How to improve holidays with children

Hey Mum, let's hit the slopes
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The Independent Travel

Have you ever wondered how nursery slopes earned their name? I have always thought it a bit of a misnomer, and Stanley agrees. He says that if anything, they should be called old people's slopes - because it is only ever people like me who want to go on them. And he is right. To find the cool kids from nursery doing their stuff, you need to go high - very high.

My children, who love to go downhill very fast, despair of me because I don't. The first time we went skiing, we all had lessons together, which was a disaster: by day three they were pestering our instructor to take us "hot dogging" off piste - and I was still mastering the art of standing upright.

Luckily, we are not the only family who would be considered "mixed-ability" skiers, and this winter brings the launch of some lovely new enticements for us. It is clear that making life as easy as possible for us parents is the key - and tour operators have a simple solution: separating us from our offspring for as long as possible.

This season sees Snowline (08701 123118; snow line.co.uk) extending its private nanny services to include Morzine in the French Alps: they'll escort your little ones to their ski classes while you spend the morning trying to work out how to do your ski boots up. They have also opened new family accommodation at the Chalet du Bois, which comes with plasma-screen TVs and a sauna.

Scott Dunn (020-8682 5000; scottdunn.com), has just opened four new family-friendly lodges in St Anton, in the Austrian Alps, each with private outdoor whirlpools, chefs, nannies, and everything else you never knew you needed such as a personal driver to take the children to their ski lessons. Having them off your hands leaves plenty of time for you to indulge yourself with five-course champagne dinners and spa treatments.

But if none of this is enough to please your children, you can always send them to "boarding school". Canada's Fairmont Chateau Whistler (00 1 604 938 8000; fairmont.com/whistler) is a huge luxury hotel where they can attend one of the largest snowboarding and ski schools in the world. As well as children's adventure zones and children-only lifts, there is a new Tube Park, where riders of all ages can "tube" their way down one of seven chutes - whatever that means.

Katy's top tip

The new Mad Dog Ski resort guides (maddog ski.com) cost £8 and offer a superb choice of family tips for those visiting many European resorts. They include information on best accommodation, tour operators, childcare, children's ski schools (and tips for their first day there), restaurants, and off-piste activities.

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