If you are planning a family ski trip, particularly if its your first venture to the slopes with the kids, its important to choose the right resort. There’s nothing worse than having to ski down the mountain with a screaming 5 year old on your back,who refuses to ski a moment longer, down unsuitable runs, that turn them off of skiing for ever. Or, spending a week cooped up with a moody, bored teenager with nothing to keep them entertained when they get back from the slopes. So before you book your family ski holiday, make sure you do your research..
how old is your child? Some ski schools will take three year olds but the minimum age for others is four and even five. Check the minimum age before you choose a resort and country. Generally snowboard school will only take kids from five years and up. You dont want to turn up, only to be told your little one cant join in as they are too young.
Is their a British run ski school with English speaking instructors? Leaving Mummy & Daddy and heading up a mountain can be scary stuff and although a lot of decent local instructors will speak excellent English, it might be worth seeking out a British run Ski school. A good ski instructor that speaks good English will be less intimidating for them and will help them understand easily and help them if (when) they get scared. many resorts, particularly in France have British ski schools with British instructors?
Are the slopes ski-in out? You don’t want to get a skibus to the slopes, while your kids are miles away in a different location on the nursery slopes. Ski in-out resorts with convenient nursery slopes by the main lifts are best. You might want to ski back and have lunch with your little ones, or split the childcare between Mummy and Daddy, so ski in-out would be much more convenient.
You also don’t want a resort that is aimed at advanced skiers. When your kids come out of ski school, you may be surprised how quickly they have picked it up. They will want to hit the big slopes with you, but steep blacks and moguls are not a good idea. A resort with lots of Green and Blue runs are best, although there are plenty with a varied ski area, with runs for the whole family.
Snow gardens / Kindergardens
Does the resort offer a fun area where the smaller children can enjoy sledging and make a snowman? These are often used by the kids clubs, on sunny days to keep your kids entertained outside, while you enjoy the skiing. You can also enjoy these with your kids when you come back from the slopes.
Family friendly accommodation
Hotels – Are their hotels that cater for kids? You may want to take advantage of hotel run kids clubs or crèche. You might prefer to book a package with a UK family ski operator such as Mark Warner or Esprit, who offer top quality childcare with UK childcare staff and nannies. These operators run hotels and chalets offer a very secure option and they even have free evening childcare and listening services, so you can enjoy an evening without the kids. Lots of family orientated hotels have games rooms, indoor pools and various activities to keep the older kids busy in the evenings, so you can relax with friends with a glass of wine in the bar.
Self catering - You may prefer large apartments to keep costs down. Your little home away from home, with the kids tucked up in bed, you can enjoy a glass of wine in the living room with a good movie on. These are particularly good if you have a large family or group, where you can all stay in the same large apartment. Cooking your own food might not be everyone’s first choice but those of you with fussy kids, might find it a better option. Most resorts will have a decent supermarket and prices are reasonable, compared to mountain restaurants.
Chalets - Private chalets are a great option for families. These are very safe and secure, particularly if you book a chalet just for your group. They come as self catering, or catered, where your chalet hosts cook breakfast and dinner and wine is generally included. Chalets come in various sizes from intimate 6 bed chalets, to large chalets that can sleep 30 plus people. As mentioned previously, there are tour operators that offer chalet packages, where you can still take advantage of childcare and crèche facilities, that may be located in one of the larger chalets or a nearby hotel.
Creche & Nannies
If you haven’t booked a package through a tour operator but still want childcare for your little ones, you can always book a nanny service, or use the local drop in crèche. Most major ski resorts, particularly in France offer nanny services, such as SnowBabies in Tignes & val D’isere. A lot of these are UK operated and for about £600 for a week, a qualified UK nanny will look after your child in your chalet or in their own crèche facility. If you prefer to keep costs down, why not find out which resorts have local daycare crèche, where you can drop you child for the day or prebook a week for about £200. Find out more about ski resorts with baby care.
Off the slopes
You may want to pick a resort that has lots of activities available off the slopes to keep the kids busy. Lots of the larger resorts will have public swimming pools, ice rinks and toboggan runs, all great fun when the kids are bored skiing (and good fun for the parents too). If you have older kids, choose a resort that is popular with other tourists from your neck of the woods. We all like a bit of culture, but your kids aren’t that interested and would rather mix with lots of kis their own age, they can understand and have fun with.
Our top 5 family ski resorts
Alp D’Huez, France
great nursery slopes and good for beginners – British ski school available – great value – - Heated outdoor public pool – high snowsure and sunny resort: We recommend the chalethotel Marianre, by Esprit
ski in-out resort – safe, traffic free village – nursery slopes in the centre of the resort plus lots of beginner slopes – British run ski school available – ski & snowboard at Village De Enfants from 3 years old – Aquariaz indoor water park: we like the luxurious Premium L’Amara apartments with their own indoor pool and the fabulous Club Med resort, with kids clubs for 4-17 year olds
great value family resort – wide choice of family chalets & chalethotels – drop in crèche run by ESF – various UK nanny services available – wide easy runs and easy access to gentle nursery slopes: Mark Warner, Esprit and Club Med all have fantastic family chalethotels in la Plagne
Quiet mainly traffic free village – locally run kindergaden & mini club – lots of gentle, wide blue runs in and around the village – high snowsure resort great for late Easter bookings – Esprit offer two family chalets with childcare: Esprit chalet Verwall has onsite kids clubs and is just 80 metres from the nursery slopes. The sister chalet closeby houses the crèche and miniclub.
fantastic skiing linked to Zermatt without the price tag – excellent village nursery slope – lots of gentle runs – kindergarden and local mini club run by the ski school – English speaking instructors: Club Med Cervinia offers a luxury ski option, with childcare available from 2 years.
To book any of the hotels listed here or any other family ski holidays contact Travel Action