December 26 2010
I have always dreaded the first three days’ skiing, when muscles that have lain dormant for most of the year begin to scream for mercy. Of course one always intends to do the pre-ski exercises but what with Christmas and New Year they rarely receive the attention required. So the discovery of a short avant ski course was welcome news even before I had discovered how much fun was involved.
It is run at that most sportif of country hotels, The Grove in Herfordshire, just north of London, and includes two nights’ stay, fitness classes tailored to one’s, ah, physique, and half a day at the new Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. This has a 160m indoor slope, the largest in the UK, on freshly made snow. Sensibly this is followed by a sauna – and cheese fondue with plenty of vin chaud.
The following morning’s programme includes a pilates session (my favourite form of stretching) at the hotel’s Sequoia Spa. As a substitute for self-discipline it might take some beating, at least in this household.
Avant Ski runs over the weekends of January 7-9, 14-16 and 28-30. From £495 per person.