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First ever family ski holiday

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi
I’m planning our first family ski holiday as we have spent the winter learning to ski at our local indoor snow slope and are now desperate to head to the mountains!
Our children are 13, 10 & 9.
I’m a bit nervous about sorting it all as I’ve never been skiing before so I’m going to do our first holiday through one of the tour operators but wonder which are the good ones? Have spoken to Crystal as they have a desk at the snow centre we use. Are there any other gems that will give us good advice, good support when we’re there and generally look after us?!
We have to go in Feb half term which is a pain but.... trying to go somewhere a bit quieter so have been looking at Finland/Norway.
Any advice would be HUGELY helpful.
Thanks
Sarah
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@saloco,
Welcome to snowHead . I haven't been with tour operators recently enough to know which are the best.
I wouldn't dissuade you from going to Finland or Norway which get a good reputation but lots of Italian resorts are not too bad in the feb school holidays as well, I used to go to Austria which outside Fasching was usually reasonable as well.
What I would ask is do you have to go in Feb half term? Or can you go at other school holiday times? My own experience of skiing with beginner children admittedly a bit younger than yours is that the warm balmy days in April were more fun for them in the early stages , the prices lower and the slopes less crowded.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@saloco, Welcome to snowHeads! snowHead

In addition to Crystal, I find Inghams to be be one of the better tour operators.

It's worthwhile checking in tour operators brochures and websites if they do "Learn to Ski" packages. Some operators do these which can be good value as it's it in both the resorts' and tour operators' interests to get new people hooked on skiing! Laughing

Hope you and your family have a great time, you've been very sensible in having lessons at an indoor snowdome which will mean you have a head start on the absolute beginners in the resort. Very Happy
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@saloco, I'd agree that the Easter hols might be better than half term for a first family ski holiday. Cheaper, less crowded and warmer. If you do Easter, make sure you choose a resort that's reasonably high, though, and where the beginner runs aren't all at the bottom of the mountain.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
It's worth considering Christmas too - it's a bit early in the season, but not as crowded and expensive as half term. And it can make sense financially as the ski holiday can be the family's Christmas present to itself, so to speak - and you save quite a lot on stuff at home. Christmas in ski resorts is lovely - usually stuff laid on for kids. Easter is also good, if the holidays (not always at Easter itself, these days) are not too late.
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Using a tour operator is a good idea for your first holiday.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Point to bear in mind re Finland and Norway in Feb, they have very short daylight around then. Personally, I would go for spring skiing somewhere with a glacier for g'teed snow. Longer days, more likely to get sunshine and just all round good chilled vibes. If the family like it fork out on a Feb trip a year later. Good luck and nice to read you're looking to get everyone into a great sport.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Crystal are spot on. from when you get off the plane theres a rep guiding you to your bus, on the bus on the way to resort and for a couple of hours every evening at the hotel should you need anything sorted. hassle free
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+1 for Easter holidays rather than half term. Much nicer time to ski IMO. I’d also be strongly inclined to focus, as others have said, on somewhere like Italy, Austria or France. I suspect Norway and Finland will cost an absolute fortune and, if you go in Feb, be pretty dark and dingy.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@saloco, Been there, done that, start saving now! 2 Adults, 3 kids at half-term, make sure you factor in lessons, lift passes and ski hire plus around £70 a day for coffee stops and lunch for 5. If you find anything that comes under £5000 all in you should consider it a bargain.

Agree that you should let the Tour Companies take the strain and Crystal is probably the most consistent with children the age of yours and have a look at Skiworld too, they have some great Chalets. https://www.skiworld.co.uk/about-Skiworld.

However, if you are prepared to be a little more independent and arrange your own travel and accommodation I'd consider the following:

- It will save you money.
- Austria/Italy will be much quieter than France at half-term. Nice resorts that fit your dynamic could be Ski Amade Region, Dachstein West, or Zell am Zee in Austria. Pila or Champoluc in the Aosta, Alta Badia in the Dolomites for Italy.
- Go for a large chalet (20+). The companies tend to staff their bigger chalets with at least a few experienced staff rather than 1st timers and your kids are more likely to find playmates.
- You don't need a huge area for a first holiday. Check out the piste maps. Anything with around 100-150km of piste will keep you busy and is likely to be less crowded.
- Assuming Mum wants a "holiday" don't go self-catering. You can do that when they're older.
- It will save you money!
- Look at resorts that do Family Offers on Ski Passes. More likely at Easter but you never know.
- Minimise Transfer times as the big ski companies tend to charter and flights are always at some ungodly hour.
- Take a Mobile Hotspot (ask the kids!)
- Buy any ski gear from Decathlon as they'll grow out of it by the following season. (My number 3 was a girl and she only got her first "girl" kit at 13!)
- It will save you money!!

