Laura French looks at family-friendly ski spots to suit every budget.
There’s nothing quite like gliding wistfully down a velvet-soft piste, pine forests peeping out through the sparkling snow, slopes stretching off in every direction like something from a Christmas card.
And there’s no better time to start hitting those slopes than when you’re a young, fearless kid – which is probably why family ski holidays have long been a best-seller.
But ski holidays aren’t just about the skiing itself, of course. Just as important is the lodging, and for that there’s a whole plethora of options, from fully-catered, ultra-luxe chalets complete with pools and private cinemas to simple, self-catered lodges where log fires blaze and wood beams peep out overhead. We’ve picked out some of our favourite options and split them by budget.
Iglika Villas, Borovets, Bulgaria: Skiing might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to budget holidays, but look in the right places and you can find some excellent bargains. For some of the best-value accommodation Balkan Holidays recommends Iglika Villas in Borovets, Bulgaria. A collection of seven Alpine-style lodges, each feature two bedrooms and a kitchenette, with an ideal location close to the resort centre where lively restaurants meet wide, tree-lined slopes ideal for beginners. A week’s self-catering costs from £265 per person, based on a family of four sharing with flights.
Chalet Les Cimes Blanches, La Plagne, France: Over in France prices can be a little steeper, so look to shared hotels for the best deals. Crystal Ski recommends the four-star Chalet Les Cimes Blanches for families with younger children; spread across nine Swiss-style chalets, it features 145 apartments with a shared hot tub, pool, spa and sauna, and it’s ideally placed with the slopes, main lift and ski school all nearby. There’s also a Crystal Childcare service available for kids up to eight – ideal for parents wanting a bit of quiet time – and it’s all surprisingly wallet-friendly, with a week starting at £524 per person, including flights from Gatwick to Chambery and transfers, on a catered basis.
Chalet Dahu, Les Arcs, France: But for those wanting their own private spot, look to this four-bedroom chalet in Les Arcs. Built in traditional, wood-strewn Alpine style, it boasts a glass-fronted log fire, balcony and sauna, and there’s a play area just outside where kids can sledge under the watch of their parents. It’s fully hosted with daily breakfast, afternoon tea and three-course evening meals with wine, and guests can ski back to the chalet via a blue run at the end of the day to save the dreaded uphill slog. Ski Beat offers a week catered from £669 per person, including UK flights and transfers.
Ask the expert
Melvin Westlake, senior product manager for Inghams:
“When it comes to family ski holidays, we’re seeing lots of interest in France – Avoriaz is an especially good option due to its convenient ski-in/ski-out accommodation, and if you’re looking for great value for money, Andorra is superb.
When it comes to time of year, February half term was traditionally the time for families to go skiing, but nowadays families are also booking Christmas, New Year and Easter, as they are looking for value for money. We are also seeing more younger families with pre-school children than in previous years and offer deals to cater to them – for example when clients pre-book ski school, there’s free kindergarten for children under six years old.
My top tip would be to book everything in advance to save time on arrival – for example if you’ve booked lift passes, the Inghams Rep will deliver them to you on arrival, so you don’t need to worry about picking them up on a busy first morning and can save on all-important time.”
Neilson Chalet l’Olan, Les Deux Alpes, France: In the mid-range you’ll find plenty of private, family-friendly chalets, but for one that goes above and beyond look to Neilson’s antique-splashed spot in Les Deux Alpes. With five bedrooms and space for 13 it’s a good shout for bigger families, and there are kids’ clubs at the nearby Neilson Hotel Aalborg on hand to keep the brood entertained. A week starts at £716 per person based on eight adults and five children sharing, with flights, transfers, daily breakfast, afternoon tea and meals, plus free guiding for blue and red-run skiers.
Chalet Hotel Pepi Gabl, St Anton, Austria: For a livelier base, look to Austria’s iconic St Anton, where Esprit Ski recommends this recently renovated chalet hotel. “It occupies an excellent position just next to the Nasserein gondola and only 50m or so from the end of the Nasserein home run,” says Robyn Adam, reservations consultant for the operator. It’s traditional Austrian in design and there are kids’ clubs for every time of day – as well as a wellness area and family-friendly lounge and restaurant – and it’s handily close to several dedicated children’s areas, where youngsters can learn on gentle, beginner-friendly pistes. A week costs from £741 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing a family room, with flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and group transfers.
