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First family skiing holiday-please help me book.

(26 Posts)
Lukethe3 Sun 28-Oct-12 14:29:33

Neither me nor DH are skiers but we want our children to learn. We have both skied twice and are only at beginners level.

I don't know what sort of holiday/ company we need to book. DS1 is 4 and will need ski school and childcare. DS2 is 1 and needs childcare. We need lessons and I need a spa! We are stuck with February half term.

We would prefer catered accommodation. I'm looking for tips and recommendations. I've budgeted about £2400. Am I about right with that?

LIZS Sun 28-Oct-12 14:42:30

That sounds an awfully low budget, sorry, as it will be the peak week and even Easter is not much less this year although resorts likely to be less busy as Europeans tend to go earlier. If you want to guarantee English speaking childcare you are limited to the likes of Esprit, Crystal, Ski Famille etc. To get a spa you'll need a fairly large resort which again wouldn't come cheap whereas for the skiing itself you could find somewhere smaller with basic pistes and a winter holiday feel. Seefeld in Austria might be worth a look as a all rounder.

tiredemma Sun 28-Oct-12 14:48:32

Look at some of the Bulgarian ski resorts. Much cheaper. You won't get what you are after in the alps for 2.4k

Lukethe3 Sun 28-Oct-12 14:50:46

Ok, forget the spa. What budget would be achievable?

LIZS Sun 28-Oct-12 14:56:43


Lukethe3 Sun 28-Oct-12 15:05:11

Oh, ok. Thanks. Which companies would you recommend or avoid? I have seen snowbizz mentioned on Mumsnet a lot.

FannyBazaar Sun 28-Oct-12 22:08:47

I've stayed in Pamporovo in Bulgaria which was ridiculously cheap although not school holiday time. Beginners or imorovers packages were available cheaply with Crystal. We stayed in a hotel with a sauna and jacuzzi, will that pass as a spa? It was a good resort for beginners. I am an experienced skier but BF that I went with and DS had never been before. There was a long transfer from Sofia on the downside though.

NeilSudoku Sun 28-Oct-12 22:19:33

We have been to the Three Valleys with SKIBEAT a couple of times and they are fantastic. I think in some of their resorts they offer childcare. Their chalets are catered (except lunch) and the food is amazing! Not sure if any have a spa.

HOWEVER...not cheap, especially in Feb half term, but you could always look out for their special offers. Can also highly recommend New Generation Ski School for lessons too.

Feel v.envious - have not been able to go for a little while now - combination of lack of funds and injury sadenvy

Sam100 Sun 28-Oct-12 22:47:22

You could do it on your budget if you did not want to ski at the same time as your husband and were prepared to take lessons at different times. E.g. You and DS have ski lessons at the same time at 9 while dh looks after baby, you then take over childcare after your lesson and dh has a lesson. You then all have family time in the afternoon and do sledging, snowman building etc with DS and baby. You can then rent an apartment and self cater which is much cheaper than catered chalet. Last year on a last minute deal we got an apartment for half term week for about £1k (2 beds for 5 of us), lessons cost about £250 per child. We self drove about £200 for eurotunnel and about £300 for petrol, tolls etc. We probably spent about £200 on food/wine etc and cooked ourselves apart from one night when we went out for pizza.

Alternatively we went with mark Warner when our dcs were about same age as yours. We were able to go during term time so a lot cheaper than in half term. But they provided all you are asking for.

forevergreek Sun 28-Oct-12 22:56:48

Roughly £1000 per adult and maybe 3/4 for 4 year old and no sure on childcare

Avoid the alps if on budget. We hae just booked and the lift pass alone is 240 euros for basic local pass. So remember whatever you find a holiday for you have to add around £200 per person for lift pass, and £100 for ski/ boots/helmet hire

VivaLeBeaver Sun 28-Oct-12 22:58:01

I would say not a hope in hell either in Europe or half term and certainly not both.

You do know that a lift pass say for 3 valleys for a week is 300 euros each? So thats 600 euros without flights, food, accomadation, etc. Never mind ski hire, lessons and child care.

You would struggle if you double your budget to be honest.

I go skiing every year in Jan and go as cheap as possible. For 3 of us I can generally get flights, transfers and fully catered chalet (not lunch) for just under 1k - this is a cheap week in Jan though.

On top of that we have to hire skis for dd, 65 euros. Me and dh have our own but if you don't you're looking at 200 euros for 2 x adults.

