Family Ski Holidays

Snow much fun

A family skiing holiday offers a fabulous opportunity to spend time together in your own winter wonderland. Here are our top ten tips to help your holiday go as smoothly as freshly waxed skis.

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1. Get set, go

A perfect way to get children used to skiing equipment and the idea of sliding on snow is to take them to an indoor ski slope before your holiday. A few lessons are fantastic for getting the basics in place before you go, or offering a refresher for those returning to the slopes after a year or two away.

2. The right resort

All ski resorts are not created equal when it comes to skiing with children. Choosing a resort less than 2 hours from the airport avoids transfer boredom and the seemingly endless 'Are we there yet?'. Kids learning to ski will need nursery slopes and wide open green runs; well laid out resorts make it easier to get to the slopes and those with beginner friendly lift systems, such as magic carpets, are perfect for beginners who might find getting on a chairlift a little intimidating when starting out.

3. Location, location, location

When considering accommodation, location is key. No one likes a long walk to the ski lifts and little people will cope less well with skis and boots. Choosing a ski in/ski out chalet or one close to the slopes will make life a lot easier. Alternatively many chalets offer transportation to and from the slopes, so everyone can get to lessons on time or be transferred back at the end of the day when legs are tired - a huge plus!

4. When to go

Inevitably you're likely to be restricted by school holidays, but the time of winter can make a difference to your holiday. For example Christmas and New Year is a magical time, but unsurprisingly prices are high as it's peak season. Similarly February half term is costly and slopes will be busy. If you have children of pre-ski age good value is found in January when prices are lower and resorts quieter, or the months of March and April are warmer, with longer daylight hours so are more child friendly.

5. It's not all about skiing

Young kids can't spend all day on the slopes, so having something else to do to keep them entertained is essential. Look out for resorts which offer other activities such as ice skating, swimming, sledging or kid's workshops. Chalets with a good range of facilities are invaluable too; children can stay entertained with large screen TVs, games consoles and plenty of space to play in, while the adults can relax in hot tubs, saunas and comfortable living areas.

6. Child care facilities

Although the aim of a family skiing holiday is to spend time with your children, if you're taking youngsters, chances are you'll need childcare at some stage. Catered chalets are a popular choice as many come with additional childcare services. There are several options where children can have supervised activities to fit around ski school; the staff will take them to and from their lessons, leaving you to ski all day. Many resorts have a ski creche/kindergarten attached to the ski schools, and a number of British nanny companies operate across the more popular resorts. Evening clubs and babysitting can also be provided. There's plenty of options available depending on your needs and budget, and we can arrange the most suitable for you.

7. Ski school

Teaching kids to ski is best left to the professionals to avoid tears and tantrums from both sides and staying close to the nursery slopes and ski school meeting places will make the start of your day easier too. There are many British run ski schools in popular resorts, however it's worth bearing in mind, in some, British ski schools don't have access to the ski kindergarten areas, a must for young first timers. The local ski school will also have the access to magic carpets, the safer roped off areas for lessons and are well equipped to deal with bad weather, cold children and the call of nature! Ski schools get booked up very fast, especially during school holidays, so we recommend booking ski schools at the same time as your holiday.

8. Clothing

There's nothing worse than a cold, miserable child so it's vital they wrap up. The usual rules apply, lots of layers, good gloves, warm socks and keeping the head warm. Thermals are a plus (top and bottom); a pair of inner gloves and a balaclava may seem excessive but they're effective. Goggles or sunglasses are essential and make sure you plaster on the sunscreen too, UV rays reflecting off the snow are surprisingly strong in the mountains, even on a cloudy day. Pop small snacks in your children’s pockets in case they need an energy boost, along with a piece of paper with your contact details. However make sure there's nothing else in the ‘ski pass pocket’ so it doesn't fall out when they grab a piece of chocolate!

9. Equipment

For your first time on the snow, we recommend hiring skis and boots rather than buying them. A helmet is also an essential part of the wardrobe, some ski schools insist on children wearing one to join classes and they are compulsory for under 15s in some countries too. All equipment can be easily hired in most resorts and there's often a deal to be had by pre booking before you go.

10. Have fun!

Last but by no means least. Seeing your kids learn to ski is something really special and a bit of preparation means you can all enjoy your time on and off the slopes. Just don’t forget your camera to record those unforgettable moments!

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