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Christmas experiences.....good, bad?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Following a lovely family Christmas where we had all the family to ours we vowed, never again! So we are thinking of going somewhere snowy this year.

My wife, my 5 year old lad and I (plus a few pals) are thinking of going skiing over the Christmas period but when we were away in La plagne in Jan this year I asked the Chalet host what Christmas was like.........his answer, mobbed slopes, mobbed cafes, bar, restaurants, not nice at all. Looked tentatively at Esprit Ski's Chalet Hotel Ammahoff in Saas Fee.

Anyone like to share they're Christmas experiences ?


Mally
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mally, Christmas is fine but New Year can be mobbed. Choose your resort carefully and you will be fine.
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Did 7 Christmas weeks in Austria and one at Wengen. 6 of the Austrian weeks were great for snow. 75% success ratio then! Austria has a lovely atmosphere at Christmas and it is all blessedly short and non-tacky.

I would love to do it again if family circumstances allowed.

snowHead
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I did the Christmas and New Year just gone and although busy it was not mobbed.
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Christmas week is quietish in Austria, it is the New Year week that gets busy. I've spent every Christmas in the Alps for the past 40odd years, I have never found to be Christmas week too busy. I now spend both weeks, back to back in Austria and love it. This year there was little snow in the village but the slopes were in fantastic nick. I find that the wall-to-wall commercialism that made British Christmases so deadly boring does not exist in the Alps. Christmas Eve and it's all over!

I really love the way they put the children at the fore front of the festivities though, your youngster will love it.
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mally, Christmas on the slopes is great. In my area (Espace Diamant) Christmas is absolutely fine, in terms of crowds, but New Year is horrendous with substantial lift queues and parking near the slopes hard to find. This year I went cross-country skiing in New Year week, to escape the crowds. It's early season; the snow is occasionally poor, usually OK, occasionally spiffing. But anything beats eating and drinking too much and watching the damned telly.

You can probably afford to book quite late when you see how the snow is shaping up if you are flexible about your destination and style of holiday. Austria often has better snow early in the season though I don't think that was the case this year.

Christmas Day is like any other in a ski resort, in terms of lifts opening, ski lessons etc. Most resorts will put on some kind of special stuff for kids, with Christmas Eve the focus.[/code]
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Quote:

I find that the wall-to-wall commercialism that made British Christmases so deadly boring does not exist in the Alps. Christmas Eve and it's all over!

+1
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Maybe it's the places which get lots of Brits which are "mobbed" at Christmas - so go somewhere off the tour operator list!
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Christmas is usually relatively quiet compared with other school holiday weeks and consequently is usually a lot cheaper than half term or new year.

One tip is to choose, buy and wrap your presents before you travel and plan for small, light pressies. Top these up with a couple of bigger things in resort such as a sledge, chocolates, sweets etc. You're unlikely to find big presents eg computer games in resort.

Another thing which is well worth considering is discussing what you will do on Christmas day in advance. Will you still use childcare/ski school; will you all ski together; will you do something else - sledging, snowman building etc.

A proper white Christmas is an amazing experience - go for it!
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We did sauze'd oulx for christmas last season, loved it, not mobbed at all and a great atmosphere in town. Snow was fine, good high up, there were queues for lifts in places but slopes were pretty quiet. We'd do it again definitely.

aj xx
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Quote:

One tip is to choose, buy and wrap your presents before you travel and plan for small, light pressies

My tip is to break away from the traditional Christmas altogether - some little presents for kids, but as for grownups, what could be a better present than a "White Christmas" ski holiday! It's a really good feeling just walking away from all that commercial pressure to Buy Stuff.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
OH and I went away for Christmas a couple of years ago and we bought each other a lift pass!!
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We love going away for Christmas, we couldn't go this year and had to spend it at home.... everyone just seemed miserable!

We spent the previous 3 Christmases in Arabba, Cervinia and Les Deux Alpes. Cervinia and Arabba were pretty quiet (although getting a bit busier after Boxing Day), the first lift and the last run home in Les Deux Alpes were busy, beyond that it was also pretty quiet.

As for presents the OH and I don't bother, we take some smaller presents for Jnr and we used to tell him that Santa would be delivering some to wherever we were and the rest would be at home. Now he seems to think Santa doesn't do any delivering at all (silly boy).

We've also been away for a few New Years where it is an awful lot busier (and more expensive) than Christmas week. I was keeping an eye on some last minute deals for Christmas this year just in case.... there were some amazing deals - although we're happier to take pot luck now than we were when Jnr was younger, not sure we would if he was still 5.
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Quote:

OH and I went away for Christmas a couple of years ago and we bought each other a lift pass!!


Perfick!
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When my 3 boys were small we often left for skiing holidays on Xmas afternoon, or on boxing day and stayed away till schools went back. However because we took the caravan we had that flexibility and our sons always wanted to wake up at home on Xmas morning. It did mean not having to take presents, and avoided the 'big' extended family gathering! It was always busier over the new year but because we tended to be at less well known resorts we rarely experienced any 'packed slopes'.

