So after many years of persuading and bribing dh he has agreed we can go skiing, but I have never been and need loads of advice...please this is my dream holiday

(49 Posts)
shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 14:18:09

Dh hates snow and cold, and has finally agreed he will give it a proper try if we go skiing, yipee. We are a family of 4 with ds who will be 7 and ds who will be 3.11/4. We want to go somewhere in Europe also but somewhere with very good accomadation, etc. None of us have skied, and i am feeling a lot of self imposed pressure to make this good.
So which companies are best, which countries are good for beginners, etc , what should I know, assume I know nothing and throw all your info at me please.

blue2 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:28:31

I'd suggest either Mark Warner or Ski Esprit. Its been a few years since we did a Ski Esprit holiday but am sure someone here has! Both companies have oodles of stuff for kids and babies to do, and are VERY child friendly.

We've stayed at several MW hotels in The Alps - Hotel le Val D'Isere in Val D'Isere, Tarantaise in Meribel Mottaret and Hotel Christina in La Plagne. The last 2 are right on the slopes. Their staff are marvellous - nothing is too much trouble.

My only comment is that some hotels are shabbier than others... but then you don't have to worry about the kids damaging stuff.

I wouldn't bother going to the States yet - its a long way, v expensive - jet lag etc. See if you like skiing - we love it!

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 14:34:13

Thankyou blue2, will have a look at those companies you mention. We would like a very good hotel or chalet, the kids won't damage anything crossed fingers, although accident prone dh might wink.

SoldeInvierno Tue 08-Jan-13 14:38:53

when my son was a beginner at 4yo, we went to Austria with Neilsons. Their ski school for little ones was excellent

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 14:40:12

That's three companies now Mark Warner, Nielsons and skiesprit, thanks for the recommendation.
A good point about ski school do they take adults too?

witchwithallthetrimmings Tue 08-Jan-13 14:43:11

i would go for a catered chalet, much more relaxed in the evenings, if you go to a resort that is ski in ski out you will also be able to go back for lunch and to chill out.

I think to make sure the children have fun they need lessons in English in a group who also speak English. Might make it more fun for your dh too!

Check the ski school take the little one - some don't at 3 - ours started in Canada at that age with 1 to 1 lessons for an hour plus daycare before moving on to group lessons once the basics were mastered (so been on a chair lift etc) after about 3 days

I've heard good things about Powder Byrne fom friends but they are very pricy, but knowing these friends the chalet standard must be high.

MrsHoarder Tue 08-Jan-13 14:47:07

I'd focus on getting a ski to door hotel, our makes a real difference at the end of a long day. The French mega resorts are pretty good, no need to go to America.

And there are adult ski lessons, separate to children's ones. I also have friends who booked private lessons for the whole family. A word of warning, if you want to have a lesson before you go, go to a snow done not a dry ski slope. The dry slopes are nothing like real skiing and put dh off.

Merino base layers for all. This is all you need to know. wink

Fenton Tue 08-Jan-13 14:48:48

I have nothing to say except envy envy envy


I love skiing holidays - you will have a fabulous time.

Yes to ski school for all.

Invest in really good quality ski socks - the cheap ones tend to move around in your boots too much.

Don't be afraid to go back to the boot/ski hire place if you're not getting on with the equipment - they will keep altering it for you happily until you're happy - don't suffer it.


My friend went to a Kinderhotel in Austria and said it was fab.

We always go to our place in France, which is not exactly ritzy, so I won't recommend it!!

Northface socks are great.

Doshusallie Tue 08-Jan-13 14:52:10

We have been with Crystal Ski a few times and I can't fault their childcare.

Buy snoods to keep the DC's necks warm. And "skins" or thermals.

HelpOneAnother Tue 08-Jan-13 15:12:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 15:20:08

Thank you for all the replies , will respond properly when I get home on phone at the moment, accomadation has to be really good it's the only thing dh is bothered about and I get to choose everything else.

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 17:29:34

MrsHoarder good tip about the dry slopes.
So we need good socks and base layers. Instructors who speak english. Austria, Andorra and France are good places. Def need good hotel or chalet in case dh gives up and needs somewhere to mope. smile

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 18:36:38

What's your budget?

