While it may take a few days, and lots of bumps and bruises, to pick up the basics, you'll soon find that snowboarding is extremely addictive. The number of snowboarding resorts to choose from is immense, and most of the main resorts do have some facilities for beginners, but choosing is still not easy. To help you on your way, here’s our pick of best.
Whistler-Blackcomb – Canada
Whistler is one location doing all it can to attract beginners to the area. Aside from excellent gently sloped conditions, the resort has a number of initiatives to get newcomers into the sport. Special Discover Whistler Days give significant discounts (around 25 per cent) on learn to board courses, which run between certain dates.
Whistler has specially designated beginner areas. The Big Easy Terrain Garden on Blackcomb Mountain has an open, non-intimidating slope designed for beginners and young children.
With its mass of awards - Ski magazine voted this the number one ski resort in North America in its annual Ski Magazine Reader's Poll. With its approximate 6,000 - 10,000 vertical feet, or 1,800 - 3,500 vertical metres of skiing, you cannot go wrong. If you’re looking for a place to record your feats on your GoPro, then this is where you need to be.
Pal – Andorra
Perhaps not a place that quickly springs to mind when planning a snowboarding trip, but Pal in Andorra is the place for total novices. Over 90 per cent of the terrain is graded for beginners or intermediates, so there won’t be any advanced riders around to intimidate you.
Beginners will find they have nearly the whole place to roam around with ease. Good snowboard instruction is available from the Pal Ski School. The area is quickly developing to take advantage of its growing popularity.
While the the slope is only 1,500 metres compared to the minimum 1,800 found in Blackcomb, this location is ideal with its Romanesque church style from the early 12th century, set in the picturesque heart of the rural northwest of Spain, this is ideal for a bit of cultural appreciation if you’re interested in the history of St. Clement.
Les Arcs – France
Les Arcs has plenty for the game beginner. There is such a vast expanse of snow that the slopes are fairly quiet – you need not be concerned about being embarrassed or spending too much time on your bum. Most areas are connected by fairly easy trails and lifts. There are a lot of drag lifts, which can be daunting to the beginner – but once you get the hang of them, you’ll be fine.
Good locations for beginners include the Transarc gondola and above Peisey-Nancroix Vallandry, where the trails are relatively gentle and wide. There are several schools offering a range of courses including the French Ski School (ESF), Arc Adventures, Initial Snow, Virages, Ecole de ski Snowboard School Spirit.
The resort is also particularly good for snowboarders as opposed to skiers due to its few drag lifts. Featured first by famous instructor Régis Rolland in his Apocalypse Snow promotion of the plains, which resulted in it now being considered the central hub of snowboarding in Europe - ideal if you’re just starting out for the very first time. However, this is not quite so recommended if you intend to stay for an extended period of time, because beyond the nursery slopes the skill jump required is significant enough to cause worry if you do not yet know what you’re doing.
Hemsedal – Norway
Due to Hemsedal’s lack of steep terrain the area is largely suitable for novices and intermediates, with any advanced boarders thin on the ground, or generally in the snow park.
The park does have facilities to suit the beginner, with a specially designated ‘blue park’ with several elements like jumps, tabletops and rails – all with the brave newcomer in mind.
All the facilities are maintained and painted everyday to make them more visible. Instruction can be taken from the Hemsedal Skiskole, who offers an hour of private tuition at a very reasonable price.
With 20 lifts, 49 slopes, and the ability to ride the slopes at night, you cannot go wrong. The only thing you might be marginally disappointed with is the 3 hour transfer time it takes to get there, but the exhilaration of the approach will get that excitement flowing. This is considered more middle of the road as far as snowboarding is concerned and is mostly for those of an intermediate level, but it’s still got the main attraction of its internationally acclaimed ski school, and a great location for those just starting out no matter what the age bracket.
Madonna di Campiglio – Italy
Located high above Trento in north-eastern Italy, Madonna di Campiglio is rightfully deserving of the reputation as being one of the best resorts for snowboarding beginners. The runs are groomed flat each evening by a fleet of snow-cats, and with 43 per cent rated easy – it is ideal for newcomers.
Good starting points include the Passo Groste area with several uninterrupted novice-runs. Six separate ski schools serve the Madonna di Campiglio area; all affiliated to the Scuola Sci Italiana, with private lessons available at a reasonable price.
With its peak standing at 2,600 m (8,500 ft) and comprising of over 57 lifts, 150 km (93 mi) of ski runs, and an ability to transport 31,000 would-be skiers per hour, this makes for a perfect location set in a quaint village in the northeast of Italy with a mere 1,000 habitants you know you’re in for a peaceful time.
