Winter sports: It's good to be back on the ski slopes

New year, new hobby? Try an old favourite again instead. Kate Simon had another go at skiing. She's glad she did...

The body's memory is incredible. I've been on these skis for less than 10 minutes and yet I'm ably, if gingerly, sliding down a slope and now, almost instinctively, pointing my toes inwards and skidding to a halt. Yet the last time I snapped on a pair of skis was 30 years ago.

What a tonic for parental guilt. All that hand-wringing about whether you should push your little darling – and fork out the cash – to acquire a non-essential skill that may at once be embraced and rejected. At least now my mum can know that it was worth paying for that school trip to the Cairngorms in 1978. It may have taken three decades to get me back on the piste (the Scottish weather is the clue here), but I'm enjoying myself.

This time I'm in the French Alps at Méribel, the resort at the heart of Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski area in the world. I don't anticipate seeing too many of those pistes because I'm here with my partner and son, both of whom have never skied. My partner isn't doing so well thanks to his unfeasibly wide feet – every ski boot he tries on is agony – but my eight-year-old son is taking to it like, well, a child to snow, picking up the basics with predictable speed. And I'm flabbergasted by my progress, which is instantly making this a more enjoyable experience than the Scottish sojourn. Plus, it helps that the sun is shining, there's a hinterland of snow, pines and the cutest wooden chalets, and the restaurants at the bottom of the slopes serve escargots.

But I'm also having quite a different experience from before, because we're staying in some considerable comfort as guests of Meriski, which specialises in catered chalet holidays in Méribel. For catered read cosseted. At our cosy chalet we are cared for by our host and chef, Vicky and James, who make our beds and our breakfast, bake cakes for afternoon tea and turn out a gourmet four-course meal every night. And when we want to go to the slopes, a five-minute drive away, Toby the driver turns up in the minibus to take us there and is at the end of a mobile phone ready to bring us back. It's all so easy – and a far cry from bunking up with your schoolmates.

Service is the selling point for Meriski. The company was bought three years ago by Four Winds Holidays, owned by the founders of Luxury Family Hotels, the UK family friendly country house hotel group best known for its flagship Woolley Grange. The ethos of good service that built the reputation of those hotels as among the best in Britain has been transferred to this Alpine landscape.

Hence the quality of the chalets, standard of catering and helpful extras such as the minibus transfers and the crèche that it runs (the only one in the resort). But what makes it work is the recruitment policy. Vicky, an ex-radio journalist, and James, a former internal auditor and chef and aspiring musician, are career-gappers. Toby will start practising as a barrister once the season is over. These bright people are more than able to deliver excellent service without the atmosphere becoming servile.

But we're here to ski, not to slob out. By day two our instructor, Patrick, from the Magic Snow Sports Academy, has taken us up to 1,800m to make our first descent. The last time I scaled these heights on skis I lost my nerve. This time I'm twisting and turning across the mountainside with confidence. I'm persuaded – I think I'll do this again.



HOW TO GET THERE

Meriski (01285 648518; meriski.co.uk) is offering catered chalet deals this season including a week in Chalet Bambi, sleeping eight, for £420 per person starting 27 January; a week in Chalet Nant de Morel, sleeping 10, for £795 per person starting 10 February; and a week in Chalet Virage, sleeping 16, for £925 per person, starting 17 February. Flights, transfers, ski hire, lift passes and childcare cost extra.

FURTHER INFORMATION

3 Valley Transfers (3vt.co.uk). Magic Snowsports Academy (magicinmotion.co.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition