We were invited by Esprit Ski to review this hotel.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the Mariandre Hotel was the staff. They were all around, helping with bags, saying hi to the kids, showing us to our room. And from that moment on they - especially the fully-trained childcare team - remained the best thing about a great stay.
We’re pretty basic skiers, but wanted to enjoy a bit of time on the slopes skiing, enjoying lunch in the mountain and generally hanging out as two grownups while our kids got to grips with the skiing basics and had fun. This holiday made it happen.
Each morning we left our 18 month old as one of two toddlers in the care of a kind, really attentive staff member who are based in the small hotel nursery. In the morning they would go out and about in the resort (on the bus, to the park etc), have a hot lunch and let them have a good nap in an adapted hotel room, commandeered as the nursery sleep room followed by more fun in the afternoon.
Our 5 and 7 year old started ski lessons after breakfast. They weren't keen on day one ("maybe skiing is not my thing”), keener on day two and by day three they were enjoying themselves mightily. After a supervised lunch they went to the hotel kids club to practice a show, go out and about or generally have fun.
By the end of the week our absolute beginners were happy tearing down the smaller green slopes, navigating button lifts and joining us for a fun afternoon on the slopes.
Childcare for the older children includes supervised tea, and you can collect them at six pm, for babies up to two, you join them for tea at 5pm (although you are free to collect earlier if that suits). High tea for the children was good quality, varied and home cooked with options ranging from stir-fry to chicken pie. Unlike the kids’ options at many places, pasta wasn’t a daily fail-safe and tomato ketchup was nowhere in sight. Ham, bread, cheese, raw carrots and cucumber were always offered alongside the hot meal and if your child wasn’t keen on the option, the kitchen would happily adapt or whip up a reassuring alternative.
Generally the food was good. Breakfasts were exactly what you need in advance of a day skiing, bountiful with cheese, ham, cereal, croissants, pains au chocolat, boiled eggs and daily hot options with fried breakfasts and pancakes on offer all week. Afternoon tea was always home cooked with delicious soup, savoury snacks and cakes. The evening meal (chosen in the morning) was three course, followed by cheese. Great effort was made to serve high quality food, and often it happily competed with that of a good restaurant but occasionally there was a feeling that style triumphed substance.
In the evening, children can go to the kids club or sleep/ watch films in their rooms, with a brilliant listening service on hand. We were very happy putting our youngest to sleep in their cot, with our older two settling with books, knowing there was a member of the childcare team on hand if needed. This means a peaceful childfree evening for the grown-ups, but each night you’re placed on a different table with other couples and the enforced mingling wasn’t always everyone’s idea of fun.
The rooms have everything you need (including cbeebies on TV and DVD players), and those with balconies have amazing views of the mountains, but the decor is dated, (a partial refurb is planned) and not many are adjoining if you are a larger family (although the family suites looked great). The position of the hotel is great, two minutes from the yogurt pot lifts which take you straight to the slopes, so no lugging skis on long walks or on the bus. In the right conditions you can ski in/ ski out which would be fantastic.
Esprit ski seem to know exactly what their customers come for and really meet the brief. The hotel is set up to welcome families, and make sure everyone’s looked after and they really manage to deliver.