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Ski company recommendations please

(44 Posts)
Kentmumof4 Sat 03-Jan-15 18:30:12

We are new to ski-ing and thinking about going over Christmas 2015. We have 4 children (ouch!) so desperately need to keep the price down. We want to fly (not bothered where to) and would prefer something catered.

Can Mumsnetters recommend (a) a resort and (b) a cheap ski company please?

Many thanks.

Nevercan Sat 03-Jan-15 22:47:15

Try crystal grin

wellintothenewyear Sat 03-Jan-15 23:16:56

Crystal totally failed compared to Inghams in last weekend's crisis. All inghams customers left the emergency accommodation by 9.30 on the Sunday whereas Crystal just abandoned its rep and clients. We ended up taking a taxi to resort on the Monday.

At one point the situation was downright dangerous - the exhausted rep simply allowed the passengers to take over.

Kentmumof4 Sun 04-Jan-15 19:46:27

Thanks - will look into Inghams. What about resorts?

LIZS Sun 04-Jan-15 19:57:50

think Inghams are dropping much of their chalet programme as may others next year. How old are dc? What budget do you plan to have? Self catering may be your best value option.

Kentmumof4 Sun 04-Jan-15 20:31:51

Children will be 14, 11 and twins of 6.

Budget max c.£3,500 - is this realistic? We thought it might be cheaper going over Christmas??

Daltec Sun 04-Jan-15 20:43:56

Does it have to be Christmas time that you go? If you are on a tight budget (and £3,500 for what you are after does sound tight), you might be better to think about going to a resort at high altitude during one of the weeks of the Easter holidays. End of season holidays are much cheaper and the weather is usually better.

trixymalixy Sun 04-Jan-15 20:49:47

Definitely a no to Crystal. They would have quite happily left us with no childcare when they messed up our booking.

The problem is that all the better ski companies are expensive, for your budget you'd be best organising it yourself and going self catering. Kids in ski school in the mornings and ski together/sledging/other activity in the afternoon.

We're going with Snowbizz in February. They get recommended on here a lot.

MidnightHag Sun 04-Jan-15 20:50:55

Erna Low?

SignoraLiviaBurlando Mon 05-Jan-15 15:39:27

You get what you pay for - a lot of people were unhappy that the great deals they got with cheaper operators were not such great deals that they got stranded last week in the changeover day snowmageddon at the Tarentaise resorts. - unfortunately you get what you pay for - if you pay Crystal prices, you'll get Crystal service as they will hire cheap people who are great in normal conditions, but have no experience of dealing in a crisis.

wellintothenewyear Mon 05-Jan-15 15:49:06

it wasn't even a great deal at New Year week prices Signora..................far from it!

SignoraLiviaBurlando Tue 06-Jan-15 12:54:20

Sorry - I suppose not...
I wouldn't recommend Crystal - DS just reminded me of how they once altered our flights from Chambery to Lyon just after we paid the full balance hmm when I had specifically chosen for the short transfer from Chambery.
Mind you all transfer are horrific, which is why we now drive. I remember once with Esprit, who you would think wold be mindful of the likelihood of small children vomiting on very winding mountain roads ( VERY winding up to La Rosiere.) A mum asked the lad rep if he had any sick bags - he just, no, sorry, and put his headphone back in, unconcerned... Ok mum maybe should have though of that, but she would not have know what the road was like - Esprit certainly should! So a very unpleasant journey up and disembarkment after the kid barfed in the gangway...
Wouldn't recommend Neilson either who altered our flights to Norway by a day ( later) on the day before departure and to an airport a 5 hour bus ride away (instead of 1/2 hr), and flight at 10pm travelling through the night with small children on and off transfers. And when we arrived at a about 5am and finally got up to our room, which was twin (for three people). By the time I got downstairs to reception, the rep had already scarpered.
Sorry OP - maybe not helpful!

trixymalixy Tue 06-Jan-15 20:18:35

When we travelled with esprit, they gave out copious amounts of sick bags on the transfer. Just as well as it was like domino vomiting. The first child triggered a wave of vomiting down the coach.

Looby4 Tue 06-Jan-15 20:28:02

For the last four Christmases We've used IGLU, Skiworld twice, and most recently Club Med two weeks ago. We also have 4 DC and your budget sounds low tbh. Club Med was double figures for Christmas week (but absolutely excellent) the other two operators were double your budget, plus we had to buy lunches each day - which mountainside came to around Euros 100 per day for our family!

Taking 4 DC skiing is quite a mission, so suggest you look for ski-in, ski-out accommodation to save carrying lots of skis and poles and unhappy children!

Have you thought of driving down to the Alps, choosing self-catering, booking lessons in the resort and ordering ski hire and the lift passes from the UK?

Agree with all the other posters about vomiting on the coach - it happens every year both journeys, and so this year we booked a private taxi for Club med, but three DCs were sick anyway in the car, so not bothering with that again!

We've been to Val Thorens, and La Plagne and recommend both.

wellintothenewyear Wed 07-Jan-15 12:51:19

One of the best things we did last week was give up on the non-arriving coach and get a taxi: much happier children and smoother ride (and Crystal are repaying the fare because of all the nonsense).

chelsbells Wed 07-Jan-15 13:03:16

We used to go with Interski.

No idea how price compares with others, but we never had any complaints. We did lessons with them, all English instructors and fairly small groups, once I was the only one so paid for group tuition and got private!

On another holiday with them I fell badly on my wrist, I was whisked to the mountain doctors on a skidoo (sp?) and before I'd got there there was already an Interski rep there waiting to go in with me! My instructor had radioed to them. Amazing service! Especially when you can't speak the language and aren't with your parents at the time!

