Five best: Family ski resorts
Pack up your salopettes and head to the hills with our child-friendly winter sport spots
Saturday 20 October 2007
Val Gardena, Italy
Children are made to feel like stars in the sun-dappled Dolomites, where skiing is viewed as a family activity to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Prices compare favourably to the Alps; children ski and stay free during Superkids weeks, from 15 March 2008. With low-cost flights available to Verona, Bergamo and Innsbruck, and easy transfers from each, Val Gardena is a good destination for families wishing to go it alone. Child care and ski school is available locally or through British tour operators; worth noting is the Family Hotel Posta (www.familyhotelposta.com), which offers week-long activity programmes.
Val Gardena, Italy (00 39 0471 777 777, www.valgardena.it). A week's half board for a family of four at the Chalet Weisenheim with Esprit (01252 618300; www.esprit-holidays.co.uk) costs from £1,180, including children's tea and activities
Copper Colorado, US
How to justify a nine-hour flight with children in tow? Consistent sun and snow from November to April, for a start. Child care is excellent on and off the slopes; the Belly Button Bakery takes babies from as young as six weeks, and offers nightly babysitting. Accommodation in the small pedestrianised village is of a high standard, with generous kitchens and hot tubs. And Copper's easily navigable terrain is ideal for the family: while there are segregated family ski zones and miles of rolling beginner and intermediate terrain, teens can't fail to be impressed by Copper's creatively sculpted terrain parks, while parents will enjoy the easily accessible off-piste.
Copper Mountain, Colorado, US (001 970 968-2882; www.coppercolorado.com). Seven nights for a family of four through Ski Independence (0845 310 3030, www.ski-i. com) costs from £3,136, including transfers
Big White, Canada
Modern facilities and uncrowded, snowsure slopes mean that the resorts of western Canada are good value. Big White is deserving of its many accolades, a purpose-built ski area designed with families in mind. Almost all accommodation is ski-in, ski-out, the friendly Kids Centre is a focal point – and even the snowmobiles come in pint-sized versions. In addition to ski and snowboard programmes for tots through to teens, daycare is available from 18 months to five years. The terrain? It's confidence-building all the way.
Big White, Canada (00 1 250 765 3101; www.bigwhite.com). Seven nights for a family of four with Frontier Ski (020- 8776 8709; www.frontier-travel.co.uk) costs from £3,115, transfers included. Children aged 15 and under ski free
Modernist architectural relic meets holiday camp: compact Flaine Forum is filled with children frolicking at the foot of the slopes. Up the hill is the quieter Hameau de Flaine village, with echoes of Scandinavia. A new US-style hamlet, courtesy of Intrawest, is under construction. Though small, the resort has the requisite pool, ice-rink, bowling lanes, cinema and climbing wall, plus a gallery and library to amuse parents. The resort's P'tit Loups crèche (00 33 4 50 90 87 82) takes children from six months, and there are two ski kindergartens.
Flaine, France (00 33 4 50 90 80 01; www.flaine.com). Seven nights for two adults and up to three children with Crystal Families (0870 402 0293; www.crystal families.co.uk) costs from £1,578
Finland is as popular with families for reindeer sledding and the Northern Lights as for its downhill attractions. Ylläs is now home to one of only three First Choice (0871 200 7799; www.firstchoice.co.uk) Kids' Academies, offering day care, evening activities and ski school for children aged from six months to 12 years, along with a programme of après-ski family activities. Inghams (020 8780 4433; www.inghams.co.uk) runs three- and four-day Santa breaks in Ylläs in December. After skiing, children bake Christmas cookies and make ornaments with Mrs Santa and the elves, then have dinner with the big man himself (three nights self-catering for a family of four from £1,451.60; half board available).
Ylläs, Finland (00 358 16 569 569; www.yllas.fi)
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