When we arrived on our Mark Warner holiday in Val d'Isere, I felt an equal measure of nervousness and excitement at the prospect of getting on real snow for the first time. It was lovely to meet Veronica from Evolution 2 ski school at the Mark Warner welcome meeting. We'd already connected by email and she arranged for Lewis, Holly and me to have lessons in the 'learn 2 turn' group. Justin was really keen on snowboarding for our holiday so was grouped with three other boarders, and was probably a little relieved that he didn't have to babysit me on the slopes!
Evolution 2 ski school are really receptive on email to answer any questions or queries you might have and can arrange lift passes for your party before you arrive.
Lift pass price from Evolution 2 ski school (correct as of Jan 2017)
If you have booked for the week with Evolution 2 in either Petit Yeti and Yeti 1 (for the kids), Learn 2 Turn and Perfecting Parallels Green (for the adults) or Rookie (for snowboard), then you are eligible for the special beginner lift pass.
- This is a special rate of only 139€ for 6 days.
You can arrange ski equipment hire through Mark Warner prior to your visit so all you need to do is pop into the hire shop next door to the hotel when you arrive and pick up all your gear. It's all really easy with no stress because everything is sorted out beforehand.
Ski & Equipment hire Mark Warner Val d'Isere ski resort (correct as of jan 2017)
- Standard £75
- Sport £100
- Superior £130
- Sport £58
- Superior £80
- Sport board £100
- Superior board £130
- Superior boots £78
Kid's pack (includes skis, boots, and helmet):
- Child (3-6) £78
- Child (7-12) £85
We had a day of settling in when we arrived and were up bright and early the following day to get all of our kit on and take the short walk across the square to the lesson meeting point. We chose to take the morning lessons from 9am-12pm this meant we could practice skiing on our own in the afternoons and then collect Rose from childcare and take her out for a couple of hours to play in the snow.
I was so relieved to find that we were in a group with another family of four who had never skied before, not even on the dry ski slope! The instructor was absolutely lovely and promised us all we'd be skiing by the end of the holiday.
We shall see, I thought, we shall see...
First up are the nursery slopes, which to a beginner, do not look like nursery slopes at all, but I can assure you that once on them it is not as daunting as it looks. The slopes are wide with a gentle incline and a really good place to start if you're feeling nervous. The first thing to master is walking sideways in your skis up the mountain. Not as easy as it sounds when you have things that feel totally alien strapped to your feet. It is just one of those things you get the hang of quickly, even if you do look like a newborn Bambi on ice to begin with!
Next, we had to brave the button lift. If you follow me on social media then you will know I made a 'bit of a show' of myself at our practice lesson on the dry ski slopes. Imagine me: dragged, legs akimbo while onlookers stared half amused half horrified at the sight of me flailing around in a desperate bid to right myself.
Yes, in hindsight it was quite funny but I still had a real and genuine fear of the button lift on the actual real slopes. I needn't have worried because there are people at the bottom of all the lifts to help you on, and explain not to sit down (my mistake before) you are only to perch your bottom lightly and let the seat transport you to where you want to go; gliding off the other end as gracefully as you can manage.
And I didn't fall or get dragged off that button lift once. Hurrah!
By the end of our lesson on day one, we had progressed from aforementioned button lift to cable car ride up the mountain. Seriously exciting stuff. And once you're up there, amid the snowy topped mountains, about to ski down your first ever green run, well, it really is one of those pinch yourself moments.
It was on that first day that I thought: I bloody love this.
I knew the children would progress quicker than me. Lewis and Holly were natural skiers, they are at that age where nothing scares them and it was lovely to see them heading off together in the afternoons after our lessons to perfect their skills. Those of you with teenagers will know it's difficult getting them to spend time with you doing something you all enjoy, so to have this holiday with my children and watch them skiing off down the mountain, my heart just about burst with pride.
On the third day, I had a bit of a wobble. I scared myself because I went too fast and I should have been skiing sideways instead of straight down. Luckily I didn't fall as I managed to turn at the last minute, but still, I gave myself a bit of a fright! Our instructor explained to me that skiing is one of those sports where you take your brain out and put it in your pocket. In other words: embrace 'the fear', don't overthink it. Just go for it and BE in the moment. Let me tell you, once you allow your body to relax, skiing is much much better. Conversely, to what you might think the speedier you are the easier it is to manoeuvre.
We were taught to do almost the opposite to what your brain wants to tell you (good job it was in my pocket!) for example, when skiing parallel down a steep slope you put the weight on your bottom foot, not the top one. And most of the time you need to be leaning forwards not back. We had so much to learn but our instructor was so patient and went out of his way to spend time with each member of our group making sure we all understood what we were doing.
I really didn't think that I would progress much on our first skiing holiday. I had resigned myself that I would be comfortable staying on the nursery slopes in my 'safe place' I didn't think I would have the mentality to really force myself out of my comfort zone and do the things I knew I'd be scared of. However, our instructor made me feel completely confident that I could do it and by the end of the week I was parallel skiing and doing the slalom poles with ease.
Justin loved the snowboarding experience and was really impressed by his easy-going instructor, they became good mates by the end of the holiday. Everyone in his group did so well that they were taken off-piste by the end of the week and he had the time of his life. He's desperate to get back on the snow again.
Mark Warner holidays and Evo2 ski school have eased us into our first skiing holiday and made it possible for us to have the most wonderful time. It was, without a doubt, the best holiday we've ever had and that really is saying something.
We can't wait to get out on the slopes again. Next up for me, blue run...BRING. IT. ON!
*We were received a complimentary holiday with Mark Warner to Val d'Isere with discounted lessons from Evolution 2 ski school.