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Christmas with teens - on a budget - ideas please

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We'd love to get away next Christmas with our teens (14 & 18 - both need own room). Looking for suggestions to do this for around £6k all in. Some of the Austrian resorts seem good value - St Johann in Tyrol, Nierdau - or maybe Italy - eg Canazei. I'd love some recommendations for somewhere traditional-looking & scenic, realistic chance of snow at Christmas, geared to low intermediates. After 2 years of messy cancellations of DIY bookings (of things we can no longer afford), the prospect of a package is appealling, but totally open to suggestions about tour operators/resorts/dos & don'ts. This will be our first family ski holiday, so we're a bit in the dark. Thanks in advance everyone.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, I would recommend Sunweb for the Accomodation element, as noticed that with a lot of places it doesn't ramp up quite so badly having a single person in a room with them.
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You ought to be able to get quite a lot for that money, although I guess that's to include all food? And drinks as well?

Anyway, in the grandest internet tradition of recommending one's own product, check out Morgins and our apartments, the largest of which is currently[1] much less than half your budget for the Christmas week, so would leave you over 3.5k for flights, transfers (we can arrange) and food and drink. Even if you ate out every night you're going to be well under that amount, and if you're happy to cook then the costs can be drastically reduced.

The PdS can pretty much guarantee skiing at Christmas, and the local access from the Morgins chairlifts in both directions has been open well before Christmas for the last five years since we've been here. Lots of cruisy runs available, lots of choice. Largest linked ski resort in the world? I'm not sure they still make that claim, but at over 600km of piste it's huge, and guests who were unable to ski into France the previous two seasons have been impressed by the scale of 'just' the Swiss side of the resort, which only looks small on a piste map by comparison with the total area including Avoriaz, Morzine, Chatel etc. etc.

Charming traditional style village, enough restaurants and bars but not a noisy nightlife scene, but Chatel is just a five minute taxi-ride away if that's what you're wanting.


[1] It's priced as it is now with just one bathroom, will increase the rate if/when the planned second bathroom can be guaranteed, depending on other improvement work. Other apartment/studios somewhat less than that.
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Welcome to Snowheads, @Fallsover @ Drop of Hat. snowHead Your budget is to include everything, included hiring skis and boots, and ski passes? You say it's your first family holiday but presumably, as you are looking for somewhere for "low intermediates", you can all ski?
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, welcome to snowHeads snowHead

Christmas falls on a Sunday, this year, so I’m guessing a Saturday to Saturday week is your choice? My guess is that this week may be a little more expensive, as opposed to when Christmas Day falls on a weekday. However, your budget sounds doable.

It’s relatively early in the season but, in the 6 years I’ve lived in Austria, the skiing has been good at this time (our local area is 700m to 1500m by way of example)

Traditional Austrian towns/ski resorts: there are many that I’m sure would suit your needs….Maria Alm, Niederau, Flachau, Altenmarkt (Zauchensee) just for starters. Given this is your first family ski trip, there’s probably no need to go to a huge ski area with the associated higher ski pass costs, especially as you’ve stated you’re lower intermediate skiers.

My tip? Have a look at Bad Mitterndorf/Tauplitz. The main ski area is quite high (just in case it’s a slow snow start to the season), there are loads of blue runs, including one longish run back to Bad Mittendorf (download options too). The town (Bad Mittendorf) has a traditional feel about it. The valley offers some stunning scenery.

I’m sure there will be plenty of other opinions and advice along soon. Good luck Very Happy .
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, welcome to snowHeads! snowHead

In Austria Zell am See might be worth considering. It's got a nice lakeside setting and they have a traditional Xmas market in the main square. There's glacier skiing available at nearby Kaprun if the snow conditions should be poor. It's also now linked to the extensive skiing area of Saalbach Hinterglemm.
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@NickyJ, @Chaletbeauroc, the OP said they want a package, not DIY.

