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Ideas for a doable ski trip with a baby

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
With little else to occupy me other than changing nappies and burping, my thoughts have turned to future snow adventures with our new little angel/monster. It goes without saying that 2022 would be the earliest this would happen.

There are plenty of historic and very helpful threads on here offering good advice, but they predominantly focus on the French experience. We have a slight preference for Austria and Italy when it comes to skiing (had some great times in France too mind) so I was wondering if any fellow snowheads had any positive experiences to offer in these countries and any resort recommendations where meeting up for lunch, non-skiing activities worked out for you.

Since I coaxed my other half into skiing about four years ago, we have been to Saalbach, Val Gardena, Madonna di Campiglio and St Anton (plus a couple of others) - none of which would seem to me to be good value-for-money choices with a little one - basically far too much terrain for our needs.

Or maybe we should just forget it for a few years? Or maybe France is best, not the least due to a shorter drive from the UK? All thoughts welcome!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I think some ski resorts offer one ski pass , that can be shared between partners, ie one partner minds Junior in the Am, while the other skis.


Vice Versa in the afternoon
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That sound promising - I have a vague recollection that this is frowned upon in Italy, but maybe Austria is different.
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Quote:
Do you have friends with a similar aged baby who might like to join you and share child care? Much more enjoyable, sociable, holiday. Or grandparents? Alternatively, though I've never stayed in one (could never have afforded it) one of those Austrian hotels which specialises in looking after kids. They sound ideal, though not a cheap option.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@pam w Sensibly, most of our friends had babies around 15 years ago! My other half's parents came to Saalbach with us last Christmas and loved it, so may come along. I wouldn't want them to miss their skiing too much though.
Will look into the kinder hotel option too, thanks.
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Kennel it with its grandparents & enjoy yourself for a week!
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Intriguing idea @Gordyjh, thanks Very Happy
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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!
@Valluga, in his 1st year, we took our son skiing with us twice, so just go for it! Thankfully, he was and still is, pretty easy-going and you need to judge what you need according to how yours is. I would strongly suggest that you put your "little angel/monster" into some sort of all-day child-care which probably puts you in the realm of operators such as Esprit, Crystal, etc. that are set up for this but there were some smaller operators as well but goodness knows if they're still around/survived. I would emphasize also that it's a holiday for both of you and doing solo mornings/afternoons with a lunchtime changeover doesn't really sound like one if you want to spend time together and travel some distance. Also, unless the resort specifically permits it, trying to use just one lift pass and swapping at lunchtime runs the risk of it being confiscated unless you both wear the same helmet, goggles/glasses and jacket. You're usually photographed when the pass is 1st used and it then will flash up at the lift station when you go through the gate; just make sure of the Ts&Cs.

You never know, by the time you can go skiing again, there may be a second little angel/monster to factor in wink
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Quote:

My other half's parents came to Saalbach with us last Christmas and loved it, so may come along. I wouldn't want them to miss their skiing too much though.

That sounds hopeful! With any luck you could organise yourselves so that you all got some skiing and some baby-minding. How old would the baby be? I have been a skiing grandmother a lot - and also had my mother (as a non skier) along on our first family ski holiday, when daughter was 4. She loved it. She cooked us all lunch and I cooked dinners. She introduced our sons (who were 9 and 11.... Shocked ) to Baileys. They called it bay leaves and were given tiny sips with their dinner. That was a budget trip - but two weeks. We took a pressure cooker and carefully thought out food (to a self catering apartment in Austria) and had hired skis from a place in Ayr, and wrapped them in a couple of pink candlewick bedspreads. My 11 year old, detailed to go and find the skis, was mortified by the bedspreads, in amongst all the cool Head bags. Laughing It was a lot cheaper than hiring them in Austria. They were probably rubbish, but we were all beginners and didn't know any better.
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When they are tiny it can be easier! We used to take #1 in a bassinet buggy wrapped in furs, fleece blankets etc. She would sleep for 2-3 hours outside while we took turns skiing.

