Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Great news, you’re going on a ski trip! You are not alone, skier visits were the fifth highest on record last season and early momentum for the 2021-22 season is strong. Meanwhile, labor shortages are still very real and reverberating through the ski industry. Early reports suggest finding and securing a private instructor may be more challenging than normal. Avant Ski contributor, John Gelb, who has been an instructor at Stratton and Butternut for more than a decade, shares six secrets for a smooth search for the right private ski instructor.
Don't fall for the myth that if you've booked well in advance you just need to contact the resort to reserve “a great ski instructor” over the holidays. Not so fast! Most resorts are likely to provide the same response, “All our instructors are great, and your child/husband/wife/friend will learn a ton.” If only...
Ski instructors cover the range: Great – Good – Meh. Even amongst the great instructors, some are better with adults, others with kids, and it’s worth investing time upfront to find the best fit. Here are six secrets to uncover some of the best private instructors.
Ask your friends to share an instructor’s name for lessons they have enjoyed. Ask for specific feedback; why did they like this instructor and for what type of skier? Of course, promise you will always check with them before reserving the instructor.
Google “ski instructor, name of resort you are visiting" and contact the names that pop up. These instructors are aggressively marketing themselves, and are probably top tier. The very best instructors are always busy skiing and teaching. Mediocre instructors may not even care if they get lessons…they’re just in it for the free season ski pass.
Repeat this search on Facebook.
Visit ski shops in your hometown or at your resort, ask the boot fitters/clothing salespeople/ski salespeople & techs whom they’d recommend as a ski instructor. Ask for specifics, for my daughter who’s 8; for my never-ever teen-ager; for my husband who’s afraid of going too fast.
Visit one or two restaurants/bars and ask servers if they know ski instructors they’d recommend…they’ll know, and they’ll tell you. This requires some advance planning.
Be Aware of These Constraints
Ski resorts determine which instructors are returning during September-October.
Begin to contact resorts by early November. The best instructors book up early. However, keep in mind, the majority of ski instructors are part-time, so resorts won't know their staff availability until instructors have provided calendars. It's a delicate balance, you don't want to call too early either.
Don’t be surprised if a young instructor on your list is not available. The young instructors tend to turnover frequently due to high school and college demands.
Specific instructor reservations are primarily for private lessons. All-day private lessons for a small group will also generally allow advanced instructor bookings.
Bottom line: anyone taking a private ski lesson will have more fun and learn more quickly with an excellent, rather than just an “ok” ski instructor. And remember, START EARLY!
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