@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat,check out the options for your dates on a booking consolidator like Igluski to see what's available package-wise from your desired departure airport, but then Google the accommodation name to find out which Tour Op is offering it and book direct with them for the easiest recourse in case of problems and needing refunds/reschedules, etc

A lot of resorts in Austria are rustic and scenic and you don't need a huge ski area with pricey liftpass if you are low intermediates.

Canazei is a good value option for the Sella Ronda. Snowmaking there ensures good piste coverage at Xmas even when natural snow is sparse and it's certainly spectacularly scenic, but the full Dolomiti Superski liftpass isn't cheap. £6k should cover it easily though!! wink
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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!
@luigi, sunweb does offer package hence suggesting them!

ETA they only have a few prices up at the moment but more will come available over time, prices include lift pass and you can book flights, lessons, ski hire etc all as part of package if you chose
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, Here's your link to the Sunweb place in Flachau. Super chalets and great location. Everything included except Lessons and Ski Hire (for which I recommend Sport am Jet in Flachau). £980pp for 24-31 Dec 22. Self-catering but why pay huge amounts just for cooking? Lunch on the Mountains 20% cheaper than France (especially with Teenagers!). Plenty of Restaurants and eating places within walking distance.
https://www.sunweb.co.uk/ski/austria/ski-amade/salzburger-sportwelt-ski-amade/flachau/alpenchalets-flachauer-gutshof?Participants%5B0%5D%5B0%5D=1992-03-20&Participants%5B0%5D%5B1%5D=1992-03-20&Participants%5B0%5D%5B2%5D=1992-03-20&Participants%5B0%5D%5B3%5D=1992-03-20&Duration%5B0%5D=8&Mealplan=LG&Month=2022-12-01&TransportType=SelfDrive&Allocation=2
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Wow! Thanks for all the great suggestions. Some of the Austrian resorts sound perfect, just the sort of picturesque place I had in mind - I'm getting really excited about going. And thanks for all the positive comments about £6k being realistic - I was beginning to doubt myself. I like the idea of "reverse engineering" to find out who's behind the packages on Igluski etc - will definitely try that, and look at SunWeb. I like the idea that we can book our own flights, as I still have a BA voucher from our failed attempts to go skiing last Christmas and the one before.

Yes, we can all ski - my husband lived in Canada for a while and is quite good. The children had a few goes in Milton Keynes and a couple of days ski school in NZ, by which time they were far better than me. I am embarrassingly slow, but as a parent of teens I feel it's part of my job description to be embarrassing, so I embrace it...
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, budget for a quick private lesson for you and kids (separately) at the start. Learning to ski is a life long thing and it will keep you all much safer on the slopes.
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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.
I know you've said you wanted a package, but if you're prepared to DIY then we've done 2 Christmas hols to Cervinia in Italy for probably half your budget (family of 5). Its not a big deal to sort car hire / accommodation / passes etc in resort. Worth a look at the AirBnBs (we had a 4 bedroomed apartment last time about 5 mins from the lifts), ate out each evening and lunch, although did "cater" for breakfast.
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With four of you, driving will almost certainly be by far the cheapest way of getting to the Alps.
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You know it makes sense.
Andorra
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You have a few conflicting things going on which means compromise:

So you have a tight/limited budget but two teens who won't share a room. One of the best ways to get a budget holiday is to go to a smaller ski area but see next point.

Your hubby sounds like he is far more experienced than the other 3. But the teens will probably improve very quickly which might then you leave you as the issue being a pootler Happy But if hubby buys into the trip being a bit limited for him going to going to a smaller ski area where the accommodation will be better value for money and ski passes/hire much cheaper. I am guessing you will all be hiring kit?

Another train of thought...

Where do you live, do you have the option to drive the Alps or only fly? What airports and therefore routes are an option? Some people live in far flung corners of the UK and so have to compromise a little.

Also, how do you normally holiday as a family. Do you tend to DIY/Self Cater or are you more Hotel people?

