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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi Snowheads, here's hoping you are a more helpful, less judgey group than other forums that may focus around activities of the two wheel off-road variety!

So, I've never skied, snowboarded once in Scotland for a day when I lived there 20 years ago (wasn't too bad, but I was more bouncy then). My husband has skied more when on trips as a teacher with past schools, but not for a good 11 years, he's not bad apparently (third part independent source says)! We now have a 9 year old and would like to go skiing with her. Trouble is, where to start? I have no idea and to be honest, it'll be me sorting this out as hubby is still a teacher and I'm not anymore, therefore have more time to research this.

We've done loads of self supported holidays (non-skiing) in the past when it's just been the two of us, but having the young 'un in tow ups the stakes massively. She's pretty dinky for her age and whilst confident at stuff like gymnastics has never done anything like this before. She also has a low tolerance to cold, mainly cos there's nowt to her but if we bundle her up she can't move and isn't a fan of that either!

We'd like to keep costs down without it being at the detriment of the holiday (I know, it's skiing, it won't be cheap) and don't mind self-catering.

I'm also not thinking we go this winter unless a miracle occurs, I'm long term prepping for next winter, but I still have no idea where to start, hence hoping to mine the world of Snowheads for information.

Bear with me if you ask questions, I'm at work on lunch at the moment and may be slow to answer once that's done, but I will, I promise.

Thanks in advance.
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Kip, someone will be along shortly to advise you to go on a Snowheads bash. By all accounts these are quite good and I believe they also organise ones for those unfortunates who have underage baggage to deal with as well. Just sayin.
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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?
@Kip,
Welcome to snowHead
I would be thinking about going skiing in the Easter holidays, It's a lot cheaper than half term and a fair bit cheaper than Xmas usually. It is also generally fairly warmfor your daughter. (It is spring time in the mountains though and the warmth is not guaranteed.)
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@Kip, welcome to snowHeads.

With your husband a teacher and a 9 year old are you restricted to school holidays? Unfortunately things get more expensive and in many resorts much busier during the school holidays. With a bit of research and using the advice of a forum like snowHeads it's perfectly possible to arrange a DIY trip rather than rely on a tour operator. For three of you it might be cheaper to drive if you are reasonably close to the Channel ports, as well as the usual options of flying or taking the train (a nice option if you can get to London St Pancras easily enough).

Do you have a preference for a country? Ski school is a sensible option, so you might want to factor that in to your budget and ask for recommendations for particular ski schools.

If you are restricted to school holidays and have a 9 year old who is not keen on the cold, a week at Easter might be a good choice. Slightly cheaper and quieter than February half-term, and if you choose a relatively high resort you should be fine for snow conditions in the first week of April.
snow conditions     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
May I suggest you start with a book. Though sadly now out of print Where to Ski and Snowboard from 2016 is a good place to start. It is much better IMHO than all the Internet Resources put together. However a quick look on Amazon shows second hand 2016 editions going for almost £160. Go older, the basics haven't really changed that much so a 2014 copy would be of considerable use to you.

My next suggestion is go at Easter. It is much warmer, the snow is better and it stays light longer in the evening. This season because the Easter Holdays are in the middle of April, many of the big tour operators, such as Crystal are not doing Easter trips, but you can do it yourself. Next season will be better since Easter will be, IIRC, the first Sunday in April.

Others will be along shortly suggestion specialist child operators. I am not an expert on them, but from the age of 9 your daughter should cope with ski school and skiing with you quite happily.

From what I know of gymnasts they are pretty confident at every thing they try. After all what is sliding down snow on a pair of skis compared to your first unsupport back somersault.
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Thanks for the first few replies here, I appreciate the quick responses.

First up, yep, we are completely restricted to school holidays, both due to husband and daughter's schools.
I'm happy to go with DIY but think we'd rather not drive if possible, mainly because we are in Devon and it's a long way anywhere from here to start with! I'd love to go by train though, that sounds awesome!
We have no country for preference at all, as long as it is child friendly, and absolutely would be doing the whole ski school thing, for me as well as Kip Jr.