Risoul – France
Risoul is located between Gap and Briancon and warmly welcomes snowboarders – with easy slopes for beginners. A special area has been set aside for a snowboarding kindergarten, which can be reached by taking the cabin lift named Accueil.
The lift drops you off at a short easy run – perfect for your first try on a board. There are also two small, slow drag lifts to practice on, before going up into the real snowboard world. The Surfland snow park at Risoul is excellent for freestyle lovers with areas set aside with four levels of difficulty, including novices.
Risoul has an impressive 57,000 skiers per hour capacity, however, the area can be slightly more challenging to get to than some of the others we mentioned above. If you’re looking at a limited budget, then this may be the resort for you. It has 2, 3 and 4 star rooms available, making it an ideal place to visit if you’re getting started in the sport, but just don’t want to pay a small fortune.
Söll - Austria
Söll has excellent slopes for novices with around 40 per cent of its trails marked blue, ideal for beginners, making it an excellent starting ground. The gentle sloped beginner trails are wide and well groomed and should give any newcomer confidence. You will find that most others on the slopes are starting out too – so there won’t be too many people to make you feel intimidated.
Many beginners come to Söll to learn, so the schools are extremely well prepared to welcome would-be boarders. Ski and Snowboard School Pro-Söll offer one hour private lessons.
This resort one of the easiest of the locations to get too, by plane it is quick and only a 15 minute car ride. It has a dedicated site for beginners and those more familiar with the frost. However, if you’re really into steep slopes this may not be the place for you, because its highest slope weighs in only at 703 m (2,306 ft), a fraction of somewhere such as Madonna di Campiglio, but we don’t think we would turn down the opportunity if it was offered to us.
Trysil – Norway
Norway's largest resort is an excellent place to start out. Snowboarding is possible between November and May and the slopes are predominantly suited to beginners. Bizarrely, the higher you go, the easier things get – with some of the top sections wide and reasonably flat. Also if you fancy a bit of free-styling, The Fun Park has a separate area for newcomers, complete with a small pipe and jumps.
There are a mass of easy slopes which are well linked and well serviced by the lift system. Trysil also has an excellent beginner area with English speaking instructors. Norwegian prices for instruction are generally great on the pocket.
The guaranteed snow from December to April makes it a reliable place to return year on year. It’s full range of catering services for you and all the family are provided - it is especially recommended to go into a group. Plus you can get yourself sledded around by a pack of huskies if you get too tired from all your snowboarding fun, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love huskies. It also has 21 green level piste courses for beginners, which means if you’re just starting out and eager to see the mountain views, you aren’t confined by your skill level, but rather by your capacity to explore - perfect for when you aren’t fully confident yet.
Krasnaya Polyana – Russia
The most sophisticated ski and snowboard resort in Russia, which is renowned for its well-maintained pistes, quality après-ski, and high prices. But don’t let the expense put you off – this is an ideal location to get started, with long, wide and easy runs. Around 50 per cent of runs are rated in the ‘easy’ category for a season that runs mid December to mid March.
Snowboarding tuition is available and a one hour session is very reasonably priced. It is worth noting that as Krasnaya Polyana is situated at only 45k away from the Black Sea, snow cover can be problem – do your research before you decide to go.
Having hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, this is Russia’s most popular ski destination, with its long winding runs that are simple to concentrate on, you can focus better on the serene forests. However, it is suggested that you check the weather forecast beforehand, because although it is near the black sea, an indication of a good cold climate, there is always a possibility there may not be enough snow.
Mayrhofen - Austria
Situated in the Austrian Tyrol, this is an excellent place for beginners with the Ahorn and its easy practice slopes being considered the best place to get started. The resort as a whole is becoming a real destination for snowboarders, and some of Austria’s top free riders come here, so after making a fool of yourself you could watch some of the best to see how it should be done.
The resort caters to boarders with the extensive Burton Park. The park has five jumps, with two of these being beginner tables, and a rail line strictly for beginners. Mayrhofen Total offer two hours snowboarding tuition for a good price as part of a group session.
Mayrhofen has many peaks for beginners, and pistes for advanced riders. With its 136 piste km (84 miles) and 57 lifts this is surely a great way to kick off your holiday, you can even grab an igloo if you’re feeling adventurous! It has cheap rooms at excellent quality, and there are always rooms available, even in peak season. The Harakiri has a 78% gradient slope - but we wouldn’t recommend trying this one for some time yet.