Skiing advice(19 Posts)
We've just come back from centerparcs de Kempervennen, it's great with kids this age, they have a snow dome on site, our kids did a weeks ski lessons, then we'd do other stuff like swimming later in the day. I too can't wait to go on a proper ski holiday, but didn't want to put the kids off, having done de Kempervennen for 2 years now the kids (5 & 6) are asking to go on a proper ski holiday now- result! Hence me checking out ski chat here. Other good thing about centerparcs in the Netherlands, is its half the price of UK. Lessons started for 4 year olds at de Kempervennen.
A snowdome's definitely a good idea, although you'll probably have to do a private lesson for the youngest (I know MK and Hemel Hempstead near us don't take them in group lessons till 4). Both mine had a couple of private lessons when they were 3 or so, and it's amazing how much confidence they get with just half an hour's one-to-one tuition.
I think you have to be realistic about both kids' ability. If they've never skiied before, the 6 yr old might not end up further than nursery slopes either and you might find they are less keen than the little one iykwim, but having said that as long as they're well wrapped up our two were perfectly happy in January conditions and spent hours in the snow - lots of sledging, snowman building, lots of goes up the nursery slopes/easier slopes. At this age, the vital thing is getting them into good lessons with understanding, English-speaking instructors. With the younger ones, Snowbizz also have a creche assistant on the slope with the kids during the lesson, so if there are any that are struggling, there is someone there for a cuddle and lots of encouragement that you won't get with most ski schools.
Somewhere with an afternoon creche is ideal. With Snowbizz we had a couple of afternoons in the week when the kids went into the creche (they do lots of indoor activities, craft etc or quite often take them out sledging etc) and we went off skiing.
Also, if you're going in January it will be really quiet - perfect for them to get a first taste of skiing without the crowds.
Think you need to be realistic about the limitations of your younger d. He probably won't progress off the snowgarden area particularly if you are going in school holidays and skischool/resort are busy. Many skischools don't take children who are not yet school age. Are you really confident enough to supervise them skiing yourself ?
January can also be very cold so make sure they are well insulated against cold and wet. As beginners they can expect to stand around a lot rather than keep moving. Pick a smallish, pretty resort with facilities such as an indoor pool so that you can occupy the dc away form the skiing. Avoid the "artificial " slopes as they are nothing like the real thing . A short course at a snowdome is far preferable but again watch that they will take your lo.
Skiing on a dry slope is a bit like trying to slide on a massive toothbrush. Not ideal, of course but better than nothing, I would say. How many beginners go on a dry slope and then cancel their holiday because they're put off? At least they get a pleasant surprise when they try real snow in resort as it appears easier. And they're less likely to spend their first week falling off drag-lifts and holding everyone up.
We have a snow dome very close to us, which is lovely, but most people haven't.
I would advise against dry slopes before real snow, they often put beginners off. Snow domes are good for trying it out of you're near one though.
I'd echo checking if the school will take under 4s. In Canada my DS was too young, something about their leg muscles etc.
Is it worth going to dry slopes before you set off? I stubbornly refused dry slope lessons before my first ski trip, I then struggled on the holiday.
I have done larosiere (sp) too and we loved it. Was pre DS but could see it would be calm enough for families.
Enjoy. My DS is now 5 but am expecting DC2 so we won't be back on the slopes for a few years.
I can't rate Snowbizz highly enough. We've just been for the second time and are about to book for next year. Especially for your 3.5yr old, you'll have to be very careful about choosing the right lessons and you don't want to put them off. We went to Flaine when our now 6 yr old was 3.5 and we had to pull her out of group lessons as all the kids were miserable and I wasn't convinced the instructor was capable of looking after such a large group of little ones (10 I think), especially after we saw one of them wandering off after he left them in a cafe while he took one to the loo. Snowbizz are absolutely brilliant - they have a specialist group (Toton) for 3-4 yr olds which combines a one-hour lesson and three-hour crèche session. The lessons for the older ones/adults are excellent and my 6 yr old is now rocketing down blue runs. It's a really lovely, quiet family resort with everything literally on the doorstep (essential when youve got little ones) and the Snowbizz MD Michel is on hand every day making sure everything runs smoothly. I would seriously consider it if you want a completely stress-free first family ski holiday.
I'm not into exercise at all in the normal run of things (unlike dh who does everything) but I make an exception for skiing. Yes, it's tough on your muscles, but once you know what you're doing, it's a bit like the good bits of cycling - all downhill!
