I visited Snozone for the first time on Saturday, and I thought I'd post my
first impressions of the place (as a skier).
On Friday I rang to check that it would be open and if I needed to book -
the woman said no need to book if I was planning on getting there early. I
home at 7.30am (ouch) and arrived at the Snozone at 8.40am. It's certainly
an impressive building. There were a few people unloading boards from cars,
but generally it was very quiet. There were no queues at the check-in, so I
paid for my one hour (20) and wandered in. There were hardly any people
there, so I was pleased that I'd made the effort to get up at an unholy
hour. Compared to the SnowDome the changing areas are very clean and
spacious, and there are lots of lockers to store your stuff while you ski.
The lockers require a 1 coin to operate, but this is returned.
I changed and clipped my boots up (for the first time since July) and was at
the turnstile to enter the slope at 8.55am. There was no queue, but there
was a problem with their computer system: it refused to open the turnstiles
when you put your pass on top of the gate. 9.00am arrived and the four or
five people now waiting were getting a bit unhappy. The staff were pretty
good, saying that our time would be extended so we wouldn't miss out. After
a few minutes the staff told us to squeeze through the turnstiles as they
were re-setting the computer system.
Once inside, the left hand drag lift was working, but once again the
turnstile wouldn't open (presumably the same computer system). The lift
attendant said to go around the turnstile and grab a button, which we did.
Happily when I had completed one run everything was working (by about
9.10am). Lift operator said that he would extend our time on the slope to
10.30am giving us an extra 30 minutes. I was pleased at this - 10 minutes
of minor inconvenience compensated by an extra 30 minutes skiing. Very
The skiing itself? Amazing! It really is real snow! I used to ski a lot
on plastic, but eventually gave it up as it was not a pleasant experience.
The SnowDome in Tamworth is OK, especially as I like skiing on icy snow, but
it is just too far from home to make it a regular proposition. The Snozone,
however, is the real thing. The left hand slope (as you look up the hill)
had a couple of ramps built up and the snow was a bit looser than the right
hand slope. The top ramp was fenced off, and only a couple of boarders were
using the lower ramp. As this side had two obstacles most people were using
the right hand slope, which suited me fine - I almost had that slope to
The slope is just about steep enough to pick up a bit of speed. I was using
for the first time my new XScream 9s - liked them a lot. Can't wait to try
them out in the mountains. I really liked the inside of the building - I
know some people have complained it is too bare, but I liked the fact that
it was plain white. I would be unhappy if resorts started to erect massive
advertising hoardings in the Alps - so I'm happy with the inside of the
Snozone as it is. There was music playing, but not so loud that it
dominated things. I'm sure that if there was some sort of event or party
going on it could do with being a bit louder, but for general recreation I
thought it was about right. I also liked that as you rode the drag you
passed a number of treadmills in the fitness club - it was fun to wave to
the same person as you took the lift to the top again.
By 9.30am there were about 20 people (about 6 or 7 skiers, the rest
boarding) plus a snowboard class on the training slope. This meant that
there was never a queue at the turnstiles. I had read on this list of
people who only got half a dozen runs in during their hour, so I had my
complaint all rehearsed. As it turned out, I lost track of the number of
runs I had. No complaints on that front. As reported here before, the drag
stopped a couple of times when the safety bar was hit by a returning button.
The staff reset the system pretty quickly; it seemed they were looking out
for this to happen and dealt with it quickly. One thing I found annoying
with the drag was how jerky it is. The spring in the buttons was constantly
extending and contracting. Not difficult to ride, just tedious. It is also
very slow. I suppose a high speed quad is out of the question!
I found all the staff I dealt with were very friendly and enthusiastic (top
marks to Dave). This compares well with my experience at the SnowDome where
some of the kids working the slope must have been press-ganged into
employment as they clearly didn't want to be there.
At 10.00 the turnstile announced that this was my last run (the ***!). I
spoke to the lift attendant and he said that he would let me continue until
10.30. Great; I was only just beginning to get warmed up. He used his
staff pass to let me, plus a few others who were also in the same position,
get through the turnstiles. As he was also looking after the right hand
drag (which opened at about 9.45) he had to dash back and for between the
two lifts, but this wasn't a problem.
I left the slope just before 10.30. Even by this time it was still very
quiet, with never more than four or five people waiting for the drag lift.
The left and right hand slopes were never busy, and it was often possible to
start your run with no one on the slope.
Outside the slope the cafe and seating area is very comfortable. I didn't
buy anything but it looked good - including the opportunity to have a full
English breakfast, something that I have been looking for in France for a
very long time!. There was a large screen TV playing EuroSport's coverage
of some GS event. The place seemed very nice - I wonder how long it will
look so clean and new?
Overall I had a great time there. It was much quieter than I expected, the
staff were good, the snow was fabulous and the minor glitches I experienced
were more than compensated by the free skiing time. My only concern was the
price. I don't find that an hour is long enough (it takes me that long just
to find my ski legs), so skiing for two hours at peak rate is 40, plus 10
for petrol. At 50 for two hours skiing I will never be a regular visitor
at Snozone (visiting it during off-peak hours is just about impossible).
I've received a discount voucher from theboarder.co.uk (thanks guys) and I'm
hoping to use it for another session in a couple of weeks time, but I guess
that my trips to the Snozone will fall into the category of the occasional
treat - maybe twice a year - than a regular visit to improve my skiing. A
discount scheme which didn't require payment up front (the SnowDome gives
discount for members of the Ski Club of GB) would be a improvement on the
current price structure, as would having the second hour for 5. If this
could happen I might be tempted to go more often, perhaps every two or three
weeks, but at current prices this would add up to three weeks skiing in the
Alps. As much as I enjoyed my time at the Snozone, it did not compare with
skiing in the Alps!