Recently, we were invited to spend the day at a UK indoor ski centre. The centre had real snow, so this post applies just to ski centres with real snow, rather than dry ski slopes.
It feels like the real thing
It’s snow! Real, live snow that you can make into snowballs and throw at your siblings! (except, you’re not allowed to). It does look a slightly different colour to the white snow you see outdoors – or maybe it’s just the indoor lighting that makes it look white-white, rather than blue-white. And ski afficionado D told me the snow on the main slope was similar to the more slushy snow you get on the slopes, rather than the icy, hard-packed variety. But yes, it’s just the same as a regular mountain of snow.
Your experience at the indoor ski centre will vary, depending on your skill level
Doh. Kind of obvious, this one. But regular skiiers well want very different things to those who’ve never strapped on a ski boot in their lives. An indoor ski centre can offer something to all sorts of people:
- children who’ve never skiied or snowboarded before, and whose parents want to find out if they enjoy it
- families wanting to get some practice in, either before a ski holiday or just for fun
- seasoned skiiers and snowboarders who want to brush up on their technique
- novices (like me), who might have been on a couple of ski holidays in the past, but are out of practice and want to get up to speed again
- adult beginners, who want to learn in a relaxed, fun environment
At our indoor ski centre, the beginner instructors were friendly, patient and made the time on the snow enjoyable rather than stressful. The instructors at snow indoor centres can range up to Olympic-athlete-training level, so skiiers and snowboarders of all levels should be able to find a person who could teach them something.
You can hire your kit
There’s no need to fork out on a ski jacket and salopettes, as you should be able to hire those from the centre. Ditto with ski poles, and helmets, which our centre loaned out with no charge. The helmets were compulsory for children. We had to bring gloves along ourselves, but I managed to pick up pairs for the kids from Aldi – you can usually find cheap versions, if you look around. Gloves were available to buy, but they were of the high-quality, up-to-minus-15-degrees variety (and hence more expensive than Aldi’s, unsurprisingly).
It’s PROPERLY cold
Make sure you wrap up warm. A vest and tights, fleece jumpers and proper ski gloves are a must. It’s minus five out there!
You’ll need to tell them your weight
Don’t lie about it, or you may end up with the wrong kind of skis. The people giving out your ski equipment need to know how heavy you are, so that your skis can do their job properly. They don’t care a jot if you’ve over-indulged on mince pies, so be honest!
Your children may surprise you
I’ve spoken with a few people considering ski holidays, who were wondering whether their kids might be too young/fearful to enjoy skiing. After our day at the centre, I’d say the younger they start, the better. Our six-year-old son has always been the more physical of our two children, but it was our three-year-old daughter who took to the slopes most readily. She’s lower to the ground than any of us, and regular tumbles are still a part of life for her. So losing control on the snow wasn’t a problem. Big smiles all day!
You may not be allowed to take photos or videos
On a busy indoor ski slope, with people whizzing all around the place, it’s almost impossible not to get others in the shot. So a lot of ski centres only allow cameras and video recorders at designated times. We were lucky enough to be offered the services of the centre photographer, to capture those classic moments on the snow. I’d say it’s well worth it.
You’re likely to be able to do more than just ski and snowboard
At the Snozone Milton Keynes, there was also sledging, and a mid-week session for very young children, where they could just go and play in the snow. Most centres seem to offer something like this – sailing down the slopes on big rubber rings, etc.
All in all, we came away with the impression that a trip to an indoor ski centre is a great deal of fun (and you can see more in my video of the day here).
Have you ever visited an indoor ski centre?
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If you’d like to read more about skiing in the mountains, after a warm-up at an indoor centre, why not check out these posts: