first ski trip with Crystal ski holidays

 

Walking through Manchester City Centre the other day, on my way to meet my beautiful sister for a catch up, the sun was shining, the streets were busy with the usual hustle and bustle… and all I could think about was how much I missed… skiing.

I know, pretty random? But I did! I was just pining for it.

Let’s rewind back to last November, when Crystal Ski organised a bloggers’ taster ski lesson at the Chill Factore at Trafford. A group of us took to the (very baby) slope for an hour to have a go on the snow. The hour just wasn’t enough, my enthusiasm had been ignited and thankfully, all my wishes came true a few weeks later as I had miraculously managed to win a Fantastic Four trip to the Haute, Savoie, France.

And here begin’ith my love story…

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, well skiing wasn’t all too popular over there, for obvious reasons. Moving back to England though, it seemed to be ‘the’ thing to do with the family. I was always intrigued by those who were off to hit the slopes for a weekend, to join their parents in the Alps for a week, to make the most of the season at winter. I had no idea what they did when they got there, couldn’t really understand the appeal of dedicating a holiday to one sport and something that always stopped me from pressing the booking button… it seemed to be the pastime of only the affluent among us.

Knowing I was finally about to embark on this ‘ski’ journey, well I was pumped. And scared, of course. I knew nothing about what we were about to do, and people trying to reassure me… well they were quite frankly making things worse!

“Make sure you don’t put the GoPro on your helmet, it can crack your skull if you fall”

Nice.

“Try and stay on the route, you don’t want to fall into a pile of rocks off the mountain.”

For real?!?

“When you get on the lift, make sure to pull the bar down in time, you don’t want to fall off”

Like I’m not scared of heights enough as it is.

But one of the scariest things I heard out of them ALL…

“Have you checked whether there’s any snow??”

I’m sorry… WHAT.

?!?!?!?

I remember laughing at first when my friend asked me that, she looked at me quizzically at which point my tone turned to a sort of “Oh wait you were serious? I genuinely have to check whether there’s snow?!?”

I mean, it definitely hit home at that point that I had no clue what I was doing. But luckily, Crystal Ski Holidays had sorted everything else, I prayed that they too were taking care of the snow situation.

As we flew over Geneva, we passed snow topped mountains, I thought to myself, OK that’s better than nothing, but I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed by the large proportion of the land looking pretty normal.

 

 

A few hours later and the bus started to meander up the mountain path towards our resort in Flaine – French side of Alps, not Swiss – Paige, our rep warned us to stay awake and keep our eyes on the view…

There was snow.

EVERYWHERE.

 

Crystal ski holidays Flaine resort after snowfall

 

We were in a white paradise, I can’t describe it in any other way. It was still snowing too. We’d heard that we were incredibly fortunate as it had been fairly poor on the ‘dump’ front over the past few weeks and the snow was set to continue.

Over the next seven days, my team and I learned how to ski – we didn’t waste a single day! We came here to ski and that is exactly what we intended on doing with our time. I wrote soon after a collection of our top tips from the trip, if you’re a first timer like us it’s definitely worth a read 🙂

 

 

We tried a group lesson, changed to private (more on that later) and we put in time on the appropriate slopes to practice.

We found a local favourite for lunch, tried new places for dinner, sometimes opting to stay in and make use of the apartment facilities (which were fab, more on that later too), to cook at home.

We started and ended the trip at one of the fancier restaurants, L’Ancolie, celebrating the start and end of what had been a truly memorable holiday.

 

 

I know, I say that about a lot of my holidays!

But you know as well as I do that each one is special in its own way. When I return from places such as Myanmar, Indonesia, Barcelona etc… they are all destinations that I do genuinely want to return to, but it wouldn’t be something I would look at doing a year or so later, there are so many other places in the world I’ve yet to see!

Whereas skiing? Yes, this is definitely a type of holiday that requires yearly attention. A kind of holiday which really brings everyone together. A kind of place where even though you can go off and do your own thing for a few hours, there’s always the apres slope meetup, evening times to chill out and fun-fuelled sessions throughout.

It’s very much a family thing too, I was mesmerised by the number of tiny tots that were at ski school, dressed head to toe in onesies, tiny skis strapped on, looking tres adorable! And they were usually pretty good too (I can’t even count the number of times a little’un half my size whizzed past me!).

We all managed to invent different ways of falling, on and off camera, all equally as funny as the next. I think one of the funniest ski facts I came to realise, is even when I thought I was FLYING down a slope… watching it back on the camera… wow that was totally not the case! Can’t wait to share some of these crazy videos of me sauntering down a flattish-slope-that-felt-as-steep-as-a-cliff.

On our final day, my skiing had improved, my confidence was boosted but I wasn’t quite at the right ability to hit the mega slopes. The weather that day, well it was perfect. The sun was beaming down on us as we sat at a new lunch spot on the side of the mountain, with outdoor seating looking down at the view. We were sat stripped down to our t-shirts, sunglasses on, enjoying each others company and planning our final afternoon. G and Dave were going to head up to a new blue and the rest of us decided we were braving the big bubble lift right to the highest point, not to ski down! just to have a nosey.

We walked out, past the café, seating area and out into the open, with Mont Blanc right in front of us.

 

looking out at Mont Blanc Flaine Ski resort crystal ski holidays

 

Look at that. Doesn’t it make you want to be there? I was there and I still look at it like it’s not real.

What a beautiful thing nature is. From the snow beneath us, to the birds around and the mountains in front. It’s a sight like I’ve never seen before. Sitting there on a pile of snow, with my loved ones, I felt very blessed, as did we all actually. It was the perfect way to end our trip, a real vision to fill us all with an affinity to return.

We may not have all got to the same ski level, but hey everyone is different. As a group of six, four complete beginners, one mid, one professional – we all managed to have an absolute blast together on and off the slopes.

Oh gosh maybe writing this wasn’t such a good idea, I miss it even more now.

 

 

*** Massive thanks to Crystal Ski Holidays for giving us the opportunity to experience the wonderful world of skiing ***

 

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getting-into-winter-with-crystal-ski-holidays

 

This time of year is always bittersweet. I find it hard to part ways with the summer months, generally, they’re the ones that we all look forward to, no? When I think of travel and holidays, I conjure up images of sunshine, warm waters, sandy beaches, lonely hammocks swaying in between palm trees. I imagine flip flops and sunglasses, ice cold drinks and unhealthy poolside meals.

Then September hits and before you know it the leaves have fallen and the rain is beating down reminding us of how shortlived those sunny dreams actually are.

Whilst I do find myself mourning for the long sunny days, I do secretly look forward to the winter months too. My favourite thing by far about winter is SNOW. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Saudi Arabia and the lowest temperature we ever faced was around 14 degrees. One of my most memorable citybreaks was our trip to Oslo back in January 2015 and I’m convinced we all enjoyed it so much more because we were surrounded by glistening white, fluffy snow.

So when Crystal Ski Holidays invited me to trial out a ski lesson at the Chill Factore last week, I was super ecstatic!! Ever since that trip to Norway, Mo and I have talked endlessly about booking a ski holiday, but with one thing after another cropping up, we just haven’t had the chance – yet.

I’ll be honest, my hand eye coordination is kind of shocking. I can just about stay upright at the best of times, never mind with skis on. But I didn’t care because skis mean snow. Lots and lots of white, super soft SNOW. (Are you getting how much I love it yet?)

I arrived half an hour late to the Chill Factore, thanks to the glorious traffic Manchester has decided to bestow upon us this festive season, but luckily I was just in time for the lesson. I grabbed my ski jacket, pants, asked a few naĂŻve questions (i.e. will it be cold) and then the kind staff at the ski boots desk sorted out my fancy footwear (wow, skis and ski boots are heavy!?)

Rob, our instructor, led us out onto the nursery slopes and worked us through the basics. We learnt how to put on skis, (which is harder than it sounds), walk with them, slide down, stop – all the essentials you would need to eventually get you on to the slopes.

 

 

I never fully understood before, how people could book a dedicated ski holiday and spend all their time outside actually skiing, but I definitely saw the appeal after our taster. The hour session flew by and I was quite sad to leave. I could have easily stayed and carried on for at least a few more hours. I hardly felt the cold and I was itching to learn more.

I spoke to Rob after the session, and he advised that within 3 lessons most beginners can get themselves onto the main slope – not right to the top, but at least half way. The most popular bookings at Chillfactore are for the taster days, where you can spend six hours learning pretty much all you need to know to get you using the lifts and out on your own, a perfect idea pre-holiday to get you ready and in the mood.

 

 

After a quick wardrobe change, we were back at the upstairs sports bar looking out over the main slope. I suppose you can’t really expect a ski taster without trialling out some of the apres-ski vibe aswell. Us bloggers all convened around a couple of tables where we exchanged stories over an impressive buffet spread and drinks. The spirit of the evening was ‘Get More Winter,’ about how Crystal can help you enjoy all aspects of a winter holiday, not just the skiing (although the skiing plays a big part 🙂 ). There’s so much more to a winter resort holiday, theres the chalets, the food, the pools, so many more luxuries await!

The team from Crystal Ski holidays were excellent hosts, and with my newfound interest in shooping down mountains, I pestered them for tips. Kirsty named Whistler Canada as her favourite ski spot in the world, a place she said where everything was evolved around providing the best possible visitor experience.

 

 

But alas for those of us that cant get ourselves over to the other side of the Atlantic there are a plethora of European cities that can offer some top alternatives. My eye is still on Norway if I’m honest, after visiting the ski museum at Holmenkollen it was evident that skiing has been close to Norwegians hearts for centuries. As my Fantastic Four group and I had such a blast the last time we were there, I can’t think of a more perfect place for us beginners to catch the ski bug.

 

*** Thank you to Crystal Ski Holidays for hosting us at the Chill Factore that night and for finally introducing me to the world of skiing. I met some great bloggers too – Travelling Tom, Bambling of Nafy, Little Babble, Gabriela Mcr and Sindy Kai ***

 

Are you a fan of skiing? Where would you recommend I go for my first ever ski trip??

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Visiting Manchester as a group and wanting to try something fun? Or maybe you’re looking to host a party with a twist? Try one of these places on for size:

Chill Factor-e – Indoor Skiing, snowboarding

Ok, so it’s not the real thing, but its just as good as. As a complete beginner with no hand-feet-brain coordination, I knew when I attempted to snowboard that it would be a disaster, but I didn’t anticipate how much fun it would be learning. Chill Factor-E, near the Trafford Centre, is the UK’s longest indoor skiing and snowboarding slope, as well as offering other snow related activities. View Post

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