First Family Ski Holiday - advice please!

(10 Posts)
septembersong Sat 19-Nov-11 11:06:16

We're looking to book up for sometime in the new year - me, DP and our 3 DC (ages 5, 3 and 6 months). DP is a very good skier but the rest of us are ski virgins! Any resorts recommended? Also, what type of accom would be best? Usually I prefer SC over hotels, but maybe I should be thinking about a catered chalet ... but shared with strangers!? (new concept for me but common on ski holidays I believe). Finally, any recommended travel agents to book through? All advice gratefully received!

NoseyNooNoo Sun 20-Nov-11 21:41:09

I look forward to the answer to this. We're looking to take a 6yr old and 4yr old next year - a family of 4 total beginners!

I'm not sure I'd fancy sharing a chalet - what if you can't stand each other?

No idea where to go.

Ungratefulchild Sun 20-Nov-11 21:53:35

Don't expect your holiday to be hassle free smile

Ski in/ski out is essential with young children

What sort of childcare are you thinking about? Mark Warner would be good if your budget allows (ours doesn't) but do think about catered with onsite childcare. Shared chalets are better fun than they sound but maybe not with 3 young children?

Can you take lessons before you go? it would be really helpful for you and the 5 yr old even to get used to the boots etc. The 3 and 6 month old won't be skiing.

bridgeandbow Sun 20-Nov-11 22:12:12

good luck with that one!!

Get the Esprit brochure for ideas and costs (it will be eye watering btw!)

problem is that a lot of the companies are geared around you skiing and your kids being in childcare without you. Not my idea of a family holiday, but difficult to ski with a 6 month old strapped to your back I guess!

Problems you might find (with esprit anyway) is the ski classes for the 3 yr old are in the afternoon and the 6 year are in the morning. If you want 3 year old to ski you will need to pay for morning non ski childcare too.

Think about the transfers. They can take ages esp if you go to the French resorts -3 hours on a coach with a baby on your knee and a moaning 3 year old! Go for a resort with as short a transfer time as possible. Price up a private transfer.

Think about other facilities - pools etc you won't be skiing all the time with young children. 6 year old will only be in lessons half day anyway.

I would avoid self catering in an apartment - they tend to be very cramped and basic. I would only consider a chalet. Catered is good - you get cake every afternoon and you will get a proper break. You will have enough to do dealing with the kids without having to cook for everyone or drag tired children out to eat every night.

Your DH will have to have realistic expectations - it cannot, and will not be like it was pre kids. He will have to prepare to be frustrated..

Friends have have done the following:
rented a small chalet and taken Gran to look after kids
gone as a larger group with other families. Split up childcare duties amongst the familes (prob won't work with such a small baby though)

Mine are 3 & 5 and I'm not considering it yet. I fear they would go on first day, find it cold and hard work and not want to go back again. Holiday would be ruined.

Sorry I realise that this all sounds a bit negative - I just want you to really think about the practicalities. I find skiing holidays exhausting before even adding kids into the equation!! Have you checked out how much Barbados is grin !!!

DamsonJam Sun 20-Nov-11 22:34:14

Hi there - have been skiing twice since having kids - once with a six month old and once with a 2 year old and 9 month old and would say the following:
- try and go to a resort with as short a transfer time as possible from the airport (the Grand Massif resorts are mostly within an hour of Geneva and Turin has some close resorts too)
- personally I would recommend a catered chalet if you can afford it. Self catering can mean it's all a bit hard work and a hotel isn't always as child friendly - the nice thing about a chalet is that you can put the kids to bed upstairs and relax for dinner
- handy childcare is very important - preferably in house childcare as otherwise the whole getting kids to and from childcare as well as yourself and skis up a mountain can turn into a bit of a palava
- don't try and expect to do too much - this is not like skiing pre-children. The first time we went with our six month old we had booked her into 5 days of full time childcare (we had booked the holiday before she was even born and I had no idea that there was no way on earth I would be willing to leave her for that long and that breastfeeding would make it impossible too) - so we ended up paying for a lot of childcare we never used. Second time around we just booked half days childcare and me and DH skied in the morning and played with the girls in the afternoon or one of us skied alone. (I also wouldn't expect too much from your kids in terms of skiing - they might love it but they might not and I wouldn't put pressure on them as you'll likely regret it later)
- I really really recommend the catered chalet we went to second time around - its website is http://www.360sunandski.com/en/ - they really are excellent and very good value for the service they offer - only adults pay full price -children just pay a nominal amount for their food for the week and they have in house childcare which is a godsend. The rooms you get are actually a two room mini apartment - the set up of each is different but ours was a main room with a double bed and kitchenette area and then a linked small children's room. We just booked our flights independently and they sorted the transfer for us (about an hour from Geneva). I understand the concern about sharing with strangers but it worked fine for us - it was actually nice to have adult company in the evening (first time around we had gone with my family and booked out a chalet so it hadn't been an issue - if you can organise to go with friends/ family it can make it easier)

