Choose a family-friendly ski resort
You might like to go hard from first lift to last orders at the bar, but your kids probably won’t. Unless the kids are older, and already accomplished skiers, there’s no point paying more to go to a freeride focussed resort, or anything too steep. The best family ski resorts have lots of cruisy blues, and a decent number of south-facing, sunny slopes.
Unless your kids are going to grow up to be Lindsey Vonn or James Woods, they’re going to want to do a lot of non-ski stuff too. That means tubing, ice skating or sledging, and a swimming pool is a must—preferably one with slides, inflatables and plenty of splashy fun. A family ski trip isn't just about the skiing, and the best ski resorts for families will have all kinds of other activities on offer.
Travel time really matters
We’re sure there are some fantastic family friendly resorts tucked away up windy mountain roads, but windy mountain roads plus kids don’t mix well. Check the proximity of your chosen resort to the airport, and book a transfer at the other end—any ski resort with a short transfer time (under 90 mins, for example) is very do-able. Above that, you start to enter the whiny zone.
If you live within an easy commute of London, then taking the train might be worth considering—not just for the savings you’ll make in terms of carbon emissions, but the savings on baggage costs too. Driving can also work, but it’s easier to keep kids entertained on a train, and it’s more relaxing for you too. Esprit Ski holidays all include transfers to and from resort.
Find the right place to stay
Finding the perfect place for you and your family to stay is obviously vital to a perfect ski holiday. Chalets, hotels and self-catered accommodation all have different pros and cons—having someone else cook you dinner each day can make things more relaxing, but you should check whether there are kid-friendly menus in any hotel or catered chalet you book into.
You might want to look at ski-in, ski-out options to avoid ski buses, or just somewhere close enough to the slopes that there’s very little walking needed. Walking most likely means you’ll be carrying your younger kids’ skis. Also look for family-friendly facilities like swimming pools, games rooms, interconnecting rooms, kids’ evening meals and baby equipment. And, of course, the big one: childcare.
Get the childcare sorted
Family ski holidays aren't just for the kids —remember, it's your holiday too, and while you will want to do all that fun snowy stuff with your children and post the pics on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll want some ski time for yourselves, secure in the knowledge that your little darlings are having a whale of a time too. So look for a resort that guarantees safe, stimulating and active childcare with trained, caring and professional staff.
This usually means a combination of care and - for kids aged three and up - ski lessons in ski schools. That should include morning lessons, lunch, and fun activities - such as treasure hunts and snowman competitions. With Esprit Ski, childcare is available for children aged 17 weeks to 12 years. They offer morning, afternoon and evening childcare options.
Pack the right kit
Kitting out your kids for skiing needn’t cost the earth—either financially or environmentally. Skis, poles, boots and helmets are rented in resort as standard, so it’s not worth shelling out on them. Simply ask your resort reps about ski hire (and indeed, other equipment hire) when booking. When it comes to clothing, ask around for loan items or hand-me-downs before buying brand new.
Rental services for kids outerwear, goggles etc. also exist in the UK these days, and can be a great cost-saving option for first time young skiers. The skiwear essentials are: warm, waterproof outerwear (snowsuit or salopettes and jacket) thermal layers, goggles or sunglasses, ski gloves (and a pair of ordinary fleece gloves), ski socks, hat, scarf and warm, waterproof boots with a good grip.
The Mountain Academy:
New for 2022/23, Esprit’s Mountain Academy is an additional afternoon activity club for children aged 6 to 12. This club will have your kids solving lots of fun challenges and learning new skills, including orienteering, hide and seek with rescue transceivers and constructing survival shelters. The class is available in La Rosière, Tignes and Val d’Isère and run by dedicated, enthusiastic ski school instructors.
Is skiing a good family holiday?
Absolutely. What kid doesn't like messing around in the snow, and a holiday that gives parents the chance to spend quality time outside with their children - whatever their age - is great on so many levels: fresh air, exercise, and loads of laughter as well as the chance to learn a lifetime skill.
But you do need to get the basics right - proper clothing, plenty of downtime on non-skiing activities and stress-free childcare.
What age should kids start skiing?
Who hasn't smiled at the sight of a line of little ones snaking down a nursery slope. Kids just seem to take to skiing more easily than many adults! That said, most ski schools start lessons at age 5, sometimes 4. At that age kids will often have been used to nursery or pre-school set-ups and are more receptive to simple instructions.
Many resorts do offer snow clubs for three-year-olds, built around play in the snow rather than structured lessons. Skiing is a physical activity, of course, so some stamina is required, but as parents, you know your children best and should be able to judge how well they can cope with a couple of hours of lessons a day.
Do kids really need ski lessons?
Yes. If you’re already a decent skier it’s easy to think that you can teach your child to ski, just like you taught them to ride a bike! But our advice is simple: Leave the teaching to professionals.
Instructors are qualified for a reason and are well used to teaching the right way to ski. You don't have to leave it till you get to the mountains, however. The best place to start your kids off is on a UK dry slope or, better still, an indoor snow centre, all of which offer excellent courses.
Where is the best place to go skiing with kids?
You'll need to choose a resort with great ski schools, and a range of family-friendly, ski-in, ski-out accommodation, for easy access to the slopes, plus good childcare facilities. Smaller resorts can a great choice for beginners and families alike. Equally important is finding a resort with a good range of non-skiing activities such as dog sledding, tubing, tobogganing or an indoor pool with loads of slides and inflatables.
Esprit Ski's chosen resorts, such as La Rosiere, Tignes and Val d'Isere in France and Champoluc in Italy, focus on excellent childcare and family-friendly accommodation, as well as exclusive ski classes. Other great destinations for ski holidays with children include Scandinavian resorts such as Geilo in Norway, Levi in Finland and Are in Sweden where non-ski activities play a big part in keeping the kids happy, especially around Christmas when the chance to meet Santa goes down well with most kids!
What should children wear skiing?
Skiwear essentials are: warm, waterproof outerwear (snowsuit or salopettes and jacket) thermal layers, goggles or sunglasses, ski gloves (and a pair of ordinary fleece gloves), ski socks, hat, scarf and warm, waterproof boots with a good grip. If you can, ask around for loan items or hand-me-downs before buying brand new. Rental services for kids' gear can be a great cost-saving option. Check out EcoSki which offers a way of accessing kit based around four options: Repair, Rent, Preowned or New “kit with a conscience”.
How do you ski safely with kids?
Rule number one: always wear a helmet. It's pretty much compulsory for kids anyway, but it just makes so much sense we can't understand any parent who wouldn't insist on it. On the hill, ideally you should ski together, keeping your kids in sight, but there are some other tips for ensuring safe skiing - such as having a plan in case you get separated from your children: put a card with your contact details in their pocket, agree a meet-up place and make sure your kids know where it is, teach your kids to control their speed and the direction of their skiing, and practice falling down and getting up on their own; with older kids, make sure they know and respect the mountain rules. And know your - and their limits - don't take them down a black run before they're ready!
How much does a family ski holiday cost?
The truth is this is endlessly variable, depending on things like where and when you go and whether you opt for self-catering apartments or luxury chalets. Buying a package that includes accommodation, flights, transfers and half-board at least helps families to budget. Other cost factors include lift passes, ski clothing and kit and lessons, as well as non-skiing activities such as dog sled rides.
Where can I find the best deals on family ski trips?
As the UK's number one family-ski company, Esprit Ski is a great place to start - the Esprit Ski Price Promise that it'll match your holiday price if you find it cheaper offers peace of mind that you are getting good value. Ways to save include looking out for free child places, ski pack offers and other family savings
Call 01483 944 874 for more details or go to espritski.com
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