First ever family ski at the Snozone, Milton Keynes

Snozone

The last day of the school holidays is usually a dreary one for us. Not so this winter. We were invited to spend a festive day at the Snozone, Milton Keynes, which prompted a huge amount of excitement as it would be the first time ever our children skiied (and if you want to skip the reading and just watch a video of our day, there’s one at the end of this post).

Snozone

The Snozone has two locations: in Castleford, Yorkshire, and in Milton Keynes, just off the M1, making it accessible both to Londoners (like us) and people living further north. Both are located inside the Xscape leisure complex, which as well as the Snozone includes a cinema, shops, restaurants and a bowling alley.

Snozone Milton Keynes has a main slope of 170 m, with two poma lifts to carry people to the top, and a lesson slope for beginners and learners.

Snozone Milton Keynes

D, on his way to the main slope

The whole area is covered with 1700 tonnes of fresh snow. Stepping through the double doors, into what was essentially an enormous freezer kept at -5 degrees, was hardly your regular day out in the UK, and prompted lots of squeals from the children.

Snozone

Sledges waiting to be taken for a spin

Welcome

The Snozone was bustling when we arrived. The last weekend of the Christmas holidays is one of their busiest of the year, and with a capacity of 350 per hour, from 9am until 11pm, several thousand would have passed through its doors on the day we went.

Snozone

Skis and snowboards ready for hire

Although the Snozone felt busy, and we did have to queue at times (eg on the ski lifts), there was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere inside the centre. Hugh Michell, Snozone’s Operations support manager, explained that staff are selected for personality as well as ski/snowboarding skill. And the workers did seem incredibly cheery. There was none of the ‘too-cool-for-school’ attitude you get in some of the ski resorts – everyone at the centre seemed down-to-earth.

Snozone instructors range from those with level 1 qualification, right up to experts like Hugh. His teaching qualifications include working with disabled children; one of his favourite students was a girl with downs syndrome. After a few sessions she grew so fond of Hugh that she wouldn’t let anyone else teach her to ski.

Salopettes (waterproof trousers) and ski jackets are available to hire, helmets come as standard, and you can buy gloves if you need them (it’s really important to wear proper ski gloves. It’s chilly out there!). There are no family changing rooms but we used the cubicles. They’re the size of a regular swimming pool cubicle, so a little cosy if there’s more than one of you, but you can always use the open-plan changing area through the loos if you want to spread out.

Sledging

Snozone

Snozone

Our first activity of the day was family sledging, which is £17.99 for adults, and £14.99 for children.

We were joined on the slopes by Michael Hepburn, Snozone’s photographer. You’re only allowed to photograph or video on the slopes on one afternoon a week, but you can arrange for Michael to join you and take snaps. I’d recommend it, if you don’t mind paying. He captured some fantastic shots that would have been difficult for me to take, unless I decided to miss out on some of the skiing and sledging.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

Both children started out nervously sitting on our laps, but branched out to using their own sledges. The sledging session was great fun, and helped build the children’s confidence for the skiing later, because they got used to slipping around on the snow, and found out that it doesn’t hurt when you fall.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

 

Lunch

Snozone

Snozone’s restaurant

We were given lunch in the Snozone restaurant (there’s also a bar upstairs – the centre is open until 11pm during Winter). The choices ranged from breakfast dishes (pancakes – yum), burgers and the standard range of kiddie’s dishes, to more healthy options like salads. They all seemed reasonably priced, ranging in price between around £4-£8. I went for a chicken stir fry, which I was pleased with. It was hearty and flavoursome, and helped warm me up after the sledging. The children had fish dippers and chicken goujons, and we had the usual response from the kids: Austin wolfed his down, while Gwen picked at hers. D chose a veggie burger, which came with fries.

Snozone

The view of the slopes from Snozone’s restaurant

The restaurant has a panoramic view of the slopes, and a small soft play area, which our two raced off to play in.

Snozone

Family ski lesson

And then came the bit we’d all been waiting for. Snozone had invited us to take a family lesson, and as this was the children’s first time skiing ever, I was curious to see what they’d make of it.

Snozone

All kitted out

Boots, skis and snowboards are included in the cost of a lesson, which varies depending on how many of you there are, the age of the learners, and the number of people in the group. Children can start learning to ski in private lessons or in the Snozone SnoAcademy, from as young as three (like our Gwen, who will be four in March), and to snowboard from the age of seven. An hour-long lesson for a child from 3-15 who’s a complete beginner, with one-to-one tuition, is £64.99, and if you add a second child it’s £102.99; the SnoAcademy is cheaper.

