite different. But really, the colourful characters are getting everything they both want out of life.
That’s how I like to think of the Mont Blanc area and the connecting Vallee Blanche. It links Courmayeur to the town of Chamonix, and to me they are the two great friends.
The other day I was wondering; if these towns were people, what would they be like?
Chamonix: Male. Early 30’s. Athletic. Likes to push the limits. Listens to slightly rockier upbeat music. Has a goatee (and a ponytail). Tries to live life as full paced as he skis. Fan of neon retro 80’s ski suits: remember Degré 7 by Patrick Vallencent and the heyday of skiing they represent? Well-known and likes to party.
Courmayeur: Female. No age given. Fashion literate with notable style and sometimes with a fur coat. Values traditional charm over modern flair. Still appreciates the occasional full paced slope session to keep things fresh. Not so well-known, maintains a more exclusive social circle.
I think that about sums it up. But what does that mean for you, the exploring snow enthusiast?
Big & Busy vs. Small & Chic
Chamonix is bigger, with a busier lifestyle.
With that size comes a good choice of accommodation, restaurants and bars. When I lived in Courmayeur we used to go to Chamonix for Chinese or Tex Mex food.
There are also more ski areas to choose from.
With a few clusters of runs and each having a mix of blue, red and black, anyone can challenge themselves any way they want.
Courmayeur on the other hand, is a smaller village, medieval in heritage with a pedestrianised main street. It services just the one ski area, but this also has a mix of a few blue runs, lots of red, and a few black, to really stretch your legs if you’re in the mood.
Expert Skiers vs. Bon Viveurs
Let’s keep going with the “If they were people” metaphor…
Chamonix likes to hang out with the expert skiers and snowboarders. Probably tackling personal-best runs if not too hung over from the bars the night before.
He and his friends all hit the slopes looking for a challenge, trying to better themselves.
Warming up on the red runs before having a days-best bash down the odd black or off-piste section. Steep or bumps is his end goal.
Probably hangs out with an Ortovox backpack and avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. He dreams of wearing a UIAGM badge on his jacket someday. And if he is super cool, he has his harness on to pretend he is very off piste and glaciers don’t scare him.
Courmayeur likes to hang out with family and people who want an all-round winter sports holiday with good food, smart boutiques and attractive village surroundings. To access good off-piste she’d get a chopper rather than ski up.
Being Italian, Courmayeur welcomes everyone, it’s in their culture. The less steep slopes make for a more relaxed snow holiday for everyone.
And if anyone desperately wants to go hang out with loud-mouthed Chamonix and a bar full of Swedes over the hill, they can drive/bus through the tunnel or, if feeling extra adventurous, travel through the glaciated Vallee Blanche.
An impressive journey which will keep Chamonix quiet about who went most off-piste.
Metropolitan vs. Medieval
Chamonix is sometimes considered the life of the party, and is described as modern by his friend Courmayeur over the hill.
He hangs out with a slightly younger, athletic crowd who want to party, but are just as keen to test their nerve and skills on the snow.
Courmayeur, being a chic Italian, is sometimes described as laid-back. She is often seen with groups of all ages and abilities on the snow, but also wandering in and out of the high-end shops of Via Roma.
People say her medieval style fits perfectly with modern coffee culture. Her friends from Milan love to visit for the weekend and makes that easy for them.
Chamonix, well he is more of a commitment.
Ski Mont Blanc on the Italian or French Side
If Chamonix and Courmayeur are people, that would make Mont Blanc the local granddad, sitting tall and wise above both towns, with the Vallee Blanche passing under his watchful eye connecting the mountain valleys either side.
If you go there you’ll know what I mean.
Crossing the valley gives you an amazing view of Mont Blanc’s peak towering above you. Vallee Blanche is glaciated so you must have a local guide if you want to cross it, but that is easily arranged and frequently travelled when conditions allow.
This is a great day trip for the more adventurous spirit. You can get there via either Chamonix or Courmayeur, but different travel options are available.
For example, Courmayeur is a fan of heli-skiing, whereas Chamonix doesn’t go in for all that.
However, they both love climbing in the summer.
Setting off for a day on the snow Chamonix likes to play paper-scissors-rock for which of the clusters of lifts to go for first. If he and his friends change their minds during the day they jump on the buses running between the bottom lifts.