Christmas can be a bit tricky conditions wise. In a really bad year some lower resorts may not have much snow but equally it can be fantastic. We've been skiing Christmas every year since 2010 iirc. It's not the priciest/busiest school holiday week (that would Feb HT and New Year week) but it's not as cheap as non school holiday weeks or even Easter.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Our budget was always limited but everybody loved skiing and knew that we had to keep down costs. The kids (who definitely had to share rooms with siblings/cousins - one chalet hotel we went to had an 8-bunk dorm where the package including hired gear "free" for 8 kids sharing that room) had some pocket money for the week and could choose whether to buy chips and a drink for lunch or take themselves a cheese roll, or starve - by that age they didn't much ski with us. We generally cooked for ourselves but if we ate out, had a pizza or pasta, or pushed the boat out for something nicer, they knew better than to expect more than a main course. Catered chalet holidays were good - pretty basic chalets, but always that big tea at the end of the ski day, which meant we could go without lunch, and free wine with supper. It always irked me that the younger children had to pay quite a bit for their drinks with supper, but a chalet "honesty bar" was useful for beers and for mixers with the duty free gin.

But however careful you are, ski holidays are expensive!! Unforgettable family fun though.

One holiday we went by coach (that was Snowcoach, with the 8-bed bunk room) and the kids moaned a bit at the thought. I pointed out to the older two that they had enough in their savings to pay the difference to fly. They declined. Laughing
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat,
Tour operator Mark Warner used to do 'no kids' weeks that allowed teens on. One of the weeks was the week before Xmas.
Don't know if they still do them, but if so it might work for you as there would likely be a range of skiing abilities in the chalet-hotel & other teens too.
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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?
Quote:

One holiday we went by coach (that was Snowcoach, with the 8-bed bunk room) and the kids moaned a bit at the thought. I pointed out to the older two that they had enough in their savings to pay the difference to fly. They declined.

That's just genius!! Will definitely store that tip for future use Laughing
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Thanks Layne
Quote:

the teens will probably improve very quickly which might then you leave you as the issue being a pootler But if hubby buys into the trip being a bit limited for him going to going to a smaller ski area where the accommodation will be better value for money and ski passes/hire much cheaper. I am guessing you will all be hiring kit?

Yes, they will improve, and I will pootle. That's fine.
A smaller ski area would also be fine (Milton Keynes is pretty limited tbh!) as long as it still has snow at Christmas. Yes, we will be renting gear; the only thing we already have is helmets.
Quote:

Where do you live, do you have the option to drive the Alps or only fly?

We're in the southeast, so could theoretically drive, but the thought fills me with dread - partly because or the time it takes, but mostly because of the pictures of queues at the channel ports and the prospect of driving up a mountain on an ice road (I'm sure I'm over dramatising, but still..). Train would be great, but it seemed to be more expensive than flying.
Do you tend to DIY/Self Cater or are you more Hotel people?
We've previously mostly self-catered, but I'm a bit concerned about rocking up on Christmas eve and finding the shops shut and restaurants closed or fully booked. I would like to be in a hotel/chalet if poss, but we would definitely self-cater if it made the difference between skiing and staying at home.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

budget for a quick private lesson for you and kids (separately) at the start

Definitely will do that - for our sake and for anyone else who's on the slopes at the time. Laughing
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Quote:

Do you tend to DIY/Self Cater or are you more Hotel people?

We do all sorts, between us. Probably mostly DIY, but not necessarily self-catered. Lots who drive. Self-catering doesn't mean lots of hard work - it can just mean sampling a range of restaurants rather than being stuck with whatever a hotel throws at you. And yes, you definitely need to book a restaurant for Christmas Eve!

Lots of advice here about driving - timing, etc - and Christmas isn't nearly as busy for driving as half term. Yes, train will cost more than flying and a lot more than driving.

Driving isn't for everyone, especially if kids are intolerant of long journeys.

A package is easier in many ways of course, especially for a first family holiday, but you will have a lot less choice - British tour operators offer a limited range of accommodation in a limited range of resorts. Where do you live in the UK?

