Please help us with our first family ski trip.(23 Posts)
We are just about to move back to the UK from Asia. We have had enough of blazing sun and humidity and are looking forward to doing some cool stuff with our 2 sons age 4 and 8. We would love to take up skiing as a family. I skied when I was younger and loved it, DH has never done it but is very sporty and would love it I think. DS's have never seen snow.
This will be a major trip for us on return so I am looking for our first trip to be very special.
Can anyone recommend a good family resort where:
Kids can get small learn to ski groups.
We can have adult learn to ski lessons, good pares ski and decent accommodation.
Good kids club/ creche for when mum and dad want too get a hot toddy.
What Club Meds in Europe are good for skiing? Any other resorts that you would recommend?
Les Arcs area, in particular Piesey Vallandry we have found a good start for the kids, but enough skiing to do for intermediates/advanced too. Good clear lift system - we love it here and have now been 3 times. We also now book direct for ski lessons with UK ski instructors called New Generation who tailor make the instruction to suit you, and your abilities - we are fed up of ESF now and would rather pay the extra!
You could book with a family orientated ski operator - it's a bit pricier, but would tick most of your boxes. Esprit, Ski Beat, Family Ski, Ski Familie etc.
We go to Tignes every year because:
The hotel we stay in is very comfortable, lovely food, big bar with comfy sofas and roaring fire
The crystal ski company we use does brilliant kids club and it is based in the hotel
The kids club take them to ski school, bring them back for lunch, then do afternoon activities if they want to, or we take them out skiing with us all afternoon.
Tignes is right next door to vald'isere so you have both resorts to ski and you can get area lift passes that cover both.
Lots of shops, restaurants, bars
Dh doesn't ski either but he taught himself to snowboard a few years ago and I love it when it's just the two of us on the mountain, as much as I love going with the boys (who are 7 and 9 by the way - when we go at new year it will be their fourth trip)
What's your budget? And when are you going?Knowing the answer to these questions will help us narrow down our suggestions. It's a great family holiday, you'll have a blast.
I don't know exactly when we would go, but presume it would have to be during school holidays and I would probably go for the dates that coincide with the best skiing conditions. I don't know what my budget is because I am not sure what it costs. Whatever you tell me, it is going to be a lot less than the 12,000 pounds that Club Med Hokkaido, Japan wanted for a week at Christmas for a family of 4.
Would it help if we said that we want good skiing, good kids ski school, good food, a decent hotel and that a log fire with big comfy sofas and not sure if they do this, but hot chocolate, laced with alcohol with marshmallows
i would strongly recommend Ski Esprit in Scheffau, Austria. Ski Esprit will take all the hassle out of getting the children ready for ski school in the mornings and I've found Austrian ski schools very nurturing so if one of the kids has a bit of wobble they will spend time with them. Will cost considerably less than £12000 !!
as a tip - borrow as much kit for the kids as you can. especially don't buy boots; renting allows the option to exchange if the 1st pair don't fit.
we've tried Club med - good in many ways but they have a French approach to childcare which didn't impress my at the time 6-7 yr old and the children from the other families we were with- expected to have naps in the afternoon & stay up til gone 10pm. Food OK but very formulaic.
Hope you have a great holiday!
Nap and stay up till 10pm! No way!!!
The best family resort we've been to is Les Gets, which is next door to Morzine in the Portes du Soleil ski area. Its only an hour from Geneva, it has plenty of local slopes for beginners and non-piste-bashing intermediates, and it has a nice little town with supermarkets, bars, restaurants, ski hire, etc. It also has good ski schools (some English speaking), and plenty of fast lifts. If you have some money to spend I can recommend Ski Famille for an easy first family ski trip, otherwise, it would be easy to self-cater in Les Gets.
We have used Ski Esprit a couple of times too - they are excellent for the children side of everything, you really do appreciate them collecting the children for ski school as it means you can get to your own lessons on time
If your kids are going to state schools in England, then best skiing conditions + school holiday = February half term, which, for most parts of country will be 15-22 February 2014. If you're going for private schooling, then you'll have more choice, less cost, and less restriction re. the dates you go - even if you go in holidays, private schools typically (not always) have longer half-terms.
IME resort choice is largely secondary - I really can't stress enough the importance of convenience over picturesqueness when skiing with non-skiers and very young children. Schleps to lifts/ hire shops/ lift pass offices can really spoil things. It's exhausting at first.
I would strongly recommend a family operator. All their resorts will be selected to appeal to families. Really, it's just a question of how much you want to spend. At the top of the ladder is an outfit like Powder Byrne, but I know nothing about them
totally out of my league would imagine you could easily spend upwards of £6,000 with them. Possibly far more.
