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Can anyone advise me on the quality of Crystal's Childcare?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi All

First post, so apologies if this is in the wrong place, but I'm looking for some advice.

I have 3 children (plus a wife - you could say she has 4 kids!) who will be aged 14, 11 and 7 at the time of the next ski holiday (to be booked for 2024).

We've been skiing as a family 8 times and have always gone with Esprit Ski (part of Inghams). The 14 year old has grown out of Esprit (so I have to now try to keep up with him) and I'm sure the 11 year old will be better than me by the time we get through the next holiday in March. The general quality of childcare we've had from Esprit has been great (although over the years I have seen a decline in what has been offered and an increase in costs - sadly the way of the world) with the exception of last year which I put down to COVID and Brexit (but not bad enough for me to book with them again for this year).

Esprit's offering has dropped for ski resorts over the years and when I got a quote for 2024, the exact same holiday as this year (for the equivalent week) has increased by 50%!!! This is too expensive for me so I've been forced to look at other options. This is going self catering, which will not be an issue - the kids and wife may actually eat more of the food if I cook it and knew we'd get there eventually. I'm guessing that the eldest 2 children will be fine to ski with us for the whole week (I may get a private lesson or 2 to get them to the snow park and give us a rest) but I still feel that my youngest will need ski school and childcare. The eldest 2 had that and I think she deserves the same.

Crystalski offer childcare services (ski school in the morning, lunch and then a form of snow club in the afternoon) which is called the Beanie bear club (was previously Whizz kids I think).

Has anyone used this club before? I'm more interested in what happens in the afternoon session, ski school will be ski school. Has anyone used both Crystal and Esprit before and compare the two? Are there any other companies I should be considering (Mark Warner, Ski Familie, Family Ski and Club Med are all too expensive)?

I just want to make sure I'm doing the correct thing.

Any information / advice will be very much welcome

Thank you
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@jonnysmig, welcome to the forum.

It is many years since our daughter was that age so my experience is hardly relevant, but Crystal was fine when we used them (but that was when daughter was in a creche!) We were later repeat customers with Esprit.

So not the best to give relevant advice. However when our daughter was 7 she was up to skiing all day - that year she had all day lessons (we were with Esprit who managed lunch and delivery to ski school) but was still eager to ski with us the last hour of the day. So I think if you can certainly consider going self-catering and book her in ski school on the basis she skis with you the rest of the day. I don't think many places offer all day lessons these days, so parents will between them have to work out a way of keeping both the youngest and the other children happy but I am sure you can find ways (for example, if youngest has morning lessons, and the individual lessons for the older ones are booked for afternoons).
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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?
@jonnysmig, welcome to snowHead s

Sad that Ski Esprit prices sound like they’re increasing so much as to be outside of what the majority of snowsporting families can afford or justify.

Our experience over many trips was that they offered a predictable, consistent and very good standard of childcare. This was based on a model approach deigned and applied across each country the operated in. So it made little difference to childcare whether you were in Austria, France, Italy, etc.

Crystal (TUI) childcare, on the other hand, was less predictable, much more dependent on the individual ski resort/country. Also, more variable depending on individual staff doing the childcare that season.

Never had a really bad experience with Crystal childcare and occasionally very good. Just always felt the need to do more research and ask more direct questions about the specifics of childcare in a particular resort or hotel.
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It's always going to depend on the individual staff more than anything else ( and how late they were in the bar last night).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
In terms of cost for 2023/24 season, are the holiday companies just putting up prices to hedge against many unknown cost increases over the next 12 months.

You may find that they have put up prices to cover themselves and any eventuality to try and discourage bookings too far in be advance. Maybe prices will come down when we get nearer and they have a clearer picture for cost forecasts.
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I'm unclear why the 7 yr old needs afternoon childcare? You can get lessons that run 9am to include lunch club. Can't they just ski with you as a family in the afternoon on a family ski holiday?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Same, can’t speak to Crystal but you won’t need to be locked into afternoon childcare at 7. All day ski school has plenty of breaks and time to warm up, eat etc. I also find New Gen 4 hours works quite well; we take a late lunch together and ski a little bit more. Worked well for my 6 year old last year. I have kids of different ages too and found the younger ones would rather feel they are doing the same as the older ones rather than being put in the kids’ club!
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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!
@jonnysmig, welcome to snowHead !

Can't comment on Crystal childcare but we last used Esprit in Dec 2019 or it may even have. been 2018 and even then not the childcare (other than roving ears while we had dinner!),our youngest boys would have been 7 I reckon and he's managed fine with just standard resort morning ski school and then skiing / boarding with us in the afternoons.I would question your thinking of needing afternoon childcare.
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Hi

When our son was very young we used Crystal Childcare in Plagne 1800. We stayed in a chalet called Chalet Rose II and the kids club was based next door. We thought they were great and our son loved it. They took him to ski school, picked him up for lunch and then entertained him in the afternoon. We would pick him up at about 15.00 and go sledging on the slopes in Plagne 1800 - he insisted on me building ramps for him to go over. We also went to see the ESF jump display at Aime La Plagne which he also really enjoyed.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Just to offer a further alternate view. We used Esprit with our family of 3 boys until our last trip in 2018, when our youngest was 6 and a half - he'd done 3 trips by the end of this and could ski blues. In 2019, he was 7 and a half we went self-catered/build your own holiday - booked accom/drove down/took 'standard' ESF group lessons. We picked him (and the other two) up at the end of lessons at 11:45, took lunch as a family group, then had a couple of runs early afternoon til tiredness set in. After that my wife would finish early and take him and maybe my middle child back to the apartment to chill out, whilst our older child and I skied out the rest of the day.