You could do worse than look into Club Med - all in, including lessons if you want them (which would probably be a good idea for the kids - all week - as they won't want to be stuck to your pace, but neither will they be competent to be let loose on the mountain on their own). Expensive, but you'd have very few extras to pay.
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Quote:

Do you tend to DIY/Self Cater or are you more Hotel people

It's been quite a while since I've stayed in a hotel on a ski trip. TBH I don't really like staying in a tiny room in a hotel while on holiday. Self catering is IMHO much more relaxed and flexible.

If you are in the South East of England then driving takes about the same time as flying door to door and gives you the flexibilty to take whatever you want (with the exception of food of course) and time it exactly as you want.

Yes, the shops shut early on Christmas eve and the resaurants will be expensive and require booking, but everything will be open and back to normal the next day.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, in regard of smaller ski areas we've skied La Norma which is decent. Les Contamines would be good for your group. I've not skied it but I've a mate who has and Valmeiner is worth looking at.
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Fallsover @ Drop of Hat wrote:
Yes, we will be renting gear; the only thing we already have is helmets.

The reason I ask is because 1) that's one less hassle/possible cost to eliminate if flying and 2) it's another thing that can be a bit cheaper in smaller ski areas.

Fallsover @ Drop of Hat wrote:
We're in the southeast, so could theoretically drive, but the thought fills me with dread - partly because or the time it takes, but mostly because of the pictures of queues at the channel ports and the prospect of driving up a mountain on an ice road (I'm sure I'm over dramatising, but still..).

It's an advantage being in the South East for sure. The time it takes isn't so bad. Going through check in and airport security fills me with dread. There are different ways to do the driving. You can drive overnight which is what we generally do. If you share the driving you can get some sleep, you will have a clear road. Or you can take a bit more time and stay in a Hotel overnight (small hit to the budget). Either way you can get in a couple of extra days skiing.

The mountain roads are rarely an issue. There are well cleared and gritted. It helps if you have winter tyres and you will need to have chains for the odd occasion the snow is heavy.

Fallsover @ Drop of Hat wrote:
Train would be great, but it seemed to be more expensive than flying.

For 4 people it's hard to beat driving because of course the costs are fixed and the more it's shared the better. Unless you have a particular large/small car 4 is the optimum. Flying v train really depends as both tickets fluctuate. A bit like driving it can be possible to get overnight trains (last year it was package only I believe) which gets the extra days skiing. Flying it's very difficult to do that.

Fallsover @ Drop of Hat wrote:
Do you tend to DIY/Self Cater or are you more Hotel people?
We've previously mostly self-catered, but I'm a bit concerned about rocking up on Christmas eve and finding the shops shut and restaurants closed or fully booked. I would like to be in a hotel/chalet if poss, but we would definitely self-cater if it made the difference between skiing and staying at home.

We self cater. It's cheaper and more flexible. My wife is not keen in eating in restaurants night after night. Nothing against those that do. People are different. Because we drive we do a supermarket shop in the valley Saturday morning before driving up but while a bit more costly the ski stations will always have a shop to buy provisions. I've never done but yes Christmas Eve you would need to book. But aside from that things are normal in a ski resort. Everything open and functioning.
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Not sure if it helps but we went to Valmeinier 1800 for Easter this year, second week of April that is so last week of the skiing season there. We booked with Snowtrex and it was a smooth experience from start to finish. We drove from Reading to Dover got the ferry with DFDS. Drive was good just a little over 10 hours with some quick breaks. Vouchers from Snowtrex were accepted for accommodation, ski hire and ski passes. Snow was decent but not so nice in the afternoon but we did have really warm weather. I believe all lifts were open still. Very decent green run for starters and plenty of blues and reds to choose from. We paid around £800 for accommodation, ski hire and ski passes, ferry was around £140 two fuel tanks one way and toll roads about 100 euros. Roads on the mountain were free from snow or ice. I had all season tyres on my car with set of snow chains in the boot just in case. If you're going around Christmas time then I would think winter tyres are a must. I think we spent another 1000 on food and eating out so all in all a very cheap skiing break in the Alps.
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Thanks for all the tips and advice. We've now booked and are really looking forward to it. As you wisely said, it's about finding the bits you're willing to compromise on to save money, and this will be slightly different for everyone. In case it helps anyone else skimming through in the future, here's what we went with:

Package vs DIY: DIY
Destination: Niederau Austria. Accommodation and ski passes are relatively cheap here. It looks scenic and more than enough slopes for our level of skiing.
Accommodation: Self catering apartment, but we plan on having some dinners out, including Christmas day. Restaurants are open, and if the restaurant owner thought I was insane for booking over 6 months ahead, he was polite enough not to say so! I've got round the problem of arriving on 24th when food shops are closed by finding accommodation that runs Fri-Fri. Hopefully this also means we'll be picking up skis etc on a less busy day.
Travel: Flying (couldn't face self-drive) but we're flying into Munich, which saved us £1000 compared to Innsbruck. As I booked it myself, I was able to use our £800 BA voucher from last year's cancelled trip, so flights were "free". We'll do a taxi transfer in, but train on the way back to save more.
Lessons: Will do these on about 3 days for the 3 of us that need it. Probably do a private group lesson, as the 14 year old would be a "child" and in the local ski school, but won't want to join in the pirate day and broomstick riding they offer as part of the course.(looks great for little ones though)

Thanks again for all the great ideas. Hope you all have a brilliant winter on the slopes.
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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.
Fallsover @ Drop of Hat wrote:
Thanks for all the tips and advice. We've now booked and are really looking forward to it. As you wisely said, it's about finding the bits you're willing to compromise on to save money, and this will be slightly different for everyone. In case it helps anyone else skimming through in the future, here's what we went with:
Travel: Flying (couldn't face self-drive) but we're flying into Munich, which saved us £1000 compared to Innsbruck. As I booked it myself, I was able to use our £800 BA voucher from last year's cancelled trip, so flights were "free". We'll do a taxi transfer in, but train on the way back to save more.


I don't know if you've arranged the taxi transfer yet, but Four Seasons/Tirol taxi do good value transfers from Munich airport to Austrian ski resorts. I think for your transfer if your youngest is still 14 they are classed as a child and you transfer to Niederau would be €206 total, if they will be 15 by the time of your trip then the taxi firm classes them as adult and your transfer total would be €236. snowHead
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Thanks for the transfers link. That's quite a bit cheaper than we were quoted - I'll contact them.
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@Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, that transfer price is really good value. Eg train into Munich each is about 10 euros (I only go 3 stops to Eching)

Train last time from Munich to Salzburg in summer for work was about 33 euros. So 40-45 euros each on the train

So the 240 airport to resort is really good.
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@GlasgowCyclops, @Fallsover @ Drop of Hat, The train is much cheaper for families if you buy the Bavarian Regional Day Ticket. It will get the 4 of you to Kufstein for €50. From there either pay the local fare to Worgl, or jump in a taxi which you're going to have to do from Worgl anyway. https://www.bahn.com/en/offers/regional/regional-day-ticket-for-bavaria
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Thanks for the train info - that's a bargain. I'll do the mix of taxi to Kufstein and explore Bavaria ticket for the way back.
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Actually, it looks as though children up to 14 are free, so only E42 for all 4 of us.
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I really miss the contributions from @Whitegold in threads like this so I’m going to proxy for him.

Verbier
St Anton
Chamonix

Seriously though if the OP is hoping for the village to be snow covered at Christmas it would be worth trying to stay a little higher than the traditional Austrian valley town just in case it’s a slow start to the season?
Obergurgl perhaps?
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Glad you've got something booked, @Fallsover @ Drop of Hat. Given your "budget" requirements just make sure your kids know that a ski holiday - a very expensive item - is a Christmas present. Don't let them get their hopes up about large piles of goodies in addition. We went a few times in the cheap early Jan weeks and the kids were very excited to get an "IOU a ski holiday" card in their stockings.
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