Good Luck.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
+1 for Easter holidays rather than half term. Much nicer time to ski IMO. I’d also be strongly inclined to focus, as others have said, on somewhere like Italy, Austria or France. I suspect Norway and Finland will cost an absolute fortune and, if you go in Feb, be pretty dark and dingy.


We did Sweden for Half term and it really didn’t feel dark or dingy then. Also Sweden is noticeably cheaper than Norway for buying food at supermarket and on slopes (one slopes felt similar to French Alps prices - of course this says as much about French Alps as it does Sweden Smile)

Trip report with some photos and video of you scroll down enough https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3195162&highlight=sweden#3195162
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@panaga52,
Quote:

- Buy any ski gear from Decathlon as they'll grow out of it by the following season. (My number 3 was a girl and she only got her first "girl" kit at 13!)

Or borrow from friends if you possibly can. Maybe not so bad to buy for the 13yr old as you can pass things down, but def try and beg/borrow/steal for the younger ones.

If budget is not too much of an issue you might consider ClubMed. Great for the younger ones and absolutely everything is included.

I'm not a great fan of UK ski slopes (dry or indoors) but definitely keep pushing on with lessons for the children. They may be a little older than many other children going for the first time and your 13yr old really won't want to be lumped in with the other seven year old learners.

Don't over-think all this. You could go almost anywhere, be completely unprepared and still have a great time.

Don't assume that you have to have all the kit. Merino base layers and goretex gloves are all very well but they are not essential. For years I skied quite happily in a normal shirt, woolly jumper and, if really cold, a T-shirt underneath. (You will need a ski jacket on top, or something similar).
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
panaga52 wrote:
@saloco, Been there, done that, start saving now! 2 Adults, 3 kids at half-term, make sure you factor in lessons, lift passes and ski hire plus around £70 a day for coffee stops and lunch for 5. If you find anything that comes under £5000 all in you should consider it a bargain.

Agree that you should let the Tour Companies take the strain and Crystal is probably the most consistent with children the age of yours and have a look at Skiworld too, they have some great Chalets. https://www.skiworld.co.uk/about-Skiworld.

However, if you are prepared to be a little more independent and arrange your own travel and accommodation I'd consider the following:

- It will save you money.
- Austria/Italy will be much quieter than France at half-term. Nice resorts that fit your dynamic could be Ski Amade Region, Dachstein West, or Zell am Zee in Austria. Pila or Champoluc in the Aosta, Alta Badia in the Dolomites for Italy.
- Go for a large chalet (20+). The companies tend to staff their bigger chalets with at least a few experienced staff rather than 1st timers and your kids are more likely to find playmates.
- You don't need a huge area for a first holiday. Check out the piste maps. Anything with around 100-150km of piste will keep you busy and is likely to be less crowded.
- Assuming Mum wants a "holiday" don't go self-catering. You can do that when they're older.
- It will save you money!
- Look at resorts that do Family Offers on Ski Passes. More likely at Easter but you never know.
- Minimise Transfer times as the big ski companies tend to charter and flights are always at some ungodly hour.
- Take a Mobile Hotspot (ask the kids!)
- Buy any ski gear from Decathlon as they'll grow out of it by the following season. (My number 3 was a girl and she only got her first "girl" kit at 13!)
- It will save you money!!

Good Luck.


Echo most of this. If you have never done it, its hard to predict get a fee for what to expect. For our first family trip we went to Les Deaux Alpes with Mark Warner. It was nice to have everything taken care of.