I was lucky that my wife was happy to finish early and chill out in the afternoon. We would often meet up again at end of day for the obligatory beer/G&T/hot chocolate/crepe.

I really enjoyed the additional time as a family and did not regret the switch to going it alone. (nor did my wallet).
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I second @Richie_S,

We have 4 children, each 2 years apart. We have always taken ski holidays twice a year. Self-catering works so much better when you have small ones imv. They have space to play, relax, and you can feed them what they like at times that suit you. When they were tiny we were lucky in that my non-skiing parents came with us. After that there were quite a few years of morning ski school followed by afternoon skiing (they all managed a full day after about aged 7). Sometimes one of them would be a bit tired and one of us would take them back to the chalet. I enjoyed and treasured the time spent with them on the mountain when they were young. I have never understood the need for full day (and evening) supervision on holiday, I enjoy a family holiday with the emphasis on spending time with my family.

In later years we have been lucky enough to be able to afford private instructors which improved the whole experience even more. In fact I don’t think my youngest has been to ski school since he was about 5. It does take at least 2 instructors to manage this, it has been better with 3. Fantastic to ski with all of them at different points, enjoy a good lunch on the mountain with them all, and they also enjoyed some apres (hot chocolate mostly). But it was almost as good using morning ski schools tbh. All the kids could manage a full day and pretty much any on piste slope from about 7 or 8 years old.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Tue 17-01-23 15:18; edited 1 time 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.
Re Esprit, we looked at them the last few yrs knowing they were pricey and thought may use this this yr anyway but as OP says their prices have gone insane.

We DIY every ski and other hols anyway and generally much better results/ flexibility. Only the transfer from airport to resort is an expensive nightmare.
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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
Quote:

have never understood the need for full day (and evening) supervision on holiday, I enjoy a family holiday with the emphasis on spending time with my family.

Quite, it's not really a family holiday if your seeing them even less than some people see their kids during the work week...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
We just put our son when he was almost 7 into ski school. In Austria we just had to give him €10 a day, they would stop at a mountain restaurant and get lunch then we’d have to meet him about 3pm. Chose a small-ish resort so that we were never too far away and I’d often either ski past, or spot him from overhead in the gondola. Can understand the desire for childcare if you’re in a bigger resort and are worried about making it back for pick up. My friend used crystal and said the childcare was good.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
noodlehat wrote:
Quote:

have never understood the need for full day (and evening) supervision on holiday, I enjoy a family holiday with the emphasis on spending time with my family.

Quite, it's not really a family holiday if your seeing them even less than some people see their kids during the work week...


To be fair I think OP came asking for advice on family holiday providers not necessarily to be judged on how he chooses to spend his ski holidays. Different things suit different families and this is as true for ski holidays as anything else!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We used Crystal when my kids were about 9-11. It was 2010 I remember as I broke my knee!!

Anyway they did a flex arrangement (possibly as it wasn’t a holiday week) and a couple of days they wanted to just chill, play games, and a bit of sledding in the afternoon. And other days out with us. I think 3 in childcare that they chose.

I don’t know if they can offer this option for afternoons but it wasn’t busy when mornings obviously were.

It was the perfect combo as they weren’t massively ‘sporty’ and pushing them to a full day wouldn’t have worked for them.

Some kids just prefer chillaxing on holiday, and my view was as long as they are happy, we were happy!!! Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I’d look at local ski school options personally. They usually do a combo of lessons and aftercare / lunch.

We couldn’t wait to no longer need the nursery care of Esprit and get back to DIY! 5 year old was in ESF with lunch this year which was perfect. Last year he was in Piou Piou with some great playtime around the skiing. He bloody loved it.
ski holidays
 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?
Have used Ski Magic in La Tania who have flexible in chalet childcare and also Snowbizz in Puy St Vincent.
Both were excellent, and kids had a great time.
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Skimum1 wrote:
noodlehat wrote:
Quote:

have never understood the need for full day (and evening) supervision on holiday, I enjoy a family holiday with the emphasis on spending time with my family.

Quite, it's not really a family holiday if your seeing them even less than some people see their kids during the work week...


To be fair I think OP came asking for advice on family holiday providers not necessarily to be judged on how he chooses to spend his ski holidays. Different things suit different families and this is as true for ski holidays as anything else!

