Most keen skiers started early, so only it’s natural they’d want to introduce their own children to the world of snowsports. But if you want to ensure your little ones have a pleasurable experience, picking a resort with plenty of alternative activities to try, plus engaging kids clubs, can make all the difference.
Prices are for packages for a family of four, typically with two under-12s travelling, during school holidays.
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Once popular with the party crowd, Andorra has reinvented itself as a family destination, investing heavily in excellent snowmaking, fast, modern chairlifts and stone-cladding to soften ugly blocks. Its biggest area, Grandvalira, offers delightful sunny skiing on 205km of linked pistes through glades of bright green pines.
There’s snowmobiling, dog-sledding and snowshoeing – as well as ice diving and piste basher-driving sessions. And the state-run ski school has an excellent reputation with a huge number of native English-speaking instructors, particularly in Soldeu.
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s half board at the Hotel Sport from £955pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and transfers, departing 22 December 2019.
Just half an hour from Innsbruck airport, Seefeld is more a charming, traditional Austrian village than a conventional ski resort. Around a church in the middle of a high, snow-sure plateau, you can ice-skate, try curling or go winter walking, snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing on beginner-friendly trails. The ski area has a timed giant slalom run by the side of the piste, where parents and children can race each other in safety. Plus the Ski Plus City pass now covers 13 downhill resorts around Innsbruck, giving access to 308km of slopes, 111 lifts, and eight resorts with night skiing and tobogganing.
Inghams offers seven nights half board at the Hotel Seefelderhof from £1,206pp (based on two adults and two children sharing two rooms), including flights and transfers, departing 21 December.
For a long time, Finland’s two biggest resorts Levi and Ylläs attracted most British skiers. But Ruka has been investing heavily, last season extending its gondola, linking the existing village to a new pedestrian village on the other side of the mountain.
Just 20 minutes from the airport, Ruka is purpose-built in the style of Alpine resorts and has wood-clad bars, curio shops and restaurants decked with strings of lights in the pedestrian area at the foot of the downhill slopes.
There are plenty of kid-friendly excursions, including a visit to the snow and ice castle, snowmobiling, husky-sledding, reindeer sledding and even visits to see Santa.
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self-catering at the Ruka Cabins from £847pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a cabin) including flights and transfers, departing on 16 February 2020.
La Clusaz, France
The five linked sectors of La Clusaz ensure that each day’s skiing is different. In Manigod, the most beginner-friendly, you can try out riding a ‘paret’ for free. This sledge looks like a bit like a hobby horse and every Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the Blanchot piste the resort brings out about 50 (along with mulled wine for parents) all free of charge.
Just seven minutes away by ski bus there’s also Le Grand Bornand, offering more terrain to explore and traditional Savoyard charm.
Peak Retreats offers seven nights self-catered at Les Grandes Alpes apartments in La Clusaz for £452pp (based on four sharing an apartment), including Eurotunnel crossings, departing 4 April.
Bulgaria always tops the best-buy list for package ski holidays, and the Bulgarian ski school has a good reputation too.
Despite its 1980s functionality, older lifts and more limited snowmaking, Borovets offers a great-value base, with reasonably priced excursions including atmospheric candlelit walks in the woods, dinner in forest restaurants and snowmobiling. The village accesses three interconnected ski areas: Markudjik, Yastrebetz and Sitnyakovo.
Balkan Holidays offers seven nights’ half board at the Hotel Festa Chamkoria for £929pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and transfers, departing 15 February.
From the town of Chur in Switzerland’s eastern Graubünden canton, a rack railway runs from the valley to charming, wooded town of Arosa, where horse-drawn sleds and carriages await to whisk guests to exclusive hotels.
Arosa’s 100km of pistes are supplemented by those of the neighbouring lift-linked Lenzerheide. The resort offers snowbiking – which is enormous fun, as you go over jumps, into natural half-pipes and along the ski school’s off piste trail – plus a maze of runs through the trees called ‘Inner Arosa’, which children adore.
Powder Byrne offers seven nights’ half board at the Waldhotel from £2,695pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights, transfers, ski guiding and resort driver, departing 15 February.
Les Gets, France
Les Gets is at the western end of the giant Portes du Soleil ski area and benefits from its secluded location. Its ‘secret’ mountain – Mont Chéry – is rarely busy, as you need to catch a little train from the main ski area to reach it, and there is lots to do in the village, with its wooden carousel, mechanical museum and electric snowmobile circuit for children.
The piste map gives skiers directions on how to make the most of the claimed 650km of runs by going from one corner of the Portes du Soleil to the other, which is helpful.
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self-catering at Les Fermes Emiguy from £687pp (based on two adults and two children sharing an apartment), including flights and transfers, departing 21 December.
In Geilo, two modest-sized ski areas rise up either side of the valley, through which runs the train line that will bring you either from Oslo or Bergen airport.
Foreign holidaymakers mostly check into Geilo’s six big hotels, which have swimming pools and saunas. Norway is particularly popular with families; activities include dog sledding and a horse-drawn sleigh ride to the Vestila Hotel for dinner.
Ski Safari offers seven nights’ half board at the Vestila Resort from £1,035pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and train transfers, departing 16 February.
Elegant Lech has long been a favourite with families, but in the past few years a series of new lifts has vastly expanded the skiing possibilities. On one side a chondola – a combined chairlift and gondola – has linked Lech to its less upmarket neighbours Warth and Schröcken, near the German border, while the Flexenbahn now links Lech’s close neighbour Zürs to St Anton, so you can reach the legendary après capital on skis. Aside from the extra skiing, the links also provide a way to find cheaper lunches than in more high-end Lech.
Off the piste, little ones can enjoy sledding, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice skating, all offered in resort.
VIP Ski offers seven nights’ half board at Hotel Theodul for £1,009pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights, transfers, wine and afternoon tea, departing 12 April.
A trip to Japan remains a goal for many skiers, and an advantage for families of travelling long-haul is that the prices do not dramatically increase over half-term.
Plenty of cheap accommodation has been springing up in the principal resort of Niseko, which makes it a good base.
Meanwhile, at Rusutsu there’s just one vast hotel, inside which is a three-storey recreation of a Bavarian village surrounding a full-size carousel. Nor is the ski area any less remarkable. You can ski through a funfair, as the resort is a theme park in summer.
Different Snow offers six nights’ B&B at the Green Leaf Hotel in Niseko and one in an airport hotel en route home for £2,650pp (based on two adults and two children sharing two rooms), including flights, transfers, lift passes and ski hire, departing 15 February.
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