Spending time together as a family on a ski holiday is a great alternative to lazing on the beach. From building snowmen to mastering the snow plough, the snowy landscape provides loads of fun for children. As soon as they can walk children can learn to ski, a skill that will give them a lifetime of fun holidays, plus toddlers and young children will pick up skiing very quickly -much faster than beginner adults!

Charlie Balfour, who works in the French resort of Val d’Isere for family holidays specialist Mark Warner says

“A ski holiday is a great way to bring together a whole family, who can enjoy spending time learning or improving their skills on the slopes together. It’s fun, engaging and good for you too!”

Choosing the right resort is key to the perfect family skiing break. To pick the best resort for your family’s needs, consider these crucial factors:

RESORT ATMOSPHERE

Skiing is a popular holiday choice for many people so it is worth researching a variety of resorts first to see which  shops, restaurants and other facilities accommodate your family’s needs. Is there a supermarket? A choice of family-friendly restaurants? A play park or any other activities available for families?

Many resorts in the French Alps have excellent amenities for families.

  • Courchevel has a dedicated Family Park with jumps and play areas for all ages and abilities. There is also a cinema and an indoor bowling alley with special adapted lanes for kids to enjoy in the evenings.
  • Meribel resort is popular with families for its crèche centres that provide care for children from three months to seven years old. The town also has an Olympic ice rink and swimming pool complex that provides lots of fun things to do away from the slopes.
  • Val d’Isere is another popular choice with families with two cinemas showing English films, an ice rink, swimming pool and dog sledging.  Also, every Thursday the resort’s main street becomes a lively family spot with live music, snow sculptures and parades.

SKI AREA

For young (and old!) beginners, it’s worth hunting down the resorts that have a large number of gentle slopes to practice on. Many resorts offer a selection of ski schools for children of all ages and English speaking instructors. Popular family ski resorts also provide nursery slopes perfect for teaching children how to turn, stop and get on and off lifts in a safe zone.  The following resorts have a good choice of wide easy slopes:

  • The Three Valleys (includes Courchevel, Meribel & Val Thorens) have 158 green and blue runs between them, making it a good choice for gentle nursery slopes.
  • La Plagne is famed for being a great resort for beginners and children with its 10 green slopes, 73 blue runs and a nursery slope in each of its villages.
  • Courmayeur resort in Italy is perfect if you have a family of mixed abilities, with a couple of nursery slopes for learners and more challenging slopes for confident skiers.

SKI HIRE & CLOTHES

As children grow so quickly, save your money and hire out equipment at the resort. Not only does it mean not having to shell out for new gear each year but you also won’t have to worry about the carriage charges on flights and transfers. All the major resorts provide hire shops; the most popular supplier is Ski Set who have over 700 branches in Europe, USA and Canada.

It’s important to keep children warm when they’re learning, especially as there’ll be a lot of tumbles into the snow! In the coldest temperatures three layers is usually sufficient on top of underclothes. A polyester or wool top followed by a fleece and then a water, wind and snow proof outer jacket will keep out the chills – but saying that, it’s important not to overheat either. For the best of both worlds, wear breathable garments, avoid cotton if you can and opt for soft polyester or merino wool which dry quickly and are kind to skin.

ACCOMODATION

By choosing a half-board holiday package you can make sure you’re not over-spending on food and drink and you can also take advantage of childcare services; if this is what you are after for your holiday.

For self-catering, do bear in mind that you will need to be able to manage a day on the slopes, and the cooking for kids afterwards – no easy task!

Find out more about which ski resorts are suitable for children at markwarner.co.uk, they also have a guide on to what to pack for a ski holiday!