The Independent Parent:Your Questions Answered

Do any ski resorts cater for disabled people?
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Q My daughter and her husband have always been keen skiers. I know they have been dreaming of one day taking their son, who has a physical disability, on a skiing holiday with them. I have heard that some ski resorts can cater for people with disabilities and would like to find out some more information for them. Can you help?

Q My daughter and her husband have always been keen skiers. I know they have been dreaming of one day taking their son, who has a physical disability, on a skiing holiday with them. I have heard that some ski resorts can cater for people with disabilities and would like to find out some more information for them. Can you help?

M Burns, Warrington

A A number of resorts in Europe and North America offer adaptive skiing programmes for people of all ages with varying degrees of disability both mental and physical. You'll also be pleased to hear that having a disability, will by no means hinder your grandson's enjoyment and full participation.

You daughter will be able to get plenty of information from a few organisations and charities in the UK, such as the Uphill Ski Club of Great Britain (01799 525 406; www.uphillskiclub.co.uk) the British Ski Club for the Disabled (01747 828 515; www.bscd.org.uk) and the Back-Up Trust (020-8875 1805; www.backuptrust.org.uk).

The first two organisations can also offer your grandson the chance to join a group holiday to one of several resorts in Europe and North America. Your daughter and her husband will be welcome to accompany him on the trip. The price of a holiday varies due to the level of disability and individual requirements. However, all the companies and organisations that I spoke to were keen to stress that, by and large, an adaptive ski holiday shouldn't cost much more than a holiday for an able-bodied skier.

The Uphill Ski Club of Great Britain operates a ski school in Cairngorm in Scotland and also runs several group skiing trips usually in December, March and April. The ski school offers one-to-one adaptive ski tuition with its specially trained instructors, which costs about £40 for two hours including equipment hire.

If your daughter would prefer to go further afield, she might like to consider one of its group holidays, which are available to both would-be and more experienced skiers. Group size normally averages 10 to 12 skiers with disabilities, accompanied by 10 able-bodied helpers, five or six trained British Association of SnowsportInstructors with special adaptive ski qualifications and all the necessary adaptive ski equipment. A seven-night holiday costs roughly £899 per person for European resorts such as Belamonte in Italy and Alpe d'Huez in France rising to about £1,200 per person for Whistler in Canada. This includes flights, half-board accommodation, a half-day of private tuition each day and transfers. These holidays are not necessarily to adaptive ski resorts, but all have disabled facilities. One thing to bear in mind though is that the trips are heavily oversubscribed, so your daughter will need to start planning well in advance for next year.

The British Ski Club for the Disabled also offers six to eight group-skiing holidays per season. Unlike the Uphill Ski Club, it only accepts skiers who have learned the basics, so your daughter will need to take her son for some lessons on an artificial slope beforehand. It can provide details of ski schools in the UK offering adaptive tuition. Trips range in price from £350 to more than £1,000 for North America and differ from the Uphill Ski Club in that they travel only to resorts that offer on-site adaptive skiing facilities.

There was only one UK-based tour operator that I could find that specialises in adaptive skiing packages. Erna Low (020-8584 2841; www.ernalow.co.uk) is different from most adaptive ski charities in that as well as offering group holidays, it also offers tailor-made trips for families and individuals. Resorts include Avoriaz, Chamonix, Tignes, La Plagne and Valmeinier, which are all purpose-built resorts that can accommodate adaptive skiers.

One of its most popular destinations is Avoriaz, in the Northern French Alps, which caters for all levels of skiing from beginners to more advanced skiers. The British Alpine Ski School (BASS) in Avoriaz offers both private and group adaptive courses for skiers of all ages and abilities. Weekly ski passes are offered at half-price for adaptive skiers costing about £50 and lessons are roughly £30 per hour. You grandson can also be allocated an able-bodied ski buddy which costs around £100 per week. Equipment will need to be hired before departure from the UK and can be arranged through Erna Low.

A seven-night holiday in a self-catering studio costs from about £450 per adult. The price includes return flights from Heathrow to Geneva on Swiss Air, accommodation and transfers. As I mentioned previously, ski passes, tuition and equipment hire will cost extra.

If your daughter would like to arrange her own holiday, she could also consider several resorts in America. The National Sports Center for the Disabled (001 970 726 1540; www.nscd.org), based at Winter Park in Colorado has unrivalled adaptive ski facilities. It offers a range of activities and tuition for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Half-day adaptive ski lessons cost from $50 (£33) per adult and $40 (£26) per child (aged six to 13). This includes lift tickets and equipment hire. Family members can join in for $55 (£36) per adult and $40 (£26) per child.

Whiteface Mountain Snowsports School (001 518 946 2223 ext 320, www.whiteface.com) located in Lake Placid in the middle of the Adirondack National Park, in upstate New York, has been operating an adaptive skiing programme since January 1996. Lessons cost from $55 (£36) for one and a half-hours tuition, lift passes and equipment hire. Registration must be made 30 days in advance. You will also need to fill out a form on its website.

Comments