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February 2021 - First Family Trip Resort Recommendations

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi All,

I've not been on a boarding / ski holiday for 10 years due to 3 kids arriving! I have finally plucked up the courage to take them and now i am completely out of touch on where to go and how to book.

I always used to go on a tour operator package, but now with it being 5 of us over Feb Half term i think the cost would be too high. So i am looking at booking apartments / chalets and then driving or if flights are cheap when they are released then i would fly.

So really looking for: Somewhere in France, thats drive-able, has plenty of apartments, is suitable for beginners, with potential to fly and book a transfer bus. Can anyone recommend anywhere?

Also for accommodation only bookings what sites do people generally use? I have tried booking.com for les arcs for example and it comes back with 4 results!

Thanks
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@jimmytwoburgers, hi and welcome back to the fray.
Exciting planning a first snowy trip with the kids. Good that you’re well ahead, looking at 2021 already. Two questions, meant to be helpful.

1. Does it have to be Feb half term? If keen on France, then Easter is relatively early in 2021.
Most UK school holidays start 27 March. Snow conditions should still be good in many French areas. Easter is a much much better time to ski in France than Feb half term IMO, especially with young children.

2. If it has to be Feb half term, does it have to be France? There are better options in mid Feb in Italy and Austria IMO. I realise that challenges the self drive option more but with early bookings there’s usually good flight prices to be had.

You’ll find many threads on SnowHeads that support the two assertions above I think. Both offer much better value options for a family of five.

Back to your original requests. For self drive to France, with possibility of cheap flight alternatives, I’d be thinking of northern Alps. So places like St Gervais, Les Contamines, Les Saisies, La Clusaz, Les Gets, Morzine, Chatel.

All a relatively short drive from UK and fairly close to Geneva airport if you decided to fly.

Places like Les Arcs, which you mentioned, and nearby La Plagne are a longer drive, more expensive and possibly a bigger area than you need for a first family trip. Also very busy Feb half term.

If travelling that far I’d think about La Rosiere as a slightly cheaper, little less busy alternative. Long way to drive with 3 young kids though.

Another area if you decided to fly. Grenoble often has better priced flights at peak times. Some southern Alps areas, like Serre Chevalier, Alps D’Huez, Risoul or places on Les Sybelles circuit might suit from there.

Depends where in UK you’d be flying from. Luton and Stansted often seems to have cheaper flights.

For apartments, Airbnb, Sunweb worth a try. Or once you’ve narrowed down destination, ask on SnowHeads, try local tourist office, direct owners websites etc. Just be careful with checking out authenticity on some sites and payment methods, how much deposit requested, etc. Due diligence.

Hope that helps for now and good luck with the planning.
snowHead
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Thought about looking at French Pyrenees or Andorra if you want to keep costs down?
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If you want France, Half-Term and cheap(er) options try Morzine/Les Gets for family friendly, British Ski Schools and lots of Self-Catering chalets. Have a look at https://www.chaletsdirect.com/ for some ideas. Glad my "Kids" now do their own thing. If Mrs @jimmytwoburgers, actually wants a Holiday then I'd recommend you suck up the cost and go for one of the family tour operators like https://familyski.co.uk/ or https://www.espritski.com/. We did the latter 8 times with our three. If you really don't like them, you can drop them off at 8am and collect after Children's Supper at 6.30pm Very Happy
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Early Easter is a good shout. Warmer.
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Agreed. Far cheaper and less crowded.
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Avoriaz , would probably fit the bill. Relatively high for this part of France, if easter is chosen.
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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!
Hi - wow thanks for all the good responses! Easter is actually a good point, never thought about that. I am going to look at the options now and look at some of the places mentioned by @PeakyB.

@Panaga52 I will have a look at those sites, any idea when they release 2021 dates? i do worry about the price of the package but like you say might be an easier option!

Is Easter usually the same price as Feb Half term? or more expensive because of the BH?
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Easter is a fraction of the price. Hampshire school holidays are a week later. So looking at the second week of that school holidays may be cheaper if not all schools are off that week.