We don't talk (much) about the time at Chamrousse when the buggy got loose and she rolled off down a slope with a huge crowd screaming and yelling! Rescued by the ESF. One of those times you really want a Eurotest qualified ski instructor around Very Happy
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We’ve enjoyed skiing both in Civetta and Pozza di Fassa, both in the Dolomites. They are 7 and 4 now but both went skiing at 8 weeks old. Always gone with family/friends which definitely helps make the trip easier.

Civetta is great because of the short transfer (just an hour from Venice) and it’s a small ski area. But there is not much else to do. We’ve found it perfect for a short-break. Pozza di Fassa is a bigger village, has a swimming pool, little land train, more shops etc but it is a 3 hour drive from Venice. Also probably harder to meet up for lunches. We’ve always gone self-catering in an apartment so we can be totally flexible.

Happy planning!
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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.
@Valluga, we did this many times, mostly very positive. Three times we used local resort crèches. Les Gets and Val D’Isere were very good. La Plagne was poor.

When son was a little bit older we used one in Arcs 1950 and that seemed good for babies/toddlers. If using local crèches advance checking of reviews and other due diligence essential I’d say.

We tended to ski nearer to base and dropped in to the crèche at least 3 times a day, often more frequently. So the big day out tours from one end of area to the other were dropped. Some days one or both of us would miss skiing and spend time playing in snow, on a sledge, riding around on land train, going to swim pool.

Once son reached about 5 years old we found Ski Esprit to be very good and were regulars for a few years. Also used a couple of family oriented French hotels, which had kids club activities. Other child friendly TOs are available at different price points. Obviously their high ratio staffing costs mean none are cheap.

Have fun!
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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
We've used both Espritski and Skifamille which incidentally are based in my home town (or where Esprit have moved to Godalming). No real bad experiences other than usual chalet staff hit and miss. Childcare was always top notch and in chalet which is most important.

As expected both have slimmed down operations currently but Esprit still have Chamboluc in Italy, or alternatively you could go to La Rosiere and ski to La Thuile every day for a Lavazza. It's a real drag though.

My favourite location with either was Plagne 1800, stayed in Chalet Nicole great little location selection of decent restaurants and Bar La Mine which served really good local beers my favourite being Piste Basher bitter.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Said it several times, from my bad experience - be very clear before the trip starts who is doing what and who expects what.

We went with extended family, assuming they'd look after the baby. They assumed they'd spend nice days at leisure. Result - some awkward moments and a fair bit of frustration. Rather a flop.

Next time we went, without extended family, I assumed I was going on a snow holiday and I'd be pleased to get some skiing in occasionally, eg 1-2 days out of 5. Conclusion - it was a great holiday, very successful.

The point is, I did about the same amount of skiing both times.

Good luck.
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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 don't think you should forget skiing completely, but perhaps adjust to changed circumstances and preferences. From what you've said, it's you who is the keen skier and perhaps your partner could take it or leave it. In which case take a welcome and deserved break and go by yourself with someone else. Perhaps just for a long weekend to start with. Then reciprocate with your partner doing the same with something of their choosing (which might just be a weekend away with friends). My wife did this at a similar point in time to yours, and went away with her sister and sister-in-law for a few nights, leaving me to handle everything back home, where there was already a comfortable routine in place for our daughter. I'm not advising against all travel as a family, but you might prefer to do it in the summer, when a lot of the mechanics are easier. And a short-break Weekend should be easier to organise at the last minute than a week en famille in advance.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Valluga, Salzburg Snowsapce in Austria started doing a "young family" ski pass this year that can be shared between two parents with a non-skiing toddler. See here: https://www.snow-space.com/en/winter/skitickets/family-offers. There are loads of valley based non-skiing options for whomever is baby-sitting and easy Cable Car or Bubble options to get up to mid-level for lunch meets or swapovers. I'd go for self-catering as one of you will always be able to shop.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