Mark Warner is meant to be slightly better than esprit. I've been with esprit loads of times and while they're fine they're not a luxury outfit. Some of their chalets are fairly cramped, etc. I've been to their fairly new chalet hotel in la plagne and while it was very swanky I hated it. It might have had wall mounted flat screen tv and a mini bar and a pool but it was too big. Dinner had two servings as too many people for the facilities.

I prefer their older, slightly decrepit hotel in val disere. But you don't want to go to val as a beginner probably.

A friend went to the esprit hotel in courchevel last year and said it was amazing, better accommodation than most esprit places. Courchevel is lovely.

People on mn say good things about ski famille. Again never been with them.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 18:39:49

Also when planning your budget add up all the extras.

Lift passes, lessons and ski hire for a family of 4 could reach the 1k mark. Lift passes alone for 3 valleys this year is 260 euros. Though you can get cheaper passes for a smaller area which as a beginner would probably be ok. But check with the tour operator as they'll know where the instructors tend to take people.

blue2 Tue 08-Jan-13 19:18:22

If you REALLY want to go for it on the chalet front, I'd also recommend VIP Ski. They do catered chalets. We've been twice with them and they'll organise ski school and nannies.

Just beware as the second chalet we booked was a bit out of the resort which meant waiting around for their VIP taxi to turn up to either take us down or bring us back - a real pain!

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 19:18:59

Haven't got a budget vivalebeaver, and would prefer something a bit more luxurious, def not cramped or run down, I know that sounds v.snobby, but just in case none of us turn out to like it, and I do like nice hotels/chalets blushblush grin

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 19:19:56

Thanks for the tip blue2 that sounds good, will have a look this evening.

LIZS Tue 08-Jan-13 19:26:50

look at Power Byrne or Ski Scott Dunn for ideas . Very much top of the budget but you may find deals on similar accommodation and some of the main operators like Crystal and Inghams do a "luxury" range

Primrose123 Tue 08-Jan-13 19:30:41

Do you definitely want a package deal? We always used to go on package holidays to go skiing, then a few years ago, we booked flights, hotel, and taxi or hire car separately. It doesn't cost any more, perhaps a bit less, but you tend to get a better choice when choosing the hotel and resort etc.

We have just been here for the fourth time! The people who run the hotel are very friendly and welcoming, the food is excellent and they have a small pool and sauna area. They also have family rooms which are very nice.

We hired a car, and drove to the ski lift every day, it was about 5 minutes. The skiing there is excellent, there is a ski school, and if you are all beginners, it is probably worth booking a private instructor for the 4 of you.

We love it there, it is starting to feel like home! If you want any more information about hiring cars, flights or anything, I will PM it to you. smile

Primrose123 Tue 08-Jan-13 19:33:53

Oh and if you go where I mentioned above, you can hire your skis, boots, poles, helmets etc at the lift station, and also hire a heated locker to leave them in at the end of every day. This was a godsend for us. There is nothing worse than trying to catch a ski bus with two kids, four pairs of skis, extra bags, helmets etc. while wearing ski boots (fine for skiing, agony for walking!).

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 19:37:18

If you want luxury these guys are meant to be very good. Morzine is lovely, good beginner slopes, bigger town than many ski resorts so more shops, etc.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 19:41:05

There's also who are meant to be good. They got a very good write up in The Times last year. I'd recommend Meribel over val disere as a resort.

shinybaubles Tue 08-Jan-13 19:47:59

Wow - thanks for all the great advice, I will have a very busy evening looking at all these recommendations. Have never had a package holiday but thought it might be best considering we're novices. Less chance of anything going wrong, have just had a quick look at vipski and powder byrne, all looking fab and exciting.

mutantninjamyrtle Tue 08-Jan-13 20:21:48

Am in a similar position to you and chose this:

It seems next to the piste and they also do tobogganing and snow tubing, plus have an ice rink in the village so my moaning grump lovely DH should hopefully be able to find something he likes there, while the children go to ski school or try out on the horses (youngest is only 3 so the childcare bit is backup in case she gets fed up with the cold and snow).

