Winter fun for all the family

A skiing holiday with children in tow doesn't have to mean financial ruin or parental stress

What's the attraction?

"The family that skis together, stays together," is a saying that helps those who financially ruin themselves each year to justify that annual S.K.I* holiday (*Spending the Kids' Inheritance). It's easy to spend a lot if you don't plan it all meticulously: the cost of a half-term family ski holiday can easily reach £5,000. Get advice from specialist operators such as Ski Famille (0845 6443764; skifamille.com), Esprit Ski (01483 791900; espritski.com) and the Family Ski Company (01684 540333; familyski.co.uk).

 

Mountain-top pleasure dome

Avoriaz (avoriaz.com) in France has taken family ski holidays to a new level with the opening of the 2,400 sq m indoor water park Aquariaz, part of a €200m investment, the biggest in the ski world this winter. Think of it as a Center Parcs tropical swimming dome at the top of a mountain. Ski Collection (0844 576 0175; SkiCollection.co.uk) offers a week's self-catering, self-drive holiday at the ski-in/ski-out Atria Crozats apartments in Avoriaz over Easter (arrival 30 March 2013) from £282pp.

Snow limits

A family ski holiday doesn't have to be just about skiing. You can make it an adventure by basing yourselves in a Lapland resort in or near the Arctic circle and mixing ski lessons with dog sledding and reindeer safari sessions. Santa's waiting there too, of course, and fans of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights can indulge themselves, too. Crystal Ski's (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk) week-long Lapland Winter Wonderland trip to Ruka in Finland costs from £335 per person.

The price is right

Club Med (08453 67 67 67; clubmed.co.uk) pioneered the all-inclusive ski holiday, now an increasingly popular fixed-price option for families. Club Med Cervinia in Italy is especially family friendly, with an indoor pool and a teenage ski programme. The resort's slopes are already open and are home to Europe's highest glacier skiing. A four-night package departing 25 November costs £645 for adults and £585 for children, including flights from Gatwick. The group is also opening a new resort in Italy's Aosta Valley on 16 December.

Who said that?

"I grew up thinking of snow as a luxury you visit" – film director John Landis

"I started skiing around the same time as I began playing the piano, at around four, before moving to the violin at five" – Vanessa Mae

"The family that skis together bitches at each other" – filmmaker Warren Miller

Give us a lift

At expensive resorts, a family of four can pay close to £1,000 on lift passes for the week. Child ticket prices vary tremendously. In Switzerland they're half price for under-16s, with more than 50 resorts including Zermatt offering free skiing to age nine. Sno.co.uk (020 8133 8899; sno.co.uk) is offering a week in a chalet there for £415pp.

The season's ski deals

La Plagne (00 33 479 09 79 79; la-plagne.com) offers a free Paradiski child ski pass over Christmas when you book direct and arrive on 22 December. A week's self-catering starts at €908 with lift passes for a family of four. The same week, Iglu (020 8542 6658; igluski.com) offers seven nights at Chalet Chamois d'Or in Val d'Isere with flights and free child lift passes and rentals from £789pp. "Superkids" from 16 March in the Italian Dolomiti Superski region (DolomitiSuperski.com) ensures under-eights don't pay for accommodation or lift passes.

Pastures new

If you've already skied as a family in the Alps and want to try a different destination, Inghams (01483 791111; inghams.co.uk) offers Mont Tremblant in the Canadian province of Quebec. Travel in early December and a week costs less than £800 per person including flights from Heathrow and accommodation with breakfast. Neilson (0844 879 8155; neilson.co.uk/ski) serves Baqueira Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees; a week for four from Gatwick or Manchester on 24 March costs £1,439 per person, half-board.

Insider Information

Anyone planning a family skiing holiday should prioritise their needs as a family over their desires as a skier. With children in tow, a short airport transfer, proximity to ski school or childcare and child-friendly room layouts will bring far more joy than superb off-piste opportunities or après-ski venues. If you get the balance right in the early years, the children will fall in love with the mountains; before you know it you'll be struggling to keep up with them." Chris Thompson, managing director of Ski Famille

Safety first

The most important issue for children on skiing holidays is keeping warm and safe. Wearing a helmet is a must (a legal requirement in France and Italy and some insurance companies are making it a requirement, too) but the little things matter as well. "There is nothing worse than sending your child off to ski school in the morning with wet gloves," says Lisa Dance, a director of the Family Ski Company. "Always take at least three pairs per child."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor