A-Z of Skiing: K is for Kids

What are the things that every parent should know about taking children skiing? Not being a parent, and only once having skied with a teenager, I have no idea. So, I consulted an expert, Moira Clarke, sales and marketing director for the specialist family operator, Ski Esprit (01252 616789). This is her list of the essentials for a happy holiday for children - and, therefore, their parents.

What are the things that every parent should know about taking children skiing? Not being a parent, and only once having skied with a teenager, I have no idea. So, I consulted an expert, Moira Clarke, sales and marketing director for the specialist family operator, Ski Esprit (01252 616789). This is her list of the essentials for a happy holiday for children - and, therefore, their parents.

1. OTHER ENGLISH-SPEAKING CHILDREN

Moira Clarke suggests that families stay in family chalets, so that no one can complain about the noise. And it is vital to have other English- speaking children around.

"Eight- and nine-year-olds will not be happy unless there are," she says.

2. PROPERLY EQUIPPED CHALETS

The fact that a chalet welcomes families does not necessarily mean that it is equipped with a nursery, cots, sterilisers and so on.

3. CHILD CARE BY ENGLISH SPEAKERS

Ski Esprit only employs qualified British nannies: "It's just not the same for children if the care is provided by people who don't speak English well".

4. ENGLISH-SPEAKING SKI INSTRUCTORS

Mixed-language classes are not ideal because translation slows things up.

5. CHILDRENS' CATERING

Since children like different food at different times from adults, Ski Esprit serves them a "high tea" at 5.30pm, allowing parents to eat later in peace.

6. SMALL SKI-SCHOOL GROUPS

A group of 12 is fine for adults but not for children, who often have a limited attention span.

7. FREELY AVAILABLE BABY-SITTERS

If baby-sitters are not provided, they will be difficult to find.

8. A VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES

Obviously small children have different needs from the older ones (and some don't take to skiing at all), so there should be provision for everything from nursery care through snow play to snowboarding.

9. APPROPRIATE TRANSPORT

Long transfers with infrequent toilet stops don't go down well with children; videos provide a welcome distraction. Ski Esprit charters its own flights (they can, says Clarke, be fairly hellish: "One child starts crying, and it sets them all off"), which provide children's meals, allow push-chairs to be taken right to the plane, and have cabin crews familiar with the bottle-heating process.

10. SENSIBLE DISCOUNTS

Although discounts are widely available for children, they can vary enormously, from 50 per cent of the adult prices (for small children) down to just five per cent. And some tour operators only give discounts for two children: a third child is charged the full price.

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