Courmayeur doesn’t need to bother with that as there’s one set of runs, and this suits her as she often brings large groups and doesn’t want the logistical hassle of keeping track of people across multiple lift areas.
Something Courmayeur doesn’t often talk about is the amazing lift accessible off-piste sections she has.
Chamonix likes a crowd, but Courmayeur often has half the people around her, so even with less runs to choose there is plenty of space.
Being slightly lower, the lifts do not get affected by adverse weather like Chamonix does and for some strange reason Chamonix always comes to Courmayeur for lunch!
Party Town vs. Long Lunches
Chamonix throws some of the liveliest après-ski you’ll find in the Alps, with lots of variety. When it’s time to head down to the bars, his favourite hangouts are Rue Paccard and Rue des Moulins.
Courmayeur is more into aperitivi, nice restaurants, and if you’re into long lunches, you and Courmayeur will get along just fine.
Having said that, in recent years she’s been known to appear with a couple of night clubs. Also a new friend has appeared called Super G, an apres bar with DJ terrace and late running cable car.
Maybe not so laid back after all.
It’s All a Style Choice
Both Chamonix and Courmayeur have the full range of snow and services. Chamonix is legendary in the world of extreme skiing, so in a lot of ways is only suitable for a certain type of snow holiday.
I would probably favour Courmayeur in January as Chamonix’s chairlifts can be unbearably cold but you can’t beat the skiing on the Grand Montet’s north-facing slopes in April.
Whereas Courmayeur can be appealing to a wider range of people, but can still tick the high adrenalin box with ease. So at the end of the day you can choose which friend you want to hang out with.
And if you change your mind the other friend is just next door.
What Are You Waiting For?
Our tailor-made service means that we can help you to choose the best destination for you, and help put together an itinerary that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Get in touch with any questions or to make an enquiry, and start getting excited for your next ski holiday – whether it’s in Chamonix or Courmayeur.
Picking dates that fit your agenda and hoping you’ll have the best snow and weather aren’t the only things to do when it comes to organising your luxury ski weekend.
To help you get the most out of your ski weekend – here’s my 5-step guide to planning your greatest ski trip yet.
1. Choose the Right Accommodation for Your Group
Whether you’re travelling with the kids, impressing clients, or you want some time alone with the one you love, you’re likely to spend as much time in your hotel as you do on the slopes.
That’s why it’s important to not just focus on a location near the ski lift or shuttle service, but pick a hotel with comfortable rooms and additional services, such as restaurants or wellness.
How do you choose? Well, here are a few of our favourite 4* and 5* hotels for inspiration…
For an intimate Italian experience, you can’t go wrong with at the Auberge de la Maison’s chalet-styled five-star service. They run a shuttle service to the mountains from their base just outside Courmayeur, and welcome you home after your day’s skiing with a roaring fireplace.
If it’s the home-away-from-home feel you’re after, the dark woods and abundant soft furnishings at the Hermitage in Cervinia – not to mention the discrete yet attentive 5* service and outstanding Italian cuisine – will make your stay as comfortable as possible.
For the whole family, the elegant Nira Montana offers a swimming pool, sauna and steam room in its superb spa, as well as well-equipped, spacious rooms. A new addition to the La Thuile area in 2015, this deluxe hotel serves fabulous local food in rustic chic surroundings.
If Austria is more to your liking, the boutiqueSt. Antoner Hof offers unique, contemporary rooms in the centre of St. Anton itself. Relaxed, sociable and welcoming, it’s got everything you need to relax after a long day on the mountain.
Small, yet perfectly formed, the Zur Tenne in Kitzbuhel has the feel of an elegant country house. The delicate fabrics and traditional Tyrolean styling make this an ideal romantic getaway.
22 luxury hotel rooms, 4 apartments and 6 chalets that can accommodate up to 12 guests – the beautiful Lodge Alpaga in France’s illustrious Megeve offers something for every group. Tranquility and elegance come in abundance, with the fantastic spa as one of its many highlights.
Understated and sophisticated from the exterior, the W Hotel in Verbier boasts spacious designer rooms with their own fireplaces and balconies. Two in-house restaurants, a lounge bar, spa and its very own nightclub mean the only thing you’ll ever need to leave for is to ski.
Nestled in the village of Andermatt in the Urseren Valley, The Chedi offers a ski-in living room, fine restaurants, a comprehensive spa and 123 guest rooms and suites. However large your travelling party, everyone’s needs will be met at this wonderful resort.
