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Ski lessons for free
Friday March 18, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Neilson Holidays has been giving free ski lessons & guiding to its customers this season in its main resorts. More than 30% of its guests have taken up the offer. PlanetSKI reports.

The service was tested in two resorts last season and rolled out in 11 this winter.

Here at PlanetSKI we joined the first group in Alpe d'Huez back in December to see what it was all about; see here for our report from the time.

We were very impressed and, 3-months on, it seems we are not the only ones. 

Thousands of people have take up the service and given it the thumbs up.

"We always thought it would be a success and so it has turned out to be as people get extra value from their holiday as well as having great fun and improving. It really is a win-win situation," said Ian Davis from Neilson Holidays.

And now PanetSKI is back - joining a guiding day in Les2Alps and a full-on tuition session in Alpe d'Huez.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsNeilson's Mountain Experts
















The session in Les2Alpes was led by the 29-year old Italian instructor, Federico Querio, who works for the local school, European Ski and Snowboard School.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsThe tour begins
















Fully qualified instructors are now used following the outlawing of ski hosting in France.

In our opinion at PlanetSKI they provide a far better service as they are professionals, not amateurs.

We were a varied group who joined on the first afternoon of the week.

"I will show you round and give you a tour of the resort. You may want to come back for lessons later in the week but this tour will give you an overview," said Federico.

And with that he was off.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsFree guiding with an expert
















One lady, Jilly, had been on the morning session too.

"It was a 'get your ski legs back' for the first morning of the week and it was so good I'm back for the next session in the afternoon. My husband got his legs back and then lost them again!' she said with a smile on her face. "He wanted to have a rest and without this service I would probably have stopped too as I don't like skiing on my own," she added.

Another couple, Helen and Peter, had a child in the crèche.

"We have had a great look round the resort and best of all we know that Federico will get us back on time to collect our daughter so we don't have to keep looking at the piste may and worrying," Helen said.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsHappy Days















The afternoon consisted of a 3-hour tour round the resort and was aimed at giving people an overview of the ski area at the beginning of their holiday.

The next day we headed round to the neighbouring resort of Alpe d'Huez for a 'Skills and Drills' session.

And that is exactly what it was. 

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsDrills and skills
















We only used one lift all afternoon and lapped it time after time as the instructor, Cookie from the ESF, gave full on tuition and feedback.

Each of us was given takes to perform and areas to work on. 

There was contstant feedback and analysis from Cookie.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsCookie passes on advice
















"I have skied every year for 25 years and though I have wanted lessons recently I never quite got round to it, partly due to expense and partly because I don't really like the idea of group lessons at ski school, so this is perfect," said one guest, Martin.

Neilson's Mountain ExpertsDemonstration time
















Neilson's Mountain ExpertsNeilson's Mountain Experts
















Neilson offers it Mountain Experts programme at 11 resorts:

Andorra - El Tarter

Austria - Mayrhofen

France - Alpe D'HuezLa PlagneLes Deux AlpesLes MenuiresMontgenèvreSerre ChevalierTignes and Val D'Isère

Italy - Sauze D'Oulx

It has offered more than 1,000 sessions this season with most sessions fully booked.

"We saw new lifts and runs that I have never seen in 3 years of coming here. Fantastic knowledge of the mountain from Simon," said one guest who tried the service in Les2Alpes

"Liam was brilliant, really nice way of teaching and guiding combined, turns have improved in 1 session after years of thinking I know it all," said another in El Tarter.

"Excellent, I really could not thank Liam enough for this session. After years of learning bad habits he worked hard to correct them. It was a relaxed, informal and fun way to learn," added another guest in El Tarter.

The Mountain Expert service will be on offer across the designated resorts in the Neilson programme over Easter.

So, will it be back next winter?

"You bet. Our customers love the tuition and the guiding part and we are simply here to ensure they have the best holiday possible and our Mountain Experts programme seems to achieve that," said Ian Davis.

For full and further details of the Mountain Experts service then see here.


If you're looking to squeeze in a week's spring skiing before the end of the season, a stay at the Neilson Hotel Aalborg in Les Deux Alpes costs from £429pp (saving £340pp) travelling on 9th April 2016.

The price includes return flights from Gatwick, resort transfers, 7 nights accommodation on a club board basis (daily breakfast and afternoon tea plus 6 evening meals) plus the free Neilson Mountain Experts guiding and coaching service.

Looking ahead to the 2016/17 season, a week at the Neilson Hotel Aalborg costs from £559pp, travelling on 13th December 2016. 

Book before 1st Aug 2016 and all lift passes are half price if you stay in a Neilson Mountain Collection property (Neilson-run hotels and chalets) in the 2016/17 season.

For further details then see here.

For more information on Alpe d’Huez Grande Domaine Ski, please visit

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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