From a woman who was adamant she would never venture out onto the pistes with toddlers or kids in tow, I am now a total family ski convert and cannot get enough! I had nightmarish visions of me sweating in snow gear whilst dragging screaming kids behind me plus a hundred pairs of skis/helmets etc., amidst screams of ‘I’m cold’ and ‘I hate this helmet’, and whilst this does happen on the odd occasion, in general, it is quite simply the best holiday ever.
This is my second year of ski-loving and with 2 amazing holidays under my belt I have some advice to share if you are thinking about giving it a go…
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED EARLY
Start off with lessons at your local snow dome if you have one or failing that watch videos with them on You-tube of other kids having fun, putting on skis etc – get them excited about the snow and the activities they will be doing. A ski holiday can be a fantastic family fun-for-all but only if everyone is enjoying it. So, a love for the snow is a must and try to take away the pressure of actually learning to ski. Make it about having fun foremost and the kids will be all-in.
My two boys had some lessons at The Chill Factore in Manchester before we went away the first time and as a refresher the second time. We put our then 6 year old straight into lessons and let our 3 year old join in the toddler fun which is mostly situated in the little play are and sledging etc. Thanks to a fantastic instructor our eldest is now whizzing down the mountains without a care in the world and my 4 year old is fast following!
If you have young ones or fearful kids there are clever things you can buy to help out. We couldn’t have managed without these two.
Clever little clips that keep the front tips of the skis in snow-plough position to allow little one’s to develop their control over time whilst enjoying the ski experience more. Ingenious! Buy them before you go though as they are triple the price in ski resorts!
We used this one and it was brilliant. The Hobbledehoo allows the parent or teacher to keep a hold of wee ones on lifts or slopes alike. Hold the handle on lifts or use the leash for skiing, let’s them feel as though they are doing it themselves whilst you have full control of them. Combined with the ski clips, you can’t go wrong!
Like any holiday with kids, preparation is everything! Ski resort chemists are expensive so take a medical kit with travel size sachets of calpol, kids ibuprofen, plasters, plaster spray and anything else you may need. Pack hand warmers, lining gloves, spare snow gloves (attach elastic to these like your mum used to, to avoid the kids losing them!) spare socks, travel wash, a face mask or scarf for colder days and lots of spf 50 and spf lip balm!
SAVE MONEY ON KIT
I can’t stress this enough, skiing is expensive! If you are using Snow Schools whilst there and even just hotels/chalets alone then you are spending a lot of money! So, don’t feel you need to stock up on expensive gear for the kids when you know they’ll need a bigger size every year! In my experience the cheaper kit from Decathlon is just as good and a fraction of the price! Just be sure to check the weatherproof and waterproof ratings on everything, especially important things like gloves and socks and you will be laughing. It’s all about layers. We bought everything for the boys from Decathlon and couldn’t fault any of it. Nothing failed, ripped, broke or let the cold in.
On saying that I did splurge a little on my own ski wear from Sweaty Betty (in the sales of course) – simply because, you know, I am done growing… ahem. Don’t judge me…😉
Here is my go-to list for each boy, for one week:
1 Ski Jacket
2 pairs Ski-Trousers (salopettes for the little ones they are warmer). Take 2 incase they get super wet.
3 Base layer thermal long-sleeved top
2 pairs thermal Long-Johns
4 pairs thick ski socks
2 pairs lining gloves
2 pairs ski gloves
1 pair snow boots
1 helmet and goggles
1 pair sunglasses!
GO FAMILY FRIENDLY
For me this is so important, choose a hotel that is seriously family friendly. They should be able to help you with ski-school arrangements, babysitters and kids activities. Some hotels such as Mark Warner have round the clock kids clubs for all ages to make sure everyone gets some skiing done. For us, we chose a nice hotel that was friendly, had ski-in and out access and was close to everything. I recommend the Hotel New Solarium in Courcheval 1850 for this. The staff were fantastic and there were lots of kids to play with. I never felt like my boys were making too much noise or causing any hassle. it was very laid back. The views were 360 and breathtaking! We arranged the school ourselves for a few hours each morning (including me!) and skied as a family after lunch which was perfect for us.
Another alternative is to hire a family friendly chalet like my friends did. Chalet Mayreau in Morzine is ideal for families. The chalet is gorgeous, the location is ideal and super convenient and Morzine is a great resort for kids with lots going on to keep them happy Perhaps most important of all, it is run and managed really well and fully supported which is a must when you are abroad with children. This is our plan for next year!
It is so easy to get flustered whilst travelling with kids and if things go slightly awry it can be stressful but my advice from someone who isn’t naturally laid back is to really look around, take in the AMAZING views and smell the roses at every opportunity.
There is something about the air up there in the mountains that renews me from the inside out and I come back feeling like a new person – even though I am exhausted from all the exercise and travelling! There is nothing more rewarding than a glass of Vin Chaud after a day skiing and fresh air and as one of my friend’s put it so perfectly – it really is like being in The Last Christmas video…
In short, a family ski break is cosy, healthy, fun and a great way to spend quality time.