This last couple of years with all the boys in their 20`s, and one married, we have hired a large apartment for the Xmas week and this year for the two weeks including the pre-Xmas week. La Rosiere the year before last did not seem particularly busier but Les Arcs this year did have a few lift queues. Then again snow generally was not good the Xmas week so everyone wanted to be up high!

Xmas, like any school holiday time, is likely to be busier than non-school holiday times, but we always found half term busier!
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We spent Christmas in Montgenevre a few years back. It was excellent, the slopes weren't busy at all (although I understand Montgenevre is usually quiet) and we were lucky and had loads of snow - in fact a bit too much!
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We spent christmas in Zermatt a few years back, it was great - the best part of it was not having to see the mother in law Toofy Grin
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We had a lovely Christmas in Soll a few years ago. Slopes were quiet; I think we were lucky to have snow all the way into the village so early in the season (I could be wrong about that, and it could be normal). Would definitely do it again, but we can't both get the time off.
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Skied the last 15 years at Christmas, either Three Vallees or Les Arcs. Much quieter week than New Year, and always a nice atmosphere in resort. Lift queues no more than a few minutes, more so towards the end of the week, but often no queues at all.

It's been Christmassy with seasonal festivities, but not over the top. Snow varies, obviously, but even in bad years in those resorts there has always been plenty of skiing.
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The only bad (not bad exactly, just not so good) Christmastimes I've had in the last 16 or so years are the two we've not been able to go skiing Toofy Grin Christmas is usually a reasonably quiet family week, it's the New Year week that's manic (and expensive).
We took our sons when they were still quite young - given the choice of big presents or a ski holiday, they never once chose the pressies Very Happy
We've been to Andorra twice, various places in France, Zermatt, lots in Austria, the only place where the snow was a bit thin was Sauze d'Oulx, but we still had fun.
It's just a magical way to spend Christmas, especially if someone else does all the cooking, although we've self catered once or twice and that was fine too.
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Quote:

The only bad (not bad exactly, just not so good) Christmastimes I've had in the last 16 or so years are the two we've not been able to go skiing

wink
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We find going skiing in France is a good way to avoid the excesses of a UK Christmas. The supermarkets don't play the crap music, there is less hype and the slopes are deserted until almost New Year. You can have lovely weather, but it can equally be poor, the days are short, getting dark early and you dont do as much snow mileage, but that's good because you have more time for relaxing with a glass of wine and a book.
When kids were small we made decorations for the apartment and took small gifts and Santa was advised by letter to leave larger gifts at home for later. You can cook a traditional dinner using a tiny oven, a microwave and 3 rings...take your own Christmas pudding.
We too had to stay home this year, did the big family thing 17 of us, bring your own earplugs...and we really missed skiing on Christmas day.
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mally, Do it. Christmas is so much better in the Alpes than at home.
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We've done it twice & I'd love to go every year if I could get away with it but the look on the in-laws faces when we tell them we wont be there for Christmas dinner would curdle milk Sad
Although its quite busy I believe New Year is much busier. We went to Val D'Isere this year (or should that be last year?!) & sadly I ended up in hospital on day two so that was skiing over for the week but it was still lovely been away from all the fuss at home Smile
Try it & I bet you'll want to go every year Toofy Grin
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meribel46, it was only difficult the first time we said we wouldn't be there, but as we'd like a longer trip next season (4-5 weeks), we are staying at home next Christmas and New Year. I may regret it, but I won't regret the following 5 weeks.
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We did Christmas in Austria this year, I would say the snow was just about adequate. We had a blast, skied every day, had one day where lack of snow hindered us slightly. We have done mid term and would take Christmas any day, however, the locals didn't seem to come out to ski over Christmas because conditions were not the best.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Have done Christmas away for the last 15 years or so. We decided that Christmas in the UK was too stressful, commercial, wasteful and involved doing lots of things that we'd rather not be spending our precious few holiday days on. We do not miss seeing Only Fools and Horses, Morecambe & Wise, James Bond and the Snowman etc for the 40th time - instead of slobbing in front of the TV or playstation, we get out on the mountain.

We enjoyed several Christmas weeks in La Rosiere with Ski Olympic - small, cosy chalets and a good mix of families and couples. One memorable year the various kids got together and did a short pantomime. Have also had good Christmas weeks in Les Menuires and Courcheval 1650, also with Ski Olympic.

Hemsedal was different; very cold and quiet and not really a family-style holiday, so while we enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend it for a family Christmas week.

Zell am See and Saalbach have been our preferred locations for Christmas for the last 6 years. Great skiing, a friendly relaxed atmosphere, snow on the trees most years. Hotel Gruner Baum in Zell am See put on a huge Christmas feast. Now we usually self-cater, travel with a couple of other families and eat out most evenings. There is nothing quite like skiing with a group of friends on Christmas morning.

The first year we bought the in-laws a luxury Christmas hotel break as their present and held a much scaled-down family Christmas the weekend before we went away. It worked so well that the in-laws now go away every Christmas, while we go skiing.
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Don't believe any of the comments above! - Christmas is completely packed, worst week of the year, don't even consider skiing then Toofy Grin

Phew, hope that's enough to stop everyone reading this, booking for next Xmas and making it too busy!