You're looking at 200 euros per adult for 5x morning lessons.

So thats approx 1400 euros without food, accomodation or childcare. So that leaves you with 1000euros.

Possibly if you drove, went in a self catering studio appt and took all your food with you. But then there's ferry crossing, fuel, tolls.

Food in Europe is expensive. We struggle to get lunch for less than 15 euros a head and that is in a cheap self service place having the cheapest thing on the menu, ie; sausage and chips.

forevergreek Sun 28-Oct-12 23:31:51

Do have a look at Bulgaria/ slovakia and Andorra. I haven't been to any for skiing but know many who love them. They have good skiing but apparently it's more beginner level and not too many ski runs in comparision to elsewhere. But sounds ideal for you as a family

forevergreek Sun 28-Oct-12 23:32:55

Also I wouldn't drive unless v v confident drivers. The drive up to the resorts is often terrible conditions especially if recent heavy snow

VivaLeBeaver Sun 28-Oct-12 23:45:12

Dh went to Bulgaria, admittedly ten years ago and said it was atrocious. Ot just the lack of decent runs but poor piste conditions, he was concerned about safety. He saw a woman died who fell, she hit her head on the pole for a chair lift support, in Europe there would have been orange mat round the pole. There nothing.

Food was crap and his best mate was threatened with a gun in a bar.

forevergreek Sun 28-Oct-12 23:53:16

Ah see I have no idea about skiing in Bulgaria, but have summer holidayed ( about 3 years ago) and was great

fedupwithdeployment Mon 29-Oct-12 14:49:59

If you want to go on a budget, you probably need to consider s/c, but it won't be so much of a "holiday" for you.

Also, given that you haven't done much skiing, go for a tiny place and save on the lift passes. Some smaller French resorts charge about 20€ / day - less than half what the bigger "names" charge. Those places will be cheaper for drinks etc.

Also - agree what people say about eating try and take sandwiches, and save lunches out for days when the weather is rubbish.

Don't know how tied you are to Feb half term, but I would consider Easter - weather should be warmer (I know there will be an impact on the snow), might be cheaper and will be less busy.

Good luck!

VivaLeBeaver Mon 29-Oct-12 15:26:37

If you go for a smaller/cheaper resort chceck if the ski school do English speaking group lessons. They might do in half term. But even in Val d'isere we struggle finding group lessons for dd which are in English. Even esf don't do them.

Lukethe3 Mon 29-Oct-12 15:52:38

Thanks everyone. It is going to cost way more than I expected. But I would love my son to learn to ski, and give it another go myself. Maybe we'll splurge this once and see if it was worth it.

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 15:57:31

or wait another year or so. The advantage between learning at 4 and 5/6 is minimal but in terms of concentration and independence significant. If you do decide to go find a noce family friendly winter holdiay resort, with pool , cafes, play areas etc which happens to have access to ski slopes. If you or dh don't ski together you won't need to pay for childcare

SquirtedPerfumeUpNoseInBoots Mon 29-Oct-12 15:57:35

Try Zell am see in Austria, romantique hotel has spa facilities. With crystal ski good enough prices for skis and school. English speaking and good beginners classes.
Not sure about half term, though worth a look.

RayofSun Mon 29-Oct-12 16:03:30

We went a couple of years ago with 'family ski'. They were fabulous. Catered chalet with crèche onsite, English nursery workers, pool in hotel. We went to their resort in Switzerland but cannot recommend them enough. Families there on second or third trips. Lovely food for children but equally happy to knock up a bowl of pasta. Adult dinner later in evening with baby monitors and wine!

BeachMum3 Fri 02-Nov-12 14:36:54

We have also been with Family Ski (4times and booked for this year again!) and can only agree with RayofSun they are fabulous! - I would recommend their resort in Ardent as there is plenty of good skiing for relative beginners and you can start your lessons from the same place you drop off your little one to ski school. They have ski school helpers to pick up and encourage little skiiers which I found a real bonus - no worries leaving them.

The childcare in the creche and in the afternoons is second to none, English speaking nannies who are all enthusiastic and great with the kids - my kids love it and don't want to spend the afternoon with us as they are having such fun (good methinks!).

The food & freeflowing wine are always great - we have stayed in Grolets in Ardent which has a hot tub for easing those aching muscles at the end of the day. There is also a spa in resort if you fancy a bit more of a pamper...

