What type of skier are you? A relentless adrenalin junkie who only knows fresh powder off-piste, or a relaxed gentle carver, to whom ski weekends are as much about fresh air, lazy lunches and après?
The chances are that wherever you fall on the ski-scale, your criteria for choosing a resort will be unrecognisable post-children. These days it’s as much about practicality and price as it is about terrain. And even for a seasoned skier, finding a great family resort is a slippery slope.
With little ones in tow you should consider: Proximity to the airport, staying at relatively low altitude, finding a good mix of gentle and steep terrain, the availability of ski schools and childcare, plenty of local activities off-piste (because little legs can’t ski for long) and a variety of restaurants that open around the clock and are accessible when dragging a toboggan full of children uphill. And that’s before you get to the hotel vs. chalet conundrum.
So in the spirit of making life easier, we tapped up some proven ski operators for their personal recommendations for families.
Who: Simon Meeke, Director at Powder Byrne
What: Valbella Inn
Where: Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Why: “Newly linked to the neighbouring village of Arosa this resort offers skiing to suit all levels. And less than two hours from Zurich, the village offers sun-drenched pistes on two sides of a wide, tree-lined valley. We love its charm (and the absence of crowds and queues for lifts). The hotel is owned by the LEGO group so it has all the latest toys, games rooms with billiards, air hockey, table football and video games. Parents will love the exceptional spa, wellness and dining. Staff are tuned in to children and the PB run kids’ ski programmes cater brilliantly to various ages and abilities.”
Who: Chris Thompson at Ski Famille
What: Chalet Chats Bleus
Where: Les Gets, France
Why: “Catered chalet holidays with in-chalet childcare take all the stress out of a family ski trip. Chalet Chats Bleus sleeps up to 13, making it ideal for multi-generational holidays. Luxurious and comfortable, the décor and furnishings are done to a very high standard. There’s a spacious living area with a cosy fireplace, en-suite family rooms, drying room and a dedicated playroom. For après ski relaxation there’s a hot tub on the terrace with incredible views over Les Gets. In-chalet childcare is available six days a week for children aged 4 months to 12 years, and for older children there is ski school, lunch and afternoon clubs packed with activities.”
Who: Helen McKenzie, Head of Ski at Scott Dunn
What: Le Portetta
Where: Courchevel 1650, France
Why: “Le Portetta is wonderful for families, with loft apartments which can sleep up to eight, family rooms in the hotel with bunk beds, and a fantastic Scott Dunn Mini Explorers Children’s Club which will look after little ones from 4 months. The hotel is also ski in / ski out, which makes it super easy to get on and off the slopes.”
Are you planning a ski trip this winter? Which resort or ski operator did you choose? Tell us and our readers in the comments below.