From memory you start to see prices released early January
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jimmytwoburgers wrote:
Hi - wow thanks for all the good responses! Easter is actually a good point, never thought about that. I am going to look at the options now and look at some of the places mentioned by @PeakyB.

@Panaga52 I will have a look at those sites, any idea when they release 2021 dates? i do worry about the price of the package but like you say might be an easier option!

Is Easter usually the same price as Feb Half term? or more expensive because of the BH?


Whereabouts are you in the UK?
If looking at flights close to school holidays, consider flying from Edinburgh or Glasgow as the school holidays are often at different times.

If driving, make the journey a part of the holiday if you can by leaving a day earlier and returning a day later and adding in something on the journey. A day at First World War memorial? A town in France or the Black Forest?

Austria and Italy are driveable. The journey is more pleasant with a break.

For France you should definitely consider Easter. Pick a resort with high skiing. Easter also gives you extra days off school to add in a stop along the way.

Don't rule out the Dolomites for half term though. Cheap flights to an airport not automatically though of as "ski" such as Verona or Milan or Munich. Self catering apartment of high quality and eat out a lot so that Mrstwoburgers gets a break
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I'd echo the comments about Easter. We took our kids for the first time a few years ago at a similar time where Easter was early (late March/early April holiday). I can't recommend Avoriaz enough, it feels like it's set up perfectly for families. The whole resort is pedestrianised, so we got a horse and cart to our apartment (the first experience in resort for the kids and they thought it was magical!). Lots of little slopes of the kids to sledge on, have snowball fights ets. Plus as it's easter, it's much warmer so lots of sitting outside at lunch in the sun.
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Also a +1 for Easter

Have done Les Arcs many years running with 3 young kids - starting when they were 2 (twins) and 3-months. Drive is fine with a little planning, thoroughly recommend overnight stop both ways though.

As for booking, we always start with resort web site - for 5 of you I would look for an apartment for 8 however - unless some of you are happy on sofa bed
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Ok Easter it is!

Is there anywhere on the Northern Alps that would be good in Easter? A little less drive then les arcs etc?
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@jimmytwoburgers, another good option to consider would be Christmas. We have been going at Christmas time with kids for the last 4 years and have always had a great time. We always go high ( Tignes or La Plagne)
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@Bella2015 I will have a look at that. Any thoughts on Courchevel for an Easter family trip? I have been a few times so like the familiarity of it! Found a well priced apartment in 1850 walking distance to everything for a little more than £700 for the week. I am not sure how much ski-ing my wife will do, so ideally it would be good if she could walk to places - shops, bars, other activities etc
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Les Menuires.
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@jimmytwoburgers, it is possible, the resort should close on 24-26 of April theoretically, but take in consideration that dining out (on the mountains and in the resort) is extremely expensive, even ordering a pizza at the apres ski bar... We bought everything (meat, beer,pizzas, etc.) south of Moutiers at a huge supermarket named 'Super U et Drive'.
Regarding skiing, i imagine things might start closing down the closer you get to the last week. We've been there this year in the second half of March and every slope towards 1400 was utterly slush from lunch time in Meribel area and much better in C and ValT. April should be worse, especially for the kids.
If you're reaching that far, contemplate the family bash at Val Tho, one week before the EOSB. Or Tignes
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@jimmytwoburgers, we went Easter to courchevel one year. We stayed in 1550. Although the run to 1550 was open it was really patchy! However staying above 1850 was fine. Getting a bit slushy as you got to the bottom of 1650. We tried to go over to Val thorens one day but found the run in Meribel far too slushy so quickly double backed and stayed in courchevel.
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@jimmytwoburgers, in late March/early April, I’d say Courchevel 1850 is a great choice for probability of good snow.

That apartment price looks a bargain too, especially for Courchevel 1850. This area is in the top 5 piste skiing areas in the world IMO.