We went with extended family, assuming they'd look after the baby

Shocked Shocked Shocked
Quote:

We don't talk (much) about the time at Chamrousse when the buggy got loose and she rolled off down a slope with a huge crowd screaming and yelling! Rescued by the ESF. One of those times you really want a Eurotest qualified ski instructor around

Laughing Laughing Laughing
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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?
We also went with ours when small using Espirit. Our eldest had his first birthday at an Espirit chalet in Courchevel, and his brother was 7 months when he had his first taste of the mountains. We used Espirit and Ski Familie ski package providers for a few years until the kids were older and they loved it, but they were used to being around other kids at nursery. IMV its well worth the extra cost to go with one of the specialists for your own piece of mind knowing that the kids are happy and being well cared for by registered child care, and the trip is geared up around the children, to the point that Espirit used to have a section of Chambery Airport dedicated to them on transfer day so there was always a place for the kids to play, eat, change small ones, etc when the rest of the airport would regularly descend into carnage.

I don't know how these have fared off the back of the "B-word" or how many will still be operating post Covid, but if it's in your financial reach, I'd recommend it.
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Check out Sefaus-Fiss-Ladis if you like Austria.
Absolutely geared up for families - in fact it is specifically planned/designed/run with that ethos in mind. I was impressed with the attention given to facilitating families moving around (and up the hill..dedicated gondola access in separate queues for pushchairs and so on). You should maybe check out their website. I didn't go with kids so won't say anything more. But the very fact I felt a bit overwhelmed sometimes by the 'attention to kiddie stuff (no offence : wink and lack of attention to adult stuff -pretty much complete absence of apres ski) probably means they have succeeded and are not just paying lip service to family skiing. Oh ..and the skiing is great if you got the chance -comparable with Ishgl for example (unsurprising since it is very close)
But my guess is that it would be more costly than going with a TO.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Go somewhere that a foot passenger can meet you for lunch on the slopes, so maybe La Thuile where you can go up the Gondola (I've seen people with buggies) and meet for lunch. In La Thuile the blue pistes that run down to the top of the gondola are really gentle, so you could easily walk up to higher restaurants with baby in buggy or sling. Cyrstal certainly used to have a creche there. OR, just a thought, have you considered leaving the baby behind? When our children were babies we left them at home in the safe care of my sister and their cousins, then we could happily ski all day together and not be worrying about getting back for creches or having to ski in shifts. I know that is a very personal decision but a ski holiday with a baby doesn't suit everyone!
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@trmacc, my point exactly!
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Orange200 wrote:
Said it several times, from my bad experience - be very clear before the trip starts who is doing what and who expects what.


That's a very valid point that could also be used for other things in life e.g. marriage

Seriously, best to plan everything around your baby and your other half - shopping (major town nearby?), Swimming (thermal baths nearby?). Happy wife, happy life.
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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!
Val d'Anniviers has a specific pass for parents with a small child that allows the parents to alternate between a ski pass and a pedestrian pass. The pedestrian pass gives access to two flat areas, Bendolla and Sorebois, that would probably be enjoyable for a toddler to play in the snow and explore. The lift linking Grimentz and Zinal, which is suitable for pedestrians, is more of an experience than most ski lifts and Grimentz itself is very pretty. There are definitely worse options.

https://www.i-g.ch/en/our-special-packages/families/young-parents-package
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Feel like I've got some experience here that can help...