Easter sounds interesting, but what are snow conditions likely to be like for first timers? Are facilities at resorts likely to be shutting up as it's getting to the end of season?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Kip, The big ski resorts in France will be closing April 25th or even later. Tignes will be open into May. During the last week and especially the last day things will be closing down, but not the Easter holidays (Sunday 11th this year). Some of the lower areas will have rippons of artificial snow to allow access to the lifts and back to the resort but most people will be going higher, even, sometimes coming down on the lifts. I skied Les Arcs a few years ago on the very last day of the season and a lot was closed because the staff were having BBQs and parties, but it was still OK

My experience is that all ski resorts are child friendly. As an 8 or 9 year old my son was quite happy walking around the resort on his own. He even shocked my sister in law (who was looking after him that day while my wife and me were off climbing a mountain - it was summer) by walking into a restaurant and ordering himself a meal.
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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!
Easter 2021 is earlier than usual thus a better bet for snow.

France is usually higher than Austria (outrageous generalization) but avoid ESF instructors especially for group lessons (now moving into libel).

But group lessons with pre teens can make for a fun learning environment.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Easter 2021 is earlier than usual thus a better bet for snow.

France is usually higher than Austria (outrageous generalization) but avoid ESF instructors especially for group lessons (now moving into libel).

But group lessons with pre teens can make for a fun learning environment.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
johnE wrote:
May I suggest you start with a book. Though sadly now out of print Where to Ski and Snowboard from 2016 is a good place to start. It is much better IMHO than all the Internet Resources put together. However a quick look on Amazon shows second hand 2016 editions going for almost £160. Go older, the basics haven't really changed that much so a 2014 copy would be of considerable use to you.

My next suggestion is go at Easter. It is much warmer, the snow is better and it stays light longer in the evening. This season because the Easter Holdays are in the middle of April, many of the big tour operators, such as Crystal are not doing Easter trips, but you can do it yourself. Next season will be better since Easter will be, IIRC, the first Sunday in April.

Others will be along shortly suggestion specialist child operators. I am not an expert on them, but from the age of 9 your daughter should cope with ski school and skiing with you quite happily.

From what I know of gymnasts they are pretty confident at every thing they try. After all what is sliding down snow on a pair of skis compared to your first unsupport back somersault.


Oooh, I love a book, as does Mr Kip, which could help with planning. Just bought the 2015 version so here's hoping that's good enough.
I'm not sure Kip Jr is up to unsupported back somersaults but I'd like to think she'll give most activities a go with enough moral support from us.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Kip, Just fill you in with going by train. Let us say you are going to Les Arcs, which is accessible by funicular from Bourg st Maurice.

Train to London,
Cross London by underground
Train to Paris
Cross Paris by Metro
Train to Chambery
Train to Bourg st Maurice
Funicular to Les Arcs

It will take most of the day and is not for the feint hearted
ski holidays     
 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.
@Kip, welcome to snowheads.

it's been mentioned but no-ones yet provided the link so I'll oblige. Save yourself a lot of time and hassle and book onto the Family bash

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3332786

EDIT - That link goes to the thread for last year's event which as you can see sold out. This year's is not yet open for booking, but will be there at some point.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Mon 25-11-19 15:02; edited 2 times in total
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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
Welcome to SHs. Agree organising a first ski trip can be daunting, but I think good advice can be to try to break it down into smaller parts. IMO there are basically four main parts to a ski holiday.

1) When to go
2) Where to go
3) How to get there
4) On-site stuff

Some of these are interlinked, but I find it helps to break tasks down to more manageable ones, so...

1) When? I'm guessing as hubby is a teacher and young daughter in school you're probably limited to school holidays. Assuming UK-based, that leaves three possibilities: Xmas, Feb half-term, and Easter. I'm usually a die-hard exponent of Feb half-term as the best time to ski of those three, but in this case given it's a first holiday, daughter doesn't like the cold, you're looking to keep costs down, and early Easter in 2021, I'd bow to the general view that Easter would suit you best.

2) Where? Which country? Which resort? Country options are France, Austria and Italy mainly (ruling out Switzerland for cost). Any preferences? For resort choices, if you go with Easter that narrows possibilities down, as you'll want somewhere snowsure (which generally means higher). For a first trip you don't need a mega-resort with lots of pistes. Considerations are what sort of village/town you'd like to stay in (i.e. pretty chocolate-box, or not bothered), and what you might fancy doing other than skiing (swimming pool, gym, spa, etc.) as for a first week you might find skiing all day a bit taxing.

