Help for ski virgins please

(27 Posts)
Whowherewhywhat Mon 04-Jan-16 22:24:06

Was wondering if anyone can give me some ideas based on:-
1. We are family of five , 2 adults and 3 children aged 11, 8 and 6, none of us have been skiing before
2. Would like to go somewhere over or just after Christmas, and would you recommend this with children?
Somewhere that's not expensive as may not like it smile but somewhere where we could do non skiing activities as well eg tobogganing, sledging, sleigh rides etc
4. Does all of this exist ? 😄

FadedRed Mon 04-Jan-16 22:30:19

I think you may need to define what you mean by 'not expensive' Op. smile
Over Christmas/New Year is very popular and often the most expensive time to go skiing, followed by Feb half term and Easter.

Whowherewhywhat Mon 04-Jan-16 22:41:36

Less than 4 k, is that achievable?

trixymalixy Tue 05-Jan-16 00:34:20

If you've not been skiing before then best to go with someone like snowbizz/crystal/esprit that will arrange everything for you.

Most resorts will have non ski activities.

Whowherewhywhat Tue 05-Jan-16 00:38:48

Ok thanks smile

lostmummy12 Tue 05-Jan-16 13:05:27

Hi,
We are family of 2 adults 2 Dc (9&6),
We had never skied til last Jan, we had a great week in el tarter andorra, booked with nielson,
Service was fab, adults had beginner lessons (3 hrs a day), kids had lessons at same time then got taken back to hotel for pm to kids club while we skied some more ,
All instructors spoke English/ were English so kids picked it up really quickly,

Also went tubing, there are husky /sledge rides nearby also,

All the staff in hotel/ski school were great, so much so we r going back to same hotel end if Jan, the kids can't wait !!

Came in at just over 3k for us all, was 1/2 board ( but kids got lunch too in kids club) inc all ski lessons, equip hire, flights, transfers, and kids club.

Hope this helps X

Whowherewhywhat Tue 05-Jan-16 22:44:30

Wow that's fab thank you, we use Neilson for our summer hols didn't realise they did skiing too 😄

namechangedtoday15 Tue 05-Jan-16 23:15:30

We've just done this. The thing that makes it prohibitively expensive is being a family of 5. Add in school holidays and it's horrendous.

We got various quotes from Crystal / iglu (we also wanted to go to a high resort because Christmas is still very early in the season) and none of them were under £5k.

We did everything independently. Flights (Easyjet), car hire, accommodation via airbnb. Booked private lessons (2 hrs per day) for the children - we wanted to ski as a family during the afternoon - and ski hire online. It was very easy and even going so we were away over Christmas, it came in (including everything we spent - ate out every meal bar one) at less than £2.5k.

The only thing I would say is that with the snow situation at Christmas you need to go high. Also, its really worth having lessons here if you can get to an indoor ski slope - children had about 16hrs of lessons here before we went so we werent confined to tge nursery slopes (all were doing red runs by day 3).

There wasn't much to do other than skiing (in Cervinia) but children loved it. We took a cardboard flat packed tree, fairy lights, stockings and presents so it felt like Christmas. Loved it. Definitely want to do it next year.

Maladicta Tue 05-Jan-16 23:19:09

Agree with going DIY. We're just back from a week with Crystal and reckon we'd have saved about £1500 if we'd booked ourselves.
Snow wasn't great and we were quite high so look at Tignes/Val Thorens

Maladicta Tue 05-Jan-16 23:20:05

Oh and look at Twinner for ski hire, they were substantially cheaper than any others we looked at

Whowherewhywhat Tue 05-Jan-16 23:46:10

Thanks guys that's really helpful , I'll look at those areas, my only concern is that as we haven't had a ski hol before I don't know exactly what I need to book , so am assuming:-
1. flights
2. hotel / apartment
3. Ski lessons for all - will assume am so we can all do things together in the afternoon
4. Ski/boot hire and lift passes - should I buy passes before we go or once we get there?
5. Anything else?
As a side question, does everyone get up early for skiing or is it fairly laid back?

Whowherewhywhat Tue 05-Jan-16 23:48:01

By the way Namechangedtoday15, totally agree with regards the ridiculous jump in costs for 5, only time I wish we'd stopped at 2 lol.....same for all hols......