Ideally, you’ll spend as little time as possible getting to and from your resort so you can enjoy your alpine surroundings. But there are a host of different ways to do so, and choosing the right one is key.
Firstly, it’s more than likely you’ll be flying out, so be sure to pick a departure airport that’s convenient for home, but just as important is an arrival airport that is well located for your resort of choice.
If you’re entertaining, or if you have business to attend to, consider any VIP lounge areas you might require during your journey. We can even arrange private jets, should you require one (or more).
The Last Leg
Once you’ve touched down at your destination airport, how you arrive at your resort is the next question to be answered.
Are you driving yourself? Will you be needing a chauffeur? Or is a helicopter the only way you wish to travel?
In Swiss resorts, there’s even the option to travel by first class train, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking scenery on the way to your resort.
However you wish to reach your resort, we can tailor your package to make your journey as smooth as possible – leaving you free to focus on the more important things.
3. Check the Local Restaurants Match Your Tastes
Skiing all day really works up an appetite, and at the end (and in the middle) of a long day of skiing there’s every chance you’ll be craving an utterly mouth-watering meal.
Alternatively, for real food aficionados, why not take a look at our Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience. We’ve just returned from our seventh annual event, an unmissable combination of skiing and fine dining. For more information, contact Jessica Gorman by email at email@example.com
4. Pick Your Instructor to Meet Your Needs
If you’ve got a mixed-ability group, lessons are a great way for everyone to enjoy their trip at their own speed – and give you all something to talk about over après-ski drinks.
Having watched friends and family go from total beginner to solid skier in the space of a week, the excitement of their achievements every day was matched only by mine at realising they’ll want to come skiing again and again.
You may be a total novice, a master of the mountains, or somewhere in the middle, but there’s always something new for you to discover on (or off) the piste.
You may have read our article on Heli-Skiing, and for those of you seeking that perfect powder adventure, you’ll be needing the best guides a resort can offer.
It could be that you just want a quick refresher on the skills you learned a few years ago, or you could want an intensive, week-long course to really nail your technique – either way, it’s really worth ensuring your instructor has the right qualifications to get the best out of you.
5. Plan Some Non-Skiing Activities
If you’ve got enough energy left over after spending your day on the slopes, or you’re looking for a more relaxing way to spend the weekend while the thrill seekers do their thing, there’s more to ski resorts than skiing.
Spa treatments, luxurious mountain lunches, panoramic helicopter flights, or even Courmayeur’s thermal spa – you can be pampered any way you like.
Most luxury resorts also boast some of the best shopping around, so you can pick up a treat for your loved ones (or yourself). One of my favourites is the idyllic alpine high street of Megeve, which has some beautiful boutiques.
Ready to go?
Fantastic, so are we! Our tailor made service means that we can help you to choose exactly the right flights to suit your needs with good availability still at this stage.
And remember that bespoke does not mean expensive – our flexibility means that we can look at whatever level of accommodation suits your budget if you are not looking for a luxury trip, and getting in early on good flights is important to get the best fares.
You can contact us with any questions, and get a quote for your trip, and start getting excited for your next ski holiday.
Or, if you think we’ve missed anything you can’t live without on your ski trip, let us know by commenting below – we’d love to hear from you.
It’s always hard to plan a birthday – especially if you’re trying to beat last year’s celebration.
I had the same dilemma for my 30th birthday. What was the absolute best way to ring in this new decade?
A Spectacular 30th
I started working in Courmayeur as a ski guide/rep at the age of 23, and fell so madly in love with the place that I made it my home for the next few years.
I’m a December baby, so my big day falls neatly at the start of the season. Any excuse for a party and I was on it – and as the big 30 approached I knew it would be a sin not to make a huge weekend of it. I wanted a brilliant weekend in the snow for my friends, so they could escape the reality of a grim English winter and get their first ski fix of the season.
And so, for my birthday I planned having a dinner up the mountain – with a formal dresscode. Also, we’d simply stay up the mountain – not only to make it special but also to be the first ones let loose on the fresh snow the next morning. I can’t think of a better way to ditch the hangover, can you?
Back in those days, Maison Vieille was a proper refuge with a dormitory at the back, though now, unfortunately, it only operates as a restaurant.
