Many European countries have the same half term holidays as the UK, but this February the dates also coincide with Paris, meaning that Amelie and Louis will be bunked up in that great family-friendly pad you had last year. Add to that a late season and the promise of excellent snow in the coming week, and your chances of finding decent family accommodation for half term go rapidly downhill.
We’ve tapped up our ski contacts and chosen the best late availability chalets and apartments for a last minute family ski holiday during the half term.
*All prices are based on a family of four sharingChalet Schwarzsee, Zermatt, Swizerland
THE RESORT: Zermatt is home of the Matterhorn and some of the best high-altitude skiing in the Alps, but for young families, it’s also crucially car-free and carries the Swiss ‘Families Welcome’ seal of approval. There are reasonable prices for lifts and children under 9 ski free in the entire Zermatt-Matterhorn region. From horse-drawn sleighs in the village to paragliding and a massive snow park, this will answer the needs of every age.
THE CHALET: Stay at Chalet Schwarzsee (sleeps four), which has magnificent Matterhorn views, a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and heated boot racks. Close to the main gondola you will be in the Matterhorn Glacier within minutes, while the village is a 15 minute walk away.
THE DAMAGE: Supertravel Ski offer 7 nights arriving on 15 February for £1,599 per person (saving 40 per cent) including BA flights from London, transfers and full chalet board, champagne reception on arrival, breakfast, afternoon tea, canapés, pre-dinner drinks and a four-course dinner with chocolates and wine.Casa Fortuna, Flims, Switzerland
THE RESORT: Super easy to access (only 1 hour and 40 minutes from Zurich), Flims has plenty of beginner and intermediate runs for those first days getting their legs. There are four snow parks so older kids can practice their freestyle skills, as well as the world’s biggest half pipe and Indoor Freestyle Academy for serious contenders. Off-piste activities keep little ones happy off-piste, from tobogganing and sleigh rides to ice-skating. Powder Byrne offer kids ski programmes in resort, from 4 months to 17 years.
THE CHALET: Casa Fortuna is in the centre of Flims and comes with full Powder Byrne service: from restaurant bookings and mountain activities to a shuttle bus service which makes all the difference when you are carrying everyone’s skis and poles. There are twin and bunk rooms and children have their own bathroom. Parents of older children can use the Swiss Cook meal delivery service so there’s something to heat in the oven before you peel off for dinner. The underground car park and lifts make it easy to transport kids and kit.
THE DAMAGE: Powder Byrne offer 7 nights with daily breakfast delivery, welcome hamper, mid-week and end of stay cleaning for £2746.25 per person, including private flights to Zurich, transfers and Powder Byrne in-resort service – a saving of £800.
Indiana Lodge, Meribel, France
THE RESORT: It may be synonymous with luxury and fine dining but there are plenty of family spots that welcome enfants terribles. Meribel is a very comfortable jumping off point to one of the worlds largest ski areas, with terrain that satisfies die-hards as well as snow plough parents and Bambi-legged newbies on a network of beautiful, easy to cruise blues. Just an 1 hour and 20 minutes from Chambery airport, there’s no lengthy transfer, and with husky sledding, tubing, sledging and ice-skating to fill long afternoons, it’s great for young children. Our tip? Fill the chalet with willing friends and grandparents, and take it in turns to look after the children.
THE CHALET: On the ‘Dou du Pont’ estate, Indiana Lodge sleeps ten and overlooks the centre of the village. The Lodge has a wrap around terrace, ideal for après-ski drinks under blankets and stars. The food comes highly recommended by previous guests as do the chalet hosts who are on hand to cater to every whim. Only a short walk to hustle bustle of Meribel as well as the main lifts and ski school meeting place, the decor may not satisfy design conscious families, but if food and mountains are your priority, this is well worth considering.
THE DAMAGE: 7 nights at Indiana Lodge departing 15 February costs £1999 per person (saving £350 per person) with VIP SKI. Children aged 2-12 get £75 off. This includes return flights from Gatwick, coach transfers, accommodation, catered chalet board of breakfast, afternoon tea, three course evening meal on six nights followed by cheese board and coffee and mints, wine, wake up drinks and canapés on the first and last evening.
L’Oree des Cimes, Peisey Vallandry, France
THE RESORT: A self-drive option for those who prefer not to spend a day either side of the holiday in airpots, or want to bring more gear. Peisey Vallandry is a cluster of small French alpine villages ideal for families with younger children. A super easy blue run (almost a green) returns skiers back to the village where there are local small shops in a small, pedestrian area so nothing is difficult to get to. The village links in to the ski areas of La Plagne and Les Arcs, offering endless skiing for families with children who can already ski.
THE CHALET: L’Orée des Cimes is made up of five chalets, superbly located next to the slopes with a chairlift, meaning no carrying skis and tearful toddlers or squashing into a ski bus – and it’s only 300m from the pretty village of Vallandry. With a heated indoor pool for non-ski days, steam rooms, spa and jacuzzi, as well as cardio rooms, and heated boot racks, this ticks a lot of boxes. Head down to the shared lounge to congregate around the fireplace or hole up in privacy and relax while older kids make friends at the pool table. The apartment still available has a double bedroom and two twins, as well as two single sofa beds, so you have the option of bringing a nanny.
THE DAMAGE: Erna Low offer 7 nights in a 3-bedroom (6/8 person) apartment leaving on 14 Feb for £886 per person (saving £186 per family) chalet only, and £937.25 per person including Eurotunnel.Chalet Sayeu 117, Verbier, Switzerland
THE RESORT: The main resort in Switzerland’s four valleys, Verbier is also arguably the trendiest and the most expensive – not a great accolade when travelling with young children. But at 1 hour 45 from Geneva it’s a good option for parents who want to combine challenging terrain and rate great après with a family friendly resort. Ski schools will take children from four years and the largest, the Swiss Ski School, runs a great kids club. There are plenty of family-friendly – if not wallet-friendly – restaurants on piste as well as in the village, and a snow centre for off-piste fun.
THE CHALET: Sleeping 6 in 3 en-suite bedrooms (including one twin), this apartment will tick the box for design conscious families who want to spend time together in the chalet as well as on the slopes. A sea of warm-blonde wood and plenty of entertaining space, it’s the ideal compromise between a shared chalet and a hotel as you have the facilities of your own kitchen and the privay of an apartment. In the Brunet area it is well placed for both slopes and shops, and a very short walk to Le Rouge piste.
THE DAMAGE: Summit Retreats offer the apartment at £14,030 (£3507.50 per person) for 7 nights self-catered, including concierge services, daily housekeeping and private laundry facilities, not including flights and transfers.