I haven't been yet so this isn't a direct recommendation - but hopefully may give you something else to think about. Have fun!

theoriginalandbestrookie Tue 08-Jan-13 20:24:50

I know someone who stayed in the chilly powder place meant to be fab for children.
DH has reunited with a pal of his who handily lives and works at a ski resort has a young son and lives next to an old lady who babysits and rents out an apartment. Guess where we are going next year grin

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 20:27:22

Omg, that link Mutant Ninja. I'm laughing so much.

Click on the blue "in winter" tab and see if you can spot the obvious google translate mistake? I just did a double take and thought wtf?

MusieB Tue 08-Jan-13 20:28:29

If you really don't have a budget then Purple Ski in Meribel are pretty impossible to beat. We went once in one of the cheaper weeks when we weren't tied to school hols and have dreamed about going again ever since, though sadly think that will have to wait until DD has grown up and we can once again go in term time.
Take a look at their website and drool! Their chalets are stunning, the food and wine are out of this world amazing, the beds are so comfy we bought one the same immediately on returning, incredibly efficient minibus service to the slopes. Uber luxurious all round. You'll have a wonderful holiday even if you decide you hate skiing.
Meribel is the most child-friendly resort I know. For ski school try Magic in Motion, for childcare (if Purple Ski's own nannies are fully booked) try Shirley at Kids Etc.

newgirl Tue 08-Jan-13 20:32:24

If your dh hates cold think about Easter - go to high resort eg any of mw and you will get snow but sunshine. Low slopes get slushy late in day but many beginners will be tired by then anyway

mutantninjamyrtle Tue 08-Jan-13 20:43:04

Oh no Viva! I see what you mean. I know children are little people, but... grin

Seriously OP - I forgot to add that we've been to a Kinderhotel elsewhere before and the food is both fab and endless.

WhataBoringNameChange Tue 08-Jan-13 20:55:02

I can't help you on resorts and chalets, but I can give you the perspective of starting to ski as an adult total beginner. I went for my first lesson last year at the grand old age of 41, with DH 49 and the kids 13 and 9. None of us had been on skis before, but the DDs and me are reasonable skaters, and that turned out to be really important in terms of getting our balance and learning to adjust our weight for carving. DH, who can't skate, found it much more tough getting his balance. After a single 3-hour lesson the DDs and me could carve our way cautiously down a nursery slope with no sticks, although we repeatedly stepped on our skis when turning round at the bottom of the slope and fell arse over tit. It takes time to get used to the skis being SO DAMN LONG. We're going for a longer trip this year and the instructor has said if we have one more lesson we should be good enough to manage our first blue run, so I would say if you have a whole week of lessons you should be skiing OK by the end of it. We ended up booking a private lesson for the four of us, which worked quite well, but given that your two are so much younger I think they would do better with separate kids classes.
I'm so envious at you going for a whole week with the catered chalet experience. We're going more for el cheapo DIY holiday. If there's one thing I would really like, it's a hotel/chalet near the slopes (so ski in ski out) with a swimming pool and sauna for the evening. I found as a beginner that your muscles really hurt after a few hours because you're using them for the first time in that way - a sauna and swim would have been perfect.

WhataBoringNameChange Tue 08-Jan-13 20:58:49

"see if you can spot the obvious google translate mistake?" - oh yes, good grief - the German word 'Zwerg' is quite a friendly/affectionate term for children which really doesn't work in English. The Germans/Austrians also call their kids 'Wurm' and 'Maus' as a term of endearment! It's not necessarily a Google Translate mistake either - the Germans often use non-native speaker translators who can make the most appalling literal mistakes (I know because I sometimes get called in to sort out the mess).

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 21:22:04

I don't speak German but I'm guessing Zwerg means dwarf then?

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 08-Jan-13 21:54:17

We've been with Family Ski who were excellent in terms if chalets, food and childcare.