So invites went out, friends came out in full force. We had some great skiing together and enjoyed Courmayeur’s great bars and restaurants and for the big night took all our gear up the mountain, left it in Maison Vieille, skied and arranged to meet there when the lifts were closing at 5pm.
The Start of Something Special…
I had one dilemma however; what would I do with my guests until dinner time? If they tucked into the bar from 5, no-one would finish dinner and it would be chaos.
So I had an idea. Run a parallel slalom race behind Maison Vieille!
Whilst the piste and drag lift was closed, Giacomo – the owner of our wonderful venue – and his team snowmobiled us to the top of the course, we set the gates, put some torch lights all the way down and my first ski championships began.
Racing and aperitivi ended by 7, everyone went in to get changed and then the party really started (see the main photo for this article of all the men in their glad rags!).
We danced late into the night, crashed at some ungodly hour and my birthday present came nice and early. A foot of powder.
We coped better with late nights back then, so like little kids in a sweet shop we got up early and put the first turns in before the first cable car came up from the resort.
I wanted to repeat the idea for my 40th, but being older and having fussier partners, the bunks at Maison Vieille wouldn’t do.
So we opted to stay lower down in Plan Checrouit in La Baita hotel which is now called Super G.
We followed the same format, held it on the same weekend, and we still ran the race, but this time skied down at dusk to our hotel to get changed in to black tie and then we all went back up the mountain in our finery.
The boys were transported in snowmobiles and the ladies went in a snow cat (which had a large heated cabin at the back, so no issues with dresses and shoes!).
My birthday came again with over a foot of powder overnight, but this time I couldn’t cope with the late night and stayed in bed nursing my head!
The Big Five Oh
…and this time I had a 7 week old baby boy.
Do we go? Do we delay and do it at Easter? Luckily, thanks to my supportive wife, we stuck to the plan and made it work. In fact, I did a blog on this very decision a while back (read it here).
Invites went out. Many of the same friends came. Some divorced, some still single, some remarried, some bringing their children (including yours truly) and a few more friends that I had gathered over the years.
Wines and menu had got even more sophisticated so we this time we decided to stay down in the town and bribed the ski lift company to run a late cable car for us.
So we got dolled up in our black ties, dresses and Jimmy Choos, took the cable car up, and shuttled in snowmobiles (with ladies again in heated piste bashers). The party continued as it had done in previous years, but this time I could embarrass my teenage daughter and her friends with my traditional midnight air guitar to Led Zeppelin’s Rock’n Roll with my wig backwards.
So here’s an idea which I can truly say is tried and tested. In fact, the day after my 50th birthday, I booked for my 60th!
Read on for a few cable-top suggestions that would also suit a birthday occasion up the mountain…
Mountain Restaurants To Celebrate A Birthday (And Stay Overnight)
Super G, Courmayeur
We stayed overnight at Super G for my 40th birthday, and it is one of my go-to venues for a special celebration.
All too often fine dining means a hungry stomach, but there’s none of that here. Stylish yet wholesome food in a modern venue. Something we can all appreciate post and pre a day’s snow carving.
It’s Courmayeur’s trendy new on-mountain après ski terrace with DJs by day and a lovely restaurant and attractive boutique hotel by night.
Iglu, Engelberg & Iglu, Garmisch
This is one for the Instagram grid. You can stay the night in a real iglu!
Nestled in amongst the pistes, there’s food and drink and some oddly cosy décor like rugs and fire places.
With locations in Engelberg and Garmisch to name but a few, you’ll find it hard to forget a birthday fondue in an iglu!
Las Vegas, San Cassiano
When you’re thinking ”Party”, the name Las Vegas says it all.
If it’s a significant birthday you’re celebrating, this spot could be just right for the less than perfect physical state we find ourselves in the day after festivities.
With fewer steep peaks and more curvy blue runs this will be a little more compatible to the Vegas-style of partying. Throw in some wonderful scenery and well-connected lifts.
All you’ll have to do is cross your fingers for that powder to fall.
Chetzeron, Crans Montana
The best sunset in the Alps.
I’m always impressed by the stunning views from this venue’s panoramic windows. In its spacious modern building, a converted old cable car houses an incredible setting at the top of the mountain.
It’s a cut above most alpine restaurants with a modern, elegant finish to everything and if you want to go black tie, this is definitely a good venue for such swagger.
If you like period dramas then I can see this one being a favourite.