Can't sing praises highly enough smile, we are heading to Les Coches this year, can't wait!

IWishICouldThinkOfAFabName Thu 18-Apr-13 10:17:50

It is possible to have a ski holiday in a top class resort for a reasonable price. However, skiing is never cheap. The key points are :
1. Driving is usually cheaper especially if there are 4 or more people.
2. Pick a resort which is lower down the mountain but with access to a good resort. Easy with a car.
3. Self cater. Eating out in ski resorts is very expensive so you really do need to self cater as booking an apartment and then going out every night is a false economy ( it would cost more than some catered chalets).
4. Take the children out of school ( no longer possible for us as eldest is 12 but we did when they were younger).

We did exactly this at Easter. As our youngest is now 5 she is old enough for ski school so child care was less of an issue but we did splash out on a private nanny for the afternoons ( next year we won't need to do this).
We stayed in the small spa town of Brides les Bains which has access via a Gondola to Meribel in the 3 vallees. The Gondola takes 20 mins to get to Meribel so you have to factor the commute into the day. And you need to get the Gondola back down again ( you can ski down to mid station in Meribel Raffort). Or if you have a car you can drive and park in Meribel - we did this a couple of days as it only cost €8 a day to park directly under the maim lift/ ski school meeting point and meant there was absolutely no walking in ski boots.

We drove and took the Eurotunnel. It takes 8 - 9 hours from Calais so is possible to do in a one day which saves the hotel cost. We left on Good Friday and stayed overnight in a cheap ETAP and arrived on Saturday. On the way home we did the journey to Calais in one go ,so no hotel cost.
We had a large 2 bed apartment for much less than we would have paid for in Meribel. The ski hire was much cheaper ( our 5 year old was €27 and the older boys were €37 each). Our kids have their own helmets so we only hired skis and boots.
As we drove we took quite a bit of food out with us and also stopped for fresh food at a large supermarket when we were about 30 mins away from resort. As Brides is not too far up the mountain, my husband also drove down to the carrefour at Moutiers for a mid week stock up.

The ski pass and ski school were still expensive. A 3 Vallees family pass was €200 each ( !) and a Meribel only pass about €160. We used the Magic in Motion ski school ( lessons were 9.15 - 1.30pm every day and one full day) but did at least get 5% discount of lessons through a code provided by the apartment owner ( we found apartment on the website

Brides itself was very pretty and there was no snow in the town at Easter. It is only 600m. The kids enjoyed playing in the local park. The residence had a small swimming pool that the kids enjoyed.

As a holiday it worked well. We did have to leave at 8.30am to make it to Meribel by 9am and we didn't have the luxury of a catered chalet (home cooked cakes, 3 course meals - but I didn't put on any weight this time). I agree with other posters that SKibeat, Family Friendly Skiing, Espirt etc are all great and we have used them all in the past ! But with a family of 5 just so expensive. My 12 year old now counts as an adult!

I think there are other resorts in France that would offer a similar experience that we had in Brides les Bains. Other friends have recommended Sameons which has access to the Flaine area.

Hope that helps any fellow budget skiers!

IWishICouldThinkOfAFabName Thu 18-Apr-13 10:19:38

One more thing. Brides-les-bains is a spa town so plenty of spa facilities. We didn't use them as would rather ski smile

greygirl Tue 23-Apr-13 12:37:05

This year, with such little ones, i would all go to the local indoor snow slope and have lessons. 1 adult can improve their sking, the 4 yr old can have lessons (private ones would bring them on loads) and the little one can go swimming instead. maybe even book a hotel (there is a holiday inn by the tamworth snowdome and they have a great swimming pool and ice rink).
Not so expensive and will allow you all to get to grips with the basics.

Then you can make sure you all enjoy it when you go next year.

if you HAVE to go at half term, and you HAVE to go skiing you could try the cheaper areas as others have said - bulgaria, andorra, romania, or maybe scotland.
If you HAVE to go to france, have a look at peak retreats - they will find you somewhere in budget but you will need to self cater. we did half term last year at la norma (lift pass 99 euros each, 2700 for tunnel, appartment rental, ski hire &passes for us all and lessons for 3 kids) so you can see my advise on that if you want more info. It was a fantastic holiday though. trying to persuade husband we could do it again next season (apart from the snowbizz holiday)

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