Skiing Is For Familes - But Don't Forget The Grandparents!
A skiing holiday should involve the whole family, whatever the age of the children as these days many ski villages have kindergarten for the very young as well as a children’s ski school.
But if you are going as a family, consider having the grandparents “tag along” as well because some children don’t want to ski all day and so, while mum and dad go off and enjoy the slopes, grandma and granddad can take the kids swimming, tobogganing, an afternoon nap, or just play board games back in the chalet or hotel.
It is therefore very important as a family group to ensure you are selecting a “Family-Friendly” resort with lots of kids après ski activities. Don’t just cater for the grown ups and your holiday could be ruined at worst, or at best made “difficult” if the kids are always complaining! Every resort has a "Family Friendly" rating which is depicted by an ice cream cone. All you have to do is look at the top of the right-hand side of the resort page for the rating!
At the end of March, 2007, I went with my son and daughter-in-law, together with the grandchildren aged two and (nearly five) to the excellent Austrian resort of Galtur at the top end of the Paznaun Valley. Now I am not suggesting for one minute this resort is the only one in the whole of the Alps (or indeed just in Austria) which is good with kids but to me with some 40 plus years of skiing experience and having taken my own children, having a good ski school close to the village with back-up facilities such as a sports centre and large indoor swimming pool complex, count for a great deal.
While my son and his family drove in their car, my wife and I followed (sometimes leading) with an overnight from Calais to Galtur which enabled the two children to bed down and sleep most of the night away. We arrived early on the Saturday morning; our accommodation was ready earlier than we had expected, and we booked the eldest into the ski school, purchased a toboggan for the two-year-old, did some shopping and were on the slopes by lunchtime on the first day.
That evening, as dutiful grandparents, we were on hand to baby-sit while mum and dad went out for a bit of “quality time” alone to return to find the two boys sound asleep!
I will not bore you with a blow by blow account of skiing during the week but we had expected to look after the two year old and his toboggan and watch in awe as the eldest boy progressed through kids ski school from a raw beginner to achieving a SILVER medal for the fastest downhill time on the final day. Wow! However, the two year old decided right from the start that skis were far more exciting than a toboggan and the ski school was geared up to teaching him skiing as well. Suddenly the grandparent’s mornings were FREE, the afternoons a delight with just the two year old to look after and we enjoyed baby-sitting some other evenings and enjoying a complete family meal time EVERY evening. It was such a delight to see the kids at lunchtime, really happy and obviously enjoying their holiday and getting Dad to take photos so they could show their friends back home!
So what should a family with children, with or without grandparents, think about? Firstly, select a resort where every member of your family will be happy and entertained; secondly ensure your travel arrangements are such that there are no long airport check-ins; no long airport transfers; that the resort can cater for your children whatever their ages with a good ski school or kindergarten; that staff speak good English; there are après ski amenities such as a sports centre complex and indoor swimming pool; that your hotel can cater food wise for kids who prefer chicken nuggets, chips and ketchup!; or that resort restaurants are good at having children there.
I will not be presumptuous enough to remind you about suitable clothing but if you are going for the first time it is even more important to ensure the children will be warm as the sun does not always shine. A child who is cold at ski school or out on the slopes will cry, be angry and will probably say. “I never want to go skiing again”. Most kid’s ski schools provide warm drinks and a break with story time during the morning and afternoon sessions. Kids really love this and often grow quite attached to the staff who are always highly qualified in both looking after children and teaching them to ski.
Remember to take basic medicines and plenty of sun bloc. Most resorts have a good pharmacy but sometimes medicines or tablets you are used to giving the children in the UK can often be more reassuring than a resort “recommendation”.
It is usually the case that once children have been to a ski resort and had a really good time; they will want to return year after year after…. And when they become teenagers, they will want to go on a school trip with their friends and mums and dads and even grandparents will become “unwanted”.
No tears! Just think of the freedom this milestone can bring – that is until Mums and Dads become grandparents themselves – and then the enjoyment starts all over again! The wife and I will certainly be there on the slopes this coming winter with the grandchildren, watching them progress with their skiing prowess and becoming as confident and good skiers as their parents – or maybe the grandparents as well!