I'm just back from Zell Am See (last week) and I can say it was 1) cheap (food,drink, lift pass); 2) easy to get around (lots of bubble lifts), with enough terrain to keep ou interested.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Can i just add a recommendation for kids ski clothing? Whilst my two boys were still growing out of kit annually, we found this company to be pretty good value:-

https://www.surfanic.co.uk/boys/winter/ski-jackets/

They are currently showing kids jackets at £40 and some trousers at £19.99. We have jackets and salopettes from there that have already done 6 weeks, are still looking pretty good and are being handed down to some friends for our April trip.

p.s. I have absolutely no link to the firm whatsoever, in case anyone is wondering....
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
would be very happy to help you book for NOrway.
Been many times and always book independently.
BA flights for next half term are only around £80 return, start with that and then you know you have got sorted.
Then go to skistar to look for property at Trysil or Hemsedal, I would go for Hemsedal for a first time. Great slopes, kid friendly. It will be busy at half term, but not unpleasant and there will still be empty pistes.
Skistar, also sorts your ski hire and lift passes, its very straight forward.
The other cheap flights are usually SAS, I have never paid more than £100 return in half term.
Shout, if you want any advice
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Pal/Arinsal in Andorra. Further south so nicer in Feb, excellent snow, excellent native English speaking instructors, small enough to be good for you as near-beginners. You'll find it a bit crowded on the first few days up to Shrove Tuesday, but empty after as all the Spanish go back to school.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Another vote for Arinsal. We took our boys there for their first European ski trip when they were 10 and 7 with Crystal in Easter '98 (they'd spent 4 days of each of the previous four Easters in Aviemore mostly taught by me and one or two private lessons which I find much more efficient). But I was an experienced skier so could deal with equipment, lifts, terrain etc. Typically warmer at Easter which is important although you don't want to go somewhere like Arinsal if Easter is late. Cheap lift passes too. Given that you've been learning in a fridge you might get away with a few private lessons although you have to know what you're doing on a real mountain! I can't imagine spending £5k on a ski week - we'd never have gone!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
billb wrote:
! I can't imagine spending £5k on a ski week - we'd never have gone!


Actually I was wrong. The cheapest quote on Crystal for next year's Half-Term https://www.crystalski.co.uk is currently £783 per person for half-board in Slovenia. That doesn't include Lift Passes which are €145 Adults and €75 for kids, €80 for ski hire and €60 per hour for the family to have a ski lesson. Meals would be a bit cheaper in Slovenia, say €10 a head per day. Which works out at roughly £1100 pp, so £5,500 with Crystal

DIY looks like the way ahead.

So hypothetically, If you rented one of our apartments in Flachau that week (€1250 for up to 6 pax), say £1500 for Jet 2 flights to Salzburg + €200 for transfers, (You could of course drive in which case I'd estimate £800 with tunnel, ferry, fuel, tolls and food/stops), All inclusive ski lessons and equipment hire with https://www.fischis-skischule.at/en/all-inclusive/ come in at €230 pppw (say £600-800). Lift passes €260 for adults, €133 for kids (£800- Although kids are "Free if you go at Easter). Plus lets say £400 for food for the week.

So Self Drive, Self Cater, minimum ski lessons and don't eat out much could be done for around £4000. Add £7-800 if you do the flying thing and there's not not much in it at half-term. Come at Easter and you'd save maybe a £1000 on those prices.

I hear great things about Haus Susanne in Radstadt, which has a perfect uncrowded area to ski on. They have a few more options and their prices are at this link, but you still need to add the "Extras". https://austrian-adventures.com/accommodationandprices.html#pricing-table1-18 Still going to be around the £5000 mark though.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sat 9-03-19 9:54; edited 1 time in total
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panaga52 wrote:

I hear great things about Haus Susanne in Altenmarkt, which has a perfect uncrowded area to ski on. They have a few more options and their prices are at this link, but you still need to add the "Extras". https://austrian-adventures.com/accommodationandprices.html#pricing-table1-18 Still going to be around the £5000 mark though.


I can highly recommend Haus Susanne, but just to point out it's actually in Radstadt not Altenmarkt. Madeye-Smiley
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Another vote for Andorra's instruction, have been to Soldeu a few times and found a native English speaker easier to understand when trying to learn and not fall over !
If your happy to self cater, look at Sunweb, cost of accommodation includes lift pass, and do offer flights and transport on some locations.
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A few thoughts, based on years of experience of skiing with children from tiny to late teenage...

Your children are a bit old for Esprit now, but there is merit in going with an operator who will have other children of similar age. Or see if you can persuade another family to join.

Chalet v hotel: If you are not filling the chalet, then the risk is that you have unsuitable company in a confined and fairly intimate space (a group of heavy drinking 20-somethings for example). If you can get a group together and fill a chalet, then this can be great, but otherwise consider hotel or self-catering apartment (or "self-eating out every night" apartment).

