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First Ski holiday for 4 year old daughter - Where to choose

(25 Posts)
Clarabel131010 Tue 04-Nov-14 14:24:26

We are looking for a 1 week ski holiday for ourselves (intermediate skiers, but who haven't been for 5 years) and our 4 year old daughter (who has never skied before but who is an outdoors type who loves sports etc).

Due to work restrictions we are looking a the first week in March (which is unfortunately during the French school hols I believe) and would like a resort that would offer English speaking lessons for our daughter in the morning. We would collect her for lunch and spend the afternoon with her so we would like somewhere that has good non skiing facilities such as a pool, ice rink, sledging, horse & cart rides etc. If there was the possibility of 1 or 2 days afternoon childcare that would be a bonus so we could do a full days skiing. However we would like to try and take her on the slopes ourselves towards the end of the week.

We do not want to go with the likes of Esprit who do not allow children at dinner. We want a family holiday so would like to all eat together. Due to this and the late serving at some hotel restaurants I think Self Catering apartments may be the best option?

My research has led me to Avoriaz, but I would love to hear views on this resort and any other places that would suit us. I have always loved Austria although there seems to be little self catering and I'm not sure of a chalet set up.

We would be flying from Newcastle which also limits some of the operators we can use. At a push we could go from Manchester or Edinburgh.

Also, have any of you taken your children to a dry ski slope prior to a holiday? I am tempted but have horrible memories of them as a child, so would be worried about putting her off! The snowdomes are great although expensive. I would consider a couple of lessons prior to holiday if we thought it would benefit her.

massistar Tue 04-Nov-14 17:33:29

Avoriaz is fab. You're right on the slopes so no faffing with getting up cable cars etc. On the downside there isn't much non-skiing activity. We also went to Samoens when ours were little. It's a gorgeous little Alpine village and has lots on for little ones on the slopes with sledging etc. There's a great ski school there called Zig Zak ski.

WelshWereRabbit Tue 04-Nov-14 19:39:47

Have you looked at Snowbizz? Not sure if they fly from Newcastle, but the children's ski school and crèche is great and it's self catering apartments. It's a small resort, but has a swimming pool, not sure about other activities.

bluetrees Wed 05-Nov-14 06:41:38

Double check the ski schools will teach from four. I think some will only teach from 5. I'm pretty sure there's one in La Tania that will take them from four.

anotherdayanothersquabble Wed 05-Nov-14 07:39:57

Avoriaz has a fab indoor pool complex, Acquariaz, an ice rink, horse drawn sledge rides, great kids snow parks and restaurants. Would be perfect.

Someone like Jack Frost nannies would give you the couple of afternoons childcare you are looking for, there are also other nanny providers in the area and if you are lucky a group of them might get together in the afternoon.

The French school holidays could be an advantage as in nearby Les Gets, for example there are afternoon activities including ice sculpting, wood carving, snow ball fights organised in the village centre every afternoon during the school holidays.

hellsbells99 Wed 05-Nov-14 07:43:26

We took ours to Flaine with Crystal for their first ski holiday - but I am not sure what age they were.

ChilliMum Wed 05-Nov-14 07:47:26

I second snowbizz have a look at their website full creche or part time in the aapartment complex. English speaking tuition. We have gone with them the last 2 years and have booked again for this year. Nursery slope next to entrance and evening club for little ones so the parents can enjoy a little apres ski. Have a look at their website.

Clarabel131010 Wed 05-Nov-14 08:44:53

Thanks for the replies. Snowbizz does look great, but they dont fly from Newcastle and the age 3/4 lesssons are only for 1 hour in the morning. I was looking for more like2 to 2.5.
Avoriaz still appeals but I have read lots of poor reviews of the ESF piou piou classes and the Village des enfants. The Avoriaz British ski instruction is only on during British school holidays so that is no good either.
Maybe I need to do a bit more research into Austria.

