Last-minute family ski holidays to book now for Easter
There are a few things to consider when skiing en famile.
Firstly, go for the resorts with a short transfer time, that way you’re bound to get off to a good start – a three-hour winding transfer with chundering tots doesn’t scream ‘holiday.’
Then consider your ski tribe – family ski holidays with tinies is a different ball game to skiing with the older lot, or with teens. Next, track down the best ski schools and creches which afford you that well-deserved two hour whoosh down the mountain, à deux, maybe even the odd lunch in peace.
Then look at easy slope access – anyone who’s attempted to lug a brood onto a rammed bus with all poles and limbs still intact, or just anywhere, will appreciate this point. While we can’t put a word in with the big guy for more snow, we can do the resort homework for you.
Here are three resorts to consider for your last minute family ski holiday.
Conceived in the fertile mind of Baroness de Rothschild, with the aim of replicating St Moritz’ fairytale good looks in a French setting, the resort of Megève draws in more manners and understated glamour than bling, with families (much like the Rothschilds) skiing there for generations. The hour’s transfer is a welcome alternative to the Trois Vallées slog, and the village’s cobbled, horse-and-cart character (existing long before the resort) delivers on the authenticity other ski resorts try in vain to create.
Families pile into unpretentious classics such as l’Apage for rounds of raclette and pass snow-suited tots into horse-drawn carriages for a Savoyarde-style spin. Three-five year-olds can be docked at the Piou Piou Club in Caboche and Mont d’Arbois, with ESF instructors leading them like little ducklings down the learning slopes across a morning, afternoon, or (huzzah) the full 9-5.
Creche or reception centres such as Meg ’Loisirs keep toddlers entertained – the Lutins group (1-3 year olds) is a tot wonderland of soft play and toboggan runs – leaving parents time to rediscover their ski legs (and carefree rosé pit stops) on the mountain.
Multilevel pistes cater well to families: beginners should head to la Caboche with its cruisey greens and wide blues, intermediates can whoosh down the La Jaillet’s corduroy pistes and confident thrill-seekers can take on a handful of blacks such as Emile Allais, or veer off-piste to the legendary Magic Garden Coté 2000.
Where to stay:
For easy access to the slopes and truffled wagyu sliders to ski home for, Four Seasons Hotel Megève (fourseasons.com) is surprisingly family-friendly (considering its walls are lined with the Rothschilds’ Louvre-worthy family’s art collection). The polished kids’ club would make pricey Holland Park nurseries blush, while husky-sledding, sinfully thick hot chocolates and a steamy outdoor pool presents plenty of bonding time, en famille. Two minutes down the mountain, Les Chalets du Mont d’Arbois (fourseasons.com) offers a more traditional, tartiflette-and-taxidermy take on Megève with the same Rothschild heritage and blue-ribbon kids’ club.
On the quiet fringes of the village, Beaumier l’Alpaga Hotel and Chalets (beaumier.com)nods to Megève’s rural soul, just with Scandi-slicked wood cladding and blonde, modish tables. While cots and highchairs emerge in a flash, the mid-century-meets-Savoyarde reception and pocket-sized spa feel more conducive to grown-up kids. Three-star Au Coin du Feu (coindufeu.com)presents a more affordable (but no less charming) option, with twee tartan curtains framing snowy views and pine-clad innards a cosy refuge for raclette after a thigh-busting day on the mountain.
Yet to succumb to the Alps’ penchant for the ruble or Rolls Royce capers, Morzine’s rustic, outdoorsy spirit endures with families returning year after year for the child-friendly facilities and multilevel skiing. Part of the Portes du Soleil ski area, the resort is often doused in sunlight – its wide, cruisey pistes shimmering on till goggles are peeled off for late, well-earned lunches (the low altitude does come without the snow guarantee of other resorts though). Easily reached with the lift system for non-skiers, restaurant terraces are scattered with multi-generational families tucking into steaming fondue and crozets de Savoie, with a striking Mont Blanc backdrop.