It’s a large colonial style building with balconies, ballrooms and all the décor of days gone by.
The area has an unusually late running funicular (1:30am) so is one of the spots where you could dine late and still make it back down into the main town if you wanted or there is even a floodlit sledge run down. But I’ve found people never want to when you’ve gathered the friends together with a little pomp and glitz.
Cabane Mont Fort, Verbier
At 2,457m this is a somewhat isolated venue of modest proportions.
I hear some describe it as an old stone cabin, others class it as a shabby-chic chalet. This spot can actually get quite busy sometimes, so book ahead to be safe.
It has an off-the-beaten-track vibe and with the right weather some quite frankly ridiculous views.
Here you will be getting more of a fine dining experience in a serious 5* hotel up the mountain.
One of my favourite features is the classic bowling alley. It does remind me a little of the Aspen style of going alpine. And of course, who can doubt the beauty of the Zermatt setting.
Mooserwirt, St Anton
Aside from St Anton’s dizzying array of runs, the resort is just as renowned for its outrageous après ski and nowhere more so than the infamous Mooserwirt.
There is no denying the appeal of a classic après beverage selection and a wholesome menu to warm the heart once the dancing is done.
What not many people know is that the other side of the Mooserwirt is rather chic hotel, so you can stay there rather than run the gauntlet skiing down to town with the drunken hoi polloi.
Rifugio Lagazuoi at Cinque Torri, Passo Giau
High above Cortina d’Ampezzo at 2752m, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. From here, you can marvel at the incredible panoramic view of the breathtakingly spectacular Dolomites.
Picture yourself, surrounded by loved ones, dining on delicious homemade dishes at sunset, when the Pale Mountains are bathed in pink, rose and orange hues as the sun sets over the peaks.
This is where you can also set off to do the Hidden Valley , one of the most spectacular runs that ends up in Armenterola. You can spend the last bit being pulled by horses to avoid the long flat skate out.
This is where the bresaola comes from, so expect to be impressed.
For the big foodies, there’s the Cantinone in Madesimo – which has a Michelin star.
But my favourite restaurant was actually Dogana Vegia, situated in the old customs house. It’s actually the restaurant in the picture above! The ambiance was simply amazing, with lots of little cosy corners equipped with fire places and tables and full of antique objects.
3. There Are 60km of Snowmobile Tracks
This is very rare. With the exception of Scandinavia, I don’t think there’s anywhere in Europe where you (yes, you) can drive a snowmobile for so long.
There are stops at various refuges along the way, so if you’re in the mood for a vin brulle or coffee, you’re in luck. Better yet, you can drive your snowmobile under the night sky to have dinner at a mountain refuge. That, my friends, is a truly unique experience – I assure you.
And if all that snowmobiling has got you in the mood for driving in winter conditions, Madesimo also plays host to an ice driving school. Lessons are available for those who want to polish their skills and confidence for driving on snow.
4. Oh, and the Skiing
Thought I forgotten about that, didn’t you? With skiing from 3000m, all the way down to the town at 1500m, there’s plenty of it. And since nearly all the slopes have an east-facing aspect, you can ski on great snow well into April.
The bottom part of the mountain has some excellent fast-cruising terrain combined with a healthy dose of beginner slopes, whilst the lift system is modern and easily accessible from the majority of the hotels in town.
And Then, There’s the Canalone
This is a 1000m vertical, ungroomed itinerary run served by a lone cable car. Believe me, it’s something. One of my groups for a trip to Madesimo included the mafia of the British travel press and they all agreed that this was one of the top ten runs in Europe that ought to feature on every skiers’ to-do list.
You Can Do Night Skiing
Madesimo is also a great spot for night skiing. Now normally, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea (although if you have kids, I’m sure they’ll be delighted). But humour me for a second, and try to look at it this way:
Get the gondola shortly after dusk, and go and have a lovely meal on the mountain at the Larici restaurant. Good so far, right?
Then you get to ski down. The slopes are floodlit all the way down to Madesimo as you return to resort. Which means you can ski down at your pace – which may be rather measured – if your dining experience at the Larici was half as good as mine was.
5. And If You’re Done Skiing
There’s much more fun to be had in the snow. Think:
But taking good pictures that you’ll want to look back on for years to come can be hard on a ski getaway. You’re probably using a phone, it’s cold, and all the snow often makes you end up with overexposed pictures.
