Katy Holland: Summer's over. Time to think about a ski holiday

So much for summer. But cheer up: winter is just around the corner, blowing in a flurry of family ski holidays to chase away the blues. The reason I'm telling you this now, before the rain-soaked leaves have even fallen off the trees, is to help you to make decent savings by bagging your family ski holiday early. Lots of companies are offering up to 20 per cent off family bookings made this month, and there are plenty of free child places, too.

Better still, there's more choice than ever, especially in some of Europe's lesser-known (and, therefore, less expensive) mountain ranges. This season, for example, Inntravel (01653 617949; inntravel.co.uk) is introducing the Norwegian village of Hemsedal to its family ski packages.

The slopes are perfect for beginners and intermediates (there's a 6km run down the country's highest peak), and the resort is home to Norway's largest children's ski area, where numerous free family activities are organised by the ski school every week.

Floodlit pistes mean you and your little snow babies can keep schussing long after dark, and extra-curricular activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog sledding and ice fishing. Check out the Fossheim Hotell for good value family rooms and children's facilities.

Meanwhile, Crystal (0871 9710457; crystalski.co.uk) has added two Finnish resorts to its brochure for this season. Stay in a cosy log cabin in the woods surrounding the resort of Pyha, right on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and you'll find 80km of child-friendly piste on your doorstep.

Plus there's much more on offer besides skiing, including snowmobiling and husky dog sledding. Look out for Crystal's kids-go-free deals.

For a touch of Slovakian style, look no further than the luxurious Grand Hotel Kempinski in the High Tatra Mountains, featured this season by Mountain Paradise (0845 602 5874; mountainparadise.co.uk). The hotel offers kids' clubs and babysitting services as well as a spa and indoor pool, and the region is a world away from the queues and crowded slopes of its Alpine counterparts: perfect for families looking for fun and blue and green runs.

The company will organise everything you need, from English-speaking guides and instructors to cross country ski lessons. And best of all, the prices aren't half as eye-watering as similar five-star holidays in the French Alps. Winter? Bring it on.


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