A couple of things to bear in mind: I have a vague idea that some ski-schools won't take children younger than 4, so check that out. Also, it'll be quite some time (as in a couple of years) before your kids are going to be able to accompany you up the mountain on anything more than a green run, but stick with it and you'll have some fabulous holidays in future. Ours (mid-teens now) have been skiing every year since around 7yo and it's so lovely to ski as a family now we're all done with lessons.
Where's your nearest snow-dome or, at a push, dry slope? Get them all some lessons before you go. That will make a big difference.
Second the idea of going with other families. We've always done this and it gives you lots of options for boxing and coxing with covering beginners/children/more advanced skiiers. Even now, we split into different groups at different times according to who fancies what at the time.
Sadly, next week when we're all going, I'm going to be back in the chalet in front of the fire with a book, as I've broken my leg!
DrWitch - yes I was considering another family coming with us and will look into your recommendation. Thanks!
In response to the other comment about later in the year.. I have been before and had both good and bad experiences with snow or lack of it which is why I sort of thought the start of the year. Also didn't want the boys off school any longer than needs be.
Without anyone thinking I'm speaking out of turn... My DW moans about pretty much anything that has a form of exercise lol.. BUT to her credit she will give anything a go so my main concerns are really ensuring the boys have. Good time so that we can make this a yearly thing
I hadn't thought about the private lessons that way.. That's a good idea. I just thought if they were in a ski school together they would make friends and if they weren't split up, maybe not be so upset if they didn't see either mum or dad?
I understand they tend to split children by age/experience and although I want to ski. Would rather keep little man with me than leave him in a crèche while we have fun..
based on comments so far - would I be better off maybe taking them on a 3/4nights trip or stick with a week?
La rosiere /eucherts is really good for families and beginners, ski in/ski out so no buses in ski boots etc, sunny slopes and lots of easy runs. The ski schools are really good (sympathetic to those who don't like going too fast and nice with children)
in terms of logistics it depends on how much you want to spend and how much you want to off load your children, you can put them in creche all day (the helpers will take them and pick them up for lessons). You could just do lessons in the morning and then perhaps ski with your eldest in the afternoon
It might be more fun for your children (especially the youngest) if you went with another family, you could then take in turns to look after the youngest ones in the afternoon while the others took the bigger ones skiing.
If yourwife prefers warm weather have you thought about going later on in the season? In January it willbe cold, but by march its perfectly possible to bask when the sun is out.
Less bitterly cold for little children too.
Your boys maybe too young for boarding but if you think your wife will hate skiing she may love boarding. I have seen it happen loads of times where people aren't keen on one but love the other.
Have you thought of snowboarding? Way much more fun, less equipment, miles cooler!
How about getting DS1 and DW a shared private lesson, and putting DS2 into ski kindergarten?
You ski properly when they're having lessons, then all come together for the other half of the day to skate/toboggan/swim or whatever else your resort has to offer.
Thank you both for your comments.. May try the 360 option due to the plan B options of activities should they ALL hate it lol😳
My heart is saying to wait until my youngest is a year older but I have really wanted to ski the past couple of years and am excited about sharing the experience with the boys. I think I'm resigned to the fact that my DW will hate it as she is into her sun holidays but I'm hoping it will give her am enjoyable alternative (fingers crossed)!
Younger ds may or may not take to skiing: what's plan b if he hates it and needs to be with you all day? Older ds and dw might hate it too of course! If they love it prepare for many very expensive holidays over the next 15 years.
East coast USA is a great option - fab with kids and journey time very little longer than to some bits of the alps.
Go to 360 ski in les carroz and put both boys in ski school. Can pull little one out if it doesnt work.They are very flexible and the food is great. Les carroz is a lovely proper village so ok to spend time in if you don't ski.
I wonder if anyone would be able to offer some advice on the following points prior to me booking anything..
I have been skiing a couple of times and 'caught the bug'. As such, I would like to take my wife (non skier) and 2 boys who will be 3.5yrs and 6yrs in JAN 2014.
I have looked at many of the threads but still wanted a bit more of an insight into what would be best for us.
1) What would be the best place to visit for our first family trip? I have been to La Tania and enjoyed that - however want a child friendly base in any country on a half board basis.. Andorra looked ok?
2) should I put boys in a private lesson together or the older boy into ski school and my youngest into private lessons.. or neither?
3) What tour operators would be able to assist with above? I have looked at Crystal and Snowbizz and feel they are quite reasonably priced operators.
Apologies for the number of questions however I would like to book up soon in order to get a better deal.
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