They work out of an Italian resort, which was beautiful and really well maintained.

Lots of après ski activities too!

Couldn't recommend them more.

Justwheesht Wed 07-Jan-15 13:11:50

Bugger - we've booked with Crystal for early next month. 4 kids 6 and under. I thought they were meant to be good.

wish me luck!

wellintothenewyear Wed 07-Jan-15 15:04:11

Hopefully it'll be a great time to go with them Just. They can't afford a repeat.

ladydepp Wed 07-Jan-15 20:16:23

We've just come back from Champoluc with a company called Ski2. Really great service, highly recommend them. Have a look at their website, they have lots of different hotel options for different budgets. Really great English speaking ski instructors, and as they only do the one resort they are really knowledgeable about the area.

You book flights separately so can fly to Turin or Milan and get great deals on flights if you book early.

We have always done our skiing in France but Italy was great, we would definitely go back.

We went with Snowbizz to France last year, really liked the ski school, but I didn't like the self-catering element and the accommodation was BASIC. It was ski-in ski-out which was fab......

My 3 dc's preferred Ski2 but I would still recommend Snowbizz to others, particularly for pre-teens and complete beginners.

Phoenixfrights Wed 07-Jan-15 20:19:16

I think it woulf be possible to do it for your budget if you drove to a french resort and self-catered in a cheapish appartment. No chance in catered accommodation, for that price. Sorry sad

Someone like Snowbizz could be good for you if you are sll beginners or near beginners.

A large part of your cost is going to be the sundry things like ski passes (if you don't stay on the beginner slopes. These will be around £ 150 per head in a small resort, more in bigger mega-resorts. Ski, boot and pole hire around £100 each per week. Ski lessons for you all (?) well, it is probably cost effective (and miles better) to hire a private instructor between you. Say, £200 per day.

The only way round the exhorbitant cost is to chance your arm and book the week before. However if (unlike this year) there is a lot of snow by xmas you may struggle to get 2 or 3 rooms in the same property.

When you add it all up, someone like snowbizz or even club med can be quite competitive, especially with early booking discounts. However I think you are looking at at least £7 000 with club med. But that includes absolutely everything.

A large part of your costs will be

Phoenixfrights Wed 07-Jan-15 20:20:17

Ignore random sentence at end blush

Primrose123 Wed 07-Jan-15 20:51:40

We've been with esprit once and they were good, except that I found their hotels a bit far away from the skiing. Also, we booked a chalet hotel and were expected to leave our small children alone in the room while we went for dinner. They were 5 and 2 at the time and I wasn't happy so we changed our booking to a hotel where we all ate together. When we were due to fly home there was a huge blizzard and all the airports were closed. Esprit arranged for us to spend an extra night in the hotel and flew us home the next day, so we felt well looked after.

We booked with Crystal once, it was a long time ago but I will never forget it. DD was nearly 2 and we purposely chose a resort that had just over a hour's transfer time.

When we got to Austria, we got on the bus as advised, and were told that we were going to all the other resorts first, and would be the last to be dropped off. The rep got off at the last but one resort, so DH, DD and I were left on the bus with the driver. He phoned someone while driving, and as I speak German, I heard him telling someone he had never been to this resort and didn't know where anything was. We finally got to the resort after four hours in the bus, with no stops. The bus driver drove around for a while, obviously lost, and then dropped us at the end of a lane, saying he couldn't get the bus down there, but pointed to the hotel.

We got out of the bus, in the dark, with 2 cases, 2 ski boot bags, a buggy, a travel cot, 2 hand luggage bags and a toddler. We struggled down the lane to the hotel, went in, and found that it wasn't a hotel at all, but a private holiday house. The people there were very kind and phoned our hotel (luckily I could speak to them in German) and got the details for us. They agreed to keep our luggage while we walked, through the dark, and in the snow to our hotel. The rep at the hotel was lovely, very apologetic, and took a taxi to go and collect our luggage. He had only been with company about 3 days, but really did his best.

I was furious with crystal and wrote to complain after the holiday, but they just fobbed us off.

Eastwickwitch Thu 08-Jan-15 08:58:56

Snowball are great for families, we went for 4 years in a row when the DC were little.
We've been with Total (the adult arm of Esprit) who were good too.
Ski Peak were probably the best but the most ££
Just booked with Crystal, sounds like it might be a mistake.confused

sandycloud Thu 08-Jan-15 13:00:17

We are going at half term and booked through interactive resorts. We told them when and where we wanted to go as we are going with friends who had already booked. I think we are going with inghams in the end but they were really helpful and know where the accomodation was in the resort and what would work out cheapest for us. We have also been with snowbizz which was great for the kids. The resort they go to is small but you can't get lost and the lessons were great as all with English kids. There were activities in the evening which they loved too.

CrispyFB Thu 08-Jan-15 19:29:42

We went with Crystal at Easter 2013 with three DC (6, 4 and 1) and it was fine - just for a bit of balance and to reassure people! Although to be fair nothing went wrong. It sounds like they're quite literally a fair-weather tour operator i.e. they seem great when all is well but disappear when the shit hits the fan! But like all companies, probably a lot depends on the individual people you're dealing with. Some reps are going to be a lot more helpful than others and a decent rep will go the extra mile no matter who employs them.

We just booked new year with Crystal a few days ago as we were so pleased with our experience last time, and we now have four DC. I may live to regret it having read some of these posts!! I've been faffing around with changing chalets etc a lot over the last few days though and they've been very reasonable about it all.

We're also getting the Eurostar. Might not get much sleep on the way out and back, but we will get 8 days of skiing rather than 6, and only a 50 minute transfer the other end. And much more luggage and a lot less stress (in theory!) Worth looking into anyway.

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