Skiing is potentially one of the hardest holidays to cater to, for the whole family. Infants will either need constant supervision on the slopes, or all day day care. Adolescents want the freedom to do as they please, while young adults want this and the option of some Apres Ski. Mums and Dads may not be keen skiers so they might me more suited to being pampered in spas or on the sundeck catching some alpine rays.
The Luxe Travel have put together a guide for first-time skiers hoping to set foot on the slopes at some point this or next winter. Families who enjoy skiing have usually done so for generations, the hardest part is initiating the tradition and we want to give you all the inside information to make this process much easier.
How to deal with children while skiing
Children can commonly be the bane of one’s travel life and dictate holiday plans from their birth right through their adolescence. Generally from the age of five children can join ski schools. If under the age of five the ski school at the resort you visit will need a crèche.
Adults and children can be separated within the ski school as progression speeds vary. If you would like to be instructed alongside your children then you may need to take out private tuition. The first day will typically involve a nursery slope and learning how to ‘snow plow’ and stay on your feet. If you’re in a traditional ski school ability is assed at the end of each days session and then grouping for the following day decided.
Tip: Children’s energy levels usually dwindle by mid-afternoon so you need to choose a resort/chalet that has other distractions such as swimming pools, ice rinks, squash and tennis courts and adventure playgrounds. Or just somewhere close to the slopes so they can have a afternoon sleep.
When is the best time of year to ski with children
Skiing during school holidays is not advised as mountains have a limited amount of space and can become very crowded during holiday periods. If your children attend private school or there is any other way to go outside the school holiday you will get better deals and have quieter slopes. If you do go at peak times then choose a smaller resort lower in the mountains. These generally tend to be less popular because the snow isn’t as good and the nightlife as extravagant. There is however ample amounts of snow for the beginner and plenty of restaurants and sights to visit, it just won’t have the facilities les deux alps has.
Ski equipment is expensive, with a good pair of skis starting around £300 it is much more sensible to rent them just in case you don’t take to skiing. Most tour operators offer rental packages at a very discounted rate if you’re buying ski passes, instruction and accommodation through them. Don’t forget to take out ski insurance as if you hit a rocking and damage the skis you could be left with a hefty bill. All first-time skiers should wear a helmet, you will see many people on the slopes not wearing helmets and instead wearing the latest bobble hat. In the last 10 years the percentage of people wearing protective ski helmets has risen from 25 to 67% which is reduced the risk of brain injury by 70 to 80% and death from injury by 80%. If that’s not a good enough reason to wear one then I don’t know what is!
As a slope virgin, you are yet to experience the icy winds on the exposed cable cars. Temperatures with wind chill often reach -20°C sometimes even -30°C. Any skier with years of experience with tell you good in getting a good pair of gloves and thermals as is one of the best investments you can make. Although very uncommon it’s been known that people stuck on ski lifts with inadequate clothing have had frostbite in many of their extremities. Gore-Tex is a very safe option, it will keep you warm but also allow you to stay cool when you get to the bottom of the slopes or if you’re experiencing a particularly temperate day. Here are a key list of clothing essentials you must take;
Most gloves on the market will state that they can stand temperatures down to an unrealistic figure. Most of this is a huge exaggeration, and even in the most mild of days you quite often find your fingers getting cold. We highly recommend you purchase a set of inner gloves, as a protective thermal layer. It’s far easier to remove items of clothing and carried in your jacket or backpack than get clothing while stuck on the slope.
Best beginner ski jackets
Spyder are ski company that has been around since the 1970s. Founded by the former US Winter Olympics coach, Bob Beattie, they have a reputation beyond compare and are known among pro racers and amateurs for their quality and performance. The spider trucker is a three layer jacket with an out and out waterproof tweed laminate. The inside is coated with a micro-fleece layer this shell makes the jacket breathable honour around town mild day.
North face are a brand that epitomise alpine extremes, designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the North face of Mont Blanc their jackets are both flexible, manoeuvrable and very warm.
Getting to a ski resort
Traveling within alpine regions is often treacherous and distances that appear close on the map might be hundreds of miles apart by road. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or a seasonaire the most efficient way to get to your ski chalet is through private transport. There are plenty of expatriates living in the Alps, who make their retirement money by offering private chauffeur services. Rates are comparable to that of renting a car however you will not have to worry about directions, driving icy roads and insurance should you have an accident. This can be arranged through the tour operator, or by checking out the local classifieds for region you are visiting.
If you have your sights set on renting a car and thrive on the challenge of driving in harsh conditions the wholly suggest renting a 4×4. Cars may come equipped with snow tires however four-wheel-drive and a raised chassis will be far more adaptable in changing conditions.
Home comforts and snacks to take with you
May chalets have seasonaire who work solely to provide heartening cakes, refreshments and cook the evening meals. There are always slight limitations to the range of food available as snowstorms can quite frequently cut-off resorts (from large lorries) for weeks at a time. English tea is quite hard to come by, so if you’re a fan of Earl Grey we suggest taking a box with you. Skiing is exceptionally tiring, Kendal Mint cake has been used centuries to give travellers and explorers the energy they need to conquer unknown lands. You will be conquering unknown lands on your family ski trip but you will suffer fatigue and taking some Kendal cake with you will give you that boost when you need it.
Finding the right Chalet
When looking for chalets have one thing you want to ensure is that the chalet is ski in ski out. This mean you can ski down to the ski lifts and then also back to the chalet from the piste. There’s nothing more annoying than walking in full cladded ski gear half a mile before you even get on the slope. Ski in ski out chalets are slightly more expensive however this luxury is one that is always priceless. Although extravagant a hot tub is a great way to relax the muscles and subdue any aches and pains picked up on the slopes. There’s also nothing quite like enjoying it ice cold glass of champagne in the steaming hot tub with an un-interrupted view of the solar system and town below.
Our Favourite Resort
Our favourite resort is situated and mere hour from Geneva airport. Geneva has great transport links from Europe and with the rest of the world, there are flights from various destinations across the UK daily. La Clusaz is home to over 221 km of ski runs and close to the famous mountain town of Annecy. The resort is up market, while not as big as Chamonix possesses a much more friendly charm. The chalet Beauvoir is a five-star luxury chalet with five bedrooms for bathrooms and outdoor heated swimming pool. There is a concierge service access to a gym sauna and Jacuzzi and enough accommodation sleeps 16 people. Please visit our contact page if you would like securing this exclusive property.