From the wrong coloured skis to gloves that don’t fit to needing to use the loo after they are all dressed in their ski gear, ski holidays with children can be a headache if not planned properly.
Despite everything that can and probably will go wrong on your ski holiday with a young family, skiing has many benefits for young children. Teaching children to ski from a young age allows them to enjoy the great outdoors year-round, partake in an active sport, and lets you spend time with your family and create memories to last a lifetime.
While we tend to cater more towards those looking to take a child-free ski holiday, we’re parents with ski-crazy kids so we know a thing or two about organizing the perfect ski holiday with a young family. From ski lessons to the nursery slopes to where to stay, we’re here to help make your ski holiday as smooth as the fresh alpine powder.
How to Choose the Right Resort
Not all ski resorts are child-friendly.
When it comes to planning a ski holiday with children, you want a ski resort that has everything you need for skiing with the kids. Do you need ski lessons or child care? What kind of accommodation do you need?
Children love Italian food and (to name a few) Cervinia or Madonna di Campiglio in Italy are a couple of our favourite family-friendly resorts. They ranks as one of the top ski resorts in Italy for grooming, making the nursery slopes some of the best for beginners. Both resorts have a broad range of quality hotels suitable for families that you can ski back to after a day on the slopes, and it has delicious Italian food that the whole family will love.
When planning your ski holiday, you should consider the amenities that you need to enjoy your holiday.
While you might want to hit the slopes from sun up to sundown, your children may not. You need a ski resort that provides child care. Some resorts have daycares (but not all daycares have nannies who speak fluent English), and others provide private nannies for hire (this is a more expensive option). Alternatively, we can help you find recommended
Many young children, and maybe even yourself, need ski lessons.
Almost all ski resorts have a ski school. It’s important to research what ages children can start taking lessons and what level lessons are available. Most resorts require children to be at least four years old. We recommend that younger children should do private one-on-one lessons and older children can partake in group lessons.
You should also check to make sure the instructors speak English. Taking a ski lesson in German might not be so fun!
What to Do When You Get There
Once you’ve planned the perfect family ski holiday, it’s time to arrive and have fun! To make the experience has smooth as possible, you should plan ahead. Pick up your lift tickets, rental equipment, and resort maps early. Preferably the day before you start skiing if you can. Depending on the ski resort, in most cases we can have these picked up by your hotelier.
Pay attention to the weather forecast and ski report.
Young children can’t handle the cold and wintery conditions as well as adults. South facing ski resorts, like Crans Montana, get the most sun, so the temperatures won’t be so cold for the little ones. Make sure you dress them properly in layers. If it’s bitter cold or dumping snow, you may need to take shorter runs with lots of hot cocoa breaks in between.
If your children are taking ski lessons, it’s best to be prepared the night before. Make sure you know when and where lessons start and end, how long lessons last, and if child care is provided afterward. If your child is taking an all-day lesson, make sure their lunch is packed the night before or the teacher knows their likes and dislikes if they stop at a restaurant, and always put a few snacks and 10 Euros in their pockets for any eventual hot chocolate stops.
Do tell the instructor they have snacks in their pockets so they can ensure the kids keep their energy levels up. Communicating daily with your instructor is key so they know what is going on in your child’s mind. For example, if you are unsure about the weather and temperatures and you play safe and over dress them, tell the kids to tell the instructor they are too hot and repeat that to the instructor, too. If your kids have any allergies let the instructor know and give them the medication to carry. Ninety-nine percent of instructors are co-operative.
Anything can happen on the mountain.
Someone could get lost or hurt. Make sure each person has an emergency contact number on their person and make a plan in case someone, child or adult, gets lost. Ski resorts have tons of free maps so mark a meeting place on the map before handing it your child.
Simple Tips on How to Survive Your Ski Holiday With Kids
Over the years we have survived more family ski holidays than you can count! We’re experts in the area, and we’re ready to share our secrets. The magic word – planning!
Preparing everything in advance will not only reduce your stress levels on the day of, but it will save you more time and money so you can enjoy your family more. Prepare everything from clothing to child care bags to lunches the night before. Make a checklist if that helps!
If your child’s ski lesson starts at 9 am, be there at least 15 minutes early. Chances are your child will need to use the loo and then you will need to find the designated meeting spot. If you’re renting equipment, make sure it’s the right gear beforehand and that it all fits.
Take breaks throughout the day. Most children, especially young children, have short attention spans. They can only go for a couple of hours at most before they need a break. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a snack before spending another hour or two on the slopes.
It’s important to recognize the signs when you child is done for the day. Don’t push them. Most people who get injured on the ski hill get hurt on their last run of the day. If your child is showing signs of fatigue, crankiness, or discomfort, it’s time to stop and try again tomorrow.
Be patient. A lot of things can get under your skin when managing your family far away from your everyday life. Don’t set your expectations too high. It’s not a failure if you must cut a day short.
And, always make sure your children wear their helmet and gloves. If they don’t want to, then sit in the lodge until they change their mind. Safety first!
Putting It All Together
There are 2 ways of going about this and we will give you an honest opinion on the best way to proceed based on your requirements.
1. We tailor make everything for you in resorts where we have the right knowledge and contacts to organise a family-friendly holiday , such as in Courmayeur, Madonna di Campiglio, Crans Montana, Cervinia or Madesimo.
If you can afford the luxury of taking your au pair with you then fantastic. If not it just requires some extra logistics, namely, taking kids to ski school and picking them up which will break your day. But then again it’s a family holiday, so mum and dad can ski in the morning, pick the kids up at lunchtime and then spend the afternoon together. This is what I always do pre-Christmas. Not advised for first timers but if you are reasonably independent and not looking for child care this is the best option.
2. There are times however when after taking your brief we might advise that actually the best thing we can do is use our knowledge to broker the right deal to the right resort with a specialist operator. If you are looking for the ultimate stress free holiday with child care and quality ski time for mum and dad just like the old days pre-kids, then go for an all inclusive package deal with experts such as Mark Warner to hold your hands (and the kids hands!).
We do this every Easter. We get the kids ready at breakfast and take them to hotel reception. The in house child carers take the kids to ski school, pick them up at lunch time, bring them back to the hotel and feed them and entertain them all afternoon, give them their tea at 5.30 and have them ready at 6 for mum and dad to pick them up. This gives you a full day’s’ skiing, which in the larger areas like Val d’Isere means you can venture into Tignes and not have to rush back. Some parents put their kids in full day ski school which I think is a bit too much. Ski Esprit and VIP do similar family friendly packages and we can book all of these for you.
Still not sure what to do? Get in touch and we’ll discuss the best options for your unique family needs. Alternatively, we can help you plan a child-free ski weekend with friends or colleagues with this six part guide.