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So how was it? Come and share your half term ski trip reports!

(47 Posts)
oiseau Sun 23-Feb-14 12:10:46

We aren't going until the 23rd of March but lots of you must have just got back from your half term trips. I'm already thinking about where we go, and who we go with next year so would love to hear how everyone's weeks have gone.

Please come and share:
Family stats:
Where you went:
Which company you went with or DIY:
Best bits:
What could have been better:
Top tip:

Have I been too bossy? I just can't get enough information and keep re-reading old threads here and thought it would be nice to get some fresh up to date info!

clam Sun 23-Feb-14 13:39:23

OK, I'll start.
2 families (3 adults, 5 teens)
Isola 2000, Southern Alps.
DIY, self-catered, self-organised.
Flew to Nice, (much cheaper than to recognised 'ski airports.') 90 minute road transfer.
Hired two apartments. Not ski-in, ski-out - short stagger to/from slopes.
Took some of own food (pre-cooked and frozen) to reduce costs.
All experienced skiers so no ski school needed.
Ugly resort, but fabulous surrounds.
V. good snow record - 3 metres this year.
120km of pistes - meant cheaper lift passes (around the £100 mark per teen/adult with a family pass) We covered this distance easily, and would therefore pick somewhere else next time.
Only 3 black runs, and we felt that the reds/blues were easier than classified (as in some of the blues might have been greens elsewhere).
BIG BONUS was that this year our half term did not coincide with the local area, so no queues anywhere. Max wait was about 10 people. Having suffered French holiday season for the last 8 years, this was a very pleasant surprise.

dramaqueen Sun 23-Feb-14 16:19:36

I'll gladly go next. We have just returned from our 3rd year with Snowbizz and it was great as always. We are looking at next year already as I think we've one more year until the kids have outgrown it.

Family stats: family of 2 adults and 2 kids
Where you went: Puy St Vincent
Which company you went with or DIY: Snowbizz
Best bits: the organisation was excellent and the ski instructors fantastic. We met many families who we skied with last year.
What could have been better: Turin airport was a disaster of queues. We'd drive next year.
Top tip: take as much food as possible as the supermarket is very expensive and limited.

Paddlinglikehell Sun 23-Feb-14 16:40:31

Two adults one child 8 yrs
Sainte Foy (French Alps)
DIY booked The Private Chalet Company, drove down Dover Calais, stayed overnight outside Lyon on Fri night, arrived in resort next morning.

Chalet, food, hosts brilliant, couldn't fault it. A couple did arrive with two of the most horrendously behaved boys midweek, shocking parents let them behave in such a way, nice parents too! It would have been a different story if they had been there at the start.

Dd in ESF ski school mornings, wouldn't use them again!

Lots of snow, empty pistes, lots off off piste for dh and easy blues and a few reds for me!

No nightlife or major après ski, as very family orientated. Easy to get to lots of different resorts...Tignes, Les Arcs etc.

Would go again to the same place and company.

trixymalixy Sun 23-Feb-14 19:40:28

Family stats:Two families of 4, kids aged 7,5,4 and 2
Where you went:Ducs de Savoie chalet hotel in Val D'Isere
Which company you went with or DIY: Esprit
Best bits: the food and childcare was excellent, as was flying with BA. We had a suite which had two rooms and two bathrooms and tonnes of space.

The snow was great and you are really spoilt for choice of runs with the massive area of Espace Killy.

What could have been better: the weather was very mixed. We had two beautiful blue sky days, but two of the days the weather was horrible, very windy and snowy and the lifts got shut in the afternoon.

It was a bit of a trek to the slopes, although the free bus was very good, it was a pain when we had both kids.

Was a tad disappointed with my ski lessons. The group was a lot less advanced than the group I was in last year and don't think I improved as much. I think I've just got to the stage that I've outgrown group lessons though rather than the tuition being bad.

