1. Puy St Vincent, France
Tucked away in the southern French Alps south of the ancient town of Briançon, little unfashionable Puy St Vincent often shocks its rivals by landing some of the biggest snowfalls. There is a mass of modest but bargain-priced accommodation right at the foot of the slopes, alongside a sunny parade of bars, restaurants, delis and ski rental shops.
Dedicated fenced-off slopes for kids to learn are steps away. The main ski area is not huge, but a good variety of slopes is packed in and the skiing descends to an old village below. Even lunch out is affordable here.
Nearest airport: Turin (2.5 hours).
Find out more: ski.puysaintvincent.com
With Snowbizz, you’ll pay £1477 for 2 adults and 2 children (with one free child place in the Toton Ski School for three and four year olds plus one free evening Kiddie Club place); includes flights, transfers and self-catering accommodation in an apartment in Sun Vallée starting from Sunday 11 January 2015.
2. Ellmau, Austria
Ellmau is a lovely and lively Tirolean village, full of character and charm, and it’s part of Austria’s biggest linked ski area. There are good nursery slopes both beside the village and up the mountain. The lifts, including a fast funicular railway, link into the rolling and unintimidating slopes of the SkiWelt, comprising nine villages.
The village boasts traditional chalet-style buildings and a wide range of accommodation. The KaiserBad leisure centre has a pool and ice rink and there’s an excellent toboggan run. Easy to reach from Innsbruck or Munich.
Nearest airports: Innsbruck (45 minutes); Munich (90 minutes); Salzburg (90 minutes).
Find out more: wilderkaiser.info
Crystal Ski has offers for around £1,652 for 2 adults and 2 children (including flights) for a week in a chalet. For more information, call 0203 773 5581.
3. La Plagne, France
La Plagne is a huge French ski complex made up of 10 villages, some purpose-built, some rustic, all ski-in, ski-out. Accommodation is chiefly in self-catering apartments, but with hotel options, including the pretty, chalet-style Hôtel Le Cocoon in Plagne 1800 and the impressive four-star Hôtel Carlina, on the slopes in Belle Plagne.
Many slopes are high altitude, so the snow record is good, and there’s a mass of family-friendly intermediate skiing. It’s a good place to learn, with ski schools and free lifts at each village. For an extra thrill, you can ride the bobsleigh run created for the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Nearest airports: Geneva (2.5 hours); Chambery (1.5 hours); Grenoble (2 hours); Lyon (2½ hours).
Find out more: la-plagne.com
Residence Cassiopee, Belle Plagne
With Erna Low, stay in functional apartments situated just 50m from the nearest ski lifts and with direct access to the slopes.
From £336.90 per person for 4 people sharing a Studio 4 Person Comfort self-catered apartment for the week commencing 10th January 2015 (including return flights from London to Geneva and private taxi transfers from the airport to resort). For more information, call 0207 584 2841.
4. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada
Whistler-Blackcomb is our big-resort choice for families, particularly those with teens in tow. It is, to all intents and purposes, North America’s biggest mountain, both in vertical terms and in overall area. There is skiing for all abilities, including glacier slopes, off-piste and serious challenges.
It constantly wins praise for childcare and kids’ skiing lessons, yet the extensive car-free resort has lots to keep older ones entertained. It even has an eight-screen cinema. There are lots of family restaurants, and off-slope diversions include snowmobile trips, dog-sledding and the bobsleigh run.
Nearest airport: Vancouver (2.5 hours).
Find out more: whistlerblackcomb.com
Whistler-Blackcomb has loads of family ski offers. Kids 12 and under are stay, transfer, ski, and rent free for 5 nights and 4 days with their ski & stay package. Offers from around £62 per adult, per night if you book before November 15 for 2 adults and 2 children. For more information, call 1 888 403 4727.
5. Galtür, Austria
At the head of the Paznaun Valley, at the western tip of Tirol and past the much bigger Ischgl, is the peaceful village of Galtür, its traditional buildings clustered around an onion-domed church. The skiing is marketed as ‘Silvapark’, with six sectors, including ‘family’ and ‘freestyle’, designed to help you make the most of your day.
The village is relatively high and the snow record good. The village centre is a short bus ride from the lifts, but there are some hotels right by the slopes. Kinderland, at the base area, has its own rope tow and magic carpet lift and is complete with cartoon characters.
Nearest airports: Innsbruck (75 minutes); Friedrichshafen (2 hours); Zurich (3 hours).
Find out more: galtuer.com
Galtuer offers packages for families of 4, 2 adults and 2 childrens under 12 years, in early January from £1,535 at the Hotel Fluchthorn.
6. La Rosière, France
The exceptionally friendly little French resort of La Rosière sits on a sunny shelf above the Tarentaise Valley looking across at bigger, brasher Les Arcs and Val d’Isère. The village is attractive, with traditional styles holding sway. Lifts are just steps away from much of the accommodation, and nursery slopes with free lifts are nearby. Two USPs make La Rosière stand out.
It is linked with La Thuile in Italy, which adds hugely to the choice of slopes and provides exciting cross-border excursions. And it has one of the best French ski schools we know, run by a Brit and with an English-language section.
Nearest airports: Geneva (2.5 hours); Chambery (1.5 hours); Grenoble (2 hours); Lyon (2.5 hours).
Find out more: winter.larosiere.net
Les Cimes Blanches, La Rosiere
With Erna Low, stay in a fantastically furnished 4 star accommodation boasting panoramic views over the Tarentaise valley.
£451.40 per person for 4 people sharing a 1 bedroom 2/4 person self-catered apartment for the week commencing the 13th December 2014, including return flights from London to Geneva and private taxi transfers from the airport to resort. For more information, call 0207 584 2841.
7. Serfaus, Austria
An extraordinary Tirolean village that, although it has a wide array of skiing perfect for families, Serfaus is virtually unknown in the UK. The village is charming and full of heavily timbered chalets, and is near traffic-free, thanks to its remarkable underground railway, which runs via several stations the length of the resort to the lifts.
It has an extensive children’s centre at mid-mountain and skiing extends to the neighbouring historic villages of Fiss and Ladis. A surprising amount of English is heard on the slopes and in restaurants because it’s popular with the Dutch, for whom it’s the common language with locals.
Nearest airports: Innsbruck (75 minutes); Friedrichshafen (2 hours); Zurich (3 hours).
Find out more: serfaus–fiss–ladis
Family holiday packages are offered with serfaus–fiss–laids. For 7 nights for a family of four, 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years, stay in Serfaus at the Pension Lärchenhof from £1,410 at half-board.
8. Smuggler’s Notch, USA
Smuggler’s Notch, on the heavily forested slopes of Vermont doesn’t ‘aim’ to ensure every family member has fun and improves their skiing, it ‘guarantees’ it. We’re not sure how fun is quantified, or how compensation claims by the disappointed would be made, but lots of long, easy runs through the trees, slopeside accommodation, great childcare facilities and a highly rated ski school have sealed Smuggs’ reputation as a family favourite.
It wins lots of awards and tops skier polls regularly. Off the slopes, there’s a kids’ zone, ice rink, heated pools and a programme of family activities.
Nearest airport: Boston; 4 hour transfer time.
Find out more: smuggs.com
Smugglers Notch offers for a week for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) from £2,115 including mountainside condo lodging, daily Alpine lift tickets, the FunZone family entertainment & recreation center, indoor heated pool & hot tubs, snow tubing and off-slope activities. For more information, call +1 (800) 419 4615.
9. Sun Peaks, Canada
Only 20 years ago, Sun Peaks was merely a ski hill for locals, by the name of Tod Mountain. Now, the car-free village, with a decidedly Tirolean feel, is at the foot of a good-sized network of mainly intermediate runs embracing three mountains. It’s family skiing par excellence, the peaks rolling and wooded rather than rugged, with a bonus that much accommodation is ski-in, ski-out.
There are nursery slopes right by the village centre. Off-slope attractions include skating, tubing and sleigh rides, and you can ski for free with former Olympic champ Nancy Greene when she’s in town.
Nearest airport: Kamloops (45 minutes).
Find out more: sunpeaksresort.com
Using Sun Peaks Resorts, stay at Nancy Greene’s Cahilty Lodge for £962 for a week in January for 2 adults and 2 children, including adult and children ski passes.
10. Arosa, Switzerland
The lakeside setting adds to the attraction of Arosa, set at the head of a beautiful, heavily wooded valley and protected by surrounding peaks. Much of the skiing is intermediate cruising, on runs that hold their snow well, and there are slopes for beginners at mid-mountain.
The village has a peaceful family atmosphere with much promenading in fur coats by the frozen lake, also used for skating. The resort has been awarded the Families Welcome quality label. The Arosa Junior Club has programmes for youngsters to try the junior half-pipe safely with supervision.
Nearest airport: Zurich (2 hours).
Switzerland Travel Centre offers the 7 nights, including breakfast, at the 4 star Sunstar Alpine Hotel Arosa in mid-January for 2 adults and 2 children (2-11 years) for £3042, flights included. For more information, call 0207 420 4934.
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