Embarking on a ski holiday with the family requires slightly more logistical planning than back in the days when you were young and carefree - when you could just take a stab in the dark by booking a cheap flight and discounted ski holiday accommodation and hope for the best. No, with a family to consider, things are a little different and, once you're a parent, that much-longed-for holiday actually becomes far less about what you want and more about what will keep the children happy. |
If you're planning a winter break to the snow, in order to maintain a semblance of sanity and peace within your little group, a few simple tips can go a long way.
Location, Location, Location
There are ski resorts and then there are family-friendly ski resorts, and it's very important to do some research and choose one that caters for children. If you're booking a package through an operator it's easy to establish that as a criteria, but if you're doing it alone, the things you need to look out for are: - Childcare facilities - Beginner ski instruction or ski schools - Alternative activities on and off the pistes - A variety of restaurants - Accessibility from the closest airport. (The last thing you want is a four-hour transfer with tired and cranky kids before you even arrive at the resort.)
Choose Family-Friendly Ski Holiday Accommodation
Where you stay can be an absolute deal-breaker on a family holiday, spelling the difference between delight and disaster. Basically, the more space you can procure for your money the better, so, without a doubt, catered chalets are the most popular option for family ski holiday accommodation.
Chalets are an excellent alternative to the often-cramped conditions of a hotel, and you'll save a huge amount on eating out. If you choose the self-catering route you can shop locally and prepare your own meals, and if you go for the catered option you can eat in every day – without the cooking and the dishes!
If your children are absolute ski novices, it's a great idea to get in a couple of sessions at a dry slope before you leave home. This will give them an opportunity to get their 'snow legs' in a more familiar environment and it won't be so intimidating when they first step on to a real piste. It's also very important to instil a positive mind-set about the learning-to-ski process and encourage them to see it as an adventure, in order to dispel any nervousness.
The Right Clothing
Preparation also includes making sure everyone has the appropriate gear to be comfortable and confident in the snow. While skis and boots can be hired from the resort, you'll need to kit children out with a good-quality jacket, salopettes, thermal gloves or mittens (better for the younger ones), proper knee-high, non-ribbed socks, and several variations of layered clothing that can be added and removed when necessary. Nothing puts a dampener on a day on the pistes quicker than tiny frozen fingers or toes, so make sure the kids are warm and cosy at all times.
Top tip: Designate a pocket in your child's jacket for their lift pass and keep it only for that purpose. This will prevent it going astray or causing hold-ups for the entire family at the lifts.
Aside from looking the part and staying warm, the most vital aspects of a child's ski kit are a helmet and goggles. It's compulsory in most countries for children to wear an approved helmet, and they can usually be hired if you don't want the expense of purchasing one. Proper goggles are important in inclement weather, and a good pair of sunglasses is vital to protect against the strong glare of sun on snow – especially for young, sensitive eyes.
If you do a little forward planning, a family winter break to the snow can be one of the most memorable and rewarding ways to spend quality time together. Choose the right resort, the best ski holiday accommodation, and make sure your child is properly kitted out and it'll be smooth skiing all the way.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for ski holiday accommodation in the French Alps in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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