I feel I should start with a minor confession – my first skiing experience was actually when I was a toddler, rather than an adult. My parents took me to the Scottish ski area of Glencoe for the day and attempted to put long sticks on the feet of a very confused child. Ultimately, the experience culminated in tears and being run over by an overly enthusiastic boy in a toboggan. After this disaster, I was understandably uninterested in repeating the affair with future ski trips.
Years later as an adult, my fiancé Sam took me to Austria for a few days with the intention of teaching me how to ski and convincing me that, contrary to my toddler trauma, it can actually be a fun and rewarding activity. After a couple more of these trips, I was starting to feel fairly confident with my ability and – shock, horror – to really enjoy myself.
I’m not amazing, but I can tottle down blue runs without losing control completely. So, when the chance came to spend a week at La Plagne with Ski Beat, I was excited at having the opportunity to hone what I had already learned with a longer period of skiing.
We arrived at our chalet in the middle of a blizzard and were greeted by our friendly Ski Beat chalet hosts, Sam and Jenna. Chalet Bartavelle is exactly what I imagine when I think of a classic winter wonderland homestead – open log fire, a sauna, incredible views and everything being made of wood. Each room has its own en suite bathroom and balcony, and every night bar the staff’s one night off, we were supplied with a delicious three-course meal along with a constant flow of wine and conversation with our fellow guests and our knowledgeable hosts.
First things first – rentals. We used the services of Skiset’s Boudu Ski Hire where we tried out the latest thing in ski footwear technology – a foot scanner! On my last two ski trips, I found my boots to be too narrow for my wide feet, leading to painful arches. With this scanner, the assistant was able to give me boots that were perfectly fitted.
We began our trip by going on a guided tour of the resort with Sylvain from Oxygene Ski School. Luckily my vague intermediate standard wasn’t a problem for Sylvain, who was happy to adjust the runs included in the tour to match my ability and still provide challenging sections for those with more experience.
Four hours of skiing is no small feat for a relative novice, but with Sylvain’s help I was able to conquer a few red runs along the way. I was sceptical about getting La Plagne’s Paradiski pass that includes all the lifts at Les Arcs too, but I found that the vast number of blue runs and easier reds available in La Plagne meant I could ski everywhere really.
As my confidence grew in the coming days, we took our trip out to Les Arcs with the aim of getting to the highest point in the resort. The waiting time for chairlifts and gondolas was minimal and we were able to find our goal with the help of La Plagne’s app, YUGE.
Off the slopes there’s a plethora of exciting activities to be enjoyed after a hard day’s skiing at La Plagne. We were lucky enough to be able to try out the resort’s famous Olympic Bobsleigh Track; nothing says “fun” like four adults screaming in terror while racing down an ice slide at 80kph!
After a few days I was starting to feel the aches and pains familiar to most experienced skiers. Fortunately, MassageMe was there to help, providing skiers with a wide range of massages to help relax those affected muscles. I can also highly recommend the resort’s Superluge experience (in essence tobogganing down a blue run with a guide), which I swear I was much better at than I will ever be at skiing!
When I think back to that trampled, red-faced child on skis, I would never have imagined her whizzing down a red confidently. Despite being nowhere near 2020 Olympics standard, I found I was able to see as much of La Plagne as anyone else. Even if I had been a complete beginner, there were so many options for easy runs all over the resort and plenty of après-ski activities to keep non-skiers happy. For learning or improving skiers like me, La Plagne is a perfect playground to perfect your skills.
A week’s fully hosted ski holiday to the vast La Plagne ski area, part of the 425km of pistes that make up the Paradiski region, costs from £549pp. The price includes return Gatwick flights (Manchester + £20), transfers, 7 nights’ accommodation in a homely, hosted chalet, with cooked breakfast, homemade afternoon cakes and tea, 3-course evening meals with wine (6 nights) and the services of a friendly chalet host.
A week’s stay at the Chalet Bartavelle costs from £659pp. Contact Ski Beat on 01273 855100, www.skibeat.co.uk