The first thing I learned when I put on my boots, was that they’ve changed since I last skiied seven years ago. Thankfully the Snozone staff helped bring us into the new ski century, and also made sure the children’s boots were properly adjusted.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

And then, it was time to hit the slopes.

Austin, Gwen and I were taken onto the learner slope by Stephen, our instructor, who was great with the kids over the hour of our lesson. The learner slope was separate from the main slope, which D belted over to, so that he could brush up on his technique. He said that most people on his slope were learner or intermediate skiiers, although there were a handful of people who clearly knew their stuff. Our slope was divided into two halves, with snowboarders at the top; most people were in group lessons, and little Gwen was the youngest by far.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

I felt very proud of my little girl that day. I wasn’t sure how well she’d take to skiing, but she grew more confident and excited as the day wore on. Stephen, our instructor, and Hugh with his warm greeting, were mainly to thank for putting her at ease, and helping her pick up some  new skills.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

Before we went, I’d had no doubt that Austin would enjoy skiing, and I was right. Not only did he like zipping down as fast as he could (Stephen tried to teach him the snowplough, but he just didn’t want to be slowed down); he also liked the headgear.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

‘I look like a ninja’ he said, when he saw this action shot.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

D enjoyed getting his skis back on after a long break. Although, for proficient skiiers, the Snozone is probably best suited to those wanting to focus on technique rather than have a good run down long slopes (which are only really available on mountains), this visit was a good opportunity for him to shake off some of the rust that had gathered over the last seven years.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

And me? Well, with Stephen’s help I just about managed to get back to where I left off: snowplough turns, with the occasional tumble, and a hankering to progress onto parallels.

Snozone

taken by Michael Hepburn

By the end of our time at the Snozone, we were all shattered (in a good way). I would recommend an indoor session on the snow to any families that lived nearby, and were wondering whether their children would enjoy a ski holiday. The Snozone was also good for getting our children (and us adults) used to all the gear, and how it feels to slip around on the ice. If I lived closer I’d also consider booking one of the Snozone’s birthday parties. There were a couple of birthday groups out with us while we were sledging, and it looked as though they were having a smashing time.

I’ve made a little video of our day. Do let me know if you like it.

If you’re considering a trip to somewhere like the Snozone, there are some handy tips in our post on what to expect at an indoor ski centre.

We were invited to spend a day at the Snozone for the purpose of this review. All views are my own.

I’ve linked this post up with #PoCoLo at Life at 139a and Morgan’s Milieu.

Save

Save

Follow:
Like this post? Why not share it:

46 Comments

  1. January 7, 2016 / 9:56 am

    Cold. All I can think of is cold. I’ve never tried skiing but Mr M keeps threatening me with it, I know he’d love to take the children. We’d probably start off with a session like this but it’s not my idea of fun!

    • January 7, 2016 / 2:06 pm

      Ha ha – well yes, it was pretty chilly! You could always opt out and watch the rest of your family from the restaurant, with a hot choc 🙂

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      You could always watch them from the bar, a glass of gluwein in hand? 😉

  2. January 7, 2016 / 10:33 am

    Go you guys!! I would be hopeless, can barely manage walking without tripping half the time!! Might manage one of those big rings down the slope tho – my eldest boy loves going on those at our local dry slope!

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:32 pm

      I always think skiing is a bit like whizzing down a slide. It does help if you’re on your bottom!

  3. January 7, 2016 / 1:19 pm

    This is somewhere I keep in the back of my mind for when Monkey feels like getting a bit more adventurous with life. I’ve always fancied trying those sledges out! Looks like a good time was had by all.

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Ooh yes – please let me know if you try it!

  4. January 7, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    I was really interested to read this as MK is only a few miles from us. None of us have ever been skiing before and my OH is keen for us to try. Good to hear how friendly and patient the staff are, that would be my biggest worry!

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      They really were the nicest bunch of people. Coped with our kids losing their skis gazillions of times!

  5. January 7, 2016 / 4:36 pm

    What a fab introduction to skiing for the family… it looks like a great day out.
    I’ve never been skiing but did manage to fall over and fracture my elbow on a visit to an ice-rink. I dread to think what I’d be capable of if I went skiing?!

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      Aargh no, your poor elbow! It’s nowhere near as painful if you fall on snow – you should definitely give it a try.

  6. January 7, 2016 / 6:11 pm

    Looks like a fab day out so much fun and snow.

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      It was indeed!

  7. January 7, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    There is talk of planning for one of these being pout in for us locally. I would love to take the boys. You all looked to have so much fun. Off to watch the video

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      Ooh, you should, if the plans work out. It’s like stepping into another world!