I hate the grading of runs in Espace Killy, it's so inconsistent. I skied supposed blue runs that were more like black at certain points and I suspect it may be to do with the fact that there are so few runs down to the bottom that they have undergraded them. It's not really fair on beginner skiers.

Top tip: don't take many clothes for the kids. They spend the whole time either in thermals or pjs.

bettys Sun 23-Feb-14 20:03:11

Family stats: Group of 20 (14 adults, 6 children)

Where you went: Chinaillon, Le Grand Bornand, French Alps

Which company you went with or DIY: DIY, self-catering in a big private chalet. Drove, Eurotunnel & stopping in Reims on the way down and going back all in one go.

Best bits: After years of catered chalets in the 3 Vallees the cost effectiveness of self-catering & driving instead of flying/train was amazing. In fact everything was cheaper from lift passes to lunch on the mountain.

What could have been better: The ski area can't be compared to the 3 Vallees, but was pretty good for a small resort. Some of the blues down were more like reds, in fact some of the reds were nicer than blues!

Top tip: A car is very handy in the resort if self-catering. We got Flexiplus Eurotunnel tickets which meant we didn't have to worry about timing the drive too much - and could also use the flexiplus lounge and get 'free' bags of food which proved very cheering as the half-term crush on the Saturday return caused a 2 hour checK-in at border control!

MistyB Sun 23-Feb-14 20:13:57

Family of 5, kids aged 9, 7 and 4.
Les Gets, self catering (slightly disingenuous, as we rent for the season and spend weekends and half term there, we live nearby)
We didn't have lessons so skied together most days. We had a nanny for two mornings to allow DH and I to snowboard together and for a couple of evenings so we had some of nice meals out.
We met up with friends in Morzine which allowed the 'older' kids to push their limits while the younger ones took it a bit easier. We skied in the fun parks in Avoriaz one day - super fun!!
We made the most of the kids activities in the village, ice sculpting, wood carving, skied down with the esf torchlight descent, watched an ice hockey match in Morzine.
We have had lessons with both ESF and ESI360 in Les Gets and have been happy with both but in half term, ESF is super busy and I would opt for ESI as the logistics are less stressful.

FrontForward Sun 23-Feb-14 20:24:26

3 families with DC aged 11 to late teens. French Alps
DIY chalet and we drove and took our food.
Used ESF and found a few instructors very upsetting. Lots of small children in tears. One female instructor physically manhandling the smaller children quite roughly and kicking their skis to move them where she wanted them. It's my first ski holiday and I found watching the children flopped on the snow crying or looking tired really really upsetting. The adult instructors varied from good to seeming a little irritated and unsympathetic. Is this normal?

oiseau Sun 23-Feb-14 20:28:15

Loving reading all these thanks everyone! Keep them coming.
Oh no paddling re the nightmare children I am having worries about who might be our chalet co-habitees! But then people might hate us too!! Hoping most are like minded and just want to have nice time and ski.

FrontForward Sun 23-Feb-14 20:29:25

I've just found this thread here. Which sums up what I witnessed of ESF. I'd avoid them if I had children who wee either beginners or under 12!

trixymalixy Sun 23-Feb-14 21:07:33

The first year we skied with our kids we used ESF and DS had a horrible time. He wet his ski suit most days as he was too scared to ask to go to the toilet.

He also came back one day with a nasty cut near to his eye and when we asked the instructor what had happened we got a Gallic shrug in response.

DS and one other wee boy were the only English speakers in a class of French kids and they seemed to be largely ignored. Not impressed. Evolution 2 have much smaller groups and seem much friendlier

Paddlinglikehell Sun 23-Feb-14 21:36:27

Dd told me tonight ESF lost her! I had no idea! Apparently her ski came off. They went on, by the time she found it and put it on, the group had disappeared! She saw another group - same level, go up the chair, so followed them. Luckily her group was at the top too, said she was a bit scared!