In seriousness, we did Xmas in Les Arcs this year, and skied over to La Plagne on the Friday. Didn't notice any of the mobbing your chalet host referred too. Not the quietest week, sure, but not packed. Longest lift queue was maybe 10 mins (getting back up out of Belle Plagne after lunch) but most had no queue, and pistes were quiet. No issues booking an Xmas meal in a half decent restaurant at short notice.

Village had a visit from Santa and fireworks on Chrismas eve. Kids (4 & 11) loved it, we loved it, will definitely do more Xmas skiing in future.

Oh yeah, and Only Fools and Horses was on if you really wanted to stay in and watch telly wink
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mally, Ski'd over Christmas week a couple of times, most recently Christmas just gone.

We were in Les Arcs and while busy in no way could it be described as mobbed - often had slopes to ourselves and lift queues no worse than normal - the only exception being one on Arc bowl which always seemed to have a queue, but never a big issue.

We ate out at lunch on Xmas day - no problem just turning up as normal - also ate out later in week which we booked in advance. All perfectly normal.

Christmas eve there was some events on in Vallandry, where we stayed, appearance by Santa, mulled wine etc, all very pleasant.

We were self-catering and cooked a mini-Xmas dinner in the evening Christmas day all very pleasant

We had our family Christmas day the week before leaving, was a full on proper day with presents and Christmas dinner - the only presents kept for the day itself were Santa presents, we left a note at home explaining where we would be wink

Kids were more than happy with the arrangements
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I've done xmas week once - loved it. Nice week in a chalet and everything looks very Christmassy. Resort was busier than a mid-Jan week but way better than NY or half term so depends when you are used to skiing.

What could be better than being in a snoewy picturesque resort for Christmas?
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mally, either your chalet host was taking the mick or they are a numpty. Christmas week is a great week to ski. I've been in La Plagne (staying in Les Coches) over christmas. And it was great and definitely not mobbed. I've never been but NY week is much more expensive for accomodation so can only assume much busier.
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Gets busy in Les Arcs over the few days either side of New Year but depending on how the days/dates work, most of the resorts empty out pretty soon after 2 January as people return to work. It's still not as busy as Feb half term though. Christmas week you get families, or people avoiding Christmas. New Year week is more of a party time and restaurants and bars are busy. It is the 2nd most expensive week of the year .
The roads get busy as you get closer to New Year but the only problem we have had is finding a hotel which is open en route on New Year's Eve, maybe we should have booked that one...we did find one, it was just a bit dearer than we had planned for and we had to have the gala dinner in the posh restaurant which was a bit wasted on 2 kids...now we get up early and drive in one day.
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We did Christmas 2012 in Tignes, booking just 10 days before. The snow was great, the piste nice and quiet. We loved the low key nature of Christmas in France. On Christmas day we went out about 6pm about got a table in a resturant where we had a three course meal for about 25 euros each. Would love to do it again.
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Without doubt the best family Christmas we have had was the last one. It was our first ski trip at Christmas and we went to Les Saisies in Espace Diamant. We will be back there again this year. The snow wasn't great but was good enough, there was no family bickering about who is seeing who on what day, we didn't get put upon, didn't waste any life on crap TV, took small presents and Christmas dinner with us. Mountain scenery and proper white Christmas what's not to like?
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mally, Christmas in La Plagne this year was as quiet as ever, New Year was much busier than normal, your chalet host was probably referring to New Year.

I suspect that he has rather re-visited his view of 'mobbed' following the French winter holidays (the two weeks after the UK half term this season) this year which were so busy even the French were complaining!

La Plagne is an excellent choice for Christmas.
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mally, to echo most of the posts above, no mobbing at Christmas but NY much busier. We've done lots of both and now slightly resent NY as has got really busy. I have found myself looking forward to the morning of the 1st Jan as the slopes are generally much quieter then wink
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I ski Christmas in Saas Fee. The village has some lovely decorations/lights and feels like a proper christmassy village. Lovely for walks round in the evening. The slopes are busier than mid jan, but nowhere near like half term. Only queued once for a lift, and that was on a partial reopening after really really heavy snowfall, so only one major uplift running. We set off the day school breaks up, and tend to come back just after new year. Own apartment means we arent tied to TO travel, but the second (NY) week is noticeably busier than Christmas week.

We dont have kids, so no personal knowledge, but they do seem to advertise (and we've seen a few of the activities) a good range of non-ski stuff for the kids such as sledging.
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Christmas in the alps (or similar ski place) beats christmas in UK in every way you can think of.
As boredsurfin says: La Plagne is especially good.
http://www.laplagnet.com/nightlife/report/la-plagne-apres-ski-report-26th-december-2012.html
Especially if you are brave enough to join in with Boxing Day Boxers
(I chickened out last time i was there for xmas Embarassed )
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In the past 30-odd years, we've probably skied more Christmases than have spent at home. And I can't think of any we regret. We worked it out this year that younger son has only ever done Christmas at home once: the other 6 have all been out skiing somewhere.
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