3) How to get there? Is very much dependent on 2). There are options to drive, fly + transfers, or train. Also depends on where you are based. Driving could potentially keep costs down. If e.g. daughter is not a fan of long-ish transfers (can easily be two and a half to three hours to get from airport to resorts) then it's worth looking at somewhere closer to an airport for 2). Depending on where you are in the UK some airports easier to fly to than others also.

4) In-resort stuff. Mainly (in decreasing order of importance): accomodation, ski school, equipment hire, lift passes.
For accomodation you've already said you're happy with self-catered, which will almost certainly keep costs down. I would advise to look for somewhere close to ski school pick-up point as you won't want to be walking far in ski boots, possibly with hubby carrying daughter's skis as well... Which leads us to ski schools. You'll need lessons (possibly all three of you, but definitely the two beginners), so that needs to be factored into the costs. If you want an English speaking instructor (useful, unless you're fluent in French/Italian/German), people on here will be able to help. Again this comes into consideration when choosing the resort. Equipment hire can be sorted last minute (again, worth looking for accomodation with hire shops nearby), lift passes can be bought online (usually) in advance, so those two are easy, I really only included them so you get an idea of costs.

So I guess the main questions you could answer to help us help you are: where are you based? where do you fancy going? (which country? sub-question being are you fluent in Italian/French/German? what sort of village do you want to stay in?) how would you prefer to get to the mountains? (how do you prefer to travel in general? is your daughter a good traveller? etc.)

Hope this helps
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Living in Devon I would look at what local airports you have to fly to ski resorts - Geneva is the main airport but there are flights to other airports. The train is fab, but you need to get to London first, which would be hard on the day (if you get the direct train) and so would involve an additional night in London. You could get the overnight train, but been there done that with kids around the age of yours - and just no Very Happy

Easter is a good time to travel as it is warmer, i remember doing an April trip and chilling in T-shirt and jeans apres ski. France also has higher resorts so longer season and more snowsure

Next up decide how much you want to arrange yourself and how much you want others to sort for you. If youve never skied before a tour operator is a good place to start as they can cater for a lot of various things, and do 'learn to ski' packages and lessons etc. DIY trips are great if you know what you are doing and have time tro research, but right diown to arranging ski hire in the same named shop but 2km away from your accommadation is easily done. As is booking lessons that are in a different village (same resport)

With 3 people you can often do a 3rd bed in a hotel room, half board, which can be pretty cost effective and easier than self catering. Reason I say this is doing breakfsst (eg going for bread etc or whatever) and than managing to get a child dressed, on skis and to ski school is a feat at the best of times (take it from people who know) and so much easier to go to breakfast ready to go, eat and walk out the door. Easter holidays there will be other kids around too, that are likely to be going to the same skiischool etc. Tour operators like Crystal are pretty good in this respect, Ive done Crsytal with kids and it was worth it - and not really more expensive than DIY unless you are happy with Pasta every night in an apartment - We went to Hotel Diva in tignes and it was great, loads of buffet food for the kids, other kids, lift passes sorted and lessons. It was this holiday when I broke my knee and the reps were great, they let me chill in a chalet for the day and did a private transfer down the mouthain as I couldnt sit in a one seat.

Ive also done self catering and driving, beds are always uncomfortable unless you go to a nice aparetmentm, and as 'MUM' all the catering and cleaning does somehow fall to me.

Ive done Ski Espirit, family holidays, which are brilliant when they were younger than yours.

But if I were starting out now, knowing what I now I think I would go basic tour operator like crystal, half board or chalet hotel, to take the stress off.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Kip, welcome to snowHead
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Kip, Welcome to Snowheads!

Nearly 4 years ago (at 43) I took my wife and our 2 children (then 7 and 9) on our first family ski holiday so I will try to pass on some of my experiences.

Firstly, I had skied to a good standard but not for about 20 year! I was amazed at how quickly everything came back and, by the first run, i was pretty well at the same level as I used to be so Mr Kip should be fine. However I do think that was largely because I learnt as a child - hence the reason I wanted to take my kids!

