Have you taken a ski lesson? If not, you probably should. Ski and snowboard instructors are well-trained and they can help you make drastic improvements in short periods of time.
I only took one lesson when I was a kid, then I proceeded to "figure it out" the rest of the way. That was probably a mistake. I spent a long time fighting myself as a result of bad form.
Years later, when I started working at a ski resort, I finally took a second lesson. With good instruction, I improved more in one afternoon than I had in years.
Unfortunately, all of that expertise comes at a high price. Ski lessons are incredibly expensive but definitely worthwhile. If you spend a couple days taking lessons early on, you can have way more fun in the long run. You won't fight yourself and you'll get down the mountain smoother and safer. They're also a great alternative to daycare. The kids can learn to ski with a trained professional while you escape the bunny slope.
That said, they're pretty unaffordable at full price, especially when you are already spending so much money on other amenities. So, here are a couple ways you can try to bring down the cost.
Learn at a Smaller Mountain
If it's your first time skiing, consider taking your first trip to a smaller resort. Amenities and access might not be the same, but they tend to be much less expensive and much less crowded. As a beginner, you spend most of your time on the easy runs anyway, so you don't need a huge mountain.
I still tend to prefer smaller resorts over their more famous counterparts due to their lack of crowds.
National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. So, a lot of resorts and ski organizations hold significant promotions.
Details vary widely, but they usually feature an incredibly inexpensive package including lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. If you plan to give skiing a try in January, see if you can take advantage of these deals. For details, call your chosen resort or go to websites for local ski organizations, like Ski Utah, Ski Vermont, or Ski New Hampshire.
It's no secret that group lessons are typically much cheaper than private lessons. The quality of group lessons vary a lot and depends on the size of the group and the instructor.
If you're really motivated to learn though, a group lesson has a great hidden advantage. You can learn from everybody else's mistakes. By paying attention to all your group mates, you can get multiple lessons for the price of one.
If you still think a private lesson would be better but don't want to pay for it, try taking a group lesson during an off-peak time. If it's the middle of the week and not a holiday, it's very likely that your group size will be small and the experience will be closer to that of a private lesson.
Private Lessons for Large Families
Do you have a large family? Do none of you really know how to ski? Then a private lesson is actually a great option for you. Most resorts will allow you to buy one private lesson for multiple people. Depending on the number of people, this can actually make it cheaper than multiple group lessons. It also has the potential benefit of creating some family time together.
I've shared a lesson with a close friend before which worked out great because we were able to monitor each other's form after the lesson.
A lot of options fall under this title and it's going to involve you calling both the mountain and your hotel, but it's worth it. Resorts like to bundle services together in order to make sure you use their stuff. As a result, you can find bundles of rentals, lodging, lessons, and lift tickets.
The exact combinations and deals vary and depend on your resort, but it seems like everywhere has some sort of promotion trying to keep you on the property. Take advantage of these deals.
If you want to take more than one lesson, see if your resort does lesson packs. At some resorts, they'll give you significant discounts for buying more than one lesson at a time. For example, Winter Park Resort runs a deal in conjunction with King Soopers that can save you a lot of money throughout the week if you need more than one lesson.
A lot of these packs tend to go unadvertised, so they can be difficult to track down. If you call the mountain, they'll usually help you hunt down these discounts.
Last but not least, you can always take a tour. To be clear, this is not a lesson. If you don't know how to ski, this won't help you. If you want to be shown secret stashes of powder and learn the mountain from a local, this is great. A lot of resorts do them and it's a pretty decent idea early in your vacation.
Take a Lesson
If you want to learn to ski, you should take a lesson. Yes, they're expensive, but they can keep you safe and help you have more fun in the long term. A lesson has saved me a lot of struggle. And please, tip your ski instructors. They typically see only a very small amount of that huge lesson fee.