Little ones totter off to L’Outa Nursery, Felix Ski or Action Sports at the Pleney’s base for a playful introduction to skiing and dog sledding, while those no longer toddling (3-14) enrol at ESF-affiliated The Piou Piou Club where children can hone their carving and balance skills. These can be put into practice on the (gentle) Little Indian Run, or at the Burton Riglet Park in Avoriaz, designed especially for 3-6 year olds to master shallow gradients, half pipes and mini rails.
A tangle of challenging reds and blacks keep the confident broods occupied, as does the aprés scene, guided night sledding and snowmobiling for older kids and teens. Morzine’s town centre reads like a Hans Anderson fairy tale – a warren of snow-laden chalets glowing an inviting amber at night. Families boot up here for the ice rink followed by a spin on the carousel and creamy hot chocolates. Morzine has also just opened up a vast indoor swimming pool complex by the Super Morzine gondola – good to know about if your hotel or chalet is lacking in one.
Where to stay:
If kids’ clubs are on the cards, opt for a hotel near the Pleney lift for a stress-free morning. With its yesteryear chalet charm and enormous pool, Hotel Les Airelles (igluski.com)is a stellar option, and in plum position for the ski schools or nursery scoots after a cheese-and-cold-cut breakfast. Overlooking Morzine’s pretty town square, Savoyard-style Hotel Le Petit Dru (lepetitdru.com) is renowned for its family-friendly credentials, including an indoor/outdoor pool and spa, a games room and a ski shuttle stop conveniently right outside its doors. More grown-up foodie families can debrief their daily mountain escapades over magret de canard at The Farmhouse (thefarmhouse.fr)– a toasty, traditionalist hotel in Morzine’s oldest building.
Val Gardena, Italy
The transfer from Innsbruck airport to South Tyrol’s Val Gardener is a doable 1 hour 35, with 740 miles of Dolomite piste awaiting all tribes of skiers. Along with the spas to soak ski muscles in and the sun-doused terraces awash with local brews and that easy-going Italian spirit, parents make their annual pilgrimage here for the outstanding Selva Ski School and tot-friendly Funslope, located just below the Dantercepies lift.
Most hotels and chalets are well-versed in booking babysitters, for parents to make a break for the wide, groomed pistes or take on the legendary Sella Ronda (a run that snakes the scenic (and heart-stoppingly steep) Sella Massif. Sprogs aged two onwards can check into Val Gardena’s Mini Club for an enviable roster of indoor/outdoor activities before they’re old enough to find their ski legs.
With ski school over, younger families and beginners can show off their new skills on Alpe di Suisi/ Seiser Alm’s gentle slopes, or the whole clan can head into town for sleigh rides, tobogganing and ice skating. Perhaps Val Gardena’s greatest allure for family ski weeks is its multitude of tardis-like mountain huts (such as Baita Ciadinat Hutte, Fienile Monte and Panorama Hut), where classic Tyrolean dishes such as speck and cheese boards, dumplings and apple strudel spread out across terraces and in twee, fire-lit rooms. These tend to conceal iceberg-style cellars and, subsequently, impressive wine lists for parents to fully investigate.
Where to stay:
Post Family Hotel in S. Christina (familyhotelposta.com), as the name suggests, focuses first and foremost on the children, ensuring parents aren’t scrambling for activities to keep them occupied, or childcare, which incidentally is provided Monday to Saturday (9.30am-10pm) at the 3+ Dumbo Club. Family packages have ironed over all the pain points of skiing with broods in tow – the transfers to ski lessons, endless workshops and classes, children-only breakfast buffets, healthy supper choices – and all while keeping things stylish (and spa-focused) for parents once they’re off the piste.
Adler Spa Resort’s (adler-resorts.com) Brother’s Grimm turrets conceal and unexpectedly restrained, zen-like interiors where families swan around in white robes for the pool and cavernous spa complex, returning to vast suites to plan the following day’s skiing or hiking adventures. When not being trucked to the nursery slopes for ski school, children can dive into the blonde-wooded AKI Kids Club, with its chichi juice bar, cinema room and outdoor area, gulping in that fresh Alpine air.
Biancaneve Family Hotel (biancaneve.it) parks all snobby notions around kids’ clubs at the door, fully embracing colours, face paints, animals and loud, energetic activities. The ski school is a convenient morning stomp away and the pool fills in that oft-forgotten gap between the slopes and supper.