My wife had never skied before but we did give the kids a few months of lessons on our local dry slope prior to our holiday. This helped a lot with general confidence, understanding how to put boots and skis on plus a basic ability to snow plough , turn and stop. They progressed quickly in ski school (with ESF) and were soon skiing reds with us in the afternoons! My eldest had notched up a couple of blacks by the end of the week!!

Our first trip was in March to Les Arcs. I would thoroughly recommend the resort - it worked for all abilities and suits families. it is big, a lot of it is high up, there is tree-lined skiing which is great for snowy days. We were at the Peisey Vallandrey end of the resort and i think that one of the biggest advantages there was the variety of runs - you could start and finish from one point but take a black, red or (very gentle) blue depending upon your confidence.

We went with Esprit who were absolutely brilliant for our kids but probably they (and yours) are at the upper end and not sure if you would benefit hugely.

Things to think about:

Don't spend loads of money on ski stuff you might never use (depending on the weather when you get there) - you can get everything at a good price from somewhere like Decathlon (Aldi, Lidl & TK Maxx also do some really good stuff). layers are more important than quality as you can add/remove as required.

Go late in the season as it is quieter and warmer but make sure you go somewhere with high altitude skiing. Les Arcs is good but higher resorts like Val Thorens or Tignes might suit better if it is really late like Easter next year!

I would choose Tignes over Val Thorens for your levels as there are loads of really nice, gentle, wide runs!

Much of the French resorts are mainly chalets but they can offer very good value for money - some have smaller annexes to main rooms for one or two children - look at all the smaller operators to find suitable accomodation for your number. Val Thorens has a lot of self catering (we are going there in January!) so that would be worth considering if you are looing at that option.

Learning to ski is hard work so don't push yourself. If you think you need an afternoon off the skis then do that and don't let your husband (that was me!) push you into doing more skiing if you don't feel up to it - that'll soon put you off completely!

As well as the skiing, being in the mountains is a great holiday anyway so enjoy the views and snow! That is why I prefer to be staying in one of the higher stations (Tignes, Val Thorens or Arcs 2000) so that, even if you are not skiing you can enjoy the whole atmosphere!

Get some lessons in beforehand but bear in mind when you are struggling on a dry slope that they are not particularly representative of snow and I, as an experienced skier struggle on those surfaces and don't particularly enjoy it. If you can ski on that you will find snow really easy!!

In terms of cost, I am not sure you will benefit hugely from DIY but, with a lot, you can choose to do things like flights, transfers, lift passes, lessons and ski hire through the TO or independently so you can do your own costing exercises to work out the best way. We have always gone out of school holidays and I budget roughly £1,000 per person for everything plus a bit of spending money although that has probably gone up to more like £1,150 now!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I agree with others that Easter would be best for first trip. But bear in mind Easter is used colloquially. School holidays vary in relation to the actual weekend. For example in 2020 Easter Sunday is 12th April but my childrens school break up on April 3rd, so a week earlier.

Either way April 3rd/10th would be fine for your group provided you go somewhere with decent altitude skiing. All ski areas have snow cannons to keep the main runs and links open. That time of the year the days are longer, weather generally better and it's low season so not so expensive/busy.
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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?
@Lucywuk thanks for the advice I have a feeling a lot of the mum stuff would also fall to me! I quite like buffet options as it gives the option of trying lots of different things (in theory!). I'd like it to be as stress free as possible, and know that how we'd do things with child are so different to what we'd do without. I think a lot of it will be convincing Mr Kip that hotels are not the devil's work!
You've also given lots of real world advice, anyone who says, "been there done that with kids around the age of yours - and just no" is pretty much the best advice!

@mad for chelsea, thanks for breaking it down into somewhat more manageable chunks. There's lots of good advice that links up with things Lucywuk says, especially of being aware of things in the same resort but actually 2 km away! I'm passable in French but by no means fluent.

How do ski schools work? Do they group by age or ability or both depending on what you choose? Kip Jr is pretty brave but can be quite shy in new situations and we'd hate to put her in a position where she doesn't want to do something. She responds well to instructors but likes to know we are nearby. I'm happy to learn at the same time/place as her but not in the same lessons. I'd love to say we could just bung her in and tell her to just get on with it but I'm not convinced that would suit her (she's so not like I was as a kid but I had an older brother to emulate/be better than!).