If you can find a place with a pool, this can be great for the kids in the afternoon - many reasonably priced hotels in Austria and Italy have pools. Less so in France in my experience (tends to put the price up a lot more in France).

I would echo Easter being better, but the advantage of half term is that your options are much more open as snow conditions are less of a risk. Smaller lower resorts become possible.

As beginners, you do not need to go to the mega-resorts. Small Austrian resorts or similar will be fine, and will likely be quieter.

Try to find somewhere that is close to lifts - walking with kit in boots with children, or herding them onto buses etc is a complete pain.

Places that worked for us when they were that sort of age were Obergurgl (high and snow sure, with hotels right by lift and lots of suitable blue runs), Wagrain (make sure you find somewhere near lifts - great indoor/outdoor waterpark in village), La Rosiere (but only because we filled a chalet with 4 families - not much else to do apart from ski), Val D'Isere (but I would hesitate at half term, as will be busy and expensive), Corvara (hotel Arkadia right on piste and really good ski instructor - but we might have got lucky) and when they were a little older and becoming interested in Apres, Saalbach Hinterglemm worked well.

Another one to consider, which we did when they were a bit older, is Champoluc, with Ski-2. I have no links other than being a happy customer, but Ski-2 were the best operator I have ever been with. They don't do flights, but do everything else. They have their own ski instructors, and if your hotel is a little away from the lift, they will store your kit at the bottom and shuttle you around on demand. Champoluc was the quietest place I have ever been at half term. The only hesitation is that there is a tricky link from the easy skiing to get to the next move up and the main area, that might put timid skiers off. There is a way around (get shuttled up to next lift up at Frachey), but be aware. But if kids are in ski school, instructor will sort all that out.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Welcome.

Go in Feb to Apr, when it is sunnier and warmer and onpiste snow is still good.

Pick a ski-in-ski-out resort. No lugging heavy skis and boots around.

Try La Plagne, Tignes, or Courchevel.

Try Les Menuires, if on a budget.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Much useful info above. My tips would be, look at a smallish resort, you don't need to pay massive prices. Look on Where to Ski and Snowboard for useful reviews of the resorts (as well as here of course). Think about going at Christmas, it's magical and tbd the kids will probably enjoy the parades, fireworks etc. Look for kit in Sports Direct, Decathlon or hit the shops when they are clearing out this year's gear end April time. Book lessons.
My tips to look at - Montgenevre, Risoul, la Rosiere, Italy!
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
panaga52 wrote:
billb wrote:
! I can't imagine spending £5k on a ski week - we'd never have gone!


Actually I was wrong. The cheapest quote on Crystal for next year's Half-Term https://www.crystalski.co.uk is currently £783 per person for half-board in Slovenia. That doesn't include Lift Passes which are €145 Adults and €75 for kids, €80 for ski hire and €60 per hour for the family to have a ski lesson. Meals would be a bit cheaper in Slovenia, say €10 a head per day. Which works out at roughly £1100 pp, so £5,500 with Crystal

DIY looks like the way ahead.

So hypothetically, If you rented one of our apartments in Flachau that week (€1250 for up to 6 pax), say £1500 for Jet 2 flights to Salzburg + €200 for transfers, (You could of course drive in which case I'd estimate £800 with tunnel, ferry, fuel, tolls and food/stops), All inclusive ski lessons and equipment hire with https://www.fischis-skischule.at/en/all-inclusive/ come in at €230 pppw (say £600-800). Lift passes €260 for adults, €133 for kids (£800- Although kids are "Free if you go at Easter). Plus lets say £400 for food for the week.

So Self Drive, Self Cater, minimum ski lessons and don't eat out much could be done for around £4000. Add £7-800 if you do the flying thing and there's not not much in it at half-term. Come at Easter and you'd save maybe a £1000 on those prices.

I hear great things about Haus Susanne in Radstadt, which has a perfect uncrowded area to ski on. They have a few more options and their prices are at this link, but you still need to add the "Extras". https://austrian-adventures.com/accommodationandprices.html#pricing-table1-18 Still going to be around the £5000 mark though.


I think the savings for driving are more than that, especially with 5.
We've just done half term, 2 adults, 2 kids, for under £3000 and that wasn't the cheapest accommodation we could find either.
Self catering shouldn't put you off. Chucking a frozen pizza in the oven is not that difficult!

