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Neilson Aalborg or Menuire vs Esprit Courchevel vs Snowbizz

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi

First post so be gentle Wink

Trying to decide between these options for our skiing holiday last week in March next year for me, (Int), my wife (slow Int) and our 4yo (never skied).

Having skied many years ago at MW La Plagne have now Narrowed it down to Neilson Aalborg (L2A), cheapest at c3100, with Esprit (Courchevel) the most expensive at 3700. Neilson Menuire (Les Menuires) and Snowbizz (PSV) are in the middle at c.3400.

From my research to date, my head says Esprit, my heart says Snowbizz and my wallet says Neilson!

My questions:
1. Are there any differences in snow conditions late season or are all of these resorts pretty good? I hadnt heard of PSV before so any info appreciated.
2. The PSV doesnt seem to have an option for evening childcare - is this possible? It seems you go out to the same restaurant every night which would be interesting...
3. The PSV option seems to be in a large apartment block, is the childcare exclusive to Snowbizz? There is very little information about it on their website.
4. What is people's experience of Neilson at either of these hotels? Aalbog is cheapest option and cost is a factor but so is our 4yo learning to ski. I have seen lots of +ve feedback on this site for Courchevel and Skibizz but hardly anything for Neilson.
5. How does the guiding at PSV work - this would be a plus because I am faster than my wife who wants morning lessons so the chance to ski with a group would be good. Neilson also runs some guiding but I understand probably only 2/3 days for a couple of hours each.

Advice on these Qs or any other observations much appreciated!

Cheers

Col
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I have only stayed at one of those options - the Courcheval place with Esprit. That was my first experience of an Esprit holiday. My children were 4 & 1.

I was truly impressed. Lots and lots of little things (some of which I won’t bore you with as was relevant to having 1yr old), like steps in the public toilets for younger children, bags being taken from coach to your rooms, the cheerfulness if staff with the kids whenever they saw them - the hot water failed, so they arranged for water to be heated in the kitchen, carried up to your rooms in large catering sized pans so that you could bathe the children. Despite doing this one of the staff bringing it up had a laugh and joke with Ellie. We loved the baby listening service meaning you can put your children to bed and go down and enjoy your evening meal and wine. Likes that there was lots of child suitable cutlery,plates etc. At 4 they have a snow ranger helping with the lessons in addition to the instructor and they will be in lessons with others from the hotel. On the chalet staff night off we collected Ellie straight from after her lesson and she had a full on tantrum and she didn’t want to leave her friends Happy. She was asking to got to snow club at least 30mins before it started.

We then went on to have another 4 holidays with Esprit. We did a Mark Warner one year and found they weren’t a patch on Esprit when it came to the kids.
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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?
@colt99, If childcare is the main driver then Esprit every time. (8 Esprit holidays in total!). Stayed in a Neilson place in Mayrhofen this year. Nice chalet, great staff but no sign of any kids and youngster will enjoy it far more if he has playmates.
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We have been to PSV with Snowbizz 8 times; twice end of March/beginning of April and six times 2nd or 3rd week of January (our preferred time). We have two children who both started skiing at Puy and now out-ski us, they are aged 12 and 9 years now and were very disappointed that this year we skied elsewhere, simply as our oldest is in secondary school so we can’t get away with taking her out of school during term time. We have also done one Esprit holiday (to Selva), but when our oldest was almost 2 years old so not skiing, and a Neilson holiday (to Livigno), with children but didn’t use their ski school/childcare.

I will try to answer some of your questions with regard to Snowbizz and Puy St Vincent.
1. Both times we went end March/beginning of April we were able to ski back to the resort and almost to the ski locker door. Typical spring skiing, yet we got fresh snow both times.
2. Snowbizz have an evening kids’ club, typically running 7-9pm (ish) depending on activities (treasure hunt, pizza party, disco, snow ‘olympics’, crepe night). When ours first started skiing they were very tired and we tended to pick them up early. I believe Snowbizz also offer babysitting you can arrange in resort, but we have never used this service. We have always driven to Puy and cooked in the appartment each evening as we found this cheaper and it meant we could feed the kids a bit earlier than eating in restaurants, but there are takeaway pizza places in resort or you can order food like raclette/roast chicken to pick up from one of the shops to eat in the appartment. There are two very good supermarkets in resort.
3. The accommodation is in a big appartment block, with the Snowbizz lounge where the evening kids club meets, and the locker rooms on the ground floor. To reach the crèche you leave the appartment block and walk about 50metres into another block where the crèche, exclusively for Snowbizz kids is based. My two loved their time in the crèche, the children all play together and go to ski school together (again exclusively for the Snowbizz kids), so they make so many friends over the course of the week. Ask for a piste view appartment if available, as it’s handy to see when the lifts start running andcto watch the piste bashers of an evening.
5. We’ve never taken part in adult ski lessons or guiding at Puy, but it is not a difficult resort to find your way around.