Whowherewhywhat Tue 05-Jan-16 23:51:49

Maladicta, I assume you were there over new year, did you / children enjoy it over Xmas / new year? I am less worried about the skiing and more about my need to have snow on Xmas day lol....we went to New York a few years ago over Xmas specifically for snow on Xmas day, only day the didn't have any on the ground or fall , the day we left they had a huge dump if snow and you guessed it, we had a white out in the UK over Xmas .....unbelievable....I am getting desperate 😁

lavenderhoney Tue 05-Jan-16 23:58:23

I fucking hate skiing but go as lots if other people do as well and there's no pressure to ski, and there's loads to do anyway.

I hired a ski instructor privately for me as I knew I'd still hate it and could bail - which was cheaper in the end, he had loads of contacts and I ended up in an advert for Cokesmile

They were filming on the mountains and a couple of models had gone missing (!) apparently we looked the part and got roped in off the slopessmile

make sure if your DC don't like it, there is other stuff for them.

namechangedtoday15 Wed 06-Jan-16 08:29:32

No you don't need to buy passes before you go (I worried about the same thing). The only other thing is most people (99%) wear helmets now (always for the children) and you'll need poles too. But most companies will provide all that as a "package".

I think where we were the first lift up was at 8.45. Some people (hardcore!) will be ready for then, most people with families get up the mountain in time for the start of ski school / lessons (which for us was 10am). Actually even though it's quite a short day (you finish about 4) it's really quite tiring for the children. So if you started early, certainly on your first holiday, you might need to finish earlier.

It does take more time than you think to get 3 children organised and out of the door with helmets, gloves, goggles etc. We were up by 8 ish.

Eastpoint Wed 06-Jan-16 08:36:04

It's usually cheaper to go over Christmas than over New Year as lots of people want to be with their families (not much cheaper but worth it). Obergurgl in Austria is good for beginners and also high. There is a proper toboggan run in Hochgurgl which you can use with your ski pass. We stayed at a very nice 2/3* hotel called the Madeleine a few years ago and have 3 children, they all slept in one room.

rookiemere Wed 06-Jan-16 08:37:14

Don't forget transport to the resort.
We did diy and had a horrendous 3 hour trip across icy roads because we couldn't figure out the snow chains.
Much better if possible to go somewhere that has companies that do coach transfers as you won't use your car in the week.

redhat Wed 06-Jan-16 08:39:34

Be careful about Christmas. We went right before Christmas last year to a reasonably high resort and the snow was not good. To get to snow you needed to cross to the glacier which meant navigating some reasonably tricky runs (for beginners). The nursery slopes were bare rock and ice in places.

redhat Wed 06-Jan-16 08:40:38

Andorra is very cheap DIY. Fly into spain and get a car over the border. We did February half term a couple of years ago. 4 people half term week for about £2k.

BiddyPop Wed 06-Jan-16 09:09:29

We went to Rauris in Austria last year, in Feb mid term but it had been open for Christmas (using snow cannon on nursery slope, snow on mountain). Very friendly and family focused resort - DD was 9 and LOVED it.

We booked through Crystal and got the beginners package too (so ski hire, boots, helmets arranged in advance and ski school/lift passes as well). It also meant we got to collect our gear on arrival not face queues next morning, and there were lockers available at lifts (we got the second last one) - which were really handy!! Dry boots every morning!!

Breakfast was early, and everyone was on the mountain for ski school start at 10 - lots were up the mountain and coming down before we got down to breakfast at 8.30!! Dinner was 6-8 in the hotel, there were a few small restaurants to eat out and 2 decent small supermarkets. Not huge nightlife but very relaxed, and kids were very obvious in the bar and lounge areas of our hotel after dinner, playing games as families and having a quiet chat before most people being gone to their rooms by about 10 (we'd be gone by 10 every night, exhausted, and among the last to go).

Also, DD started to go down to breakfast and dinner ahead of us (allocated table for the week), and then started to take herself off to bed and "let you finish your drinks", delighted with that bit of independence.

There were 2 ski schools, Maier and Adventure Rauris. Maier was an Austrian ski champ (Olympic medallist) before setting up the school and it was very relaxed but all about technique, and getting you as far on without pushing in the week. Adventure was more adventurous and take you straight up the mountain. In our beginner class, we were the "advanced beginners" (had been skiing 10-20 years before or done some lessons before coming) and were on the mountain for half the week, whereas the beginners who had never stood on skis were on the mountain on the last day.