Personally I'd prefer to go lower and mid winter (Feb), probably to Austria or the Dolomites.
On piste conditions are at their best, more tree lined pistes and snowy villages.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Drammeister wrote:



I think the savings for driving are more than that, especially with 5.
We've just done half term, 2 adults, 2 kids, for under £3000 and that wasn't the cheapest accommodation we could find either.
Self catering shouldn't put you off. Chucking a frozen pizza in the oven is not that difficult!

Personally I'd prefer to go lower and mid winter (Feb), probably to Austria or the Dolomites.
On piste conditions are at their best, more tree lined pistes and snowy villages.


I always tell my friends that having three kids is like having two dogs. People very happy to look after two children or one dog! Very Happy

£3000 is a good price (for 4) but even then for the "special" child you'll still be adding an extra Lift Pass €133, Ski school (with kit) €230 and unless there are no additional occupancy costs in an apartment, then another €200 for that extra bed. Plus they all cost the same for lunch. Ski School does a very good "Supervised" lunch for €12 per day, so €70. We're back up to c.€4000 or so again.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Quote:

Chucking a frozen pizza in the oven is not that difficult!


It is if your apartment only has a microwave and hotplates!!! Not all of them will have oven.

However agree self-catering is easy and personally we enjoy the relaxed cooking and vino consumption

FWIW - here are our costs for family of 5 from Xmas 2013 - can add a food shop before we went (as took stuff with us) and around £150 cash. If you don't have a Disco you can halve the fuel costs!!!!

2013 Xmas Costs
Premier Inn Thursday Night near tunnel 58
Beefeater Meal on Thursday night 97.42
Breakfast on Motorway 24.34
Fuel 74.82
Food Shop 69.46
Fuel 70.41
Food 11.44
Fuel (top Up) 36.48
Les Charmilles overnight stop Friday 184.09
food 25.65
Sherpa 6.8
Replacement key for apartment 11.13
Lunch out Xmas day 50.98
Wifi 25.65
Meal out 106.75
Tea at Eurotunnel return 33.28
Fuel 83.61
Sledging 25.6
Fuel 99.37
Ski Hire 175.55
Lift passes 744.72
Apt 231.54
Apt 671.83
Eurotunnel Free Tesco Points
Tolls 142
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
[/quote]

FWIW - here are our costs for family of 5 from Xmas 2013 - can add a food shop before we went (as took stuff with us) and around £150 cash. If you don't have a Disco you can halve the fuel costs!!!!

2013 Xmas Costs

Replacement key for apartment 11.13 Very Happy
[/quote]

Love the key thing. But still £3210 and at Christmas time which is about 10% cheaper than half-term. Throw in 6 years of inflation at say 7.5% (total) plus another 1% for more favourable exchange rates (Pound/Euro) at that time and your back up to c.£ 3,800, More if you loose a key!! We all come back to roughly the same figure. £4000 for Self-Catering/Self-Drive, versus £5-5500 with Tour operator. Plus Ca Change.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
We are a family of 5, and this was the cost of our ski trip to Tignes over the 2019 half term (Trip Report - https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=142376):

Flights £1,277.00
Accom £1,311.76
Childcare £648.00
Transfers £636.36
Lessons £693.80
Ski Hire £496.00
Lift Passes £874.43
Food & Drink £1,200.00 (estimate, waiting for the credit card)

£7,137.36

We self catered. The place had no oven, just a microwave and hot plates. Our kids are aged 8,7 and 5 and it was our 4th family ski trip. The first was with a T/O (Mark Warner, Les Deaux Alpes), the second in a catered chalet (Ski Magic in La Tania) and our 2 most recent have been self catering at half term last year Meribel and this year Tignes. Self catering is cheaper and we find it much more flexible as you are on your own timetable and not rushing about to get the kids to kids club to have the evening meal or trying to rush them off to bed. You also get to go out and sample local restaurants etc. To us it was more relaxed. We didn't go super cheap and allowed for some luxuries.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
FrediKanoute wrote:
We are a family of 5, and this was the cost of our ski trip to Tignes over the 2019 half term (Trip Report - https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=142376):

Flights £1,277.00
Accom £1,311.76
Childcare £648.00
Transfers £636.36
Lessons £693.80
Ski Hire £496.00
Lift Passes £874.43
Food & Drink £1,200.00 (estimate, waiting for the credit card)

£7,137.36

We self catered. The place had no oven, just a microwave and hot plates. Our kids are aged 8,7 and 5 and it was our 4th family ski trip. The first was with a T/O (Mark Warner, Les Deaux Alpes), the second in a catered chalet (Ski Magic in La Tania) and our 2 most recent have been self catering at half term last year Meribel and this year Tignes. Self catering is cheaper and we find it much more flexible as you are on your own timetable and not rushing about to get the kids to kids club to have the evening meal or trying to rush them off to bed. You also get to go out and sample local restaurants etc. To us it was more relaxed. We didn't go super cheap and allowed for some luxuries.


