Family ski options

(22 Posts)
jamtoast12 Tue 04-Feb-14 14:26:20

Hi just after advice really. I'm currently researching options for our first family ski holiday next year (dh and I have skied 3 x but dds 9&7 haven't). However almost every option seems to suggest putting kids in ski childcare/ski club all day which I don't want. To me that is not a family holiday.

I then looked at catered cabins (as we are one of 3 families) and read that kids can't eat with the adults? Is this usual? It just seems so un-family orientated! We want the kids to go to ski school for a morning or so with lunch and afternoon together but with all the research I'm wandering if we are going to find a ski holiday difficult to match our needs!

On summer holidays, we go all inclusive and spend whole days together etc and don't use childcare. With skiing, especially esprit, it all seams to be about getting the kids looked after whilst the adults ski which I dont want. I'd rather sacrifice skiing than put the kids in a school all day. What do others do to get the right balance? Anyone recommend any companies or resorts which might suit us.
Not trying to criticise others as all personal choice but I really would like for us to all ski but to still spend maximum time together.

Thanks!

Nevercan Tue 04-Feb-14 14:30:47

Perhaps you would be best going in a self catering apartment. Then you can eat together either in the apartment or go out for dinner altogether. I think in France they just do mornings for children in ski school so you can have some fun together in the afternoon. Pierre vacance do this type of apartment grin

Artandco Tue 04-Feb-14 14:37:20

We just stay in a hotel or catered chalet. As long as you book the whole chalet yourselves/ between friends then kids can eat when you do. It's only if booking with strangers they don't let them as offer an adult only meal later. In hotel we all eat together in hotel or out in restaurants. Basically exactly the same as a non ski holiday

We usually use grandparents as childcare, but have hired a nanny there. Generally we ski say 9-10.30 alone, then whoever has the children joins us and we ski with them until lunch time. After lunch we either take turns who skis and who plays with kids, all ski together again, or go sledging/ swimming/ husky rides together. Ours are 4 and 2

At 9 and 7 I would just take them skiing with you all day, stopping as and when for breaks. And one or both of you finishing earlier than usual. We used to get 6 ish hours solid skiing in a day, now more like 3-4 which we are happy with.

juneau Tue 04-Feb-14 14:44:03

Well if your DC need to learn to ski (which is surely the point of going skiing?), then they will need some kind of ski school. However, this is usually for only fixed hours of the day (9-12 in France, 10-12.30 and 2-3.30 in Austria), and you can eat all three meals together each day if you want to, while also having a bit of time for you and your DH to go skiing.

As for accommodation: if you and your friends rent out a whole chalet you can usually dictate how you want meal times to work. Alternatively, you can get a self-catering apartment, but you'll have to do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning yourselves, which isn't everyone's idea of a holiday. Or you could stay in a hotel, which will have fixed meal times, but allow you to eat as a group or as families.

Some of the big companies like Crystal and Esprit are very dictatorial about meal times and childcare, but other, smaller companies or independent hotels can be much more flexible.

Artandco Tue 04-Feb-14 15:02:35

Junea- not necessarily, our eldest at 4 has been skiing nearly 2 years ( about 6 weeks worth), and flies down the mountain now. He hasn't attended any ski school, just dh or myself put him between legs on his skis and ski down together as everyone else on the mountain does. After a few goes he was ok to ski alongside on easy slopes and gradually progressed to steeper ones with us near, the same as teaching as adult

winklewoman Tue 04-Feb-14 15:21:05

We have stayed twice in catered chalets with DGCs, and there was no problem about their eating with us, similarly when on our own, other people's kids ate at the same time. I think it depends partly on the company's policy, and partly on how full the chalet is. There might not be room for everyone to eat at once. Worth checking the policy before booking.
I do agree that it is a shame to be on holiday as a family and not be allowed to eat together.

As far as ski school in France goes, certainly in Courchevel and Alpe d'Huez, where we were with the kids, they have the option of 1) morning lessons only, 2) morning and afternoon plus ski school lunch i.e. all day which we did the first time in Alpe but not Couchevel, 3) morning plus afternoon lessons but meeting us for lunch which worked very well.
These trips were with Skiworld and Ski Olympic.

juneau Tue 04-Feb-14 16:18:42

art not everyone is a good enough skier to do this with their LO's. The OP and her DH have only been skiing three times and their DC are much older - 9 and 7 - so hardly the age when you can put them between your legs. Also, and speaking as someone who had a family member try to teach them to drive, not every parent is a born teacher, even if they do know the basics themselves.

flashheartscanoe Tue 04-Feb-14 18:00:16

If you are going in the school holidays the tour operators charge stupid prices anyway. You dont need them!

There are loads of big chalets and apartments on owners direct or holiday rentals. Just decide where you want to go and get looking.

Just rent a lovely big apartment and take turns cooking!
You will need to arrange an easy jet (or similar) flight and a private transfer. Its all really easy with google and loads cheaper.
This year I have gone online and booked my kids, (10, 11 and 13) morning lessons with esf (each resort has the ski schools listed on their website). We will ski with them in the afternoon or go to the pool or whatever.
You can easily buy lift passes online- ours have already arrived and we've booked equipment online to be ready in the shop when we arrive.
The tour operators like to tell you its all difficult- its not.
Have a lovely time looking- its my favourite hobby!

angelcake20 Wed 05-Feb-14 00:35:22

Have a look at www.snowbizz.co.uk. We used them for 5 years from DCs being 5 & 3 to 9 & 7. Good value (though still much higher in the hols), lessons for all in the mornings, with an hours kids club before if you want a quick ski by yourselves, guided skiing available a couple of afternoons, kids club for 2 hours most evenings, basic SC apartments but local restaurants available. Very friendly, personal service in small, extremely convenient resort of Puy St Vincent.

UniS Thu 06-Feb-14 14:23:45

After only 3 weeks sking yourself I'd strongly recommend you get your kids some ski lessons with an instructor rather than teach them yourself. By all means ski with your kids for the rest of the day, but life will be much less fraught if you have someone else giving them good basic teaching.

Age 7 & 9 your novice skiers will probably need a decent lunch break before being willing to ski again after lunch.
IF you go with a company that offer childcare it can work well to have the kids picked from ski school and given lunch by childcare staff, then you can scoop them up raring to go again at 1sih having had a few hours to ski at adult pace in the morning.

Personally I find that kids we ski with are knackered after a day sking and normal ( 5.30pm ) tea time followed by normalish ( 7pm) bed time suits them, they are up again at 7am and out the door to ski school at about 8.30am. The year we stayed in a hotel and all ate at 7pm was a nightmare, younger child was exhausted before dinner and too tired to eat a sensible meal.

Primrose123 Thu 06-Feb-14 14:34:45

I wouldn't recommend Esprit myself. We went with them once, and it did seem to be full of families trying to offload their kids for the day, and evening sometimes. Their hotels seem to be a long way away from the ski area which means catching buses, not easy with children, and four lots of skis, boots, helmets etc.!

What we do now is book flights with easy jet, hire a car from the airport in advance, and book a nice hotel direct which is near to the slopes. I can recommend a few if you're interested. We have been skiing for years so we don't have lessons any more, and our children ski with us. When they were younger they went to ski school, but preferred to ski with us. I wanted them to go to morning ski school and then be free in the afternoons to be with us, but some ski schools only offer full day lessons.

Another option if you do need lessons is to book a private instructor. This can be quite expensive, but you could then book an hour or two a day, and all stay together. We did this when a friend came with us, she and the children had private lessons in the morning and we split the cost.

When we went with Esprit, we were initially booked into one of their chalets, until I found out that the children were not allowed down to dinner with us, and would have to be left in our room on their own. I wasn't happy about this and managed to change the booking to a hotel, where we all ate together.

I am like you, I like to spend time with my children when we are on holiday. If you want any specific advice about hotels or resorts, feel free to PM me. :-)

justgoogleit Thu 06-Feb-14 15:30:49

Some wonderful posts already made - advice I wish I'd had before.

Big operators with pretty websites/brochures, lulled us into the easy, route of no choice. For that we got to share a rather crowded chalet with limited choice food, strict mealtimes, kids separated from adults. I understand that this is to some a luxury. But it feels wrong. Looking back it wasnt that memorable or exciting and cost us many thousands.

DIY Package
Fortunately we and the internet got wiser and now we book flights to Geneva - (easyjet from Edinburgh), hire an airport car (use an annual excess waiver, book with Rhinocarhire or Holidayautos who are both discounters), and take a portable satnav (tomtom - with a funny pirate voice) for stressless road navigation.
We trawl OwnersDirect/Homeaway.co.uk to book a large chalet and went with friends with kids the same age, hiring a car each. It is much more about family and we have our friends and their kids. Twice we paid our regular baby sitter or au paire to come with us - Since we are 5, one more isnt a great deal more and we ski together / go out in the evening thanks to the baby sitter.

