What can you do on holiday if you don’t ski?
Winter holidays needn’t be just about skiing or snowboarding, regardless of what the rest of your group of friends or family are into. There are quite a few other experiences that should be tried if you get a chance and don’t particularly want to ski.
Please don’t think that Apres Ski has to be all about unruly nights out in loud, overcrowded, steaming (sometimes quite literally) bars full of people still in their ski boots. There are always far more pleasant ways to eat and drink in most resorts, from simple roadside cafe bars to very nice hotel restaurants. We’ve spent many a relaxing hour at a top cable car station, sitting in the sunshine, sipping vin chaud and just watching the world ski by.
Quite a few resorts now hire out snowmobiles for use either in the daytime or for night time skidoo tours. A lot of these tours operate at night times after the slopes have closed allowing you to discover the ski area in a completely new way. Although snowmobiles can be very quick in the right hands even a novice can have a good deal of fun before they scare themselves and back off the throttle a bit! With guided tours at night time and some resorts having special tracks solely for snowmobiles, these can be great fun.
Here’s one for the really brave souls! a few resorts (Morzine amongst them) offer ice diving experiences. Basically a hole is cut through the frozen surface of a lake and you swim around under the ice exploring the ice formations and wildlife found under the frozen lake. Suitable for both expert and beginner, all equipment and tuition is provided… personally I think I’ll stick to the Apres Ski..
It sounds similar to the above, but couldn’t be more different. A few resorts now offer driving experiences on ice tracks. Under the eyes of a trained professional you’ll learn how to brake, steer and counter-steer at speed, on sheet ice. Specially prepared cars with studded tyres are used for this high-adrenaline sport – great fun but could possible save you life in less sever conditions at home.
Most resorts offer toboggan rental with either specially designed runs or tracks near the piste, which is always popular with children and the young at heart. many resorts also offer floodlit tobogganing after the pistes have closed so that the whole group can get in on the act. If tobogganing seems a bit tame, then how about a run in a bobsleigh? Innsbruck (Austria), La Plagne (France) and Lillehammer (Norway) all offer the opportunity to try out their olympic tracks. You can also try the notorious Cresta Run in St.Moritz if the others aren’t quite enough of a thrill.
Dog-sledding might be another option you might want to try, either by day or in the moonlight, tucked up in a warm sled heading off into the snowy wilderness.
Outdoor skating rinks are a common sight in most resorts and cost very little to hire a pair of boots and take to the ice for a few hours. Some resorts even host ice skating shows or offer ice-hockey or ‘ice gliding’ – like bumper cars on ice.
Snow-shoeing is a great way to travel around the mountains without having to fly everywhere on skis. With snow shoes you can reach areas that even the most intrepid of skiers might struggle to get to, allowing you to roam the mountain freely and take in the fresh air an amazing views. Many resorts host organised snow-shoe expeditions.
Fashionable resorts such as Gstaad and St. Moritz have shops worthy of Bond Street or Rodeo Drive with the designed boutiques sure to please the most demanding of customers, if not their wallets..
This Winter equivalent of regular polo has a loyal following who regularly fly off the the Alps to watch the latest round in the competition. The original snow tournament takes place in St. Moritz in January on a frozen lake and involves much fur, caviar and champagne. Klosters, Aspen and Courchevel now all host their own tournaments.
Holidays are supposed to be about relaxing as well as exercise. Both the Alps and the Pyrenees have thermal springs, many of which have been adapted into spa facilities. Indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis and spa treatments make these a great way to spend some time for both skier and non-slier alike.
So, a few ideas of what to do if you don’t ski. We’ll be adding more as we think of them, but thinking of your time away as a holiday rather than simply skiing, sometimes gives you other ideas of things to do.