£636 for transfers, where did you land, Gatwick?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:


£636 for transfers, where did you land, Gatwick?


Sadly no, Geneva. EUR 700 was for return transfers and that was a relatively good price. Quotes below:

Company Price (Rtn)
Alpine Sherpa € 708
Smart Driver Lyon € 650
WhiteRides € 800
Taxi Tignes € 700

When we were looking (around September 1Cool for a transfer company this was the pricing we were getting. I agree it seems like a lot, but given all I had to do was muster the 3 kids into a van, which dropped and picked us up to our door, and I didn't have to worry about chains, car parking etc it works. I agree we could have done things cheaper, but when we were working things out as to whether to drive or fly, we worked out that adding Winter Tyres, chains to the cost of tolls, fuel, overnight stops on the way there and back etc the additional cost of flying and transferring was justified.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi,

We are a family of four, mum, dad and two boys aged 11 and 8. Just to give you an idea of how you could have a great family ski holiday on a tighter budget, please may I share with you how we achieved a much(!) cheaper ski holiday than those already quoted, this year and last. Not just because we’re cheapskates, but mainly because IMHO you do not need the mileage when you’re taking the kids for the first time. The 'experience' is much more important. IMHO 20 kms is more than enough if all the runs are suited to beginners.

To put this into context, my previous last 5 ski holidays, albeit with the lads, have been to Argentiere/Chamonix (last 2 times), Serre Chevalier, Arabba and Les Arcs. But with a young family you just don’t need the vastness and the cost of these places, yet.


This year (February half term).
This one was a bit of a cheat as we only did 4 days skiing with 5 nights away, but at a great price! This would be extendable for a few more £s.
Oberstaufen, Bavaria Germany https://www.bergfex.com/sommer/oberstaufen/webcams/
On the Northern Edge of the Alps and in mid-February reasonably snow-sure, very close to Austrian and Swiss borders. Very beautiful.
~£1370 (Sunday to Friday) = Total (without ski school costs)
Great value for a decent snow ‘fix’. The only caveat being it was only a 5 night break with 4 days skiing instead of the usual 6, but a decent holiday all the same (without any last day tiredness).

£250 Rtn flights Gatwick to Stuttgart (not normally a ski airport hence the cheaper prices I guess, 2 hrs drive to Oberstaufen)
£180 Hire car (VW Golf Sports Van)
£590 Apartment 4 nts B&B in this holiday resort complex https://www.alpenblickhotel-oberstaufen.de/en
Booked through Snowtrex and all the ski passes for four days were included! (Oberstaufen plus card). Lovely indoor swimming pool on site. https://www.snowtrex.co.uk/
£260 Ski kit hire for four days
£90 Last night at the holiday inn Stuttgart Airport, after visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.
Ski school is available at the Steibis ski arena at very reasonable prices .. https://skischule-steibis-englisch.jimdofree.com/program-steibis/kids-teens/


Last year (albeit over New Year).
Our first family ski holiday and we really wanted to ease the kids into it (and get them hooked!).
Finland, Pyha (yes Lapland can be done on a budget). We really wanted a winter sports experience, with a bit of Santa, Huskies and snowmobiles thrown in (all optional).
~ £2500 = Total (for a very special holiday)
Perfect snow everywhere, and great short runs from the top of the hill down but served by a modern high-speed chair lift. Restaurant prices on a par with the Alps so fear not.

£700 Rtn flights with Norwegian air to Rovaniemi
£90 Rtn transfers with local bus from the airport to Pyha (2 hrs each way)
£600 Small log cabin in the centre of Pyha (booked with https://www.pyhahippu.fi/en/) .. self-catering. There is a small supermarket in the centre of the village.
£850 Ski passes and hire kit
£300 four long (105 mins) private lessons ... the boys protested at the thought of ski school!