  8. January 8, 2016 / 12:52 am

    It looks like you had a wonderful time and the kids clearly enjoyed it. I have always wanted to go on a ski-ing holiday but now, thanks to my back, it’s probably really not the best idea for me!

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      Ah, that’s a shame. Hope you manage to make it away somewhere sunny and relaxing this year though. xx

  9. January 8, 2016 / 11:26 am

    Your pictures are fab, and you look as if you had such a great time. We loved it when we went too – such a fun, different kind of a place to visit, and I think it would be particularly good if you are preparing for a skiing holiday.

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      Absolutely. Now I’ve been, I’d definitely put it on a pre- ski holiday itinerary.

  10. January 8, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    We’ve done something similar in Manchester and we had an amazing time together x

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:26 pm

      There’s nothing like a bit of slipping and sliding to help family bonding!

  11. January 8, 2016 / 2:14 pm

    An indoor ski facility! Great idea! After having our first green Christmas in a very long time, it’s finally cold enough that the ski hills are starting to open runs around here. Happy New Year! #PoCoLo

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      Happy Snowy New Year indeed!

  12. January 8, 2016 / 8:04 pm

    Brilliant! We had a 3 hour lesson here before we had ever skied and it was the best thing we did. It’s really worth investing in time here before a ski holiday. Looks like you all had great fun! x

    • January 8, 2016 / 8:24 pm

      We did! When we finally get round to a proper ski holiday, we’ll definitely be going back. I’m glad you enjoyed it there too. Looks as though you all made the most of the (lack of) snow on your own recent hol! xx

  13. January 8, 2016 / 9:41 pm

    Look at all those smiley faces! It sure looks like everyone had a great time!
    What a fun day out x

  14. January 8, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    This looks just awesome! It’s a great way to get children onto the snow and for them to experience skiing because even just putting the kit on and the boots is quite an unusual experience, and its something you want them to get used to before forking out for a very expensive holiday!
    I think your review was really thorough and it’s certainly made me think about popping along – we live about an hour away from Milton Keynes.

    Glad you had such a great time!

    • January 9, 2016 / 3:18 pm

      I agree – it took a while for the children (and me!) to get our heads round putting the boots and skis on, and the children kept losing their skis. Better to get that out of the way before we went on a holiday!

  15. January 8, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    This looks like so much fun! Definitely going to have to look into doing something similar when my daughter’s a bit older. 🙂 #pocolo

  16. January 8, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    How fantastic! What a really great idea. I have to admit to never going skiing and likely never will but this looks like good fun. The kids look so happy – so pleased they enjoyed it. #PoCoLo

    • January 9, 2016 / 3:16 pm

      They had an absolute ball!

  17. January 9, 2016 / 7:46 am

    i wish there were something like this closer to me. I really want to take the kids on a ski holiday and learning somewhere like this would be ideal!

    • January 9, 2016 / 3:16 pm

      I’d definitely go back, if/when we get round to booking a ski holiday.

  18. January 10, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    It looks like y’all had such a good time! I’ve been curious about Snozone for ages — great to hear that it’s a good experience. It seems especially good for helping kids keep up their skiing skills if you don’t get to hit the outdoor slopes that often. x

    • January 10, 2016 / 8:04 pm

      We had a blast! It’s worth going along. Even D (who usually hits the black slopes on holiday) had good things to say about it – and yes, it’s perfect for kids (and novices like me!) to brush up before a ski holiday, or just to keep the practice up.

  19. January 10, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    Wow, that’s near us. I wonder if the Tubblet would like to try it. I’ll have to ask her.

  20. January 12, 2016 / 9:25 am

    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo hun!

    It looks like you had a fabulous time. I love the photos of your children, your daughter really looks like she had a blast! What a brilliant idea for anyone who lives close by. 🙂

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:22 pm

      My daughter still grins from ear to ear when we talk about it!

  21. January 12, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    This looks like so much fun! Castleford isn’t too far from us so we might have to give it a go; I think my kids would both love it.

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:20 pm

      It was a grand day out-let me know how you get on at Castleford!

  22. January 13, 2016 / 8:10 am

    What a fun lot of activities ! :d i would love to do this.

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:14 pm

      You should give it a try!

  23. January 17, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    This looks like a fantastic day out – my youngest daughter would love it – she had a lesson or two at a dry ski slope near us and loved it. Love your photos. Kaz x

    • January 19, 2016 / 11:45 am

      Thank you!

  24. January 20, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Yay! Real snow! We went to the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead last month and had a blast too. xxx

    • January 21, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      Ah yes, I saw your post – looks as though you had a great time. We’ll have to try that place too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.