In short, I can not recommend Snowbizz and PSV highly enough. The holidays we have had there have been fantastic and the personal service you get from the staff is fantastic; from the people in the office in the UK who are so easy to talk to and will answer any queries you have, to the Pink Ladies who run the crèche and kids club, the ski instructors, and Michel who runs the company and is always very visible in resort and able to sort any problems and offer advice as needed.

My children, and us, hold Puy and Snowbizz very close to our hearts, and will always have fond memories of our first family ski holidays there. We’ve now ‘graduated’ from PSV to independent travel to some lesser known resorts as the girls no longer need the lessons/childcare supplied by the mainstream operators, and we are now trying to dodge the half term crowds.

I don’t work for Snowbizz and a couple of years ago would never have divulged any info about one of our favourite places for fear too many people might go there! wink

Feel free to ask any other questions.
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I went to L2A with Neilson in January. Although I didn’t stay at the Aalborg I visited it a few times as the ski guiding sessions start there, it’s their main hotel in L2A and looked really nice for a reasonably priced hotel. It’s ski in/out and close to the nursery slopes.

The ski guiding service was excellent and they also threw in a few group lessons free as well.

Overall It was a great trip, couldn’t fault Neilson at all.
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@colt99, should have said, Crystal 2000 (Esprit place) is truly ski in ski out, for the children’s lessons they take them in a minibus to their lessons, which is another worry off your mind. However you can’t eaisly walk into town, you need to either ski down to 1850 or get the bus. Though you can occasionally get a lift with the Esprit minibus if you time it right.
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I have been on two Neislon ski trips (and two summer trips actually). They have been great every time. We didn't stay in the Aalborg but in one of their chalets but I knew the hotel manager at the Aalborg at the time so went in there quite often (as well as picking up our skis from the in house hire shop).

The hotel is in an awesome position. Ski in/out. Right where the ski schools meet and only a few meters away from the Diable chair for easy access up the hill.
snow conditions     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thanks so much for all the replies, still considering our options, I think PSV would be best for our 4 yo's skiing and childcare is probably on a par with Esprit. It is the logistics of the Skibizz set up that aren't convincing, e.g. leaving him at a creche near to but away from the apartments for us to go to dinner somewhere else. We don't want to self cater whilst on holiday and a chalet set up with listening where we are there if he wakes up seems much better. Also given it will just be the three of us, a chalet hotel would be more sociable since everyone eats together. Is this a fair observation?

On that basis I think we may end up with Esprit since childcare has to be the priority and as people have said, that is what they are all about...
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Of all your options we have only ever used Esprit and have found them to be very good The only reason we are no longer using Esprit is because kids too old now. We have used the Crystal 2000 in Courchevel and the location is superb - true ski in ski out.

However, having booked many Esprit holidays, we have found it cheaper not to book direct with Esprit. Travel agents dealing with Esprit will match their existing offers and then add in an extra discount (we have had more than £150 off). You need to do your research first, work out exactly what you want and then go to the agent saying Esprit have quoted me a price for X Room in Y Chalet/Hotel in Z Resort with ABC in terms of extras and can they beat it. We have never had any problems with our booking doing this and all extras have been added as per request.
snow conditions     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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@colt99, Welcome to SnowHeads. I agree with the +ves about Esprit, from experience of about 10 trips with them.

Their Courchevel hotel is very well located. At the end of March your chances of great snow conditions there are high. Beginner friendly slopes just above resort centre, near the Crystal 2000 hotel.

Great area for consolidating and improving your intermediate skiing too. Easy to get across to 1650 (Moriond) for sunny, cruisy blue and red graded pistes.

You ask about their chalet hotels and eating together. We always found them sociable. As you probably know, the children have an early evening meal, with adults eating at a later dinner time. I remember food being good, perfectly adequate, though nothing exceptional. Rooms were OK, again nothing special.

If you can afford it, go for Courchevel and Esprit. Altitude, huge varied area, great childcare.
snowHead
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
We stayed in the Aalbog a couple of years ago but not with children. Location is great. The room we had was big but was a bit shabby and not quite chic - thread bare carpet etc. It was also on the hot side.
When we were there all the meals were searved buffet style. The food was plentyfull and lots of choice but a bit school dinner like and if you missed timed it the hot food in the heated container got a bit dry. They also didn't do social tables we were given a table on the first night and that was us. We did ask but were told that there wasn't enough space. No ski holiday is ever a bad holiday but we wouldn't go back to that hotel. It was just a bit too big and for us and less sociable.
We did try the guiding too. We had a later flight to lots was already booked by the time we got in so we signed up for the red run session at the end of the week. Due to very high winds I lasted half an hour as unbelievably I got completely blown out of my skis Shocked . Slow return down and trip to medical centre later that was the last of my skiing on that holiday. Speaking to others who had done the guiding they had all enjoyed the sessions.
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