A Beginner’s Guide to Skiing in Samoens

Helpful tips for new skiers

Organising your first ski holiday can be daunting.  Lots of logistics are involved and there can be so many options to choose from that the process becomes overwhelming.  Here we’ve prepared some helpful information to save time and point you in the right direction when organising a ski holiday in Samoens as a beginner.

What to Book in Advance

Typically, the first question is whether you’ll be arriving by car or via the airport.  If you choose to fly into Geneva International airport, then you’ll need to book your flights and decide whether you rent a car or book an airport transfer.

Once you know whether you’ll have a vehicle in-resort, you can look at accommodation options.  Securing accommodation in advance is important and the further ahead you book, the better deal you’re likely to get.

Next, you can think about ski lift passes.  It isn’t important to book these in advance – please see our recommendations below.

Ski lessons are best reserved ahead of time to ensure you secure your preferred dates and hours.  During peak school holiday periods, those who wait until the last minute are likely to miss out.  During February half term holidays, many families book up to a year ahead!

Same goes for ski rental – we recommend booking this in advance at any time of year, but especially during peak school holiday periods.  During half term, such is the demand that many shops run out of equipment to rent.

Restaurant bookings can be left until the last minute during quiet periods, but we strongly recommend booking ahead of time during peak school holiday periods.

Choosing your Accommodation


Hotels often provide some of the most relaxing options for your ski holiday, with half-board accommodation meaning you don’t need to worry about meals.  In Samoens there are a range of 3 to 4 star hotels with onsite bars and spa facilities.  Follow this link to view a selection of Samoens’ best hotels.


Chalets can be excellent for families. Larger families can often fill smaller chalets on their own, in which case it can be like having your own mountain home where a nice chalet host pops in to cook and clean for you all.  Smaller families in larger chalets can enjoy equally friendly service but you do usually have to rub along with other guests sharing meals and public areas.  If you all get on that’s wonderful and in the best cases you can make lifelong friends, but it’s worth checking how family friendly a chalet is likely to be before you book.

High end chalets can be the most luxurious option, with hot tub, sauna and massage services.

Chalets in Samoens tend to have British staff and offer a half board catered service. Usually they offer good value when cost of food and drink are included.  Every chalet is different and it is important to check exactly what is and isn’t included in the price.  Typical services may include airport transfers, breakfasts, dinners, afternoon teas, laundry facilities, heated boot storage (to dry your equipment overnight), child minding, and a drop-off and pick-up service from the ski lifts.  Some property owners can also organise your lift passes and ski hire and have them waiting for you when you arrive.

It is important to check the precise location of your chalet and find out how easily you’ll be able to access the lifts each day, whether it be in your own vehicle, by private transfer, or via the ski bus.


Apartments are an increasingly popular accommodation choice for families in the Samoens area; offering simple, affordable stays.  There are apartments to suit all kinds of budgets and group sizes. An apartment is a great choice if you prefer to be self-sufficient, with laundry and kitchen facilities.  Several apartment complexes in Samoens offer communal pool and spa facilities for those seeking a bit of luxury. On the downside, you can be restricted by the limited hours for check in/out.

Transport to Samoens and transport in resort

The closest airport from Samoëns is Geneva International Airport.  Airport shuttle buses are often the cheapest way to travel from Geneva Airport to ski resorts for individuals and couples but in some cases private minibus transfer services may be competitive and convenient for small groups and families. Compare prices before booking as prices vary widely, we usually recommend Go Massif Alps2Alps as. Weekends, especially Saturdays, are the busiest times at Geneva Airport. Allow extra time for check in and security and book transportation well in advance.

If you fancy taking a road trip to your ski holiday, you’re in luck.  For those driving down from the Channel, Samoëns is about nine hours from Calais and it is motorway all the way apart from the last 12 miles. Samoens is just 10 minutes from the nearest motorway, the A40. For More infor about the access to Samoëns you can have a look here.

During your stay in resort, the ski resort offers a free shuttle service, there are 8 lines in total linking the 5 villages together. You will find the timetable here.

Lift passes

Every skier using the Grand Massif lift system must be carrying a valid lift pass, the pass is free for children under 5 years of age, you just have to show a proof of age at the lift pass office. You can buy single day passes or you can also buy package of 6 days also.