Eastwickwitch Wed 05-Nov-14 08:48:02

Came in to say Snowbizz. We went for 4 years running when my DCs were little.
Could you arrange flights to Turin yourself & just book the accommodation?

WelshWereRabbit Wed 05-Nov-14 08:54:58

Just to add, we are going for our third Snowbizz holiday next year (DS is 6) have also been with Esprit twice and Crystal once. I liked Esprit but don't think they do self catering, Crystal childcare wasn't as good as Snowbizz or Esprit imo, but that might have just been the resort we were in (La Plagne). Definitely worth checking out the Snowbizz website or giving them a call, I have always found the office staff really helpful and friendly to talk to.

WelshWereRabbit Wed 05-Nov-14 09:01:56

Just saw your reply re Snowbizz - the lesson itself is short, but their Totons club does cover you for the whole morning - you pick up from crèche at lunchtime. DS did it last year (aged 5). We picked him up for lunch some days, on others we gave him a packed lunch and he stayed all day.

Clarabel131010 Wed 05-Nov-14 13:10:47

The more I look at Snowbizz the more I like it. Does the resort have enough to offer intermediate skiers? Does the village have enough alternative ski activities? Are the apartments very basic?
We cannot get a flight to Turin from Newcastle so would need to fly from elsewhere but the extra cost would probably be ok as they seem an awful lot cheaper than France.

Johnogroats Wed 05-Nov-14 13:42:55

We used Piou Piou for DS2, and he was fine with it. He is a great skier now aged nearly 8. I realize that it isn't for everyone though.

Clarabel131010 Wed 05-Nov-14 16:03:35

Was that in Avoriaz Johnogroats? What age did he start?

Johnogroats Wed 05-Nov-14 17:35:22

No it wasn't. It was in Les Orres. He was 3 or 4, but had been on snow since 2 and was desperate to ski like his big brother! He was used to being in ft nursery, so maybe that helped?

WelshWereRabbit Wed 05-Nov-14 20:19:58

Puy is fine for intermediates, very few blacks and some nice long blues and reds. There is a children's play area and a swimming pool, think that's it for non-skiing activities. The apartments are a bit basic, but a decent size - we stayed in a T3 (2 beds) both times. If you are organising your own flights, you could get a hire car as well. It makes food shopping much easier and cheaper as you are not restricted to the extortionate Sherpa supermarket on the mountain and gives you more flexibility if you want to go exploring. Parking is free in resort. We have driven both times and find it handy having the car.

ResponsibleAdult Wed 05-Nov-14 20:41:02

Agree, Snowbizz. The resort Puy St Vincent is tiny, and although the area is physically lovely, the buildings are ugly, however Snowbizz virtually run the whole place. DC goes in kids club which includes one hour ski school. Adults ski am with a group or individually. All back to resort for lunch. Meet at the residence on the piste.

After lunch DC can go back into club, or stay out with you ( my 3yo DC and I rode the cable cars as they let you go up and come back down, or made snowmen, or watched DVDs, or ate crepes).

You can eat out après ski, self cater, or our preferred option, the FREE evening childcare starts at 6-8 or 7-9 you eat in/out with kids early evenings, quick supper for all and drop them in childcare to the bar pronto or late evenings, quick supper for kids, adults eat out without interruption or digression.

Bloody brilliant, we did two ski holidays there with DC 5+3, then 6+4. When you are more confident move to a bigger resort, Les Arcs 1950 and 2000 are very Anglophile. Avoid Davos, 13 in Swiss ski school, DC got split from ski group, age 7, made his own way back to the ski resort. WTAF?

Eastwickwitch Wed 05-Nov-14 20:52:34

We did get a bit jaded with the skiing but a couple of times hired a guide to go off piste. Well worth it.

dramaqueen Wed 05-Nov-14 21:03:39

We've been with Snowbizz three times (or is it four?), and can thoroughly recommend them for kids of all ages. Right on the slopes and brilliant with smaller kids. You can always take them out on your own for another hour or two if you want more skiing for them, or arrange private lessons.