Amazing arctic experience. Really loved it there!


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Tue 12-03-19 0:35; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Some interesting numbers. Some holiday costs - notably all the ski-related costs - are pretty well fixed. One big variable is eating and drinking. @FrediKanoute spent £200 a day. Others spend far, far, less. I have never spent anything near that amount. It's misleading to compare costs for "self catered" versus "catered" holidays without looking further into this. We used to do low budget catered chalets with our kids (never in school holidays, usually cheapest early January weeks) and spend practically nothing over and above the package price. Big breakfast. Lunch was a non event, maybe plate of chips, and we always took a big stack of snack bars. Back to the chalet to fill up on mugs of tea, baguette and jam, cake. Then dinner with "free" wine. As the kids got bigger they would stock up on cheap supermarket gin etc ("old Lady's") at the start of the week!

Those holidays were far cheaper than having to feed the family at lunch time and evenings at restaurant prices. Especially on the occasions we got discounts of one kind or another (last minute booking, Ski Show special offers, etc).
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@benboski, Out of interest did the lack of sun light affect the holiday?
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We've just reached the stage of not taking children with us and not being quite as worried about the cost.
Last year, possibly for the last time, we drove to Tignes for Feb half term. Driving cost us £800 including fuel, tolls, breakdown cover, channel tunnel and a night's accomodation each way.

Apartment costs vary wildly depending how small your prepared to go!
When our children were young we particularly liked Flaine. Great nursery slopes, plenty of blue pistes, loads of cheap apartments, 8 hours drive from Calais.

We've found the big tour operators a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you get a great rep who can't do enough, once we had a lad who didn't ski and couldn't speak any French! All he was interested in was selling away days and pub crawls.

I'm told Italy is a good choice in February with children as Italian schools don't have a half term break, so there isn't the same demand for ski school places, not sure if this is true or not.

Anyway whatever it takes to get your children skiing just do it. Our son is working his second season in France and having the time of his life!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
CH1975,

The lack of sunlight didn't really negatively affect the holiday, if anything it affected it in a positive way. Let me explain. Firstly, all (I'm sure it was every) slope is floodlit, so the skiing day is long as lift opening times are not determined by daylight. The lifts close later than in the Alps at 6pm (but start at 10am). We even went out for an hour after an early tea on a couple of days. Secondly there is daylight, even in mid winter, between 10am & 2pm. The sun angle is much lower than further south, so it skirts the horizon. Basically imagine a 4 hour sunset. (Ofcourse by Feb half term the day is just as long as further south, the equinox in March, i.e. equal day and night, is just the same in the Arctic as anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere). And thirdly, the short day and long twilight just adds to the rather unique Arctic experience. There is snow everywhere, the fir trees were laden with snow and the roads were covered too. Mid-winter thaws are rare. The only thing that I regret is that it was cloudy for most of the week, so we never got to see the Northern lights which can appear in the skies above you at any time. I guess we'll have to go back for that.

Basically, it is a very different experience in a good way and we've now all spent a week inside the Arctic circle. But Finland seems to mix Arctic wilderness with the ultra-modern without any problem whatsoever. Everything works well and efficiently. Just bring some thermals (we bought those at decathlon for 3quid an item and they were fine). Temperatures varied between -5 and -25 degrees while we were there, but strangely it didn't feel cold once wrapped up. No wind and very dry air. And the log cabins were so unbelievably toastie and that's before you light the fire.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Tue 12-03-19 0:33; edited 1 time in total
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To give an idea, this is looking down blue 5 in the mid afternoon (apologies to the OP for going off topic).

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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
^ ooooo beautiful, what an experience!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
We did TOs at first (the best of which was Neilsen) but really, I wish we'd moved onto self-catering sooner than we did. After two bad experiences with transfers (this was with Crystal) we went DIY and never looked back. We usually drove down and back, as it meant that we could take a lot of stuff down with us, and the thing about a self-catering apartment is the personal space you have to relax. But not everyone is the same. You'll get lots of advice on the Forum, but mine is that (a) if you do self-organise and drive, the adults should take the day before you leave off: it'll make it much less stressful and (b) my kids learnt in Italy and the instruction was great - the Italians are very child-friendly and sympathetic in my experience.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@benboski, PM'd
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
CH1975 wrote:
@benboski, PM'd


just replied
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