You can take the girl from the beach………but only if you drop her off on a snow covered mountain!
‘Don’t be jealous but I’m going to the Maldives next week’ mentions my friend Nicole as we last spoke, my response? ‘Oh hun, I’m actually not because I’m going skiing tomorrow’. Skis over a snorkel was choice I never thought possible from me! Though the escape to warmer climates and the option of dipping my toe into the ocean might be appealing during these icy London months what genuinely appealed more to me was the idea of gazing at clear blue skies above snow rather than the sea and whilst wetting my piste appetite last year, the one trip I was the most excited about for 2019 was my short and sweet slope escape to Meribel.
When it comes to booking a ski trip there’s a lot more ground work that needs to put in than that a regular holiday, it’s not a simple case of just booking the flights and your accommodation there’s the lengthy airport transfers, equipment hire (and storage during), lift passes, slope navigation, potential lessons and of course meals, all of which require some level of pre-planning to maximize your time on the slopes themselves. It can all be quite overwhelming, especially for first time however, it needn’t be. I recently spent a few days in Meribel, France within a week’s package offered by Ski Total.
If you are travelling to Meribel in Winter you are there for the sport, whether skiing or boarding, during the snow covered months the town serves a ‘purpose of powder’ and everything else is simply a bonus! Booking with the tour operator Ski Total meant that from arrival I was set, the price of the stay includes flights, accommodation, shared transfers and all meals including wine at dinner. The additional costs to the trip was the ski rental hire, which was managed for us by Ski Set and lift passes, which we were able to buy on our first day skiing.
Meribel , as a destination is quite the hotspot when it comes to the cream of the crop for European resorts, it offers everything you could ask for whilst on a ski break and for everyone, regardless of your age, sex, ability and interests.
What I personally loved about Meribel was the amazing variation when it came to the slopes themselves. Located within the largest ski resort in Europe, It’s split between the famous three valleys of Meribel, Courchevelle and Val Thorens . So more than anywhere else in the world you are spoiled for choice no matter your level of experience. When it came to my own ability I was still very much a beginner when I traveled to Meribel and having only skied once before (read all about me learning to ski at 30 here) I was so relieved to see that there was a good amount of green runs for me to tackle on arrival. After the second full day on the slopes I was even able to move on to a few blues but I was more than comfortable and in fact, far happier to race down the greens rather than heavily concentrate my way down the steeper hills!
If we’re sticking to my own ski level, the resort really was impressive because not only was there a lot of green runs to keep me occupied from the first to last ski lift, there was also so much variation when it came to the physical routes themselves. One minute I was whooshing down from the highest peak on a wide run with views of mountains the next I was navigating my way through the hidden forest on narrower cliff edge slopes. Then when nature had shown off all it could there’s some fun assault courses which I wizzed through smiling from ear to ear, whether I was ducking through a tunnel or jumping off blocks these fun (probably aimed at children!) runs were definitely my favorites!
As part of our Ski Total package we stayed at Hotel Chalet Alba which was perfectly located and wonderfully run. Like most of the accommodation in Meribel the hotel is catered to those who are in town to see far more of the slopes than the insides of their hotel room! Very basic but warm rooms, some with balconies looking out towards the slopes, a fire-lit common area/bar and a dining room which, as well as unlimited wine being included at dinner, served a hearty and varied breakfast and evening buffet.
The staff at the hotel are young, full of energy and happy to chat you through their own slope experiences whilst topping up your morning coffee or evening tipple! The atmosphere is very relaxed and the apart from a short walk across the road it’s practically ski in, ski out accommodation.
The three Valleys are world famous for their ‘happening’ Apres-Ski and let me tell you now, when it comes to Meribel, it’ll serve you very well to believe the hype! With just a couple of days in town we managed to hit the two most popular bars, La Follie Douce and Rond point.
La Follie Douce is regarded as one of the best Apres Ski bars in the world and though I haven’t the longest list of slope bars to compare it to the atmosphere of the few hours I did spend there sold it to me as gospel! The best way for me to describe the place would be to regard it as the frozen version of Nikki Beach. A day time party scene that is very aware of it’s afternoon time restrictions and therefore goes WILD from first serve. You ski into the party and ski yourself back down the slopes after your table dancing and cider swigging (in moderation of course!) is complete.
Ronde Point was a particularly great hang out for us as it was conveniently located just a few staggers away from our Hotel Chalet Alba accommodation. A little less extravagant than Follie but also offering the enviable atmosphere of like-minded skiers and boarders signing off the slopes for the day with live music and vin chaud. There’s something quite comical about trying to bust a move and a groove in ski boots but it sure is fun to take a moment and watch on as the outdoor crowd gets livelier by the minute! The bar also features a slide down to the toilet which is a super fun gimmick but also a practical godsend, those of you who have walked down a flight of stairs in ski boots will relate to this!
When it comes to booking the perfect ski trip the company really is everything and discovering the three valleys was, in fact, a job shared by three when it came to this particular trip. I traveled with Macca from An Adventurous World and Sophie from Sophie’s Suitcase and it was sharing the experience with them that made what would have been a great trip regardless and epic one! Whether we were staging our own karaoke nights or just simply cheerleading each other down the slopes whilst we all found our groove, it was a few days spent with a smile wider than I thought possible to share with strangers!
This trip was a hosted press trip with Ski Total
Ski Total (www.skitotal.com / 01483 791 935) is offering seven nights at the four-diamond plus Chalet Hotel Alba in Méribel, France from £721 per person. Price includes flights, resort transfers and chalet catered accommodation with wine. For more information on visiting Méribel, go towww.meribel.net and to book lessons or guides, go to www.esf-meribel.com.