I would recommend a few sessions in a snow dome before you go.

deste Tue 08-Jan-13 22:18:30

Check out Chrystal holidays. The hotel we are going to in Austria takes little ones through the day as part of the service. We have had our tickets for two weeks and everything we need is included in the little booklet they sent us. All very organised, we are really impressed with them.

mimolette Tue 08-Jan-13 22:19:49

Skiing is awesome. But it is a very steep learning curve, with pain (from ill fitting boots, falls, muscle ache), fear (more for adults!) and the odd tantrum! So be prepared, for many it's not love at first go. Look for a short transfer, a hot tub/pool/sauna if you want luxury and a central location for both village and slopes. Ski in/out is great but doesn't always work for beginners if the hotel is on a tougher slope. I would highly recommend France, not least for the food. Some resorts even have Michelin star restaurants if you really want to push the boat out. Powder Byrne looks awesome but alas way out of our budet. Go at Easter for warmer weather and lunches in the sunshine outside.

mutantninjamyrtle Tue 08-Jan-13 23:12:57

Does Easter work ok? It always seems to be quite late, so I worry about lack of snow. Not if you go high enough, I suppose - but how high's that?

newgirl Wed 09-Jan-13 11:57:52

very high - 2000 metres so only a few resorts - all the mark warner ones are ok. Morzine etc are NOT ok at easter.

St Anton last year was perfect at Easter.

shinybaubles Wed 09-Jan-13 17:56:50

Thank you for all the great tips I spent the entire evening yesterday looking at the webistes and getting entirely carried away.
Have decided it will probably be Austria or France or maybe Switzerland...
Will be back when I have narrowed it down a bit further, and dh is even begining to look a bit interested.

MistyB Wed 09-Jan-13 18:52:06

Does 'No Budget' = ''Unlimited Budget'?


Or even here

For a small fee including cost of overnight stay, I could check them out for you... (Dreaming....... )

LoraB Thu 10-Jan-13 13:53:21

Primrose123 your place looks great - where do you fly to?

Primrose123 Fri 11-Jan-13 08:42:17

Lora, we usually fly to Salzburg, and hire a car. It's an easy drive, about 90 minutes. This time we flew to Innsbruck. Again it took about 90 minutes, but was a long windy road up through the mountains. The views were amazing but it would be a hard drive in bad weather.

We usually pay around £300 to hire a car for the week. A return taxi to and from the airport costs much the same, but we like to have the convenience of a car in the resort.

shinybaubles Fri 11-Jan-13 11:10:34

Misty B I have to say no to the unlimited budget grin. Thanks for the offer of checking them out I bet that would be a nice job.
Thanks again everyone have printed the page to do further research.

OneMoreMum Fri 11-Jan-13 14:05:37

We went to Avoriaz for our first snowboarding holiday, although our boys were quite a bit older (10 and 12 at the time) and we had all had a course of snowdome lessons before we went.
It's quite a special location, though, no cars and lots of horse-drawn sleighs for example, and although we spent nearly all of our time on the nursery slopes and one easy blue the lovely location really helped the whole experience be quite magical.
Staying up in Avoriaz (which I'd recommend) generally means self-catering with Pierre et Vacance, but there are plenty of resaurants and their brand new apartments which look lovely are right near the learner slope and ski-school meeting points: definitely not cheap though....

stringbean Fri 11-Jan-13 14:20:17

Don't assume snow and skiing = cold. I think I've only ever been REALLY cold on a couple of occasions skiing, and those were early on in the season. If you go to a high resort at Easter you're much more likely to find that the weather is warm and you can potentially get very badly sunburned. Tell your dh he'll definitely need sunscreen grin.

LIZS Sat 12-Jan-13 09:10:31

Easter 2 years ago we had 20oc+ by lunchtime. It made for a short skiing day and the snow was disappearing fast but very pleasant to sit out for an ice cream mid afternoon !

juneau Sun 13-Jan-13 09:41:06

Check out Ski Famille (their 'select' chalets are more spacious and luxurious than your bog-standard chalet), and Family Ski Company (which provide childcare for all six days, not just five, although their chalets look a bit more basic).

Ski Famille
Family Ski Company

And don't assume that just because you're in a European country that there won't be English-language ski lessons available. Most decent-sized resorts have an 'international' i.e. English language, ski school. In France it's often ESI (Ecole de Ski Internationale). You don't have to go to the US or Canada!

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