For information about buying a lift pass to suit your level of ability, read our lift pass buying guide.  You can buy lift passes via the Grand Massif resort website, or simply from the ticket desks when you arrive in resort.

View Grand Massif lift pass prices here.

Ski lessons

There are 2 types of skiing lessons, the group lesson and the private lesson. A group lesson is a package of lessons you will share with other participants who have roughly the same age and level as you. With a private lesson you have an instructor just for you (1 to 8 people per instructor).

A lot of people prefer the group lessons because they enjoy having the company of other skiers to learn, and we often find that a group offers a postive dynamic to all participants, which tends to help everyone improve together. Our group lessons have a maximum of 8 participants, guaranteed, while other companies usually have groups up to 13 people or even 15 during peak periods. Group lessons are a good option for beginners because they allow you to have plenty of tuition time, and you are assured to be with people of your level, eevryone is a complete beginner!

Other people might feel differently and like to have their own instructor for themselves, The advantage of choosing the private lessons is to have an instructor solely focused on you, you won’t feel like you are slowing down the group or that the group is slowing you down.

A ski lesson last usually 2hrs or 2.5hrs, and in average we reckon that a person needs between 6 and 10hrs of private lessons in order to learn the basics of skiing and 5 group sessions of 2.5hrs are usually a good start for beginners.

Choosing the dates

In Samoëns the ski resort usually opens around the 15th of December to close around the 20th of April, in 2019/2020 the resort was open for 19 weeks !

The resort frequentation increase a lot at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during the school holidays of Christmas, Easter, and particularly February Half Term, so if you can try and avoid these times, the slopes will be much less busy!

During winter 2019/20, the busiest periods will be :

  • Christmas/New Year   21/12/19 – 05/01/20  (all European schools on holiday)
  • Winter half term   08/02/20 – 08/03/20 (France zones ABC, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, etc)

Ski hire and storage

One essential part of your ski holidays is.. your skis ! When planning your trip you must think that you will need to hire your equipment to go on the pistes (skis, boots, poles and helmet). You will find plenty of ski rental shop here in Samoens, and if you want to avoid the stress of renting your equipment at the last minute we recommend to book in advance online, during the busy periods it can become difficult to find a shop with equipment left available!

At the moment of choosing which shop you want to book your skis with, you must also think about where you will keep your skis, will you bring them back at your accomodation? Or do you prefer to let them in a locker near the pistes or near the cable car? You must also have in mind that at the top of the GME (main cable car) at Samoens 1600 there isn’t any rental shop, the rental shops are actually a bit higher than the beginner area, they are at the top of the Vercland cable car, from there to arrive at the beginner area you have a little slope which is not suited to complete beginners.

ZigZag has a few partners in town, if you mention you are booking ski lessons with ZigZag you may even get a disocunt ! You can find our ski hire recommendations on our web site here. The most convenient is probably Extreme Glisse, at the bottom of the GME cable car. You can also find a few companie that offers ski rental directly to your door, they would come bring you the ski gear diretly at your accomodation.

Most people buy ski clothing at home but you can keep in mind that we have a lot of stores here in town who sell ski clothing, and if you prefer to rent your clothing unfortunately we haven’t any shop who offers this service at the moment, but you can hire them online with one of our partners, les petits montagnards.

Eating on the slopes

There are two schools of thought on lunch.  Some folks will pack in a lunch but it appears that the majority take advantage of the on mountain dining for its quality and convenience.  There is no right or wrong answer. Eating out is a good way to have a long break allowing you to rest before hitting the slopes again in the afternoon, looking out a panoramic window and enjoying the view..   But you can also pack in a sandwich and eat on the chairlift or in one picnic area, you will find an area with picnic table just a few meters from the beginner area, near the public toilets.

The beginner area in Samoëns is located on the plateau at 1600, you will find 2 restaurants just next to the beginner slopes, le pré d’Oscar is a classic self service restaurant with plenty of spaces, our personal favourite is the Lou Caboëns, a great restaurant with also a snack bar outside, allowing you to watch your children having lessons while sitting comfortably and having a drink.

Contact the ZigZag office for more info by clicking on the button below.


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