Adventure travel: Crawling, walking; now get them skiing
Claire Gilman on how to ensure your kids love the slopes from the word go
Saturday 28 March 1998
Weather conditions can be a major cause of discontent; children get bitterly cold standing around on the nursery slopes, particularly in January and February. Once they have suffered frozen fingers, the whole skiing experience will be tarnished. Therefore, it is best for young families to go late- season skiing, when the weather is warm and the sun is likely to shine. Aim to go before Christmas, in April, or even in May.
Extended skiing seasons depend on the height of the resort and the availability of glacier skiing or artificial snow. The French Alps offer a good choice of big, high-ski areas with efficient lift networks. Resorts such as Val d'Isere, which links with the glacier skiing at Tignes, or Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe (part of the enormous skiing region of Les Trois Vallees) run seasons from early November to May.
Austria has some of the best glacier resorts in the Alps and is renowned for its warm welcome, lively night-life and good-value accommodation. Both France and Austria have a good reputation for children's ski schools, although you must satisfy yourselves that the instructors are speaking English in the classes. If your child doesn't understand what is being said, they cannot be expected to progress or to be happy.
For those with a tough constitution, who can stomach the idea of an eight- hour flight with the kids, North America is a good option for late-season skiing and there are some good deals to be had at the moment. The US, in particular, has good, reliable ski conditions late into the season in most areas, thanks to low winter temperatures, extensive snow-making and religious piste-grooming. Another advantage is that there are no language problems for children in the ski schools.
Although late-season skiing means that you miss the worst of the winter weather, good quality, warm clothing is still essential for children. But it must be manageable for the child when you're not around; if they can't do up their own salopettes, it doesn't much matter which month of the year you ski; it will be an unmitigated disaster.
Ski hire equipment in most resorts is good now, but if your child complains of uncomfortable boots, etc, don't be afraid to return as many times as it takes to get a good fit. Take your time; be patient but persistent. Uncomfortable boots will put your children off skiing more quickly than anything else.
Despite your best efforts, and against all probability, you have to face the fact that your child may loathe skiing. So, make sure that you are booked with a reliable tour operator who specialises in family skiing holidays. Finally, don't start the child skiing too young. The best time is governed not so much by age as by ability. They must be able to put on their own gloves,and be reasonably self-reliant. If not, they will get cold and miserable and be put off for life.
Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
General election live: Russell Brand endorses Labour (except in Scotland and Brighton)
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
In defence of liberal democracy
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...