March 22, 2016

First time family skiing: how to plan a chalet holiday

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If you’re new to family skiing holidays, or are parents that have always enjoyed chalet holidays as a couple and are now ready to bring the children along, you may be wondering where to start with organising a chalet holiday with your little ones in tow.

From choosing a chalet to children’s meals, English speaking nannies and ski hire, there’s a lot to consider. To get you off to the best possible start we’ve got some tips to help you get the practicalities figured out, so you can look forward to plenty of ski and family time on the mountain, along with the chalet comforts of hot tubs, log-fires and delicious home-cooked food.

Check your chalet is family friendly

A good family chalet company will provide resort knowledge, support and expertise when it comes to arranging the logistics of your holiday. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you check the following details:

  • Access to the ski lifts – ski boots are made for skiing, not walking. If the chalet is not next door to a lift, make sure they offer a mini-bus service to the ski lifts. Unless you are fond of getting a ski pole in the eye, avoid public buses which can be chaos and tiring for kids after a day on the mountain.
  • Children’s meals – if you’ve got young children and you’d like them to eat early, check the chalet offers a children’s high tea at around 6pm. Ask for an example menu and check the chef will cater for any allergies or requirements for fussy eaters.
  • The size of the rooms – There is a difference between cosy and cramped, if you’re going for a family room makes sure it is big enough for all of you with some storage for your ski luggage.
  • Bathrooms – go for an ensuite room, you don’t want to be traipsing down the hall in the night with your toddler
  • Specialty children’s equipment – for babies, family friendly chalets often provide sterilisers, changing mats, potties, bed guards, toilet steps, toilet seats, high chairs, and stair gates. Check they have the essentials so you can avoid over packing.

Organising travel

One of the luxuries of organising your own chalet holiday is that you can create your own travel schedule (which means no more early morning flights!)

  • Keep travelling time down

Choose a resort within a short flight from your local airport. Try Geneva airport for Swiss and French resorts, Innsbruck or Salzburg for Austrian resorts, Turin for Italian resorts and Aberdeen for Scotland. Also check the transfer time from airport to resort; coach journeys on winding mountain roads are not fun for little kids. Most chalet companies will take care of the transfers for you.

  • Check your chalet’s changeover day

It’s usually Saturday or Sunday, but double check before you book flights.

  • Check in/out times – aim to get to the chalet in good time for dinner so you can relax and have the kids to bed for a good nights sleep before their first day. Last day check out is usually after breakfast, around ten. It’s best not to try and ski on your arrival and departure days, 6 days on the slopes is long enough for kids and you don’t want any time pressures ruining your travel experience.

 Before you arrive in resort

To get the best instructors, nannies and facilities book the following early:

  • Ski tuition – the chalet company should be able to recommend and book ski lessons. Provide the child’s skiing level and age, and book early to avoid disappointment in school holidays.
  • Childcare – most family resorts offer a wide choice of kids clubs, crèches and private nannying services. Work out a childcare programme that works for you so you can rest assured your kids will be in safe hands while you’re on the slopes.
  • Lift passes – check with your chalet company if they can pass on any family lift pass discounts and what the best option is for a family pass.
  • Ski equipment – again, your chalet company will have a preferred partner that is convenient for their guests to get them kitted out quickly. Mobile ski companies that come to the chalet are a fairly new idea and work very well. They usually arrive at your chalet with their mobile ski shop on the first night of your holiday, meaning you and the kids don’t even have to leave the premises to get your equipment sorted.
  • Restaurants – there is usually one night when dinner won’t be provided and guests are given the chance to try a local eatery. As resorts get busy around peak season – Christmas, New Year, half term and Easter – find out which day of the week this applies to and book ahead. Ask for recommendations for family friendly restaurants or check out TripAdvisor.