Not anymore! Simon John Owen is Momentum Ski’s official photographer and Managing Director at Wonderhatch. Photography is Simon’s business, so he knows a thing or two about taking great photos. He has some tips to help your ski photos go from good to great.
Taking a picture on your phone is by far the easiest way when you’re on the go. It’s easy to bring thanks to its size and phone camera specifications are getting better and better. However, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you get the most out of your phone photography.
First things first: Good pics still require good light with phone cameras and light is still the most important aspect of taking a good picture with a phone.
1. Don’t Have a Light-mare
Nothing is worse than standing in the freezing cold with a beautiful snowy mountain background behind you only to find out that your happy smile is too dark to see.
The best time of day to shoot photographs is early morning or late afternoon. During these times, the sun’s at a lower angle so it’s less harsh and gives off a warmer feel. Avoid taking any photos during the middle of the day when the sun is high, as it can flatten images.
If in doubt, override the auto settings and put the flash on – they are pretty puny so you are never really in danger of irreparable overexposure. With portraits, it’ll provide a nice catch of light in the eyes or accentuate the texture of the fabric, which is always a bonus. It also has the added benefit of masking unwanted grain and muddy images associated with low light.
2. Are You Shooting Into the Sun?
Shooting into the sun can be great for that lens flare effect that’s so popular in lifestyle imagery.
But it’ll also have the camera’s metering system considering the image to be too bright, causing it to overcompensate and making images too dark. Counter this by;
Putting flash on override.
Turning on the HDR (High Dynamic Range) option.
If possible, turn your subject around so they are not backlit and have the light source on their face (if a portrait).
3. Three’s the Magic Number
Three’s a crowd, right? Not in photography!
The Rule of Thirds is the best known “rule” of photographic composition and it’ll instantly improve your ski photography. Best of all? It’s straightforward and easy to do.
The basic idea behind the theory is easy. Just imagine breaking your image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine blocks. If you can’t picture this on your screen, most smartphones and cameras have a grid option that you can turn on.
Now, position your subject along the grid intersections or along the lines. This technique creates more balance and an impressive photo.
4. More on Formatting
Whilst it’s eminently possible to crop an image after the shot, to get the best results and maximise the resolution of the sensor, consider the format and composition of the image; will it be better in a square format, panoramic, or another mode?
Remember, panoramic mode can work well in portrait as well as landscape, especially if you find yourself before a mountain peak wondering how you are going to capture the entirety of the giant thing. If you try and do portraits in panorama mode, you’ll need a steady hand and a still subject! Finally, experiment with imaginative cropping – it can make an ordinary image special.
In the example above, with the expansive landscape, trees and mountains, a normal format wouldn’t have done it justice… Panorama mode on.
The most compelling thing about a phone camera is that you’ll most likely have it on you and therefore you’ll have the ability to capture those special moments on the slopes that would’ve been lost only a few years ago.
Don’t be afraid to snap a spontaneous selfie. A selfie stick is a great option, but don’t worry if you don’t have one (or don’t want to bring it with you). To take the perfect ski selfie without a selfie stick, hold your smartphone a full arm’s length away and use the earphone volume control as a shutter release or self-timer. No need to tap the screen with those ski gloves on!
6. Be Creative
There are many different techniques you can employ with a phone camera…
To get the effect in the above photo, you’d need to think about positioning yourself so you’re fairly low get the right angle and capture the mountain reflection in the frozen lake.
To focus in on the details in the frozen lake, simply tap the screen on the foreground. Don’t be afraid to experiment with techniques and ideas, that is the part of the joy!
7. Catch That Skier in Motion
Skiing is a notoriously fast-paced activity. You might not think it’s possible to get an awesome action shot, as most of them just turn out blurry.
Enter burst mode. You can find this setting in most smartphones. Simply hold down the shutter button and multiple photos will be taken in quick succession, 10 per second to be exact!
This means you’re way more likely to catch stunning action shots of you and your fellow ski pals shredding powder.
What To Do With Your Ski Holiday Shots
Now that you’ve taken all these great pictures, it’s time to show them off! Here are a couple of ideas:
Share them on social media, like Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag the place where you took the picture, the friends you were with, or the organisation you were travelling with. Trust me, they love to see your work (and maybe even share it).