However...everything on the mountain in that specific resort is expensive. Food, drink, etc. The lift passes are not cheap but I’d argue they’re good value for intermediate skiers upwards.

1850 is also a great base for relative beginner slopes and early intermediate/improvers.

The town is glitzy, with many shops aimed at very rich people. Some interesting people watching!

If you’re driving, you can do a big supermarket shop down in the valley to save a lot of money.

If buying food and drink on the mountain, there are decent value places within easy skiing distance of 1850.
snowHead
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@jimmytwoburgers, late in the season it’s more difficult to find fairly snowsure areas that are a much shorter drive from UK.

At Easter I’d be thinking about the Tarentaise areas, 3V or Paradiski. Espace Killy another possibility but that’s an extra 45-90 minute drive on from those.

February is totally different, opening up loads of options. Personally I’d avoid France in Feb half term.

I wouldn’t recommend Christmas/New Year with 3 young kids and a wife who might not ski much. Too dark, cold, maybe icy, usually busy and more expensive than Easter.
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Cheers all.

We would be going in March 27ish 2021 so hopefully conditions will still be good at 1850. As its our first family trip I can't imagine we will be going very far first couple of days, so not too worried about dining on the mountains. I might even see if we can get away not buying a lift pass for the first few days. Probably have lunch in the apartment and dinner out.

I will still check out a few other resorts.
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@jimmytwoburgers, if you are delaying until 2021 if you book flights as soo. As soon as BA release them you can get really good prices which would open up a good number of other options.

Being Easter even now there are reasonable prices to be had. Eg LHR to Munich for 5 return including 1 x 23kg bag each is £779 return for going out 4th April. From Munich you could go Mayrhofen which is where we went for Easter just gone. We stayed in a fantastic apartment which could have slept 6 very comfortably.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Tr: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3396253&highlight=easter#3396253
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@jimmytwoburgers,
When we returned to ski holidays a few years back, we also decided driving was the only viable option.
I’d initially looked at France, but soon realised you could get much better value in Austria and there’s no Motorway tolls to pay.
The driving distance is bit further, but time wise not much longer at all, as there’s not nearly as much of a hold up when you get to the mountains.
One thing to consider is winter tyres are compulsory in Germany and Austria.

One deciding factor was ski schools, Austria tends to have all day lessons, the kids had a supervised lunch, which meant with the regional pass we could pop off to explore nearby ski areas and be back for the end of ski school.

We stayed SC and ate out every lunchtime.

Personally I’d always choose mid winter over Easter, you can stay lower, which means cheaper and prettier IMO.

One last thing, UK half term is not necessarily an especially busy week in Austria. The German and Dutch school holidays are a much bigger factor. We had some holidays at Half term where we’ve barely queued all week.

Whatever you choose, skiing with your kids is a great experience. Make the most of it while you can still keep up with them!
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@Drammeister,
Agree with Austria as a good option in Feb.
Not so sure about preferring winter over April, most years we did both with the kids.
I think in the earlier years they preferred April and playing outside in the warm sun particularly after skiing , as they got older maybe the slightly better on average snow conditions tipped them over to Feb.
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@jimmytwoburgers, If you're now thinking about Easter then also factor in which resorts have deals on lift passes. Here in Ski Amade Kids Ski "Free" on Family passes after the second week of March. So with 3 that's a saving of nearly €500. As to your question about dates, Chalets Direct is owner driven. You could go on their request page and ask for specific dates, up to them to come back to you.

