Amelie Haynes, aged 11, and her sister Brooke, nine, headed for Les Deux Alpes in France with mum Amanda and dad Neale for a Neilson ski holiday. Amelie reports for Family Traveller.
‘What a busy day! To start off, I could barely sleep last night because of my excitement about getting up early to catch a flight to Geneva to begin our week’s family package holiday with Neilson. I’ve always wanted to visit Les Deux Alpes, and I’m finally here! The two-hour coach journey was so picturesque, and the resort is the perfect location for a family ski holiday. My family and I woke up in Neilson’s Hotel Aalborg, in our gorgeous chalet-style interconnecting rooms with brilliant views over the slopes.
Looking out the window to bluebird skies and a smattering of fresh snow, I experienced that deep fluttering excitement that only comes from opening the curtains knowing you have a day of skiing ahead of you. The breakfast buffet was delicious with an amazing choice of food. We filled up and got ready to meet our lovely ski instructor named Alex, who was both a great teacher and lots of fun, too. She was English, but lives locally and also spoke French, so we were in safe hands!
Once our morning ski lessons were over, we were already hungry for lunch. We could eat at the hotel as part of the kids’ club, or they were happy to recommend restaurants and cafes within walking distance or reachable by jumping in the big bubble lift and going up the mountain. This is great for non-skiers or beginners, as you can also get the bubble car back down the mountain if you didn’t want to ski or snowboard.
Our hotel was in a great central spot overlooking the beginners’ button lifts and nursery slopes, so Mum and Dad could sit on the spacious private balcony (reserved only for Neilson hotel guests) and sip on a glass of wine, beer, or hot chocolate while watching us having fun on the slopes with our new friends from ski school.
We could also walk to all the local shops, cafes, ice rink and open-air swimming pool. Les Deux Alpes is a traditional town, and the pistes were fairly quiet, although this could’ve been due to the fact it was almost Easter and we went during school term time! We barely had to queue for the lifts, and there were so many runs to choose from, for all levels of skier and snowboarder. It also has the largest skiable glacier in Europe. We split our time between some lovely cruisy blue runs (these are clearly designated ‘slow zones’) and taking in the immense scenery.
We also visited the ice caves at the very top of the glacier, which were awesome. They were like a magical grotto of glistening sculptures and fairytale figures. Each winter, expert ice sculptors create a new exhibition based on a different theme. The caves are accessible via a ski lift and a funicular railway, and really worth a visit.
At the end of a fun but tiring day’s skiing, we would head back to the hotel for a rest and to get ready for the three-course evening meal, a highlight of the day. After tea, we would play with the other children – we made so many friends who were also Neilson guests – while Mummy and Daddy had coffee or a cheeky nightcap. We would then head straight to bed and fall asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows. All that fresh air and skiing was exhausting!
Nothing was too much of a problem for our friendly Neilson holiday reps; there was always somebody on hand to recommend ski runs or après-ski activities. The kids’ club was amazing, and organised loads of fun activities. My favourite was tobogganing on the ski slope next to our hotel. Once the ski lifts shut, the slopes became a tobogganers’ paradise. Again, Mummy and Daddy were happy on the balcony while watching us whizz past having lots of fun on the sleds!
On the last evening, we had an incredible skidoo experience! Anyone who enjoys speed will love riding a powerful snowmobile (like a motorbike with caterpillar tracks). Snowmobiles are a great way to explore the resort, especially as you get to ride them when the resort is at its quietest at night! We went whizzing into the woods and blasted around empty snowfields with our own guide.
I can’t wait to go on another holiday with Neilson. It was an amazing family experience with so many wonderful memories.
All photos courtesy Neale Haynes