If you want to share your pictures online, you can also create a blog post detailing your ski trip, or a slideshow.
Go old school and get them printed to put in a photo album, scrap book, or picture frame.
Or just get a photo book printed. You can put it together online and it’ll be delivered to you.
Turn them into Christmas cards to send to family next winter.
You can get your photo printed on a canvas to hang on your wall, or you can also get pictures printed on mugs, pillows, clothes, phone cases, and even playing cards!
You Tell Us
So it goes to show that the old photographic principles still apply whatever you are shooting with; light, composition and creativity. Adjust your perceptions and have some fun with your phone, it’s an amazing tool…
Now that we’ve provided you with seven tips to taking great ski photos, it’s time for you to give us suggestions. Show us your epic ski photos in the comments and tell us how you took that awesome shot!
If you’re feeling inspired to head to the Alps and get some incredible ski holiday photos of your own, get in touch today and we can put your plans into action.
If you’re not quite ready to book a holiday, sign up to our free email course to learn everything you need to know about booking a ski weekend.
Here’s a quick story about how indoor skiing can boost you and your children’s confidence… and give them a lifetime of passion for the mountains.
Before I moved to the UK at the age of 13, I skied regularly – almost every weekend, 2 hours’ drive from home.
So when I arrived in Brighton, I just couldn’t wait for the Christmas and Easter holidays in order to get out on the slopes in the Alps.
I wasn’t particularly good at cricket or rugby, and football was frowned upon! I loved tennis, but living in Brighton, it always seemed to be too windy or wet to play properly, or to enjoy it.
Then, to my great joy, I discovered there was an indoor ski slope in Newhaven called, for some reason, Borowski. Who would have thought it (I think it was owned by a Mr Borowski)!
I gathered some friends and drove there in excitement – only to find a tiny hall with a 10-metre slope made of some funny sort of “carpet”.
Desperate to show off my skills to my friends I got to the top, but despite pointing my skis downhill, gravity wasn’t helping me much to put in a decent turn.
I was told it was best to put some oily wax on my skis to make them go faster.
Jump turns helped. We had fun, that’s for sure, although a couple of my friends kept falling on the carpet, not only bruising themselves but even dislocating fingers!
What I realised back then was that dry slopes showed up your skills and that’s what ski instructors are great at. They can show you how to turn in slow motion, and a good skier can always put in some nice turns (not jump turns) on a dry slope.
Wind the clock forward a few years and I had just completed my first ski season. We decided to have a staff reunion back in London and the chalet girls had this genius idea to meet up in East London’s deepest, darkest corner…
So we all met at Chalet Edelweiss in the Beckton Alps – an outdoor ski slope. Another long carpet. Say no more!!! As it happens, it closed down in 2001 as it was discovered the slope was on top of a toxic spoil heap!
Wind the clock forward almost 20 years, and when my eldest daughter Emilia was eight or nine, I was running out of things to do during the rainy weekends.
One of Momentum Ski’s principal partners are Snow+Rock and they told me they had opened a shop in the Hemel Hempstead Ski Centre. I was curious enough to take Emilia with me to try the indoor ski slope there – this time with snow, albeit man-made!
There was a good rental shop, and before I knew it we found ourselves walking into what felt like an indoor fridge. Skiing on “real” snow! Emilia loved it and we had a great morning together.
Wind the clock forward another 10 years – and I heard about Chel-Ski opening just around the corner from our London office in Fulham. Ben Wray, the proprietor, invited me to come and try it out. I wasn’t really convinced about the idea of a rolling carpet – but now, with three kids to my name, I thought it worthwhile to have a look.
What amazed me was the quality of the rental equipment, the friendliness of the ski instructors and the lovely Alpine Bar upstairs – right next door to Clip ‘n’ Climb climbing arena, a no-brainer for families.
I got on the slope and the carpet started moving. I started snow-ploughing, just to get comfortable with the carpet movements – and then moved on to parallel turns. Before I knew it I was sweating; believe it or not, 20 minutes of this is almost the equivalent of 20 kms on the mountain!
Introducing the 2016/2017 Winter Season at Chel-Ski - YouTube
If you live in London, Chel-Ski is London’s largest indoor ski centre offering the very best hi-tech slopes. A fun, safe and controlled environment where you can learn to ski or snowboard as well as perfect existing skills.
This is something that can benefit all skiers, from those who are still to try on ski boots for the first time to those training for the next Olympics!