We have two children (Now 1 yo and 3.5 yo) - the eldest has been to Zermatt (2 months old), Flaine (14 months old) and Morzine (2yo), the youngest was just 5 weeks when we went to Morzine! For us the key has been grandparents who are happy skiing half days and helping out at other times. My wife and I rarely ski together (maybe an hour here and there) and usually agree that we'll do morning or afternoon each day with a grandparent helping too. By end the of the week when everyone starts getting tired legs I usually start to volunteer to go skiing for longer Very Happy

I'd say easy of access to the slopes is the biggest thing you can do to make it worthwhile - if you do what we do then you won't be going off for huge day trips. You want to get on the mountain from your accom. as fast as possible. Zermatt was a bit of a pain for this as the walking form the hotel / getting to altitude wasn't fast. The year before with no children we loved it and didn't notice the 'time tax' getting to/from the slopes. Our hotel in Flaine was on the snow and the apartment in Morzine was practically at the Pleney lift. Both of these were ideal as I could easily nip out for 2 hours and actually spend Mose of it skiing not in transit!

You do have to change what you are expecting from a ski trip - I used to be a first lift / last down kinda guy.. not at the moment! It'll come back once the boys start skiing themselves. We've never looked in to childcare as can't imagine our kids taking kindly to it - it took the oldest 6mo to get used to nursery at home!

We have taken flights each time but every time we do it I think 'next time I'm driving!'. With ski gear (all of it..) and baby clobber it's quite hard to pack / carry all the luggage through airports. Once my kids are old enough to endure a night in the car seat I'm going to do overnight drives I think, maybe next year.

Just remember all is not lost! We've had great ski trips with the children/babies whilst friends have said 'never again' having been with theirs. You just have to be realistic about what you can do essentially!
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@DB, why do you assume the other half is female and that all she needs to keep happy is to go shopping and swimming, she might want to go heli-skiing and bob sleighing for all we know Puzzled Laughing
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trmacc wrote:
@DB, why do you assume the other half is female and that all she needs to keep happy is to go shopping and swimming, she might want to go heli-skiing and bob sleighing for all we know Puzzled Laughing

Another valid point and yes you are right, works both ways. (in my defence I did write "other half" and shopping / swimming is not restricted to females)

I just assumed the fairer sex don't burp or at least don't admit it on the internet.

Valluga wrote:
With little else to occupy me other than changing nappies and burping


...... plus "husband" doesn't rhyme with "life".


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Mon 18-01-21 15:45; edited 4 times in total
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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.
@DB, Laughing Laughing
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We've done this loads! My 2p....

- on the lift pass, you generally only need a photo on the longer duration tickets. So it is easier to swop 2-3 day passes which (in my experience ) aren't named.
- you really need to be properly ski in, ski out, as others have said. Surprising how much more skiing you can wring out if you are.
- you also want proper skiing right on the doorstep. I'd discount somewhere like Avoriaz, which is ski in but a bit of a faff if you only want to do one run, and look instead at the likes of la plagne, Les arcs, VT etc. Or whichever village in Tignes is directly under the grand motte (name escapes me).
- Austria is trickier because there's not as much ski in / ski out. Some bits of Lech could work; I'd also consider hochsolden and obergurgl. I love Serfaus but maybe hold that until it's a bit older - you do need to walk to / from the base of the lifts and there is no accom on the skiing proper. Also have a look at Damuels - some lovely ski hotels there right in the middle of the area.

Try and get somewhere with a balcony and a swimming pool / spa.

Mainly, tho, give it a go! We've done it with 3 of ours (the youngest was 2 weeks old ...) and it was great!

(NB you can also throw money at the problem and esprit / mark Warner it (or go to a kinderhotel in Austria). If that is you are happy to handover a small small person. But we do quite enjoy putting it together ourselves. You still get a lot of skiing in when done properly, and the only big loss we've found is you can't ski together.)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
pam w wrote:
Quote:

We went with extended family, assuming they'd look after the baby

Shocked Shocked Shocked

yes it doesn't read well does it... went with my wife's side of the family, to whom I don't really talk as we don't share a language. None of them had ever skied before or expressed any interest in it. I had left all arrangements regarding them to my wife, for the language reason, and it seemed the discussion me-her wasn't fully transferred across her-them.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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I went to Plagne Soleil (staying in the ski-to-door Les Granges du Soleil apartments - it's got a pool) with a <2 yr old a few years ago, and my parents came along too. My wife and I skied in the morning, then took the boy for a swim before lunch while my parents skied (they're in their 70s so an hour or so was enough for them), then in the afternoon we either managed to sneak out for a few more runs, or go sledging (we hired a very solid one from a ski hire place). I think his favourite bit was getting the free bus between bits of the resort!