We did lessons, I think 6 each, on a dry slope (travellator style indoors), before going and that was great. Got the feel for boots, skis, and able to move and turn before we got there. VERY different feel on real snow, but well worth it to get the most from the week.

skiing55 Wed 06-Jan-16 09:12:38

Les Menuires in the French Alps is billed as a bit cheaper for families. I think it had the best snow of anywhere in the Southern French Alps over Christmas and had a lot of runs open- however by the end of the week they were having to bring snow in via helicopter from other mountains. I think it was the worst Christmas for 35 years so v unusual for the resort. Lots of other activities available (but obviously you have to pay for them except sledging). Another good thing about les Menuires is that it has the best lifts for beginners (chair lifts and cable cars).

A good place to stay is Le Brelin, Residence Soleil Vacances Les Menuires which is self catering. If you book using the French language site it is cheaper than the English site. What is VERY important with accommodation is that it is close to the slope because carrying skis, poles, boots is very heavy and awkward. Be careful with places that you say you can ski straight home because sometimes only competent skiiers are able to ski in and for the rest can be a long walk.

You can stay in chalets which are catered and are nice for meeting other people but are more expensive and if cheaper will be further out. They are often set up for guests spending the whole day at the slopes so if you have a 6 year old/ an unfit member of the family who might prefer half days you may have to get to /from slopes yourself so you might prefer self catering somewhere close

You can hire a car at the airport with snow tyres so no need to fiddle with chains. This year the only ice was in the accommodation car park but some years I could see the journey being more difficult

We bought ski passes (allow you to go up lifts), lessons and hired skis boots helmets poles when we arrived. As it was christmas week and less busy there was no problem. There are ski lessons in the afternoons and they are better because less popular so smaller classes as most people like to have lessons in the morning and then carry on skiing in the afternoon. The ski instructors speak French and English.

One thing to be careful of going over Christmas is offending family. We have meet ups before and after Christmas to make sure we see everyone. At Les Menuires it seemed that several families had bought dogs and grandparents with them. Over Christmas is good for skiing because it is cheaper and quieter -this year the snow was better than new year week too (but that was unusual).

rookiemere Wed 06-Jan-16 09:31:48

skiing55 - you're right you can get cars with snow tyres, but at the airport we hired from they were much more expensive I think the difference was about £200. If I was going again I'd pay the extra though - or indeed preferably try to avoid the situation by using a transfer company.

OP I've just thought of a few extra costs - watch out for French self catering, they charge for everything - sheets, towels, end of stay cleaning and can be very basic. I'm not saying not to do it that way, but just make sure you add in all the costs in advance - I was annoyed as we could have stayed in a nice hotel apartment for almost the same price as the fairly rough and ready apartment we ended up with once the above had been factored in, mind you the washing machine came in handy as DS vomited over me on the plane there.

You can get good deals through crystal if you book as soon as the next year is released - for 2017 that will be some time later this month or February. I was idly thinking of skiing at half term this year and if I'd booked when I first looked half board hols were coming in at around £800-1000 pp for fairly decent places, whereas now they're more like £1800.

Either that or wait until the very last minute - I'm talking about 10-7 days in advance, prices then go back up again for the last 3-4 days. Danger with that strategy is for peak school holiday times you'll be lucky to get into ski school.

Talking of which even if you book through a company you're not obliged to sign up for their ski hire or ski school and it can be possible to get better prices and a ski school that's more Brit friendly by doing that aspect of it yourself.

I was looking at Kranjska Gora for skiing for us as like you we were looking for something cheap and with non skiing things to do - was recommended by someone on here as well, however I wouldn't go there at Christmas time as risk of no snow too high - could be a good feb half term option.

namechangedtoday15 Wed 06-Jan-16 10:06:03

We drove from Geneva to Italy and all the car hire companies I looked at (certainly from the Swiss side of Geneva airport) provide cars with snow tyres as standard although you pay a "winterisation" fee. That was 10 CHF per day on top of the usual car hire charge, so about £6.70 per day, or about £50 for the week.

Might be different though from other airports perhaps.

rookiemere Wed 06-Jan-16 10:15:57

OMG - 2017 holidays out already on Crystal, OP if you want to book a package for then now's a good time to do it.

Eastpoint Wed 06-Jan-16 12:20:19

In 2014 the French police weren't allowing you to drive up the mountains with winter tyres, only with chains.

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