Chalet Everest, Courchevel, France: If it’s five-star luxury and ultimate privacy clients are after though, look to celeb hangout Courchevel, where you’ll find Chalet Everest – a plush, four-bedroom lodge decked out in contemporary-meets-Alpine décor and complete with outdoor terrace, cosy lounge and traditional brick fireplace. “It offers high standards without the price tag and is just two minutes from the piste,” says Cahal Kane, business development manager for Powder White. The operator offers a week at the chalet from £549 per person, based on four sharing with breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner with wine on six days (excluding flights).
- Book ski school well in advance to make sure families get a spot, and boost your commission with a higher-value booking in the process
- Encourage other add-ons, such as pre-booking equipment to save clients hassle on arrival
- Look for chalets with access to kids’ clubs for parents wanting some quiet time on the slopes
- If the children haven’t skied before, suggest trying an indoor ski slope to get them used to it
- Come prepared – remind clients to pack thermals, goggles, sunglasses, ski socks and sun cream to keep kids warm
Chalet Charlie, Tignes, France: For those with a little more cash to splash you’re not short on options, but for one of the most unusual luxury spots out there, suggest Chalet Charlie in Tignes. Its entertainment space, which doubles up as a bedroom, is built with parts of a 1950 military aircraft – think games console inside the nose of the aircraft and a TV area surrounded by aeroplane parts – and it’s quirky throughout, with unusual touches plus a private terrace, hot tub, steam room, sauna and fitness room. It sleeps 12-16 across six double rooms and a quad bunk room – making it ideal for larger families or multi-generational groups – and it forms part of the Black Diamond Residence, the whimsical brainchild of local freeskier Guerlain Chicherit. UltraVilla offers a week from €16,200, including breakfast and three-course dinner on five days plus drinks, transfers and use of facilities in the neighbouring Black Diamond residence.
Kern Peak, Zermatt, Switzerland: Over in Switzerland you’ll find a slightly more understated kind of luxury at Kern Peak, a three-bedroom, recently-refurbished apartment decked out in ultra-modern style – all neutral tones and clean, sleek lines. Located just off the resort’s main street, it sleeps six with good self-catering facilities, making it ideal for families wanting a quiet, private getaway within easy reach of the slopes. Lagom offers seven nights from £3,047 (excluding flights).
The Lodge, Verbier, Switzerland: But for the absolute ultimate in high-end, there’s only one thing for it – The Lodge, Richard Branson’s iconic, nine-bedroom mountain retreat in Verbier. Family facilities are excellent – ranging from an entertainment lounge with pool table, games console, TV and disco ball – to a private indoor pool, spa and outdoor jacuzzi, with bunk beds for the youngest members of the clan, and personal touches delivered by full-time staff. There’s Michelin-level food, a welcoming, home-from-home feel and an open bar for the adults, and it’s a stone’s throw from the centre of Switzerland’s most exclusive ski resort. Nightly rates start at £1,360, based on two adults sharing a room for a minimum of three nights, including daily breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and drinks. Guests wanting it to themselves can also book out the entire thing. It might not come cheap, but for those who can afford it, this one sells itself.
Best of the rest
Chalet Isba, Meribel: A location in the heart of Meribel combined with first-class facilities – home cinema, billiards room, sauna and hot tub included – make this Ski Total’s top recommendation for families wanting a lively, action-packed stay; a week starts at £1,039 per person, including flights.
Chalet Skye, Val d’Isere: This cosy wooden lodge complete with atmospheric beams and roaring fireplace sleeps eight comfortably and is a stone’s throw from Val d’Isere’s main lifts. Powder White offers seven nights from £604, including flights.
Chalet Perre Josef, Alpe d’Huez: Located 50m from the slopes and three minutes from the centre, this simple spot offers everything families might need, with a roster of activities on hand in the area – from climbing walls and ziplines to ice caves and ski shows. A week with Crystal Ski costs from £974 per person.