Skiing for the first time—especially as an adult—can be intimidating. Like most sports, there’s a steep learning curve, and finding your stride takes time, patience, and commitment (it’s kind of like a long-term relationship in that way). If you and your partner are up for an adventure this winter, learning how to ski or snowboard is a great way to connect over a shared activity. What’s more, a snowy getaway affords plenty of opportunities for romance both on and off the mountain. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as a day spent cruising through powder followed by an evening in front of a roaring fire, Champagne in hand.
If you’re getting ready to hit the slopes but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. We consulted travel expert Christine Connolly of Ski.com, a travel company with expertise in mountain vacation packages, and got her expert-approved advice on how to plan your first ski vacation as a couple. Whatever you do, don’t forget to leave plenty of time in your schedule for après-ski!
Meet the Expert
Travel expert Christine Connolly works with Ski.com, a travel company with expertise in mountain vacation packages.
How to Choose the Right Resort
Not all ski resorts are created equal. When considering which snow-dusted locale is right for you, you’ll first want to consider your budget and how far you’re willing to travel. Is this going to be a long weekend at a resort you can drive to, or are you planning a full week-long excursion to the opposite coast? Do you want to visit a destination within the continental U.S., or are you willing to break out your passport to find the very best powder? Would you like to be in an intimate, off-the-beaten-path setting, or are you in search of a stylish, social escape? “It depends on if you are looking for a more secluded romantic getaway, or something a bit livelier [with a] town for shopping, dining, and nightlife,” explains Connolly.
If you’re looking for picture-perfect, majestic mountains, she suggests Telluride, Colorado. “For a more secluded destination, look at Lake Louise near Banff, Canada, and stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise,” she recommends. “If you want a town that offers it all, consider Aspen or Snowmass!” And for those in search of something easier on your wallet, Connolly says that Breckenridge, Colorado, can be a great option. “It’s a great town with lots of activities, and flying into Denver makes it easily accessible.”
Another thing to consider when choosing your destination is your skill level. You can find beginner lessons at most ski resorts, but if either or both of you are skiing for the very first time, it can be wise to choose a smaller mountain with really simple runs, lots of lesson package options, and less expensive lift tickets (after all, you might not be spending full days on the mountain).
Deciding on Accommodations
Staying right at your chosen ski resort can be a great option; generally, most locations have lodging options right there (or at least partnerships with hotels that are at the base of the mountain). These accommodations are usually very popular, as they offer ski-in and ski-out access to the mountain (that means you walk out the door and straight to the lift). Because of this convenience, resort lodging can book up very far in advance, and it’s going to be pricey—and packed! These options are very popular with families, so don’t expect the accommodations to necessarily be quiet. If convenience is most important to you, though, book at the lodge.
Those in search of privacy will want to look to booking an Airbnb near the mountain (this is an especially good option for those traveling with a car) or a hotel or resort that’s near the mountain but maybe not directly on the mountain. As you begin planning, use the ski resort’s main website as a jumping-off point for accommodation information; there should be links to the resort’s own lodging, as well as recommendations for local hotels, inns, and rental companies.
Book Lift Tickets Early
It’s always a good idea to book lift tickets ahead of your trip, no matter your dates of travel or which ski resort you choose. Often, resorts will offer discounts when you book lift tickets earlier in the season, or you may even be able to plan your trip around special offers. If you’re dead-set on going during the holidays or a long weekend, expect prices to be a bit steeper. Pro tip: If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and maybe score slightly less expensive lift tickets, consider booking your trip during weekdays (and skip out on weekends all together) to avoid long lift lines—and to get a bit more privacy.
Sign Up for Lessons
If either of you are a first-time skier or snowboarder, consider booking at least one lesson to kick off your trip. If one of you is more advanced, teaching your partner or spouse is certainly always an option, but Connolly recommends leaving the initial lessons to a professional. “You want to remain married after your trip!” she jokes.
Make Reservations Ahead of the Trip
“Do some advanced planning of dinner reservations or other activities (dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, or spa reservations) so that it makes your trip seamless,” recommends Connolly. If you take care of booking all the bits and pieces, from your dinner reservations to spa experiences, you’ll really be able to kick back and relax after a long day on the slopes—which, keep in mind, can be very exhausting! That being said, don’t overbook yourself; the main event here is spending time with your partner on the mountain, so while planning a few romantic dinners and spa therapies will complement the ski portion of the trip, you don’t want to feel rushed to do too many activities.
Pack the Right Gear
Depending on how far you’re traveling, you can always plan to rent your gear (skis, poles, boots, snowboards, helmets) right at the resort. In fact, that makes a lot of logistical planning easier from a packing perspective. But aside from your actual gear, there are a few things that Connolly suggests you ensure are in your suitcase:
- Sunscreen (even in the winter, this is a must!)
- Chapstick and moisturizer (mountains are a very dry climate)
- Sandals for the pool and spa
- A warm hat and warm gloves
- Winter boots
- Thermal underwear/layers
- A winter jacket
- Several pairs of good ski socks
- Hand and foot warmers