Group Ski Holidays: How to Plan
When you plan a group ski holiday, it can be like herding kittens.
You try to rally your friends and family with a text or email. Some will answer immediately and some much later (usually the day after you have booked your holiday).
There will also be the usual debates on which resort to go to, what time of year, catered vs self catered and, of course, budget.
All these contributing factors can make it pretty stressful being the designated lead booker. So to avoid any last minute panics, best to start the ball rolling early. After all, there's no time like the present!
To make things a bit easier for you, here are some of our Top Tips for planning a successful group ski holiday.
Being the lead booker means that you have to take charge. Too many ideas floating around the group can prolong the process and make things overly-complicated.
So do all your research before approaching the group. Speaking to a few holiday providers can give you two or three solid options you can put forward to your friends and family.
Fewer options will make it easier for them to decide if they want to come or not. More options than this and making a decision may become impossible!
What kind of property
You need to make the decision for the group on this one. Giving the group too much information can make life very difficult. The wrestling match between the property close to the pub and the one with a sauna can take up valuable time.
There is also the choice of going for a catered or self-catered property. It may be best for a group of beginners to go for a catered property, where they will be looked after by hosts. While a group with kids may be suited to a self catered property for the flexibility it brings.
Luckily we've put together a Guide to Catered vs. Self Catered Accommodation to help you choose between the two, and don't forget the little extras that can make life that bit easier before you arrive!
What time of year?
The time of year you choose can make a big difference to your holiday experience. Do you want a guaranteed white Christmas? Or do you want a week of slush bashing in April, with longer days to enjoy apres drinks in the sun?
Take a look at our guide to the Best Times to Go Skiing in the French Alps, so you can decide when is best for you and your group.
Choose the right resort
Choosing a resort is also very important and one of the major deciding factors of where you choose will be the skill level of your group.
Beginners won't want to go somewhere where it's difficult to get back to the resort (or have nothing to do on a rest day), while advanced skiers and snowboarders won't want a resort full of green runs.
So choosing a resort with a good mix of pistes, a good selection of bars, restaurants and activities on and off the piste, will mean the whole group can make the most of their holiday.
Get the money!
Most holiday companies will want a deposit to secure your booking, therefore you need to know who is serious about this holiday. Set a deadline for your friends and family to commit to, so you can ask for their deposit when it comes to booking.
You also need to let them know when the final balance payment is due, as you wont want to be covering anyone's debt. This will usually be 8 to 10 weeks before your holiday start date, so you can send some friendly reminders to your group.
Pre-arrange ski or snowboard lessons
Getting lessons from a more experienced friend or partner is generally a bad idea. Arguments can ensue, causing stress for everyone in the group.
Instead, best to ask your holiday provider who they recommend for ski and snowboard lessons. You can book lessons as part of a group with others of a similar level, or you can go with private individual lessons to have one on one time with an instructor. You can also book guided off-piste sessions to find those secret spots on powder days!
We are big believers that anyone can benefit from lessons, from first timers to advanced shredders. And learning to ski as an adult doesn't have to be scary.
To reduce the faff factor on your first morning, order your lift passes before you arrive.
They will be handed to you on arrival, meaning that you won't have to queue up at the lift pass office with everyone else. This is especially useful when you have lessons booked early on your first morning so that you can head straight up the mountain.
Less stress all round.
How to get there
Should you fly or drive to your mountain destination? How you arrive in resort all depends on the makeup of your group and what you want to bring with you. Some ski resorts are fairly easy to drive to, while some are just a short transfer from an airport.
We've written a handy guide to help you decide whether you fly or drive. Or you can split in to two groups and do a Top Gear style race, pitching your car against the plane!
Organise childcare ahead of time
Some groups can consist of multiple generations of the same family. This really works for many people, as they take it in turns to look after the kids. But sometimes childcare is essential for everyone to enjoy their holiday.
This really needs to be booked well in advance, as childcare providers are very busy during the winter, especially in peak weeks. Ask your holiday provider for recommendations when you book.
Make a checklist
There is always one isn't there? The person that forgot to buy insurance, pack enough pants or leaves their passport at home.
The weeks leading up to a holiday can be pretty busy, so important things can be forgotten. It might seem a bit like nannying your group, but emailing them a list of things to bring and get organised before your holiday can save you a lot of hassle. Be sure to include at least:
- Ski/Snowboard equipment hire
- Socks and pants
- Thermal layers
- Ski / Snowboard jacket and trousers
- Suitable footwear (top tip: high heels don't work on snow and ice)
If you are the one who's been tasked with planning a group ski holiday, these tips should help you get organised. There is a lot to consider, but with the right group of like minded friends, your holiday will be fantastic.
One last tip: With the amazing snow across the Alps last winter, accommodation options are already getting booked up for next winter. Don't miss out - get the ball rolling as soon as possible!