We consider the pros and cons of five different accommodation options for families on the ski slopes: apartments, hotels, chalets, B&Bs and hostels.
Apartments are the main accommodation choice for families in French and Andorran ski resorts, offering simple, affordable stays. Provisions vary from simple, basic facilities to luxurious apartments with four-star hotel facilities.
Pros: Often more affordable. Big families are easily catered for with laundry facilities, fridge and cooker. Parents can cook to their children’s tastes and preferred meal times. The most modern complexes often have a swimming pool.
Cons: May be limited hours for check in/out. Not always childcare facilities onsite. Resort supermarkets tend to be pricey (tip: shop on-route from airport). You may need to bring sheets and loo rolls.
The new five-star l'Amara Apartments in Avoriaz, France is part of the resort’s €200m investment program, which also includes the new Aquariaz indoor water park. The new ski-in, ski-out Amara district has been created at the entrance of the resort and features a spa with swimming pool (paddling pool for toddlers), and other luxury hotel facilities. There’s an onsite nursery with English speaking staff and a play area in reception.
The Holiday Club Resort in Are, Sweden, gets a 10 out of 10 rating from tour operator Ski Safari in the ‘Families’ category. Essentially a one-stop shop, everything is onsite from ski rentals and a bowling centre to restaurants and childcare for kids aged 2 and up. There’s a large indoor/outdoor pool with separate baby and junior sections and a waterslide. Ski Safari’s Andy Hemingway says, “The pool area and Sauna World will suit all ages, with eight pools and six saunas to choose from.”
La Sommet des Neiges in Tremblant offers ski-in/ski-out convenience, direct access to the snow school and is located just 35m from the gondola. You’ll find high quality accommodation and great facilities for families including an outdoor saltwater whirlpool bath and swimming pool, sauna, and a leisure room for kids and teens with pool table. Note: apartments are called ‘condominiums’ in North America.
Hotels often provide some of the most relaxing options for your ski holiday, with half-board accommodation meaning you don’t need to worry about meals, and often a swimming pool, play rooms and childcare all onsite. This can come at a price of course but family-friendly hotels are aware of that and often offer discounts, especially in low season and Easter, that means you get much more for your money and save cash once you’re in resort.
Pros: Fully catered for with half-board or full-board meals. Most offer childcare and good onsite leisure facilities, such as bars, restaurants and sometimes a nightclub.
Cons:Usually most expensive option. Families may be divided up into separate rooms if no family room (beware of extra cost).
“We always find the all-inclusive Hotel Les Deux Alpes offers a stress-free family break in Les 2 Alpes,” says Nick Edwards of specialist ski travel agency Snow Finders. “All aspects are covered from full board with unlimited drinks, to lift passes, tuition and children’s clubs. The informal and ultra-friendly atmosphere is the perfect environment for families to be put at ease. After skiing children have the option to join in with the various activities or spend time with their parents.”
The Alpenresidenz Ballunspitze in Galtür is ideal for parents who want to enjoy their skiing safe in the knowledge that their little ones are taken care of. There is a full childcare programme from 9am – 9pm, with a baby club for the under 4s; a mini-club 4-7; and the adventure club for children aged 6-14. As well as indoor games and crafts, there is also the opportunity for plenty of snow play.
“For families travelling to Madonna di Campiglio we would recommend the Hotel Chalet del Brenta,” says Cathryn Healey of specialist travel agency Ski Solutions. “They are so family-friendly they not only have great family rooms and a swimming pool, they even offer children’s massages in the wellness centre.”
Chalets can be excellent for families. Larger families can often fill smaller chalets on their own, in which case it can be like having your own mountain home where a nice chalet host pops in to cook and clean for you all. Smaller families in larger chalets can enjoy equally friendly service but you do usually have to rub along with other guests sharing meals and public areas. If you all get on that’s wonderful and in the best cases you can make lifelong friends, but it’s worth checking how family friendly a chalet is likely to be before you book.
Pros: Fully catered. British chalet staff may tailor menu to suit family requirements and may help with childcare. Usually good value when cost of food and drink included.
Cons: Unless exclusive rental, need to get on/put up with other guests.
The ski-in/ski-out Grand Chalet Mouflon from family ski holiday specialist Ski Famille has a great location near the slopes in the La Turche area of Les Gets. The residence was designed with families in mind. Holidays include five days of childcare and chalet board catering so all needs are catered for. Other amenities include a kids’ playroom and a rooftop hot tub for mums and dads.
Chalet Wiesenheim in Selva is run by specialist family chalet operator Esprit Ski and is one of their larger chalets with big en-suite family rooms. There’s a nursery in the chalet which will look after babies as young as four months; a Snow Club for 3-8 year olds who want to play in the snow; an evening ‘Mini Cocoa Club’ for 2-5 year olds; and a Cocoa Club for older children. The chalet is 600m from the slopes with a free minibus transfer if you don’t want to walk.
B&Bs are often run by knowledgeable locals who can advise on the best places to go for families to ski, eat and obtain any equipment or services required. Finding family-sized rooms or child discounts at B&Bs may be an issue and most need to be booked direct rather than through a tour operator so it’s worth looking for online reviews.
Pros: A friendly, affordable option. Proprietor has plenty of local knowledge.
Cons: Usually no onsite facilities, so be prepared to eat out. Often no family rooms so additional room often required.
Landhaus Wilder Kaiser in St Johann in Tirol is well located just a two-minute walk from both the family-friendly ski area and the pedestrianised heart of the village. The guest house can offer family rooms sleeping up to four on request and has a small wellness facility. You can also take advantage of hotel facilities including evening meals at the Hotel Park over the road if you wish. Packages, including flights and transfers, are available through Crystal.
Often overlooked as a family accommodation option, hostels in ski resorts are in many cases some of the original accommodation options in top alpine resorts and can therefore be located close to the lifts, have excellent hotel-like facilities and may provide en-suite private family rooms.
Pros: Affordable, basic and functional. Meet travellers from around the world.
Cons: Some are too basic for some families to get the holiday feeling.
Managed by Petra and Fredy, the hostel is located close to the rail station for overland access and only 10 minutes’ walk from the village centre and from the ski lifts. You can choose from family rooms or cheaper dorm style accommodation. Facilities include a children’s playroom, table-football and pool table and there’s a large new playground too.
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