So Why Chel-Ski?
They cater for all abilities and skiing on a large rotating platform is similar to running on a treadmill.
It’s constant skiing, without lift queues and allows their ski instructors to teach you in real time, as well as helping you building your stamina, retain movements at a faster rate and ultimately help you to build your muscle memory.
Their slope can be adjusted in both speed and gradient allowing you to train at a suitable level. Whilst snow is a much more forgiving surface, mat demands accuracy, which helps your technique longer term. Bad habits are highlighted very quickly on a mat.
There is also a large mirror in front of each slope which allows you to see yourself as you train and to analyse your own technique as you ski. And what’s more you can burn a lot of calories during each session and it’s a lot more fun than running on a treadmill!
Last but not least, Chel-Ski have a great Alpine-style bar and restaurant serving delicious raclettes with the proper charcuterie salad and of course the must have “gherkins”!
Oh, and where do you go if you don’t live in London?
Heidi, one of the team here at Momentum Ski, has skied and raced on nearly all of the artificial slopes the UK has to offer. Here is her guide:
Around the time that grass skiing was invented (which incidentally is the sport which introduced my parents to each other!), the world’s first permanent dry ski slope opened in Torquay in October 1963.
There had been plenty of temporary slopes constructed prior to this, including one in Piccadilly Circus in the 1950s (!), but Torquay offered a year-round solution to those who wanted to ski in the summer, when no snow was on offer.
Of course, in the UK you can ski on real snow in Scotland, the Pennines and the Lake District during the winter, however, the seasons can be only a couple of weeks, if not days long, due to the reliance on good snowfall.
Dry Slopes in the UK
Following the opening of Torquay, dry slopes sprung up all over the British Isles, with over 120 in operation at the peak of their popularity, including the one at Beckton. With affordable lessons and equipment rental available, they helped make skiing much more accessible to the masses.
Now around half of those 120 remain in operation and some of the best – which I can vouch for – are the dry slopes at Hillend in Edinburgh (complete with a chairlift!), at Rossendale, Silksworth (near Sunderland) and Pendle in the North (the latter of which is where Olympian Dave Ryding learnt to ski), Stoke, Swadlincote and Norwich further south and Pontypool and Llandudno in Wales.
This decline in dry slopes is no doubt partly due to the opening of indoor ski centres, with artificial snow unsurprisingly providing a more similar experience to skiing in the alps than plastic bristles, which I often describe to people as skiing on toothbrushes! They also mean you can escape poor weather, with no rain forecast indoors.
A Guide to Indoor Slopes (& Beyond!)
There are now 6 indoor snow centres within the UK. In addition to the aforementioned The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, which replaced the old dry ski slope there, Snozone have centres in Milton Keynes and Castleford, Yorkshire within the Xscape entertainment centres where you can also try your hand at bowling, golf, climbing, trampolining or catch a film, go shopping and eat at one of the many restaurants. You can even try indoor skydiving at the Milton Keynes centre!
In Scotland there’s a similar set-up at Snow Factor, near Glasgow; in Manchester, opposite the Trafford Centre, there’s Chill Factore; whilst in Tamworth, near Birmingham, there’s Snowdome.
And there are plans for more to open in the future including in Swindon, Bristol and Sheffield, replacing the infamous Sheffield Ski Village, which is where I learnt to ski alongside a raft of Olympians, but which sadly closed down following a series of arson attacks.
Elsewhere in the world, you can ski and board indoors at locations as far-flung as China, where the world’s largest indoor ski resort is located, Brazil, Egypt, Japan, New Zealand and Dubai, where the indoor chairlift whisks you over a penguin enclosure! In the Netherlands, you can even watch a FIS World Cup race at the centre in Landgraaf.
With all the centres offering lessons, not only are they a great place to get to grips with the basics before heading out to the mountains, they also host freestyle and race training sessions for budding competitors of all ages, so if you or your kids are keen to learn new skills and get involved in competitions, the opportunity is right on your doorstep, without a mountain in sight!
The Moral of the Story
So, the moral of the story is this: whilst none of the above can replace the mountain experience, if you’ve never put skis on before, this experience will save you faffing around for your first two precious days on the mountain getting familiar with your equipment and the feel of skiing. Then you can move on to a nice green run rather than a moving carpet nursery slope to make the most of your ski school time.