Good luck - it can be daunting planning a first skiing holiday with children but I reckon it was worth it. Only reason we're not planning on doing it again this year is that I'm pg with DC3!

Skilover Sun 20-Nov-11 23:09:59

We went skiing with my daughter when she was 3 months old and Grandma came with us and spent some quality time with her. Good shout if you know someone who can do that and get an apartment. We are going this year with 3 yr old and 8 month old to Arc 1950 as it is extremely convenient with easy runs coming through the village so that it is genuinely doorstep skiing from the boot room, great news for beginners. The ski school there is great, there is the Caribou club for the tiny ones right in the village so you can ski past regularly to check if they are having fun. The ski hire shop, lift pass office, restaurants and shops all close by. There are also swimming pools and outdoor "hot" tubs and a new spa is opening for this season. High altitude and great skiing for more experienced skiers as well. Know that Erna Low has an office there so would recommend calling them as they all know the resort inside out.

BeachMum3 Wed 23-Nov-11 21:33:59

We had all the same questions a few years ago including similar concerns about sharing a chalet with strangers (as you wouldn't do that on a sun holiday would you).......however we are now heading in January for our 4th year with 'Family Ski' who seem to have skiing with little ones completed sorted, from the quality of staff looking after everyones needs, taking care of the baby's in the creche, 4 year olds skiing for the first time through to the clever evening set up at the chalet where kids are fed early evening - in company of parents and the adults then served fabulous meals each evening with a chalet host and chef on hand throughout to make sure everyones needs are taken care of, with the wine kept flowing throughout. We have looked at other company's and compared reviews on-line and with freinds, but I think they would be difficult to match?? Good luck...

HarrogateMum Sat 26-Nov-11 14:42:51

Beachmum - do you recommend Family SKi then? We have booked with them for January too, we went with Ski Famille last year (a group of 11) to Les Gets and had a great time, but our party is 14 this year and they didn't have any chalets that suited us so we are in two with Family Ski instead, with the proviso that we can all eat together as one chalet (the adults I mean!). My only concern was that Ardent looked a bit out of the way so would love to hear your thoughts!

To the OP though - I would second what people say about getting a resort that is not too far from your destination airport, we have been a few times to places that were 3 hours and it was a nightmare. 1.5 hours is the max I would do now for transfer times. Try to get a private transfer if you can stretch to it otherwise you can be waiting hours at the airport for other flights to arrive.

I have only ever done catered chalets which have been great and only ever really booked separately for everything, i.e .not been with big companies like Esprit etc, think it has always worked out cheaper. I think less people must be going this year as we got a good deal with Family Ski and our flights are much cheaper than they were this year.

bambikidd Wed 28-Dec-11 22:56:28

Skilover - Just wanted some top tips - We are a group of 5 going to Arc 1950 with our bf 8 month old and staying in a self catering appartment. We haven't got the luxury of bringing a gp so will be taking it in turns to ski between us. The nursery looks good, however is from 9 months and quite expensive, so probably not an option. Did you hire sledge for your little one? Is it worth taking a buggy? Did you take baby food or is it easy enough to get out there? Thanks

auswegian Mon 18-Nov-13 10:57:46

I live and work in a little village in Norway, called Geilo. As a destination for families, especially those with small children, we are simply fantastic. key word is safe. You can't get lost here, everyone speaks English, excellent ski slopes in winter for the kids (and parents) to learn on and you can access the entire resort, all the slopes, even as a beginner. Lots of activities to experience from dog sledding to seeing wolves and moose. easy to get to via rail from Oslo and Bergen and surprisingly affordable, especially out of the peak holiday times for the Scandinavians, which are different to in the U.K.

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