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Don't follow the crowd

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

3 skiiers walking towards the ski slopes

To say I am a latecomer to skiing is an understatement as I started 6 years ago aged 45. My reasons for starting were partly selfish, as my wife and I discussed how we could keep our kids wanting to come on holiday with us when they were older and had the option to travel with friends. After much deliberation and recommendations from friends, we were told skiing was the answer. We threw ourselves into the deep end and booked a seven-day trip to Val Thorens.

Now, when you have never skied before, choosing a destination is a daunting task so I went on recommendations for beginners and somewhere which was snow-sure. Before the holiday I wanted to be prepared so I decided to book some lessons at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. Not only did The Snow Centre get me used to the snow and being on skis, but it also got me used to queueing!

We fell in love with skiing straight away - the freedom, the fresh air, food, on-slope bars and restaurants and being together, to name but a few reasons. But the crowded slopes and long queues were less enjoyable and the holiday was expensive, especially when you look at the cost of food and drink.

Since then, we have travelled to several resorts, including Avoriaz and Chamonix. Although we have had a fantastic time, we have faced similar issues around queues, crowded slopes and expensive restaurants and bars. Is there another way? Well, there is! With nearly 4,000 ski resorts in Europe, there is a tremendous amount of choice, and the good news is, there are a number which are not crowded, good value and snow sure.

Over the last four years, we have concentrated on these resorts, increasing our obsession even more. If you do an internet image search on ‘ski slopes’, you will be faced with photos of empty slopes, perfect snow-laden pistes and beautiful blue skies.

We can’t always guarantee the blue sky, but we have discovered the others are achievable, even in high season periods such as February half term and Easter. Naturally, with less crowded slopes, the restaurants and bars are less busy too and seem to be better value. With nearly 4,000 ski resorts in Europe, we’re spoilt for choice - so don’t follow the crowd; get what you desire.

Matt Purser

Director, SkiGems

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