Was it the best skiing holiday I've ever had? No. Was it the most child-friendly holiday ever? Also no. Was it worth it? Yes. The slopes were quiet out of school holidays, the pool was empty at the times we went, and sledging was great fun too.

Now that his little brother will be in school* from this September I'm vaguely planning our first full family, school half term ski hol.

*covid-permitting

(hi everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster!)
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@parttimer, welcome!

and @Ryanbakewell52, also welcome, I think in the enthusiasm to respond, we forgot our snowheads manners!
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Thanks everyone for some great advice - too many to tag in, except @DB...I meant burp the baby rather than myself (ok you probably knew this Very Happy ) and Mrs Valluga did always like to be the last off the mountain, even though she's quite new to it. I was normally happy for a beer at about 16.30.

A lot to consider and probably at least a year to do it in.
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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?
@Valluga, I have a 4yr old and a 1yr old and I cannot stress this enough. Get a nanny in resort. They are ANGELS sent from heaven, you can flex what times they are there (including evening babysitting etc.) and the kids LOVE them. I really like the kinder hotel concept (we were booked in Galtur last March - never got to go) but for a 1yr old it would be a bit hardcore and we planned to use the daycare on and off.
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Why the flying f**k does anyone want to take ankle snappers who are too young to ski on a skiing holiday? The operative word being “holiday”
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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@Gordyjh, because my desire to ski didn’t die at the same time I pushed a baby out of me and I want them to ski better than most adults ever will by starting when they’re little.
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A valid point though@Gordyjh, I think it's a combination of missing the skiing (aren't we all?) and not wanting to be without the creature for too long (admittedly it's early days Very Happy )
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@Valluga, @Gordyjh, it's a very personal decision, we left ours to go skiing when they were babies but am lucky enough to have sister who I trust implicitly and with whom I've shared childcare since hers were babies. Didn't miss them a jot whilst actually on the slopes but couldn't get home fast enough after last run!
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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!
@Valluga, Please, please, please ..................... whatever you chooose. .......... choose France!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woke families with Mini-Me agendas should seriously look at their cumulative CO2 footprint!
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My parents skied between me & my sister & after her until I had my 5th birthday in Hinterglemm. I feel many parents forget to look after their own well-being!

I dodged the bullet myself...
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Takes me back! We went with daughter when she was 6 months old in a chalet with nanny on-site. I have to say the positives (feeling adult and putting on skis) only just outbalanced the negatives (baby issues with feeding, sleeping, etc in a strange environment). But psychologically it was important to prove to ourselves it was possible if not relaxing.

But 3 months later we went on an approximately equivalent summer trip (Neilson dinghy sailing). Whether it was because we had learned from the previous ski trip, or baby was that bit older, it was the most fantastic thing we did at that early stage. Daughter settled right into childcare (no doubt warmer weather helped), we actually felt we were on a real adult relaxing holiday sailing dinghies (and sometimes rather spectacularly capsizing them). So much so that re-booked to go to the exact same place again later in the season.

The following winter we were rather much more confident, again did a chalet with childcare, and had a great time if never venturing too far from base. And skiing definitely returned to being an annual activity, albeit with significantly greater cost and less flexibility than before.

Of the companies we used then, only Esprit now seems to still exist and do childcare that way. But (and I'm not sponsored by them) I have to say they did have a pretty good system with kids as they grew older, organising lessons with selected instructors and arranging activities around that, so that she got a great start skiing. We are now very aware of our shortcomings!

Whatever you decide, have fun!
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