All good advice so far and I'm feeling less apprehensive at putting this together.
Edit: slow typist so also thanks to anyone who posts whilst I'm typing!


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Mon 25-11-19 15:41; edited 1 time in total
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If going at Easter I see no reason not to go in 2020. Still plenty of time to organise it. Crack on is my advice.
snow conditions     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If you've done plenty of DIY holidays yourself doing a ski holiday would be no hardship. Beyond flights, transfer, apartment you just have to get a lift pass, book ski school were required, book kit hire were required. Most of this can be done online well in advance.

Ski school is important. People on here can give recommendations once you've decided where to go.

Flights you'd want to book asap. And then a transfer.

Apartment no big rush but once you've got flights you may aswell get sorted. You can use local tourist office, online listings, local agencies for this.

Kit hire - once you know where you are going just find the shops nearby and book online.
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@Layne, just checked out school dates for next year, that could be feasible.... Very Happy
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Kip, Great idea above from @Lucywuk, re Chalet Hotel - there are a few around and this might be really suitable for you.

Don't be apprehensive - you are doing the right thing and researching beforehand so that is going to stand you in good stead!

Ours spent a few years in the ESF Ski Schools - these were managed by Esprit though and they ensured they were all in the correct groups. From memory they have beginner, improver and intermediate so you would definitely want a beginner lesson to start with.

ESF are not the best (probably the cheapest option though) but ours did fine, however there are a load of really great options out there. My wife did some 1 on 1 lessons with NewGen Ski School in Arcs 2000 who were absolutely amazing! Depending on where you settle on, ask here and you will get some great advice on local ski schools...
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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!
Kip wrote:
How do ski schools work? Do they group by age or ability or both depending on what you choose? Kip Jr is pretty brave but can be quite shy in new situations and we'd hate to put her in a position where she doesn't want to do something. She responds well to instructors but likes to know we are nearby. I'm happy to learn at the same time/place as her but not in the same lessons. I'd love to say we could just bung her in and tell her to just get on with it but I'm not convinced that would suit her (she's so not like I was as a kid but I had an older brother to emulate/be better than!).
Ski schools will group by age and ability as much as is possible. So they would avoid putting the youngest kids with the oldest kids, and shouldn't group adults and kids in the same class. Some of the larger French and Swiss resorts have ski schools run by Brits, with mostly Brit instructors (or those with fluent English) and a large proportion of British clients. This might be a good thing for your daughter, although these schools usually charge a premium compared to other ski schools. You would probably be offered lessons for 5 or 6 days, for 2-4 hours per lesson. This gives plenty of time to ski together as a family outside of lessons.
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Quote:

I'm passable in French but by no means fluent.

I cannot speak a word but get by in French ski resort fine. It is not how it used to be. Now almost everyone in the tourist industry speaks sufficient English. Actually it is the same in Italy, Switzerland and Austria. In Andora every one is British. I have even been given a child in Chile to take up a chair lift who spoke perfect English to me. I had to given back unfortunately.

Ski schools are split into Adult and Children after that they more or less go by ability. So for example you and your husband will be in different adult classes and your daughter in a child's class. You may be moved into different groups as the week progresses so that everyone in the same group skis at the same pace.
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Once again with a moderatly shy/nervous child, I would consider the package option - doesnt have to be a hotel, chalet hotel is a halfway option. My reason for this are other families with other kids of similar ages to yours, and will likely end up in school school together. But you can get packages and self catering too, only I dont think these are such good options, as you lose one of the key benefits of going on a package which is stress free.

Why does your husband think hotels are the devils work? Would he be happier in a chalet hotel or catered chalet?

Secondly, If you are in adults classes and she is in kids classes, you are unlikely to be near each other TBH, unless your husband hangs around and watches the kids lessons. But you will be suprised how far the kids go in just a couple of days. Again with a package they tend to put all the british kids in one group with english speaking instructors, which was great for my kids who were terrified they woudlnt understand teh ski instructor or any of the other children in the class.

Quote:

If you've done plenty of DIY holidays yourself doing a ski holiday would be no hardship. Beyond flights, transfer, apartment you just have to get a lift pass, book ski school were required, book kit hire were required. Most of this can be done online well in advance.

