Skiing is the perfect family holiday.
What else is there that the whole family can
do together, mothers as well as fathers, girls and boys equally?
Or where parents can hand their children over to trained professionals,
knowing they’ll be even happier and safer than with them?
Skiing is both exciting and healthy – a rare combination –
yet one need not be particularly fit or sporty to enjoy it.
YSE is sometimes considered less than child-friendly because
we don’t have nannies or crèches, or give massive discounts
It is true that we feel that childcare is something
best left to parents or professionals, not played at by tour operators.
And because a child’s holiday costs us as much as an adult’s,
we don’t see how we could expect those travelling without
children to subsidise those with.
But YSE holidays are actually
extremely well-suited to families. Some of our chalets are large, some
of them are small. Some are very smart, some give very good value. And
some have extra beds for children at half the normal price (though
please note that flights are not guaranteed for extra
Chalets are more relaxing for families than
hotels, where parents are constantly worried that their brood will
upset fellow guests, or self-catering apartments, where most of
someone’s holiday will be spent shopping, cooking and clearing
And, perhaps surprisingly, Val d’Isère
is the ideal family ski resort. It has good snow, short
wide nursery slopes with free lifts, a flat village, free
buses, very good ski schools, English-speaking
instructors, and lots of British youngsters. Where to Ski and Snowboard
describes the nursery slopes as ‘95% perfect’.
And although we are keen skiers ourselves, our
best moments are skiing with our children. The only thing we can
imagine that would be even more fun than seeing one’s kids
learn to ski would be to learn with them. A family who started skiing
together would have a ball.
However, although a successful family ski holiday
is the best thing in the world, a lot can go wrong, and it can be
a catastrophe. A ski holiday with children needs to be planned like
an assault on Everest.
Fiona Easdale in our office can advise on most
aspects of ski school and childcare, having brought her own offspring
to Val d’Isère as babies, toddlers and schoolchildren.
She now has teenagers, and is an authority on skiing while communicating in grunts.
Her first tip will be to leave small children
behind! Her second will be to throw money at childcare or kids’
lessons rather than on unnecessarily smart accommodation. We see
children with their own en-suite marble bathroom dumped in group
lessons where they understand little and learn less. They are miserable,
yet a week’s private instruction wouldn’t have cost
much more than the bathroom.
Not that we want you to send us less money, of course, but happy children mean happy parents, and that’s good business!
Ski schools get booked out, so
if you require lessons for your children, we strongly recommend that
you read the individual ski school pages in the Ski Schools section on the left-hand menu of this website, to see which of the ski schools best suits your child(ren), then
telephone or email them direct the day you book your holiday to be sure
of a place in a class or to reserve a private instructor. We see family
holidays ruined because classes are full and no instructors free.
Private lessons are not very expensive if you
can get a small group of children together, and they make life much
easier. The instructor may meet the children at the chalet, for example.
Getting children ready for skiing always takes
longer than one imagines. It helps to be in a chalet whence getting
them to the slopes does not require Sherpas. Several of ours are
on the slopes, near the lifts, while none is too inconvenient. La Grande Sassière, La Maison du Rocher, Le Vieux Crêt and La Croix are our furthest from the slopes, but have their
own Land Rover.
Young children who need an early supper tend
not to eat it if they’ve just had afternoon tea. Our staff
return to work at around 6pm, and can serve a child-friendly high
tea from 6.30. Some parents ask us to prepare a meal and leave it
for them to pop in the oven earlier than that, which we are happy to do. We regret that we do not allow guests to actually cook meals in our chalets.
If your children
have particular likes or dislikes (don’t they all?), please
fax or email them to us so our staff can buy the right food.