Saw lot of littleies in the Piou Piou group, crying and some sobbing, obviously very upset and being ignored, was all I could do not to intervene and I too found it upsetting to see. Wouldn't be my first choice for a toddler.

trixymalixy Sun 23-Feb-14 21:41:08

That's why I like skiing with a company like Esprit. They send a snow ranger with every ski class who follows at the back to make sure no one gets lost.

rookiemater Sun 23-Feb-14 22:06:29

So we came back yesterday from Monetier les Bains in Serre Chevalier.

Did it ourselves - not sure that we actually saved anything by doing it that way as had a horrendous drive from Grenoble airport and couldn't manage to get the snow chains on.

The resort itself is very picturesque, although not much skiing for DH who is a beginner. Interesting to hear what is being said about ESF, I booked DS ski lessons through an English company with smaller groups and worked well for him. DH had private lessons with an ESF instructor, which we split so some days it was DH, sometimes me and sometimes me and DS - have to say I wasn't overly impressed.

Weather and ski conditions were excellent for most of the week and have to say the crowds weren't that bad, especially first thing.

I was disappointed by our appartment, I know that half term pushes the prices up, but felt it was a bit underwhelming for the cost, particularly when you add cleaning cost on top - luckily our friends who live there lent us sheets so we didn't have to pay for hire of those.

We had a great time, but very expensive and DH a bit underwelmed by skiing, so think next year it will be back to my girls weekend instead.

clam Sun 23-Feb-14 22:15:44

It infuriates me that some places (e.g. last year's supposed 4* place) charge for bedlinen, towels and cleaning, whereas others (this year's 3* place) offer them free.

That said, I've never paid the optional cleaning charge, but we've done it ourselves and never been 'fined.' I think it's just a threat to ensure that groups of teenagers don't leave a week's washing up in the sink when they leave.

MrsMot Sun 23-Feb-14 22:24:58

Family stats: Four dcs, aged 14, 12, 9 and 6, me and my parents

Where you went: Alpe d'Huez. First time there after Neustift, Wengen, La Rosiere and Tignes. Fab resort, not too crowded, lots of greens for beginners but still plenty of reds/blacks to test better skiers.

Which company you went with or DIY: Crystal. Pre-holiday contact was great, in-resort rep lovely, shame they were let down by poor suppliers.

Best bits: Glorious snow, lots of sun, fantastic ESF instructors - best we've ever come across so all of the kids progressed loads.

What could have been better: Transfer was dire as the bus broke down, accommodation v 'tired' ie. shabby, 3hr wait for skis from a v indifferent hire shop, Grenoble airport appalling on return.

Top tip: Valet parking.

MrsMot Sun 23-Feb-14 22:29:46

Oh and forgot to add, the rubbish Pierre et Vacances reception staff gave our apartment to someone else with the same surname... They seemed to have difficulty understanding that a woman would be the lead name on a holiday booking....

lalamumto3 Mon 24-Feb-14 10:14:01

Rudolf, so sorry about your accident, have sent you a pm.

Just back from Chinaillion, Le Grand Bornand, France. Flew with BA and picked up a car, 1 hour up to resort. Private chalet, self catered, did a mix of eating out and took a load of Cook pre frozen meals, chalet has a proper freezer, so just popped them in there on arrival and took one out at night. Picked up a load of provisions in Thone on way up mountain.

Ate out lunch and one night. Very happy to put a ready made meal in the oven, glass of wine, wood burner on and a DVD or games round the table.

Kids did ESF in the morning, Gold group and race training, fab instructors and standards really high.

Standard of skiing in resort really good, they won 3 Olympic medals last week from resort locals so really happy with themselves, they were also really nice about our curling medal on the same day smile

Good reasonably priced restaurants, great snow, loads of off piste, short queues at major lifts.

