Going on a family ski holiday sounds very different to a pre-family ski holiday, but it doesn’t have to be so. Having your children in tow will bring a different perspective to your time in the mountains, but it will be more enriching and you can have fun all together as a family, or on your own as a couple like you did all those years ago.
While there’s nothing better than watching your children taking their first tentative steps on snow and helping them progress to skiing, you can still pick the odd moment for time out alone, especially if you choose a family ski tour operator like Esprit that will offer childcare, chaperoning to and from ski school and supervised lunches. They even offer babysitting / baby listening on an inclusive basis that comes at no extra cost.
Family-friendly ski resorts often have the best off-piste options because they’re uncrowded. Obergurgl, La Rosière, La Plagne and Gressoney are typical examples — skiers in the know will head to these areas rather than the likes of Chamonix or Verbier where you have to fight for first tracks.
If your children are booked into ski school in the mornings, make the most of that three-hour slot and book a guide to head off-piste for half a day. A whole morning skiing powder with someone who knows the area and will keep you in safe terrain but push you hard is more than enough for most people. If you haven’t pre-booked before your ski holiday, Esprit staff in resort will be able to help you book a guide or instructor if the conditions are right. Then head back to meet your kids for lunch and spend the afternoon together, having had a full ski in the morning.
With or without your kids, there’s no reason not to make sure lunch is still an event in the mountains. You’re on holiday, after all — and a lunchtime fondue with a glass of wine in the sun is almost obligatory in the Alps. Here Esprit staff pick their top mountain restaurants for your ski holiday:
With fantastic views over the glacier and down the Otz Valley, this offers Austrian specialties such as tiroler grostl and spätzle. Beneath the restaurant is a small interactive information centre to teach guests conservation of the environment, snow and glacier.
Great-value lunch stop with a large outside deck for sunny days and the largest collection of big bottle Bordeaux wines in the world in their cellar. For some quirky fun, you take a slide to the toilets!
Incredible views from the glass-sided balcony deck with great-value Italian wine.
The best thing on the menu at this traditional Savoyard-style restaurant is Beauforton, a mix between raclette and fondue.
Set just behind the Mariandre, this traditional-style wood panelled restaurant serves raclette and fondue — which is served with an egg to break into the bottom of the hot empty cheese dish. It is raw – not hard boiled so don’t try to peel it to put in your salad!
This is one of our favourite places for a quick espresso to get you going before the day’s skiing. Right by where all the lifts meet in Val Claret (beside Les Lanches), it’s cheap, friendly and is where all the locals go — always a good sign!
Again, family skiing doesn’t have to mean quiet resorts without après. With supervised mealtimes available, you and your partner can slip out for a drink — or stay out after skiing — and enjoy some vin chaud, beers and some crazy dancing (if that’s your thing). You’re almost guaranteed a party at La Folie Douce, France’s original outdoor nightclub, with options in Val d’Isère, Meribel, Val Thorens, Megeve and Alpe d’Huez.
And in Austria, the Krazy Kanguruh and the Mooserwirt in St Anton, both on piste, are a sight to behold by 3pm in the afternoon — as is the Nederhütte in Obergurgl, the only place to be when the lifts close. If your taste is a little more upmarket, have a glass of wine in the Fire & Ice bar on the terrace at Portetta, Courchevel Moriond (1650) or hangout in the fashionable Le Cap Horn in Courchevel.
Skiing holidays are meant to be just that — a holiday — so if you’re been rushing about making the most of time on the slopes, indulging in some après or are simply worn out after getting your whole family out to the Alps then take some time out to spa. Many Esprit properties have a sauna and or steambath/whirlpool/hot tubs which are all great for soothing aching muscles after a day or two on the slopes.
But these days, ski resorts know how to do ‘wellness’ centre better than anyone, and they’re a great place to spend time with the kids as well — on bad weather days or just when everyone needs some time off. Make an occasion of it — often a lift pass will offer free access or reduced prices for the family. Top picks include Courchevel Moriond’s Aquamotion Pool & Spa, the Deep Nature spa in Arc 1950 and St Anton has a world-class wellness centre complete with indoor and outdoor pools, waterfalls, a whole suite of saunas with Finnish, Kelo and Infrared saunas, a sanarium, steam bath and relaxation lounge.