A ski holiday can be the perfect way to relieve those winter blues; here we take a look at everything you need to know to make the most out of your skiing trip. Many believe the journey to your holiday should be half the fun. So when planning your ski trip if you don’t fancy taking your children on a plane, another option you may want to consider is traveling by train. You can currently take the Eurostar from London St pancreas, Ebbsfleet International or Ashford, change in Paris and be taken in comfort to a station just a short transfer from your resort. This is a good option for families who are put off by low cost airlines and the hassles of the airport.
For your children to have the best skiing holiday, you will want to ensure they receive the appropriate ski lessons. In France, the ESF (Ecole du Ski Français) France’s largest ski school, accept children from three years old. The ESF offer group lessons that you can book for half or the full day. The lessons usually start between eight and nine in the morning and stop for a lunch break at about twelve. If you have younger children In the afternoon it’s a good idea give them a break from skiing as it can be a bit too tiring for little ones all day. Many resorts offer a crèche where your children can relax and play in the snow with toboggans or watch a video while you hit the slopes. The ESF run classes in groups of fifteen and use a programme, which involves eight tests to allow for a more gradual improvement for children. However, if your children do not speak French you may want to choose a school that uses English instructors. Chilly Powder provides ski lessons for children running in groups of five where an English-speaking instructor will teach your child. Francesca Eye, Chilly Powder founder, explains “we found the larger groups with French instructors lead to teary children. In our smaller classes the children really get to know each other and form a close relationship with their instructor.”
If you are booking a holiday with children under three, a resort with a snow crèche is a good option. At snow crèches your children can play in the snow and learn basic skills such as snow plough. Most resorts include crèche costs as part of the overall price, however if you want to hire one of the resort’s babysitters for the evening there can be additional charges. Another option you may want to consider if you are staying in a chalet with younger children is a nanny. Meriski offers chalets with nannies for those families skiing with children who are on hand to care for babies and children. Meriski’s nannies work Monday to Saturday and arrive at your chalet by 8.30am. The nannies then take your child in a minibus to their crèches, which are stocked with toys to suit all ages, and a box of toys is also available in your chalet if you have booked a private nanny. Children are then delivered home again at teatime.
When booking a ski holiday many families are often left unsure about the additional costs that are involved. A general Ski pack, with boots, skis, poles and helmets (optional) costs between £90-150 for kids aged 5-13 years and £140 – £180 for adults. Ski tuition lessons for both adults and children can cost between £100-£370 for 5-6 days. Early risers will benefit from the lower priced lessons in the morning. Lift passes cost on average £77 for 6-13 year olds and £124 for 14-99 year olds. However, these passes are not always required for the younger children who will be down at the bottom of the mountain.
A variety of package deals are also available to help save costs when booking your family Ski Holiday. Lucy Ace, founder of Take the Family, suggests Esprit Holidays and Ski Famille for family orientated holidays, “they offer hassle free skiing by arranging everything for you. Mark Warner and Esprit operate all over Europe whereas Ski Famille concentrates on two main French resorts Les Gets and Reberty in the Three Valleys.” Ski Famille offers in low season times, such as early December, prices from £1,240 for a family of 4 including bed and breakfast in a shared chalet, afternoon tea, pre dinner drinks, evening meal, 5 days childcare and kids ski school transfer, plus a channel crossing or airport transfers. This same package goes up to £4,360 for February half term. However, this package doesn’t include insurance, ski equipment, child and adult ski tuition, lift passes and air travel. Esprit Holidays offer packages where children’s boots, skis, helmets, lift passes are all included but this is only when the adults book the same.
Chris Thompson, Managing Director at Ski Famille has some top tips you should follow to ensure you have a happy family skiing holiday.
• “The starting point is to pick a family friendly resort that doesn’t involve too long an airport transfer.”
• “If children are too young to ski with you seriously consider some kind of childcare.”
• “Pick ski tuition carefully. You want small groups and instructors that can empathise with the needs of both you and your children.”
• “Take proper clothing. Waterproof gloves, toasty socks and decent goggles make a big difference. Borrow from friends if possible.”
• ” Relax and enjoy yourselves. It’s a family holiday in a beautiful environment not a test of endurance!”
Top ski schools available
Les Gets Snowsports (LGS) Independent British ski teachers offer high quality personal tuition for small groups and individuals. Private lessons, Junior Freeriders courses and full day sessions are all available at competitive rates but early booking is advised to ensure you get your tuition lesson. http://www.skischool.co.uk
British Alpine Ski School’s (BASS) instructors are native English speakers allowing children and adults alike to benefit from being taught in their own language. Lessons book up well ahead and families are advised to make their reservation with BASS at the same time as their main holiday booking. http://www.britishskischool.com
Evolution 2 Award winning ski school centered in Val d’Isere, Tignes, Montchavin-Les Coches (La Plagne), La Rosiere and Chamonix. One of the original independent ski schools, high standards of tuition and levels of English are maintained through enthusiastic instructors. Now they offer several non-ski activities as well. http://www.evolution2.com/federation/default.htm
Take the family’s top tips
• Book early to take advantage of early bird offers
• Prebook your childcare as this will book up during high demand periods
• Prebook your equipment and ensure to order helmets for the children (and preferably the adults)
• Have fun – make the most of your time when your children are at ski school or in childcare Take the Family’s BEST Budget Resort PV Holidays are offering 20% off their holidays and you can get a studio apartment in Val Morel sleeping 3/4 for 321 euros, alternatively a 1 bedroom apartment is 405 euros for the week commencing 9th January. The apartments are 200m from the ski lifts and there is local childcare for children from 18 months upwards costing 137 euros for 6 mornings or 155 euros for 6 morning ski lessons (3 years upwards).