Family Ski COmpany and Ski Famille are (in skiing terms) upper-mid priced family operators. Both I have heard great things about. A friend goes with an operator called Ski Hilwood every year - it's only the one resort, Altenmarkt/ Zauchensee in Austria but it's apparently very nice and the childcare/ ski school liaison is reportedly excellent. Good hotels, too.
Esprit is probably a little cheaper than these operators, and offesr a good, seamless service, but their accommodation for the most part would not meet your squishy sofas and log fires criteria - it can be a bit basic to say the least. Some not much so, they have a fairly fancy hotel in Meribel now I think, but this resort is swarming with Brits and is like Surrey aux Alpes -sorry for anyone who loves it-- not my kind of place at all. There was even a pizza express until recently
February half term 2014 will already be very booked - I would put some calls in now.
I am not sure what languages you speak , but if you speak French/ German/ Italian then I think you will get far, far better value going for a direct booking with a european luxury hotel that offers its own childcare/ ski school liaison. Even if you don't speak anything other than English/ E Asian languages, this is still an option worth checking out. Kinderhotels is one main chain, Familotel another: many have their own ski schools and add-on childcare in-house.
I can't believe how much it costs to go to club med in Japan - eeek.
Ah, I have just thought of the perfect resort for you: Saas Fee in Switzerland. Small, picturesque, classy, very suitable for beginners and timid intermediates. A whole mountain for non-skiing activities (important if you have dissenters in your party .
Esprit go there - their hotel is well-placed near the lifts. It's quite high though. If you're prone to altitude effects you may suffer slightly.
Ragusa (and everyone else) thanks so much for taking the time to write that. It is very much appreciated. We are not moving back to the UK until summer 2014 so, got a bit of time to get in early for 2015. I want to research and plan my summer holiday and ski trip soon though so I am not disappointed.
Yes Japan Club Med is $$$$$ and that is short haul from where I live and doesn't include ski hire!!!!!
Geilo in Norway, cheap flights to Oslo or Bergen, great relaxing rail trip to the centre of town, safe slopes for all and ski in / out cabins and hotels, kids under 7 ski free,everyone speaks English, stay at Dr Holms for in house after-ski and tax free shopping in town (Norway is non-EU) Also, no lift lines!
Auswegian, what child care arrangements available for under 4 year old?
my dsis used to work for esprit in saas fee. she loved it and returned a few years in a row. I visited and we all loved the skiing and the character of the place. would recommend
Saas fee is gorgeous but do look very carefully at the location of any hotels you are considering as the nursery slopes (where all the ski schools meet, gondola stations are etc) are at one end of the town and the rest of the town is quite spread out - unlike say Les Arcs where the nursery slopes are right in the middle.
We were quite unlucky (hotel not booked by me) and discovered that our hotel was a good 20min walk away from the slopes - doesn't sound much but is a killer with ski gear and small children. Can make a good day end on a very miserable note.
Lots of the hotels do have little electric milk floats that will shuttle between hotel and slopes but this means you'll be standing around for half an hour waiting for it thinking you should probably have just walked it.
I think for family and novice skiers if you can afford it, do insist on ski-in ski-out. It just takes so much of the awful hassle out of the day.
Also - I'm not actually sure there are an awful lot of good beginner pistes at Saas Fee? Happy to be corrected though!
I remember an awful lot of red but v few greens.
Whereas somewhere like Les Arcs or Val D'Isere gives you tons of nice wide gentle greens - perfect for beginners to feel like you're doing more than just up and down the nursery slopes.
Les Arcs 1850 (I think) is car free - so you get some nice restaurants and bars, ski in and out (depending on where you stay) and picture perfect alpine village with good runs.
There are blues but they are either at village level or higher up at mid station (Maste 4) or top of glacier which takes a while to reach. Exception is the long blue through the trees from Plattjen although top is rather reddish!
happy to be corrected re saas. we didnt have small children then.
I recommend Austria. The ski school are so much better than in France, hotels are lovely too.
I would definitely go to Austria - the ski schools are brilliant with children and I find Austria is so much better than France or Switzerland. There is always help on the ski lifts plus you have the atmosphere. The Montafon is a lovely area, not known that much, but very pretty villages and high with loads of skiing. Look at Schruns, Gaschurn and a few others that link, but shush....as we don't tend to tell too many people about this area as we like to keep it to ourselves! Or if you are flushed with cash, go to Lech.
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