If you want a 6 bed self-catering apartment in Flachau for Easter Weekend 21 you're looking at Week 3-10 April 21. PM me if you're interested in mine. Our Facebook Page is at the bottom of my posts.
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Easter is a great time to ski with kids, less chance of bitter cold and the drive is much better. I love the Easter drive as the dark afternoons just seem to fall away. Accommodation will be much more reasonable as well and the resorts less crowded. We often do a side trip on the way home at Easter, have been to lots of War Graves, the Louvre at Lens, Ypres and even did a few days in Paris in an AirBnB.
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Thanks for all the great responses! So after much research I finally decided on Courchevel and booked the apartment on AirBNB yesterday. Today the host has declined it, too far in advance and apartment might be sold by then
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Arrrrgh! Really annoying. Back to square 1 Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad
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Quote:

I always used to go on a tour operator package, but now with it being 5 of us over Feb Half term i think the cost would be too high. So i am looking at booking apartments / chalets and then driving or if flights are cheap when they are released then i would fly.

Though I agree with the others that Easter is a great time to go skiing (April 12th isn't too late this year). Febuary half term need not be extremely expensive, but it can be a bit crowded depending on which of the weeks tou are planning to go.

OK an apartment might cost you 500 euros more for the week and that will be the biggest cost
The tunnel will cost about £20 more each way if you book now
Fuel and tolls will be the same
Food will cost the same
lift passes will cost the same
ski hire might cost more - I really don't know about this
Ski lessons will be about the same - I really don't know about this

However, the big problem will be the crowds. Talking to my neighbour in Les Arcs about his skiing plans over the winter he dais he is only planning to ski the last week of the mid winter holiday ie the first week in March, since it will be too crowded at other times. This is a family who own their own apartment, have season passes, have all the equipment and only a relatively short drive to the slopes. It will cost them no more to ski in Febuary but they choose not to.

Easter, especially if you can get away the first week (containing Good Friday), will be much less crowded, have lovely long days, have decent snow cover if you go high, have the possibility of travelling on the bank holiday, have the possibility of taking less of your annual leave (Good Friday and Bank holiday are available).

Do not worry about booking accommodation up very early. There will be plenty available.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@johnE, in 2021, when OP is planning to go, Apr 2nd is Good Friday.

@jimmytwoburgers, if nothing suitable in Courchevel 1850, then either Courchevel 1650, La Tania or Les Menuires should suit you in 3 Vallees.
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@jimmytwoburgers, are you still looking at 2021? In which case very few places will be accepting bookings yet. Also check the wording on your travel insurance- my travel insurance only covers holidays booked less then 12 months in advance.
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I think you should book a week in April 2020 as a practice run for 2021 Wink
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jimmytwoburgers wrote:
Hi All, I've not been on a boarding / ski holiday for 10 years due to 3 kids arriving!


Ditto myself and 3 kids a few years back - did Wengen which was an epic fail (although a great resort / ski area) and came back early with a middle child / 7yr old with a broken leg . . . did Les Deux Alpes the following year (preceded by a rekkie solo visit to ensure it was safe of course) and really enjoyed (as a family location)

Really expansive beginner slopes at the base of the mountain plus extensive wide blue runs at the top to cater for all abilities . . .resort itself not so picturesque but would def recommend for families - we bit the bullet and did Neilson Hotel Aalborg which is right on the slopes but sure you could do it cheaper if required . . .
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We are a family of 5 and have now successfully done 4 ski trips. If it’s the first family trip it’s all about getting them hooked and less about your actual skiing.

2016 – Chalet Hotel – Mark Warner – Les 2 Alpes - Our kids in 2016 (1st trip) were 5,4 and 2). The 5 and 4 year old did ski lessons, the 2 year old stayed in the creche. We did it over Easter. As a resort it was ok, but the big advantages were that the piste was right next to the hotel and it had a swimming pool. Kids loved it even though snow was not that great. Lessons with ESF were average and didn’t suit our kids. Cost was circa £5,700 all in.

2017 – Catered Chalet – Ski Magic – La Tania (3 Vallees) – In 2017 the kids were 6,5 and 3. Booked the older 2 in with Sweet Snowsports for lessons – not cheap, but worth it. Youngest did ESF and lasted 3 days. Chalet provided cheapish transfers and a well priced nanny service. We shared the chalet with another family who had kids of a similar ages. Weather that Easter was warm, but the Courcheval Valley was fine, though by the end of the week skiing down to La Tania was a little dicey. Village was great, had a fete one day. There was a play ground and our kids had a great time (though did complain about not having a pool….1st world problems). Cost was circa £7k all in.

