Things to do: The Snow Centre

Want to brush up on your technique before heading to the Alps? Have the balance and centre of gravity of a giraffe in the snow and need lessons? Want your child to start learning? Then head up to The Snow Centre for a nice day (or weekend) out. 

Date Visited: 3rd – 5th January 2020

Location:  St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9NH

Getting There: Most easily accessible by car, however, Hemel Hempstead station is the closest, with St Albans City another option. We opted to base ourselves in Watford Junction for the weekend, given that there was the Intu shopping centre close by to visit post-skiing. A 20-minute Uber away from The Snow Centre and a quick train from London Euston.

Cost: Transport-wise, the train from London is about £10, whilst the Uber to The Snow Centre was approximately £20. Accommodation at the Holiday Inn was about £60 per night. Lessons themselves start from £42 for group lessons (about 4-5 per lesson) with equipment hire included. 

ABC Dad The Snow Centre geared up

The Snow Centre Review: 

Further to Cara’s dabble at ice-skating, we’re now skiing! I joined Cara and her Mum on Friday evening after work, and was proud to hear that she did well at her first group skiing lesson. That was a good sign for the weekend classes. Upon arriving at The Snow Centre, it’s weird to see a large complex situated in the middle of a residential zone.  Once inside, it’s run like clockwork and is surprisingly organised. You check-in, receive a pass detailing when your class is and where to wait for the teacher. There’s space to change, lockers to store gear, and a large cafe and waiting area upstairs. This included an outdoor balcony area that allows you to watch, so make sure you bring something warm to wear if you decide to go out.

On Saturday, we headed off to The Snow Centre for Cara’s private ski lesson, which is approximately 45 minutes. Standing on the balcony watching her, she was very good at following the instructions and slowly gained in confidence. The teachers must be the most patient people! The lessons have different levels, starting with the basics all the way up to full competency. There are also additional lessons for those wishing to learn tricks! While the kids (or adults) are skiing, there’s the waiting and viewing area upstairs where you can grab a drink and some food. Prices aren’t too bad given where we were. At least the fries were tasty.

Once the lesson is done, it’s a quick change and snack for Cara before heading back to Watford Junction to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. More details of that below. 

On Saturday, we headed off to The Snow Centre for Cara’s private ski lesson, which is approximately 45 minutes. Standing on the balcony watching her, she was very good at following the instructions and slowly gained in confidence. The teachers must be the most patient people! The lessons have different levels, starting with the basics all the way up to full competency. There are also additional lessons for those wishing to learn tricks! While the kids (or adults) are skiing, there’s the waiting and viewing area upstairs where you can grab a drink and some food. Prices aren’t too bad given where we were. At least the fries were tasty.

For Sunday, it was back to group lessons – level 1B. This involved practising walking around with the skis, snow-ploughing, and jumping on the magic carpet. Again, Cara did well and seemed to enjoy herself. Only hiccup was at the end of the lesson where she couldn’t unclip her ski and had a slight meltdown. Nevertheless, I was very proud of her and she did a lot better at it than me! I only recall her falling down a couple of times, which is always good for practice. A good sign that she had fun was that she’s wanting to go back, so some additional lessons have been booked for the end of January, prior to a planned ski trip in Italy during February.

For Sunday, it was back to group lessons – level 1B. This involved practising walking around with the skis, snow-ploughing, and jumping on the magic carpet. Again, Cara did well and seemed to enjoy herself. Only hiccup was at the end of the lesson where she couldn’t unclip her ski and had a slight meltdown. Nevertheless, I was very proud of her and she did a lot better at it than me! I only recall her falling down a couple of times, which is always good for practice. A good sign that she had fun was that she’s wanting to go back, so some additional lessons have been booked for the end of January, prior to a planned ski trip in Italy during February.

ABC Dad The Snow Centre Entrance

Free-styling?

If you don’t need lessons, then there’s an 160 metre slope to practice on. I noticed it does get quite busy towards late morning / lunchtime, so might be best to head there as early as possible to get as many runs in. There’s also a tubing section for both kids and adult. The Snow Centre also offers birthday parties or corporate events hire, with private rooms in the waiting area. 

What else is there to do?

As mentioned above, we based ourselves in Watford Junction. This was due to its ease of getting there from London, short drive to The Snow Centre, and having an Intu shopping centre. So what is there to do once the skiing or snowboarding is finished?

  • Rock Up – kids still have too much energy after skiing? Then head over to Rock Up (within the Intu centre) and they can burn off some more. Cara gave the rock climbing a crack but found it a little difficult, so headed to the soft play area instead. After spending an hour there, she exited with a sweaty brow, ready for dinner.
  • JRC Global Buffet – and dinner there was! One of the largest buffets in London which had its own documentary, it offers a variety of dishes to select from with soft drinks included. We all had a few plates but it’s probably not somewhere where we would visit regularly. It doesn’t beat the buffets served at the fancy hotels in UAE or Asia…

I’m sure that there’s more to do in Watford than the above, however that’s all we had time to do. On our next visit to The Snow Centre, we’ll most likely check out St Albans and base ourselves there.

ABC Dad Rock Up
I came in like a wrecking ball…  
Tips
  1. If you prefer to purchase your own snow gear, pre-purchase them at places like Mountain Warehouse or Decathlon. Unless you’re a pro, there’s probably no need to purchase items from Snow+Rock.  
  2. To save on costs, you can pack pre-made food. snacks and drinks for The Snow Centre. 
  3. Enjoy watching them! It was great seeing Cara learning how to ski and I’m sure the kids enjoy showing off their new skills to their parents too.

Ratings:

Burn Time: 5 out of 5 – even though I didn’t ski or snowboard, the weekend flew by. Perhaps it was because it was our first time there. It may be a bit more dull if you went there every weekend.
Value: 2 out of 5 –
the lessons aren’t too expensive given that it’s well organised and equipped, however when you add in overnight stays, dining out and extra activities, it does add up!
Overall: 4 out of 5 –
provides a nice skill to have (better to learn when they’re younger – no fear in kids) and keeps them fit.

Please leave your comment if you’ve been and experienced The Snow Centre. How did you or your child go?

ABC Dad The Snow Centre 01 ABC Dad The Snow Centre ski ABC Dad The Snow Centre ski2

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.