Skiing and snowboarding opportunities in South Africa are few and far between. But with Europe just an overnight flight away, more and more South Africans are discovering the excitement of these hitherto exotic sports.
"The ski holiday has become far more accessible to South Africans in recent years, with many families taking to the slopes for their annual holidays," says Olivier Hannaert, Managing Director of Club Med Southern Africa. "Over the past few years we have seen a definite increase in the number of ski/snowboarding trips being booked in comparison to, say, beach holidays or (another type of holiday).
"This tells us that the snow bug has bitten! The most popular times that South Africans are going skiing is over the festive season (in December) as well as in January before school begins. We have also seen a big increase in the number of passengers heading on snow holidays ‘late’ in the ski season over March and April. This time of year is proving popular, particularly for beginners and first-time skiers, for many reasons:
November-January is winter in the Alps. This means that it’ll be pretty chilly at that time of year – but great for experienced skiers. From February onward it starts to warm up a little, and so by the time March and April come around you’ll have more sunshine. There’s no reason to give up the sun in exchange for the cold – you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Fewer people mean fewer queues
While you’re enjoying the sun, you can also expect fewer people on the slopes. This means you get extra special care from your ski instructor (which is covered in your package booked with us at all Club Med ski resorts), and there are less queues to get through. You’ll feel like a real VIP.
Enjoy the atmosphere
In the evenings, you can take full advantage of the snowy wonderland you find yourself in, and cozy up to a fireplace whilst you enjoy the charm of everything that comes after a day on the slopes. We refer to this time of day as ‘après-ski’. Think mulled wine, crepes and pastries. On a good day, perhaps even a sun-downer.”
When it comes to ski holidays, it's not just adults who are strapping on the skis or the snowboards. Hannaert says a ski holiday is a brilliant idea for a family getaway – particularly for the upcoming March/April holidays.
"South African families love the chance to get into the snow," he says. "Because there isn’t much opportunity to experience it in SA, it's seen as 'something different' and experienced as a whole lot of fun!"
Since most of us are new to skiing and snowboarding, it's vital to pick a resort that offers the complete package – including equipment and lessons.
"So often we hear stories of families arriving at a ski resort to find they have to pay extra for all those things. It can add up to quite a bit. And when you're working in Euros or Swiss Francs, for example, you still have to factor in the performance of the Rand at that particular time.
"There's also the risk that your chosen resort might not offer lessons for beginners, or for children. This could put a massive dampener on your holiday. Imagine not being able to ski on your ski trip!"