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HOLIDAY 99 : Five of the best resorts for the L-plate skiier.

Les Arcs, France

THIS is a high-altitude, purpose-built ski resort with excellent skiing. It's home to the ski evolutif method of teaching, where beginners start out on mini skis and progress to longer skis each day. By the end of the week you should be skiing competently.

The resort has three levels. Opt for Arc 1800, which is the most fun and has a lively atmosphere.

One bonus of most French ski resorts is that you can ski to and from your front door - no long walks to ski lifts in uncomfortable boots.

PACKAGE: Crystal (0870 848 7000) 1 week full board at Hotel L'Aiguille Rouge, pounds 575pp (mid-Jan). Price includes free wine with four-course evening meal, rooms with balconies and six-day free ski pass (worth pounds 116).

Learn-to-ski package, pounds 189, includes ski school instruction, lift pass, hire of skis and boots.

Flaine, France

CAR-FREE resort popular with British families. Flaine lies in a sunny, open snow bowl with over 265 kilometres of ski runs. First timers start on gentle nursery slopes in the resort, then move on to green and blue wide runs which run back down to the village. The ski school teaches the ski evolutif method.

Accommodation is mainly in self-catering apartments which can keep the overall cost of the package down, but there is also a good selection of restaurants, pizzas and takeaways. Nightlife is on the quiet side, but there is an ice rink, cinema and indoor swimming pool.

PACKAGE: Thomson Ski (0870 606 1470) 1wk self-catering in Home Int. Apartments pounds 245pp (mid-Jan). Six-day learn to ski, pounds 111 - includes hire of skis and boots. Lift pass pounds 104.

THIS resort has very good facilities for young children with their own kindergarten. The tourist office hosts late afternoon events for children including Punch and Judy shows, painting and sleigh rides. Free lift passes for children born after Jan 1, 1993. Apres ski is lively with bars and discos. Ski school has a good reputation and there's a wide variety of skiing to suit all grades.

PACKAGE: Crystal Ski (0870 848 7000) 1-week half-board at attractive Hotel Berghof, pounds 439pp (mid-Jan). Ski school pounds 76, skis and boots pounds 47, lift pass pounds 99.

Geilo Norway

SET in beautiful scenery in the heart of Norway's Winterland. Excellent snow record which lasts until the end of April.

Beginners will find the ski runs comfortingly wide to make looping, gentle turns. Wide choice of activities as well as skiing, including dog-sled tours, reindeer sleigh rides, night skiing (for the experienced), tobogganning and snow-scootering.

PACKAGE: Neilson (08705 14 14 14) 1wk half-board at the Quality Vestlia Hotel and Cabins, pounds 409pp (mid-Jan).

Learn to ski, six days pounds 120, hire of boots and skis pounds 64, lift pass pounds 75.

Soll, Austria

ONE of Austria's liveliest resorts, more suited to couples and groups of friends rather than families. There are long easy runs through the trees, perfect for beginners. The ski school pushes novices along so they can enjoy the slopes higher up. Great range of slopes. The village centre is pedestrianised with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants.

PACKAGE: Airtours ski (0870 6081950) 1wk half-board at Pension Schonblick - basic but comfortable - pounds 329pp (mid-Jan). Ski-lift pass pounds 75, skis and boots pounds 36, ski school (five days, four hours daily) pounds 66.

NOT an attractive resort but it has some of the most extensive skiing anywhere in Europe. Several ski schools, and ESP school now has a popular teenage-only class in peak season. Skiing is gentle on green and blue runs for beginners.

Accommodation is largely in cramped self-catering apartments. The plus point is that you can usually ski to and from the front door.

PACKAGE: First Choice (0870 754 3477) 1wk self-catering at Residence Plagne Lauze apartments, 300 metres from ski school and ski lifts, pounds 348pp. Ski and boot hire pounds 71, ski school pounds 92, ski-lift pass pounds 128.FACTFILELONDON Ski and Snowboard Show, Olympia, runs until November 7 and will have stands representing Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra, Scotland, Scandinavia, America and Canada, along with many ski-tour operators and specialist clothing stands. Details of opening times on Hotline 0990 900090.

Details of ski discounts available through: Ski Solutions 0171-471 7700, Skiers Travel Bureau 0113-292 0893, Ski Travel Bureau 0141-649 9696 and Alpine Answers 0181-871 4656.

For a useful guide with honest reports on ski resorts, see The Good Skiing And Snowboarding Guide 2000, edited by Peter and Felice Hardy, published by Which Books at pounds 15.99.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:King, Sarah Whitfield
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 30, 1999
Next Article:HOLIDAY 99 : Reach for the ski; The new skiing season is just weeks away. Here Sarah Whitfield King looks at what snow buffs can expect.

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