Would recommend.

happynappy Mon 24-Feb-14 13:17:58

Non Skiing DH and DD2 (7) plus skiier me and DD1 (12)
Puy St Vincent with Snowbizz
Our first time with Snowbizz booked after reading encouraging reviews on Mumsnet and we were not disappointed.
The 'Pink Ladies' richly deserve their reputation as tip-top nannies, my DD2 lunched with them every day out of choice as she made super pals with the debutante ski group and they had a lovely time together in the afternoon sledging, stories, crafts, snowplay, visiting horses.
DD1 and I had lovely afternoons skiing together - cherishable memories.
Both DDs were unbearable on the way home such was their disappointment at the end of 'the best holiday EVER' according to DD1.
Kiddie Club in the evening was a massive hit for all of us ;)
The ESI instructors were great - very charming smiley and knowledgeable - for me a fab change from my last hol when I was dispirited by the picky irritable ESF instructor who seemed to wish he was anywhere but teaching me. (I'm not that bad!?!)
Even non-skiing DH who didn't want to go at all is now hooked and was whistfully commenting this morning 'I'd rather be skiiing'. He was super lucky and had an instructor all to himself as he was the only novice adult learner last week.
PSV is lovely - beautiful scenery, no wind, protected position with encouraging but achievable runs, and crucially small enough for DD1 to be allowed a little freedom.
Lovely French feel to the resort and has spurred DD1 on to want to do French as a GCSE option - so worth it for that alone!
Lovely dinners at La Chaumiere each night and we were glad we did pre book as the French holidays coincided and everywhere was busy. Super Pink Ladies pitched up each night to pick up the girls for Kids Club.
Lovely personal touch with Snowbizz and Michel, on-site owner of Snowbizz, is very attentive and pleasant.
DH and I felt we had a proper holiday along with the DDs who definitely enjoyed every minute.
Appartments are as ever a bit pokey and spartan but no different to the vast bulk of S/C ski appartments that I've stayed in. Lovely and warm with plenty of hot water and views to die for across the Alps.
Only down part is Turin airport is hopeless with poor processing at every stage and horrendous queues....

But we'll be back.... smile

rookiemater Mon 24-Feb-14 16:39:37

clam that's useful to know re the cleaning - we were leaving the apartment early (7.45am) so I didn't want to take any chances.

If we went again I think I'd book through an english agency so even if it was more expensive, I wouldn't have all the niggly extras.

MistyB Mon 24-Feb-14 20:00:01

And did anyone experience the Saharan Sand on the pistes on Wednesday? How weird was that? I have been looking for some weather reports mentioning it but have drawn a blank, can anyone help?

clam Mon 24-Feb-14 20:28:52

Yes, we had it in Isola 2000. The parked cars in the resort were covered as well as all the pistes - a sort of pinky-brownish-grey. I was told by one of the café waiters that it was a southerly wind blowing it over from the Sahara and falling with the snow - simple as that.

Doshusallie Mon 24-Feb-14 20:30:11

Please come and share:
Family stats: me, dh and 2 dses, 7 and 9
Where you went: Tignes, Val Claret, stayed at the Hotel Diva
Which company you went with or DIY: Crystal Ski
Best bits: We got 3 days of brilliant sunshine, the Hotel was very comfortable, food amazing. Lots and lots of fresh snow, best I have ever skied in. Crystal ski child care is absolutely fantastic.
What could have been better: got delayed for two hours at Chambery on the way home. Can't think of anything else that could have improved the holiday.
Top tip: don't take clothes you won't wear. But take lots of socks and thermals as they get smelly.

Doshusallie Mon 24-Feb-14 20:36:10

Oh and deffo recommend valet parking.....once you do it you can't go back though, so be warned....

trixymalixy Mon 24-Feb-14 21:21:49

We stayed at the Diva last year and loved it. Unfortunately due to Crystal's massive cock up with our childcare booking we will never travel with them again. Wasn't the cock up that was the problem, more the way they dealt with it and our subsequent complaint.

Did they do the endless king prawns at the buffet on the last night? We gorged ourselves!!

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