We have taken our 3 children skiing twice now, both holidays very different. My husband is already a good skier but myself and the kids were complete beginners!
Our first trip was to Les Arcs in France with Club Med, an all inclusive treat - for February half term. We stayed at their brand new resort Les Arcs Panorama and this was a fabulous way to enjoy first time skiing! All tuition and kids clubs included, as well as all inclusive food and drinks. It was fun, scenic, social.... as parents we absolutely loved it, kids were a bit shell shocked at being left in ski school for 5 days without us.... which we felt guilty about.
So the next time we went, we decided to book it differently, we travelled to Flaine, Grand Massif, still in France, and booked self catering apartments, with our own private instructor for the 3 kids, for mornings only. This holiday was completely different, and meant the kids were the focus. They loved the mix of skiing in the mornings with their instructor Marie-Claude, before meeting us for lunch up on the mountain, and then spending the afternoon skiing with us as a family (no better feeling!) or sledging in resort while we watched with blankets and a few beers. The evenings were chilled, hot soup or pizza in a restaurant followed by Netflix or card games in the apartment. This holiday we took for New Year, it was lovely to see in 2020 with such amazing scenery.
Having done beginners skiing both ways, there are some things I have learned as a beginner that I would like to share with you!
Learn young but not too young
It's common to see little 2 and 3 year olds learning the basics, good luck to them.... but we first took Arthur when he was 4 and even then I found that the carrying of the skis and boots was just a bit too tiring for him! They need enough strength to push that foot into the boot and then into the ski. You can help, but there will be times at ski school when no adult will be there to do it for them, and this can be a cause of upset for the really little ones! Arthur just about coped at age 4, but at age 5 was much more able, and had that little bit more stamina, which increased his (and our) enjoyment!
If you are going away with people who can already ski or snowboard, they will probably say they can teach you and you may not bother to take lessons. This is a FAIL. You need to be taught properly in stages and with others at the same levels, otherwise I guarantee you will encounter a hairy situation up a slope and not have the skills to navigate your way out of it, ending with either an injury or a fear of ever going up there again. Over the course of a weeks holiday, taking lessons for 5 days, I am almost certain you will be able to ski or board with your experienced friends by the last few days of the holiday, and enjoy it so much more. You can still catch up with your mates for lunch and apres-ski.
What to take
You need a good ski suit or salopettes and jacket, and for one week, 3 – 4 sets of base layers. You need thick socks, and a few good pairs of ski gloves. Get the ones with strings for little ones which go through the sleeves of their jacket! If they lose a glove up the mountain its game over until you buy a new pair, and they are expensive in resort. You will need ski goggles but sunglasses can do the job too. A hat or ear warmers, and good snow boots. You don’t need too much else because even if you are going out at night you still need to dress for the snow! Much more fun to just stay out after your skiing in what you were wearing and stumble home later.
Get up early
The good news is that hangovers are easily blown away in the mountains! It didn’t matter what time we got to bed, we were always up and on the slopes for 9-9.30am. You need to be anyway if taking lessons, but even if not, the feeling of getting up the mountain and making the first tracks down is very special! The sun is just coming up and the slopes are nice and quiet. Its really magical.
Become a hot chocolate connoisseur
You will probably drink a LOT of hot chocolate, or coffee during your week away and its fun to rate them all until you find your fave spot and return there every day… its amazing how many little traditions you can create in a 1 week ski holiday.
Get over the décor
Ski hotels and chalets are all cute, cosy and wooden, I haven't seen any that are super stylish or modern, and I love it this way! I have been asked for ski accommodation which is modern, white, futuristic, I am not sure if this misses the point.... you need a cosy retreat after a day on the slopes, an open fire is a bonus, but really the time spent in the accommodation is minimal when you have the beautiful scenery outside. If interiors are important to you, I recommend the Chedi Andermatt, W Verbier, or St Regis, Aspen.