Ski school is important. People on here can give recommendations once you've decided where to go.

Flights you'd want to book asap. And then a transfer.

Apartment no big rush but once you've got flights you may aswell get sorted. You can use local tourist office, online listings, local agencies for this.

Kit hire - once you know where you are going just find the shops nearby and book online.


When you dont know what you are doing, this little lot is daunting to say the least, it can all be done easily online, and yes save a few £. Ive done it like this and managed a feb half term at £1600 ish for 4 by driving, self cater, ski hire and lift passes. £600 ish was lift passes for 2 adults and 2 kids Alpes D'Huez. £100 ferry, £500 apartment, £240 skis and boots (average grades) Plus petrol and tolls. But doesnt include any food, supermarket shopping, catering for 4 for a week, stress of driving, hotel en-route, 2 lessons with private instuctor to get me and kids back on our feet after Id broken my ACL and was nervous. When we finally costed the holiday, we realised that the money saved was a pittance in comparison to the stress of the holiday and since then have gone for catered options in hotels and chalets.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Based on what you've said, you should really try to make the experience as nice as possible, for both you and your daughter. That might include a "quaint" village rather than a prefab resort like Val Thorens or Avoriaz, of which France has many. Also would STRONGLY suggest lessons from an English or Australian instructor (or a foreign teacher who speaks flawless English). You may have to budget more for the above, but if your goal is to make skiing a lifelong family activity, it will be worth it.

My parents poisoned the pot for me by taking us to Zermatt/Garmisch in the late 70s. You should try to make the same "mistake." Smile
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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.
Plenty of good advice already, but one thing I always tell people is to do a half day lesson at least in a snow dome before you go. I'd never skied when we booked our first trip at 25. We did half a day in Milton Keynes, and at the end of that could pretty much snow plough. That put us in the intermediate beginners in resort and was probably worth a week of lessons on the mountain if hadn't bothered. You get a handle on all the basics of getting skis on/off, balance etc. Invaluable I thought.
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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
Lucywuk wrote:
Quote:

If you've done plenty of DIY holidays yourself doing a ski holiday would be no hardship. Beyond flights, transfer, apartment you just have to get a lift pass, book ski school were required, book kit hire were required. Most of this can be done online well in advance.

Ski school is important. People on here can give recommendations once you've decided where to go.

Flights you'd want to book asap. And then a transfer.

Apartment no big rush but once you've got flights you may aswell get sorted. You can use local tourist office, online listings, local agencies for this.

Kit hire - once you know where you are going just find the shops nearby and book online.


When you dont know what you are doing, this little lot is daunting to say the least, it can all be done easily online, and yes save a few £. Ive done it like this and managed a feb half term at £1600 ish for 4 by driving, self cater, ski hire and lift passes. £600 ish was lift passes for 2 adults and 2 kids Alpes D'Huez. £100 ferry, £500 apartment, £240 skis and boots (average grades) Plus petrol and tolls. But doesnt include any food, supermarket shopping, catering for 4 for a week, stress of driving, hotel en-route, 2 lessons with private instuctor to get me and kids back on our feet after Id broken my ACL and was nervous. When we finally costed the holiday, we realised that the money saved was a pittance in comparison to the stress of the holiday and since then have gone for catered options in hotels and chalets.

The OP said her husband had helped organise school trips and that as a couple they'd done lots of "self supported holidays". They only have one child, who is 9yo. So I was merely suggesting that in their case it was very doable. There are plusses and minuses either way with DIY. I am not suggesting they should do one or the other. Merely that both are perfectly possible.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If your budget would stretch, with a child I do suggest looking at a specialist like Esprit - though their prices can get scary in school holidays. That's what we did when our daughter was that sort of age, it meant she was part of a community of other British kids also getting to grips with skiing.

The important thing was that the Esprit staff sorted out all the logistics of getting daughter to ski school, picking her up, organising lunch and if necessary running play activities for the afternoon (I can't remember what age they move from half day to full day tuition for kids). If you are having lessons yourselves, it massively adds to the stress if you also worry about getting back the the pick-up point on time. It may sound excessively hands-off, but believe me it worked brilliantly. Obviously you would plan to do some skiing as a family towards the end of the week.