Clarabel131010 Wed 05-Nov-14 21:09:40

Thanks all. think that not being able to fly from newcastle might make it a bit of a hassle as they only have flights out of Gatwick left for the week we need and that would involve staying overnight at the airport prior to holiday. Unless we can try and make it work, we are back to the drawing board.

ResponsibleAdult Wed 05-Nov-14 22:22:07

The cost of an equivalent holiday with Crystal or Mark Warner would be more than an overnight stay near Gatwick.

Prior to our first ski holiday, as a family, only my husband had skied. Took DC at 3 and 5 and because of the two hours childcare in the evening, it actually felt like a holiday. Not gruelling Duke of Edinburgh type slog DH preferred ski style to get value for money.

Over the years we tried:

Fly and coach transfer - everyone else's kids are chucking up and stopping coach. No alternative if the resort closes because of lack of snow. Not great.

Drive and hotel - kids are too small to stay up late, too small to leave in room so go back early. No one is happy

Drive and self cater - option to stop over (Lyons/ Reims/ Albertville) on drive down or back depending on time and pressure. Buying bulk of food and wine at the bottom of the mountain (usually Bourg-St-Maurice) cuts cost dramatically. Have car so can move results if snow poor. Ideal option.

BUT, BUT, BUT, MOST IMPORTANT. Buy online a Liber-t peage badge for the toll roads. Non driver stays asleep at tolls as not going in the manual queues, but the automated, so not chucking coins. You take orange left hand lane and beat the queues, accelerate out of the queues. Cuts the travel time down massively. You only get a charge on the months you use it, you pay a redeemable €10 deposit, arrives in 10-14 days (took 3 days in our case).

Stick the matchbox sized blipper beside the rear view mirror. Approach the barrier slowly, blipper bleeps, barrier rises, off you go. Debits your current account. Saved 4 hours when traveling from Val d Isere during French and Belgium hols. Skiing is a brilliant hobby. We tried a summer sport, sailing, I failed. We tried a winter sport, skiing, all love it.

If unsure, get all kit in TKMaxx, thermals, jackets, goggles, socks, vests, fleeces, just hire boots, helmets and skis in the resort. Check charity shops, I got unworn boots in two sizes. They've since been used countless times by friends and family, but will be returned to charity shop in excellent condition.

Johnogroats Thu 06-Nov-14 13:19:15

We've skied at Puy...boys loved it. There are lots of little edge of the piste sections where they loved going through the trees.

Other thing to consider is whether you could fly to Marseilles? That is about 2.5-3 hours from Puy (if you consider it as an option!)

We drive, and agree that the Sanef zapper is great! The only issue is if you need snow chains, which are a pain.

angelcake20 Sat 08-Nov-14 00:36:41

We did 5 years with Snowbizz, having started with them because they were one of very few operators who had lessons for under-5s. In our second year they let 4 1/2 year old DD move from Totons to the main junior lessons after a few days so she was doing 2hr lessons on the main slopes, which was great. Puy is good for intermediates; I don't usually recommend it to beginners and it was getting too small for us after 7 years of skiing but is just right for those in the middle, with a good range of slopes. Hope that you can make it work. Even though we are in the Southeast, we always stayed at Gatwick for the night before the early flight. You can check in the night before and get up a bit later and the new Premier Inn is really handy for the terminal.

Clarabel131010 Sun 09-Nov-14 21:10:29

Thanks angelcake 20, that's really useful. Snowbizz have been amazing and are sourcing newcastle nights through Thomson for us. It will be a bit more expensive but saves us a lot of extra travel hassle. It's also good to know that they are flexible with kids moving groups depending on their ability. Hopefully we can get booked this week :-)
Thanks for all of the comments.

PickledMoomin Sun 09-Nov-14 21:12:26

Des deux domains, belle plagne

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