Escape to Cortina, Italy
My previous perception of Cortina d’Apezzo was that of a chic ski town more suitable for Italian high society and their fur coats than UK families with their rampaging kids. And while there is still a fair bit of promenading and Gucci window shopping going on, there is actually a great ski resort and some family-friendly accommodation to be found.
Cortina nestles in the stunning mountains of the Dolomites. The sheer size of the cliffs is breathtaking and you are never short of spectacular backdrops for the family album. It is no wonder that Sylvester Stallone and his chums came here to film the 1993 classic Cliffhanger.
The area is part of the Dolomite Superski terrain, the world’s largest skiing area. The single ski pass (free for under sevens) will give you access to 450 lifts and 1,220km of pistes and trails, including the family-favourite Sella Ronda circuit. While that all sounds great, the likelihood is you will be more than happy staying within the three ski areas of Cortina. But for those with energetic and ski-confident kids, it is good to know there is a never-ending area out there.
It’s also full of history. Cortina saw a fair amount of action during the First World War when the Austrians fought off the Italians, and this has left a collection of bunkers to explore from the piste, as well as the famous Via Ferrata (Iron Path). This collection of cables was originally made to aid the movement of the Italian Alpine Military, but today the Via Ferrata is a fun way to hike and access the scenery of the area – and perfectly family friendly, even for those with no climbing experience.
Back on your skis you will find a relatively gentle collection of quiet slopes. There are good facilities for beginners and a snow park for the more adventurous. It is an ideal place for families on one of their first ski trips, but those with kids who like hitting the slopes at speed will probably find it all a little tame. The on-piste lunch and coffee options are of fantastic quality – just €1 for coffee and a fabulous lunch for a family of four for just €40. With the exchange rate as it is, it’s cheaper than being at home!
Where to stay
We travelled with Inghams, who has just launched the four-star Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it gives you hotel-style rooms and a front desk, but with chalet style catering and socialising. Parc Victoria offers full breakfast, afternoon tea, five-course dinners and unlimited wine and soft drinks, just like you would have at your own chalet. You shouldn’t expect gourmet here though, as it is pretty basic fare, but you will have had your gastro experience on the slopes for lunch. All of this is offered up by friendly British reps and is undeniably great value.
A handy facility for families in this resort is that ski equipment can be delivered to the hotel, and there’s daily minibus transfers to the lifts, which is good for tired little legs on their first snow adventure.
For a great value family ski holiday in a beautiful setting, and with minimal crowds and fuss, Cortina d’Ampezzo fits the bill.
Price: Inghams offers seven nights full board at the Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria, Cortina, from £574 per person, including return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.
The price includes a complimentary minibus service to and from the ski-lifts and ski-hire delivered and collected to and from the hotel. Regional flights are also available.
Travel time: A flight from London to Innsbruck takes around 2 hours.
Six-day lift pass from £179 per adult (free for children under seven years); six-day ski hire from £55 per adult (£45 per child). Six-day ski lessons from £245. For more information visit inghams.co.uk