BEFORE YOU GO…
Picking the right resort is crucial. Consider first of all whether the skiing suits your ability? Do you need a beginners ‘go slow’ area with free lifts? Are there many wide green runs back to the village? If there are mixed abilities in your group, is there enough variety of runs for everyone?
Self-catering or catered chalet? It’s important to consider what kind of holiday suits you as a family. Big chalet companies such as Esprit offer excellent childcare. However, this often comes with a regimented early children’s dinner and an adults-only dinner later. The idea is that for the adults-only dinner at 8pm, the children are in bed asleep, with a staff member sitting in the corridor listening outside bedrooms. Self-catering apartments often don’t have childcare, however some ski schools do and it may be possible to tag childcare onto the end of a lesson, giving you more time to ski. Another option is private nannies.
Its position within the resort is important too. How far is your accommodation from the ski school, main ski lifts, childcare and main village/supermarket? Will you hire a car, walk or is there a free transfer/shuttle?
There is lots to consider to ensure your child’s introduction to skiing is a positive one. Are the ski school instructors English speaking? Is there an enclosed children-only Village des Enfants ski area or will your children’s lessons be on the main mountain with everyone else? Is there childcare/a lunch club on site or will your children go by car to childcare elsewhere?
The flight is only the first piece of the puzzle when travelling for a ski holiday. Would you prefer a shared bus or private transfer from the airport? Consider travel sickness on winding mountain roads and lost luggage scenarios causing delays. Huge snowfalls can cause problems, so make sure you choose a company you can directly contact.
WHEN YOU’RE THERE…
Lay out ski gear the night before. There’s a lot of kit and it’s a faff trying to get everyone dressed and out the door in time for a morning lesson. Teach your children to leave their ski clothes in one place when they take them off.
Pack a drink, snack and wear sunscreen. It’s easy to get dehydrated.
Don’t buy ski passes until you’re sure you need them. Beginners may not get off the nursery slopes for a few days.
Bring extra ski gloves. It’s easier and cheaper to bring extra than replace with designer brands in resort.
Remember that skiing is tiring for little ones. Plan for restful afternoons/evenings.
Write your address and mobile number on a piece of paper and zip it into your child’s pocket. This will ensure you can be located should they get separated from their ski lesson. Plus give them money; some instructors stop for hot chocolate on the mountain.