LESSONS
Teaching your kids to ski is part of the fun. But with the odd "private lesson" (lecon privee - in France) it means you get your own ESF instructor for an hour or two of expert tuition and the rest of the day to hone it down. There is no need to drop your kids off into a sheep like "ski school"

I am like you, I like to spend time with my children when we are on holiday.

babybarrister Thu 06-Feb-14 17:29:52

sorry but i loathe ESF - cheap but nasty ....! big classes and they do not actually teach just act as childcare - straggglers at back left to own devices whilst teachers pose at the front

I have used Magic in 3 Vallees - much, much better

jamtoast12 Thu 06-Feb-14 18:08:42

Thanks so much for all the advice. I've had a further look online and it seems I'll get more of what I'm after if I don't go with an operator known for family skiing! I'll def look into resorts offering morning ski only with us having lunch together.

To be honest, I don't want the whole emphasis to be only skiing anyway...if the kids manage the skiing in ski school and an hour or so with us then that's fine as I'm happy to sledge, ice skate etc for the rest of the day.

As for eating and sleeping early, my kids are so used to being in kids discos etc on holiday til gone 11pm so would be mortified of the idea of going to bed before the adults grin - for them that's one of the huge advantages of holidays is that they do everything we do!

But thanks again for all your replies!

Artandco Thu 06-Feb-14 18:23:58

Jam- same, ours would be horrified if they couldn't join in eating fondue. We usually always ski in France and in our experience the French love kids in restaurants as late as you like. We often all go back to chalet/ hotel at 5pm and all have a nap together! Then swim/ get changed and head out around 8pm

winklewoman Thu 06-Feb-14 22:09:34

I really don't get the separate child eating scenario. What are you supposed to do with them while you have your own supper? Good little things though our DGCs are, I would not find it relaxing to eat and chat while wondering what they are up to, or, worse, whether they are confused and frightened at being on their own in a strange room.

Primrose123 Fri 07-Feb-14 12:43:02

Winklewoman, I was told by Esprit to just leave them in the room, they'll be asleep. Not my children! Never asleep by 7! They were 5 and 2 years old, and while reasonably well-behaved, I wouldn't leave them alone a hotel room. Apart from the unlikely event of someone going into their room - what if they got onto the balcony? What if they flooded the bathroom? Also, they would have been upset to be left in a hotel room on their own.

We changed hotels and our children ate with us. They were quiet and well behaved in the dining room, and had toys and crayons to keep them occupied. It was fine.

UniS Fri 07-Feb-14 13:23:12

It's each to their own really, read the small print ( and the big print) and book accommodation that will suit your family and your idea of "family friendly". As leisure skiers with 7 and 9 year old beginners you don't want the same set up as a family with 2 under 4s and a pair of keen all mountain skiers might want.

jo164 Sat 08-Feb-14 16:03:57

If you'd like somewhere that has lots of other activities take a look at scandinavia. We go to Levi in Lappish Finland which is great for the children. Book flights and accommodation separately. We go at Easter as it's snow sure until May there, and there is a decent amount of daylight by then. Ski lessons on the morning or afternoon, and reindeers, huskies, skidoo's, northern lights, snowshoeing, pony trekking, ice hotel, sledging, swimming etc. to keep us busy when not skiing. A good mixture of hotels and apartments to choose from. We find by self catering and booking as soon as flights come out it works out pretty reasonable for a skiing holiday. www.Levi.fi

ladydepp Wed 19-Feb-14 20:27:58

In case someone else is still looking at this thread I would defo recommend Snowbizz. 2 hours ski school from 11-1 and then the rest of the day to ski/swim/chill out together. 2 hours kids club in the evening (which my kids club hating kids LOVED). Plus guiding some afternoons, ski in and ski out accommodation, what's not to like? Oh ok the apartments are VERY basic but other than that a fabulous ski holiday. Wish we'd discovered them sooner.

SoldeInvierno Fri 21-Feb-14 08:28:26

We have always stayed in ski hotels with Neilson, as I also insist in eating together with DS. My favourite is the Cristallo in Katschberg. Good resort for intermediate skiers and lessons are organised in 2 hour blocks. DS goes to lessons in the morning and then joins us for lunch and ski together in the afternoon, or goes out again with his group, depending on the mood. After that it is swimming for everyone, outings and dinner together at about 7. The bar is very family oriented so all the kids play pool together while parents chat

dramaqueen Fri 21-Feb-14 08:35:04

I'd recommend Snowbizz too. We've been three times and the kids have the best of both worlds. Other kids around to have lessons with and optional to join in any other time. Really good service as well.

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