The chalet’s party room – twinkling disco balls included – is a great hangout for families
Planning a ski holiday for little ones can often be a daunting prospect – with so many different resorts all with varying level of pistes, different ski schools, and chalets all claiming to be ‘family friendly’. Our ski experts give us the low down on the best ski holidays for families.
Part of the Three Valley ski area, Courchevel has some of the finest skiing in the French Alps, from gentle greens to hair-raising blacks. Luckily there are some great nursery slopes for the kids to practice their snowplough on, and with the superb ESF ski school on hand, you can be rest assured your children will be in good hands. If the kids aren’t quite ready for ski school, many chalet companies and hotels have nurseries and babysitters who can entertain the little ones off the slopes.
Stay: Courchevel boasts a vast array of chalets and hotels, from quaint alpine chalets to all-singing-all-dancing hotels. Portetta Loft hits the mark perfectly. Part of the Hotel Portetta, the two-bedroom loft has its own entrance yet guests have full access to the hotel’s facilities, such as a spa, babysitting services and direct access to the children’s nursery slopes.
Verbier needs little introduction as one of Switzerland’s most famed ski resorts, not least for its high altitude meaning snow is (almost) always guaranteed during the winter season. With some of the best off-piste in the Alps, pro-skiiers will want to ditch the pistes, hire a guide and go off for the day. Luckily there are numerous ski schools offering both private and group classes so not everyone has to follow. Alternatively, hire a guide for the whole family – they’ll take you down runs that everyone can manage, and introduce you to family-run restaurants hidden away from the tourist trail where you can feast on warming goodies such as tartiflette and vin chaud.
Stay: Sir Richard Branson’s luxury chalet, The Lodge. Nine bedrooms accommodate up to 18 people, making it perfect for large groups. The chalet’s party room – twinkling disco balls included – is a great hangout for families: shoot some pool, watch a film or dance the night away. The outdoor Jacuzzi and indoor pool are a welcoming sight on return from the slopes. What makes The Lodge truly outstanding is the staff: attention to detail is their motto and, needless to say, they make you feel at home.
Another one of Switzerland’s (many) spectacular ski resorts, St Moritz caters for families and those looking for a bit of glamour on their ski holiday – or both! Centred around a beautiful lake, which is used for activities such as horse and greyhound racing, polo, golf and even cricket in the winter, St Moritz boasts world-class slopes, luxurious hotels and restaurants, and numerous high-end boutiques. We also recommend a trip to the St. Moritz Celerina Olympic bob run, the oldest and the last remaining natural ice run which is sure to thrill the kids.
Stay: Children are very well catered for at Nira Alpina. When they’re not on the slopes, the ‘kids room’ is a sanctuary packed full of books and games, and supervised by the hotel’s friendly staff.
Not only is Whistler rated the best ski resort in North America, some claim it to be one of the best resorts in the world thanks to its two mountains and huge range of slopes. New lifts mean you can go peak to peak and cover miles in a day. We recommend the Peak to Creek run which goes on and on – keep going to the bottom and you will be rewarded with brilliant pulled pork sandwiches!
Though skiing is the main activity, there are numerous other activities on offer such as zip-lining, horse-drawn carriage rides, husky dog sledding, tubing and many more. If you have the time, head to Vancouver, only two hours away, for a city fix.
Stay: Fairmont Chateau Whistler is our go-to hotel in Whistler, for its prime location, ski-in ski-out access and amazing afternoon tea (they do a kid’s version as well). The numerous interconnecting rooms ensure make it ideal for families.
Closer to home, Niseko easily rivals the Alps and Canada. A small haven of hotels, chalets and fantastic restaurants overlooking Hokkaido’s enchanting Mount Yotei, Niseko is a favourite for the amazing snow, après ski atmosphere and fluent English speakers, which make it very easy to get by as a visitor.
During peak season the best accommodation can get booked up early so it’s wise to book ahead. However towards the end of the season – March to mid-April – is still a great time to go, and there are generally smaller crowds (bar Easter holidays).
Stay: The self-catering apartments at The Vale provide a Japanese alpine experience like no other. With spectacular views of the ski run, your own personal onsen, open fireplaces and a fine-dining restaurant, this award-winning property is the ultimate in ski-in ski-out luxury. The Vale offers 1.5 to 3-bedroom apartments, or you can go all out and splurge on a super luxe penthouse flat.