2018 – DIY HomeAway – Meribel (3 Vallees) – In 2018 we decided to ski in Feb half term. Kids Aged 7,6 and 4. We put all 3 kids in with New Gen which again weren’t cheap, but were great. All 3 loved it. We hired a nanny from T4 Nannies and she was amazing with the kids. We had some awkward timings with the youngest starting lessons an hour or so later than the older 2 so we would drop them off and our nanny would do final drop off and pick them up, do lunch and then afternoon activities which included swimming, sledding, playing etc. She new all the good places to take kids and most of the time it was free. She also did a couple of nights babysitting. We had a great time and fully used the 3 vallees ski pass. We skied with the kids on the last day (and the nanny came with us). Main downside was that the chalet was 45 walk to the chaudanne (down hill) with kids, which meant you couldn’t just pop back. Cost was circa £7.5k

2019 – DIY AirBnB – Tignes – again skied over half term mainly because we couldn’t get a decent apartment in Meribel and also because we struggled a little with child care. Kids now aged 8,7 and 5. Again hired a nanny through BooBird Childcare. Fabulous. If our 2018 nanny was good, the 2019 version topped her. Made easier in that Tignes Le Lac is largely flat and our accommodation was pretty close to main drag. Swimming is free with a weeks pass. There is trampolining, an ice castle, and generally heaps for the kids to do after their lessons. Booked lessons with Ultimate Snowsports. Rate them highly. Really pushed the older 2 and our youngest get a lot of confidence and was skiing down the Rosset piste (a free piste) near the village by the last day. Weather was amazing! Cost was circa £7.5k.

My key takeaways:

1) First ski trip with the family is less about the skiing you do and more about getting them hooked;
2) Young kids don’t appreciate the variety of runs and are more interested in things like swimming pools, playgrounds etc;
3) Ski schools matter – British ski schools are more expensive than ESF, but or kids responded much better and progressed better;
4) Proximity to the slopes – nothing worse than a long trek, especially with kids and if you have to lug gear….always try to get a locker or leave it at the ski shop;
5) Private transfers – if you are flying, yes they are expensive, but they take you to your door and work to your schedule. For us it was always money well spent.

Good luck and enjoy it!
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Quote:

However, the big problem will be the crowds.


For balance - have a look at the "crowds" in Les Arcs this Feb HT https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3371541
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@FrediKanoute,

Agree with all of those points barring the ski school & private transfers bit - the kids need to understand slumming it on long coach journeys and with various electronic devices can be kept quiet easily . . re ski school being barked at in French / German / Italian pigeon English and integrating with other nationalities is also a confidence builder and a testing ground to practice another language!

Interesting that Mark Warner was your cheapest experience - with 3 kids its normally the most expensive!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Belch wrote:
@FrediKanoute,

Agree with all of those points barring the ski school & private transfers bit - the kids need to understand slumming it on long coach journeys and with various electronic devices can be kept quiet easily . . being barked at in French / German / Italian and integrating with other nationalities is also a confidence builder and testing ground to practice another language!

Interesting that Mark Warner was your cheapest experience - its normally the most expensive!


We'll agree to differ Smile - its as much a holiday for me and the misses and if they aren't happy, we're not happy.....mainly because they make it miserable.

MW was the cheapest mainly because we did it at Easter, our youngest was 2 so we didn't have to pay for a flight and wasn't counted in the accommodation. Lessons, lift passes and ski hire are the main increases in later years. Collectively on the MW holiday these totaled £900.....every other year they totaled around £2200.
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When we used to do Esprit holidays with the kids they used to enjoy the transfer (at least eldest did youngest is ASD so didn’t) as she started to make friends with the kids she was going to be on holiday with.
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