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Ski Resorts for Beginners: Finding the Right Locale and Lessons to Fit Your Needs

The majority of ski resorts offer lessons for people of various ability and skill levels. There are those who have skied for years and have mastered the art of double-black-diamond skiing. Then there are those who have never even stepped foot into a ski or snowboard boot. For those of you who fall into the first-timer skier category let’s take a look at some possible resort options for you.

Ask Yourself

Before deciding which resort is best for you, answer some important questions first.

* What type of resort do you want to vacation at? The larger, more popular the resort, the more crowded it will be, resulting in greater costs for your lodging and lessons. Also, picking a resort that offers lots of beginner/novice terrain will be more beneficial to you than a place where the terrain is better suited for more experienced skiers/riders.

* Are you going to bring your own equipment or rent it from the resort? Most resorts provide equipment to use for a fee. Rental equipment is probably the best option for three reasons: First, this is a new sport for you; make sure you like it before spending money on expensive equipment. Second, your ski instructor can help show you what equipment will work best for you. And finally, renting equipment means not having to lug it through the airport if you are traveling to your destination by plane.

* Do you want to learn how to ski in a group or by yourself? Group size differs from resort to resort. Some resorts put a maximum on how many are in each group, while others take as many as needed. Private lessons will be more expensive, but will allow you to go at your own pace and give you individualized feedback from the instructor.

* What do you want to take from your first skiing experience? Learning the basics is an important step to becoming a lifelong skier. Beginner ski lessons should emphasize stopping, turning, and skiing in control of your speed. Most beginner lessons will explain this as well as show you how to properly put on your boots and skis. 

Once you’ve discovered the answers to these questions, take a look at some of the ski resorts considered to be among the best for beginner skiers like yourself.

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Located in historic Breckenridge, Colorado, this resort boasts 147 trials for skiing and snowboarding. Twenty-two of these trails have terrain specifically geared toward beginners. The majority of the beginner skiing trails are located on peaks 8 and 9, where several lodging and dining options are also available. 

Breckenridge is consistently featured on “top ski” lists for several categories. ranks it as one of the most popular and favorites for beginners. The resort was also recently named SkiNet’s Top 10 Resorts and Top 10 Family Programming lists. 

New this year is the Discovery Series lesson. It is offered to brand new skiers, 13 years or older. The series is three full days of learning. Price for the series includes lift tickets and rentals. According to Kate Osborn, Breckenridge’s communications coordinator, “The Discovery Series creates an atmosphere of comfort, which allows guests to realize the fun of the sport and gives them a glimpse of adventures to come.”

Breckenridge has many other lesson options in their Ski and Ride School. Lessons are available for ages three and up and range from half-day to seven-day long sessions, in groups or private sessions. 

The average size for group lessons is seven. Private lessons, though, are limited to six students in a group. The biggest bonus to having a private lesson is that you are given video feedback of your performance after the lesson concludes.

Other offerings at Breckenridge include childcare, shopping, entertainment, and a variety of fun-filled activities that adults and families can enjoy. There are shuttle services available to and from downtown Breckenridge. Coming soon is the BreckConnect, a gondola ride from downtown to Peak 7 and Peak 8, with an estimated travel time of seven-and-a-half minutes. 

Killington Ski Resort

Killington Ski Resort, located near Killington, Vermont, is considered to be the largest ski resort in the Northeast, offering 200 trails on 1,209 acres. Fifty-three of the trails are deemed easier and more suitable for beginner and novice skiers. These trails can be found on each of the resort’s mountains.

The best base lodge for adult beginners to start at is the Snowshed. There you will find the Sprint Perfect Turn Discovery Center. This center caters to the 19-and-older crowd who wants to learn to ski. Focus is on beginners’ strengths versus inabilities. Before even stepping onto the snow, instructors guide you, from filling out rental forms to putting on skis. A video introductory lesson is also shown at the Snowshed during your initial lesson.

As for children and families, Ramshead is the ideal base lodge. It is home to the Perfect Kids Program and Friendly Penguin Child Care Center, as well as First Tracks Program, Ministars & Lowriders, and Superstars, all ski lesson programs geared toward specific age groups of children. 

Private lessons run anywhere from one hour to six hours, and the best deal is the Early Bird Special, offered on weekends and holidays. It is an hour and a half lesson taught before the park opens to the public. 

Besides learning to ski/snowboard, Killington has other snow sports like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and dog sledding. More than 100 shopping and dining facilities are available, and plenty of exciting entertainment and events are scheduled throughout the ski season.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

This central Californian ski area rest on more than 3,500 skiable acres, and about 875 acres of that terrain is suitable for beginners. Group and private lessons are taught at each of the three lodges: Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, and Eagle Lodge.

Mammoth has received numerous accolades for its orientation to the beginner skier/rider. claims it is among the best resorts for beginner slope suitability. In 2005-2006, The National Ski Areas Association honored the resort with the marketing award for best program to increase trial by new participants. 

SKI magazine ranks the instructors among the “100 Best Instructors.” All instructors are Professional Ski Instructors of America and/or American Association of Snowboard Instructors certified. Given the high visitor volume on certain weekends and holidays, the lesson’s ratio of students to instructor worsens to the point of not having enough instructors. When this happens, according to a Mammoth representative, any PSIA- or AASI-trained staff member will teach ski lessons as well.

Because reservations are not necessary, the group lesson size differs. On average, an adult lesson consists of 10 people, while the average for children sessions can be as much as 20. Child groups tend to be larger, but there are multiple instructors teaching during these lessons. 

New to the Ski & Snowboard School is the 2-Day Beginner Package. It includes a three-hour group lesson and three-hour rentals for each day. The package is made available to ages 13 and up.

Children’s lessons begin at age four and are anywhere from two hours to a full day. They are taught basic skiing/riding skills, mountain safety information, and how to ride chairlifts.

When not on the slopes learning, there are several other activities available at Mammoth, including dining, shopping, entertainment, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.


Located in British Columbia, Canada, Whistler-Blackcomb is the largest resort around. In 2010, it will be home to a multitude of Winter Olympic events. The resort is very family-friendly and was named one of the Top 10 Great Family Resorts by 

There are more than 200 trails, of which 40 are dedicated to beginners based on slope suitability. All of the beginner slopes can be accessed from the villages located at the base of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. 

Lesson plans include Supergroups, Learn to Ski, Kids Lessons, and Private Lessons. Each lesson is meant to adapt to skiers/riders’ needs and preferences. The bonus to private lessons is lift-line priority and a look into some mountain areas not accessible to other guests. 

With the village being the size of Cincinnati (according to SkiNet), there is plenty of other activities to partake in throughout your vacation. After your days on the slopes partake in the area’s attractive shopping, dining, nightlife, and events geared specifically for children and families. 

No matter which ski area you choose to start your beginner’s adventure, it is important to decide on one that fits your style and comfort zone. Check out the resorts’ Web sites mentioned in this article for more information, and maybe one of them is just what you’re looking for. Just remember that the staff and ski instructors at a resort are there to help make your first time skiing experience as fun, exciting, and memorable as possible.