There are many things it’s important to consider when booking a family ski holiday. Ski-in, ski out accommodation, short transfer time and on-site childcare for the littlest ones are perhaps some of the main aspects which can make a ski holiday with kids run more smoothly.
However, there is more to a ski resort than just the slopes. It’s worth looking at what other activities are on offer when you’re planning a holiday, especially if you have very small children or reluctant skiers who may not want to ski all the time. Even if you don’t want to splash out on accommodation with an indoor pool, many resorts have their own, reasonably-priced public pools. Courchevel has a brand-new aquatic centre with an indoor surf centre and La Plagne has a year-round outdoor pool. I know this as I spent a lot of time in it on my second-ever ski holiday when I injured my knee on the second day! Other typical activities common to many resorts include dedicated sledging slopes and ice rinks.
I recently visited La Mongie in the Pyrenees with my kids and, while we all enjoyed the skiing, I think it will be the other things we did while we were there which will really stick in their minds. The resort has a specially-converted piste-basher which now has seats in the back. Once the lifts have closed, you can take a ride up the slopes to Col de Tourmalet to watch the sunset with a glass of wine (or Oasis and some biscuits for the kids.) The real stand-out event for them, though, was driving their own snowmobiles around the lower slopes as the sun dipped behind the mountains.
Toby and Olivia were delighted that, aged 11 and 13, they were deemed big enough to drive the full-sized machines, but there are also mini-versions for kids as young as six. On a bad-weather day we popped down to the nearby thermal baths Aquensis (many Pyrenean resorts have thermal baths on-site or nearby, for example Le Bains du Rocher in Cauterets).
Next time maybe we’ll take a husky sleigh ride. We didn’t have time this time but the kids enjoyed playing with and petting the gentle, patient huskies which were often around the resort in the late afternoon and early evening. It’s worth also looking out for “added extras” on the slopes. In Les Gets, for example, kids can record themselves messing about, singing dancing or whatever they want to do at the Videototem and then find it on a site later to share to social media. They can also film and time themselves doing a slalom course at the Videopark – both activities are free of charge.
For younger kids, Milka run regular complimentary events on the slopes with games and photo opportunities with the Milka cow, plus hot chocolate and cakes for all. Don’t forget to pack accordingly – we’ve certainly forgotten snow boots before, meaning that someone’s had to clomp about in their ski boots while sledging. It’s also always worth taking swimming costumes just in case as they take up almost no room in your luggage.