How to plan your first ski trip

If your group includes children, find a resort with a daycare centre or a ski school for children.
If your group includes children, find a resort with a daycare centre or a ski school for children. PHOTO: ASPEN SNOWMASS

If you have never taken a skifocused vacation, you may be missing out on one of wintertime's most fun diversions, says Ms Nadine Davidson, a travel planner with Los Angeles travel agency TravelStore, which specialises in ski trips.

"Skiing is an opportunity to be immersed in a beautiful snowy environment," she adds, "and you don't have to be a die-hard skier to enjoy a ski getaway."

She shares her advice on planning a first-time ski trip:

Budget wisely

Although ski vacations can accommodate a range of budgets, travellers should be aware that trips usually involve paying for lift tickets, which cost about US$100 (S$145) a day at many ski resorts in the United States, as well as equipment rental, which runs from US$75 to US$100 daily.

Novice skiers should also sign up for a few lessons to learn how to ski safely - these cost about US$50 an hour for group lessons and US$100 or more for private sessions.

Factor in terrain and crowds

For beginners, a successful ski getaway means picking a resort with manageable terrain and minimal crowds because packed slopes can be daunting for newcomers.

Aspen, Colorado, for example, is not the ideal destination for inexperienced skiers because Aspen Mountain is full of challenging terrain.

And although an area such as Mammoth Mountain in California has plenty of beginner terrain, it is usually crowded, whereas June Mountain, about 30 minutes away, sees fewer skiers but also has gentle terrain.

New skiers could also buy an allinclusive ski trip from a reliable ski operator such as Ski.com; these trips take into consideration factors that are relevant to novices.

Consider your group

When choosing a ski destination, the needs of your fellow travellers matter. If children are in tow, for example, you will probably want a resort with a daycare centre or a ski school for children.

Also, if you are with young children or older travellers, it is smart to pick a resort where the walk from the resort to the ski area is no more than five minutes.

"Kids and older skiers may find it challenging to carry bulky and heavy ski equipment too far," Ms Davidson says.

Plan alternative activities

You may plan your ski vacation months in advance, but you will not know what the conditions at your destination will be until just before your trip. "Some areas like Whistler in Canada can go from great snow one day to rain the next, which means that skiing is out,"Ms Davidson says.

To avoid disappointment, have non-skiing activities planned as a back-up, such as snow-mobiling, dog-sledding and ice-skating. Also, some popular destinations have a vibrant cultural scene.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 25, 2016, with the headline 'How to plan your first ski trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe