The kids want action, the parents want to relax. Holiday expectations can differ greatly amongst all family members and can make the planning phase quite difficult. That can also effect the holiday itself. As to make the trip a full success for the whole family, parents should be aware of the local facilities before arriving in resort. Good planning and research are the key factors for the perfect family holiday. Lots of information can often be found on the ski area/destination web page. On our homepage you can additionally find lots of tips by our “trexperts” Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther about family ski holidays.
If you pay attention to a few major factors, you have a good chance of enjoying a wonderful time away:
The right ski area
Especially with small children the ski area doesn’t have to be the largest one around. If you choose a small, manageable ski area you benefit not only from the better pricing. The advantages are obvious: the children are not overloaded with extensively long pistes. If they are on the go with the ski school it is more likely that the parents will pass them at some point and can make sure the child is doing fine. In many countries there are quality seals which highlight a ski area as especially family-friendly, e.g. the “Famille Plus Montagne” in France, “Families welcome” in Switzerland or “Beginners welcome” in Austria. When checking lift pass offers it is always worth to compare the prices: many ski areas are attractive for families as the offer family reductions or free lift passes, for example. In some resorts children up to 18 years can benefit from reduced tariffs. Way more important than the size of the ski area however, is the infrastructure. Does the ski area offer a ski school – or various ski schools? Are there special children’s ski lessons? Is there a ski kindergarten or crèche for the smallest ones? Is there a separate practise area with lifts only for children? Does the area offers a fun park for teens so they can spend some action time?
Parents should also consider the offers away from the pistes, as children love a bit of action and diversity. After a day’s skiing or on days when skiing is not possible they still want to be entertained. Therefore it is ideal if there is an indoor pool or activity pool in resort, for example. Toboggan runs, ice rinks and horse sleigh rides provide a good programme for the whole family when not speeding down the slopes. If there additionally is the option for Mum and Dad to spend some time relaxing – e.g. in a spa – then the chances are good that the holiday will be a success for everyone.
The right accommodation
If children need to be packed into a bus or a car for the journey to the ski area, and if they are still tired so early in the mornings, it is likely that they will be in a bad mood very quickly. Further you should plan in enough time in the mornings for a good breakfast. Therefore an accommodation close to the pistes is ideal. Some hotels are even located directly on the piste.
Families have the choice between a hotel or holiday apartment. The latter offers the advantage that there is often more space available. The meals have to still be prepared by the parents, but that makes it easier to cater to the children’s need and desires with regards to food. A basic set of supplies can be brought along from home. Family-friendly hotels can be defined by various criteria. E.g. parents can relax whilst children are taken care of by professional child-care service – even for the smallest ones. There should also be children’s buffets or menus and some play areas available to benefit from.
The right preparation
When packing the suitcases families should consider some of the following advice. Children love to mess about in the snow. This results in the snow suit being completely wet within a short time. A second set of snow-proof clothing is therefore essential, just as some extra functional underwear to change into. A backpack also needs to come along on holiday. This is highly necessary accessory on the piste to take along a change of undies, something to drink and a snack. If you want to save on the cost for lunch you can also pack your lunch picknick into the backpack as well.
The journey to the ski destination with the car is mostly a long one. This will likely cause boredem on the back seat. Therefore it is not a bad idea to pack some games and entertainment media, as well as some snacks. Another option is driving over night so the kids can spend most of the journey sleeping.
Getting started the right way
Especially when children are starting out with their skiing skills it is best to rent the equipment first of all – keeping the possibility in mind that they might not like winter sports at all. Parents should take enough time for sorting out the right equipment and should seek the advice from the shop staff. A well-fitted ski boot is very important. A helmet is a must. The ski lessons should be chosen according to the children’s ages. The youngest (3 – 4 years) should take part in lessons which playfully gear them towards the skills of skiing. According to the German Ski Association the lessons should not take longer than 2 – 3 hours per day. School-aged children should not have more than 4 hours of lessons per day. Activity in the snow burns off a lot of energy, with children even more so than with adults. Further the Association recommends a group size of maximum 6 – 8 participants.
And whilst the children are merrily swooping down the mountains with their ski tutors, Mum and Dad can enjoy some relaxing time alone.