Thousands of tips to make it heaven, not hell.
There’s no better family holiday than a skiing holiday. It’s a fact, believe us.
Just check out some of the photos below and it will give you an idea of what we mean.
The family that skis together stays together!
If you have a baby you have the freedom to leave your little loved one in a nursery you trust and finally get some time to yourself.
A holiday at last.
If you have a toddler there’s nothing quite like watching your toddler take to the snow like a duck to water.
When you start skiing round as a family as equals laughing, speeding, lunching and falling over together there’s nothing quite like it.
Then comes the inevitable day when your children become better than you and you feel an enormous sense of pride (tinged with regret though!).
Family skiing is fantastic, however it can also be stressful, expensive and a complete nightmare if things go wrong.
The editors of PlanetSKI, James and Kisia Cove, have 3 children (now 18, 16 and 13) and they all started aged 4 years old.
The kids ski around 4/5 weeks each winter and have been to the Alps, The Pyrenees and the Rockies.
They started off in crèches as babies, progressed through various ski schools and now doing race camps.
We have experienced pretty much all the problems there are and in this guide pass on our own personal advice. It comes from experience.
We have also teamed up with Esprit Ski, the No 1 family specialist, to bring you some helpful advice.
What to think about when taking the children skiing.
- Flight times out of UK – are they a civilised hour for children?
- Check distance/time from arrival airport resort.
- Choose an operator with plenty of experience and that offers a choice, not just limiting families to a particular resort where they “do” child care.
- Is it the resort’s or the Tour Operator’s?
- Are the child carers qualified?
- Is the nursery in the chalet or do you have to traipse your child round the resort?
- Activity clubs – what do they do, are they just video clubs or do the children get out and about?
- Any evening activities for children?
- Any babysitting provided?
- What are the age ranges for nursery or child care?
- What are the catering arrangements?
Nursery Care for babies and toddlers
Not many Tour Operators offer their very own nursery care and attention needs to be paid to what exactly you are booking for your infant. If it is a local resort nursery, do the carers speak English? Will they follow your child’s routine? What will they do? And will it be for 5 or 6 days?
Select an operator that has dedicated nurseries in each resort, staffed by British qualified Nursery Nurses and managed by experienced Child Care Managers.
Lunch and all refreshments should be included and a daily diary ought to be kept to ensure you can keep up to speed with your child’s day.
Children should be taken outside when weather is suitable and given every opportunity to experience the mountains, subject to their age and parental consent.
Ski School for children
Many holiday packages offer children’s ski classes but it is important to know whether or not the classes are just the local ski school’s or if the operator has any special arrangements.
Some operators just book children into the local classes, which may then have anything up to 16 children in them and be taught in the local language.
Also worth checking is whether the parents have to take to and collect their children from ski school. It can severely restrict a parent’s time on the slope.
Another factor is whether to have all day skiing for your child or just the morning. Younger children or beginners benefit from half a day skiing and half a day having fun bum-boarding/snowman building/snowball fighting etc.
Older and more experienced children want to be out most of the day.
Does the operator offer such combinations?
You may want to chose an operator that has it own ski classes and contracts instructors from the local ski schools to teach children in English and with only a maximum of 6-8 in a class.
Some have afternoon activity clubs – Snow Clubs – which include pick up from ski school, lunch and fun-filled afternoons of outdoor and indoor activities.
Some operators charge extra for babysitting, others don’t do it at all. If night life is important, try to check beforehand how much extra you may have to pay out in resort to avoid hefty bills not budgeted for.
Others provide a FREE Baby Listening/Child Patrol service one night a week or often every night in Chalet Hotels and larger chalets.
Check the eating arrangements.
Children tend to be happier eating all together and can’t last all evening waiting for an adult dinner at 8pm.
Location of properties
Where the chalet or hotel is situated will have a big impact on the enjoyment of the children.
Ski in/out is ideal for parents but for children who will be in ski lessons it may be advisable to look for properties where the ski school meeting point is close by.
Good operators have chalets and Chalet Hotels in superb locations for children and they will collect your children from your chalet every morning to take them to the meeting point and make it full of fun and games so that any physical activity is minimised.
Any resort where walking is involved they should offer a minibus service.
You don’t want your children being put off the sport by having to struggle to walk in big clumpy ski boots!
Skiing with children can be expensive.
Some child friendly operators do not have child friendly prices.
Check the discounts according to children’s ages and up to what age they are applicable and also the number of children allowed.
Many operators only allow 2 children at a child’s price and thereafter charge adult prices.
Always work out the whole package price before deciding which is better value – an operator with the most expensive adult price may turn out to offer the best whole family cost.
Often sharing the parent’s room gives the greatest discount for children but if you want separate rooms for the children you will not get much of a discount from some operators.
Brochures/websites that do not give any child prices are questionable – do they make them up as they go along?!
Booking certain dates with some companies may give good offers – free children’s places etc but again we suggest you work out the whole package before getting excited about a great deal.
For more information then see further details from Esprit Ski.
For a list of our favourite family resorts look in the Which Resorts section of PlanetSKI.eu.