Why would the OP ask such a question on an online forum if they didn't want their parenting style called into question? Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@t44tomo, haha! yeah I know, each to their own however they want to sort their holiday. I knew i'd get push back on that comment! I do find it frustrating not being able to ski hard a full day with young kids as well, although i'm sure they'll be skiing harder than me in a few years time.. Then again, thats what the bashes are for, a quick trip away to ski hard for a week without fam... not been able to get hall pass on that idea yet thou.,..
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when I first went skiing it was first time for the entire family - kids were 9, 6 & 41/2. They did morning ski school, then 2hr supervised lunch and afternoon ski school so us parents could crack on a learn to ski too. I'd leave my lessons a tad early so I could check all was fine at lunch and be there to collect in the afternoon. they were all at lunch together so oldest could make sure youngest was sorted and they got a good rest indoors and generally enjoyed it.

We then progressed to morning only ski school and family skiing in the afternoon, and in Slovenia we had private instructors split between a larger group (as pretty cost effective to do it that way) and used to mix and match in different groups so everyone got a bit of what they wanted.

They were soon leaving me behind, but still tolerate me tagging along if I take them now (youngest is now 19).

Its very rare if you ski in any sort of group that you are all similar standard / speed, but then its more fun skiing together.
ski holidays
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
My comments were not meant as a criticism, each to their own. I was just giving a different perspective, particularly that putting kids in all day care means you gain skiing time but also miss out on sharing mountain time with them. They are only wee for such a short period of time. Also that you can have a great ski holiday with young children by going the DIY route with self-catering, we have found that works much better. And it’s not a cost thing, a 4 bed chalet in Switzerland plus 3 private instructors is definitely not cheaper than a TO alternative! Not that you need the private instructors at all actually as morning ski school works fine.
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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!
I once watched, from a draglift, two quite young kids each with their own private instructor, being taught controlled side-slipping. I lapped a couple of times - the instructors had clearly been instructed what they were to cover! They were making a reasonable stab at a "falling leaf" by the end.
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Hi All,

Thank you very much your your advice and input. The majority of you got the gist of my question.

What I think I'm going to do is to stop trying to hastily book for 2024 and wait for the 2023 trip and see what my daughter's skiing is like this year (we go first week of March) and they book after that (as I played through every scenario and wasn't happy to book now, too many unknowns).

We've always gone with another family, with Esprit and had catered accommodation. Next year it will definitely be self catering and "on our own" - those don't both me one little bit as every other holiday we do is self catering and "on our own" (tbh I think the kids will eat my cooking better than the chalet cooking). Childcare for my daughter is the question and the level we require. I think the choice between Crystal and Esprit will depend upon the staff they have - and it will be best to wait for this years trip to have an idea on what she'll need.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
We’ve used Neilson every year & they’ve always been phenomenal. Last year i went to get my then 7 year old straight from lunch & he point blank refused to leave kids club. He’s not normally a social butterfly but he’s always had the best time & rather stay with the other kids than come out with us. Highly recommended, though there’s not as much choice with them these days
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
We are in the same boat as you, have always used Esprit but the prices are sky rocketing. We just got back from a week in La rosiere that we did DIY this year and actually worked well. My two (5&7) went into esf for a whole day all all week. 2.5 hr lessons am & pm and a supervised lunch at the kids club. I would totally recommend the whole day, the mornings were really full classes but the afternoon my 5 yr old was 1 of 4 kkds and my 7 yr old was the only 1 so essentially got private lessons every afternoon for the price of group lessons! We ended up spending more time as a family as we took them out early a couple of times. And as they didn’t have set dinner at the hotel like esprit we did other things like ice skating after lessons and went out to an ice hockey game one evening as had more flexibility. My husband missed esprit but I was ok with it! We hired a car and stopped in Bourg st Maurice to do a big food shop and just bought bits like milk and bread in resort. The extra from half day lessons to full day with esf isn’t that big a jump so doesn’t feel like you have to leave them in all day if you want to get them early!
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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.
We used the Crystal Beanie Bear club in Plagne 1800 and Flaine for my daughter when she was 5 and 8 (8 is the cut-off age). She isn't a sporty, high-energy kid and was too knackered after morning lessons and lunch to want to go out skiing again. We left her to the club in the morning (her boots and skis were left there overnight), they brought her to lessons, picked her up from lessons for lunch back at the club, then afternoon activities (both indoor and outdoor). I saw no difference between Esprit and Crystal in the quality of the food or childcare (We went to Champoluc with Esprit this year). We asked her if she wanted to skip a couple of afternoons to go somewhere with us, but she vehemently refused. She's an only child and seeks out the company of children her own age when we go on holidays, so chalets and clubhotels work for us.
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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
No help with CrystalSki but we have just been to VT for the week and used Prosneige ski school for our two children (10 & 5 - both first time skiers). Ski school was 9-12 and there was an option to book them into lunch club until 2pm. They had lunch in a local restaurant and then did things like sledging, built snowmen etc. It was great as we had some more time on the slopes and they really enjoyed but they were also keen to ski with us on the other afternoons. I know it is down to staff but would highly recommend prosneige
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
noodlehat wrote:
Quote:

have never understood the need for full day (and evening) supervision on holiday, I enjoy a family holiday with the emphasis on spending time with my family.

Quite, it's not really a family holiday if your seeing them even less than some people see their kids during the work week...


Am I correct in saying you're judging the OP? you seem a really nice person.
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