Of course your husband would have to embrace the chalet holiday lifestyle, at least grit his teeth for a week.

To be honest, I prefer self catering myself, but the benefits of Esprit were well worth having with a primary school age daughter.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I am genuinely taken aback at the wealth of information I have been given in just a few hours, thank you all so much.

I'm going to research the differences between chalet hotels, chalets, hotels etc but know that hubby sometimes finds hotels stressful when he's on holiday. He spends all his working life organised to the minute and around many people so likes the option to get away given a chance!

I like the idea of a half day at MK as well, think that could be a nice way to introduce the idea to Kip Jr and get her used to it.

I think that skiing would be a big part of the holiday but by no means the be all, options to do other things as a family would be good as well.

Lots of thinking and research to do yet, thank you all again.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If it's a first time on a ski trip, might be wiser to join a group or package tour where everything is taken care of; especially if anything goes wrong. Once you get the hang of it you can DIY.

+1 with getting a few lessons indoors before you go (and while you're on holiday) as it will only increase your enjoyment on snow.
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I agree with many comments that Easter hols is a great time to go - warmer weather, sitting in the sun at lunch.

I also agree with @Layne, don't get too caught up with comments about Easter being earlier/later this year/next year. The school holidays don't tend to shift that much. Easter is a week earlier next year but generally the school holidays are at the same time.
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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?
Easter is s good idea but does rule. Out most of the " villagey" places which will probably be full of primroses and/ or mud. For your first family holiday ski convenience trumps most other factors. Accommodation an easy walk in ski boots from the ski school meeting place will save energy and, if budget is tight, heaps of money. Lunch on the mountain can be expensive. Self catering accommodation doesn't mean you can't eat out when you want but feeding and watering kids can be painfully expensive. Catered chalets, with tea provided after skiing are also a good bet with kids. I agree with Mr K's judgement on hotels. I have stayed in many, all over the world, at the taxpayer's expense (working) but I don't like them for holidays. Lolling around in your own place with drinks at supermarket prices and unlimited free coffee and tea on hand 24/7 has a lot to commend it.
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Have a look at Sunweb and choose something with a pool so your child can meet others . Being Easter you'll have to go HIGH. Enjoy!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Agree with @pam w about going high at this time of the year. Not only is it more convenient (which is vital with kids you are trying to get into skiing) but I think that, for kids, pretty chocolate box charm may be nice but nothing beats the magic of being in the snow - and that means ensuring you are above the snowline in April!
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You'll need to Register first of course.
jilly29 wrote:
Have a look at Sunweb and choose something with a pool so your child can meet others . Being Easter you'll have to go HIGH. Enjoy!

We have just booked a self catering apartment via Sunweb in Val Thorens with a pool!!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Layne, absolutely possible. I agree it’s not that hard, and it gives options. No one way is perfect that’s for sure. I was simply thinking of the holidays my kids enjoyed most, which meant we enjoyed them. They liked being around other british kids, which meant packages worked better. When they were teens we did self catering in the feb half term, and that worked too, but I found it a lot more work actually on holiday as ‘mum’ meant I had to plan food and cook it mainly. Not saying they didn’t help, but what 13 and 11 year old can think beyond biscuits after skiing? And making 4 lots of sandwiches/cereal bar lunches and making sure bread wasn’t stale etc Eating out is option when self catering but even pizza or creperie for 4 is at least €50+ And similar to eat lunch up the mountain.
I found the cost savings of DIY were outweighed by the additional work needed.
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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!
As a teacher booking in school holidays I have spent a lot of time researching. In my experience DIY only saves money in Feb half term. At Xmas and Easter there are great deals to be had with big TOs such as crystal and neilson, as a couple I’ve never paid more than £500 pp for a half board package, I just monitor the prices and book at the right time. I would suggest Andorra, I prefer Grandvalira over Vallnord though I don’t think it matters for beginners. Both places are very British, all brits in the ski schools, food on the mountain is very cheap and kid friendly (burgers/sandwiches/chips), hire a locker by a lift so no need to carry skis everywhere. I’ve found it much quieter on the slopes compared to the big french resorts such as Tignes.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
DIY is not necessarily (if at all) about money.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I agree. DIY gives you a hugely greater choice of both resorts and accommodation.
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