So we’re, what, just over halfway through the summer holidays. Kids climbing the walls yet? Has the novelty worn off a schlep to the park and a fake mint Feast from the ice cream van on the way home? I’ve got an idea for you: indoor real snow slopes. Not the standard summer activity, granted, but hear me out.
This is my last summer where I have year-round childcare for both of my children: come September the big one starts school, and lord knows how I’m going to occupy her for six weeks this time next year. To a parent, the summer holidays can be an absolute pain in the bum to manage. Never quite enough annual leave or grandparent bribery to cover it all, and usually some pretty touch-and-go weather on the weeks that you actually have booked off.
So, when I was asked if I’d like to review an indoor real snow slopes centre for skiing, sledging and snowboarding, my little brain cells started twitching. This is the PERFECT summer activity. Think of an indoor real snow slope as the exotic cousin of that hellhole that is soft play – 65% less busy, 100% more interactive and enjoyable, and quite nifty on the old calorie burning too. And, because it’s not as crowded at the moment, the snow on the slopes is pristine (and real).
Sadly, Snozone isn’t that local to me, but no matter – I sent some friends along to Castleford to have a gander and escape the neverending school holiday abyss. As well as a bit of recreational boarding and skiing on the indoor slopes, they opted for a junior one-to-one skiing lesson.
The private lessons can be completely tailored to your child – some may be total new starters who have never seen real snow before, let alone ski. In this case, previous experience was nil but enthusiasm was strong. This was matched by the joviality of the instructor, Dan – those who regularly take their children to any “enrichment” activities will understand how quickly the teacher can become a household name (“Mummy, Coach Mark from football doesn’t like mango does he?”).
Full kit is provided (a ski jacket, boots and salopettes), and it’s recommended that participants arrive a good 30 minutes before the start of their lesson to get changed and check sizing. After a quick tutorial on how to clip the boots into the skis, it was time to get on the real snow slopes for the 1hr lesson. The session started with how to walk forwards, sideways, then uphill in the skis. And of course, what goes up must come down…
(White snow + white walls + fast moving child make beautiful photos a challenge)
A really good inclusion is that they get taught how to use the rope drag lift up the slope, so the lesson wasn’t restricted to a tiny area of the slopes where attention spans can wander after a while. The rest of the lesson was spent perfecting how to snow plough (make a pizza shape, basically).
The lessons can form part of a wider course, with five stages to being certified as having mastered basic skills level. At the end of the hour, a card was issued with Stage 1 being signed as complete. The card gives a guide to what can be expected in the next stages, too.
The staged approach makes this a brilliant precursor to a skiing holiday, bringing everyone’s skills in line, or just as a standalone activity if a top-up or ad-hoc session is needed.
While the lessons are taking place, the adults can either have a go on the slopes themselves or enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in the overlooking restaurant, which has plenty of options and is very reasonably priced. Or, lessons can be taken with adults and children together, which I imagine is very wholesome and bondy…I’m THAT mum who prefers to sit scrolling on her phone with an Americano in hand, but no judgements here.
I’m also THAT mum who favours a drop and run approach… so I was interested to read that there’s a pretty cool holiday camp at Snozone this summer, bookable by the day or week. It gives masses of slope time with qualified instructors as well as refreshments and is bound to knacker them out in time for bed.
Snozone also run a really lovely session called Snoplay, where infants aged two and up can have some fun in the snow. More details about all of the family activities on offer can be found here. Or, if it’s termtime enrichment you’re after, take a look at Snoacademy, where children can learn how to ski or snowboard and then develop their skills over a number of weeks, after school or at weekends.
See, summer doesn’t have to mean windy, pebbly beaches and the same tried and tested parks. Think outside of the box and try something new, before September beckons.
-SJW August 2017
Disclaimer: We received two adult slope passes at £22.49 each, and a junior ski lesson (priced at £79.99 for a 1hr session), in return for an impartial review of Snozone. For further information about my work with brands, please refer to my Disclosure Statement.