There are so many fantastic family-friendly ski resorts around the world. In our run down of the top eight we’ve stuck mostly to European resorts (we’re thinking of your sanity on the flight here). But there’s just one a little further afield that may be worth dealing with – ‘are we nearly there yet’ – on repeat.
1. Le Grand Bornand – France
‘Green’ slopes a-plenty here combined with easy to understand signposting make the Le Grand Bornand ski area perfect for families. Kids can have loads of fun in the snow park at the back of the Maroly sector. There are mixed levels of ski jumps with a green level for younger kids, while braver teens can take off and land on the giant airbag. Tired parents can drink coffee in the Maroly restaurant at the bottom. A new giant magic carpet (quite possibly the longest in the world) has recently opened in this area, so complete beginners are well looked after. A long easy green run connects this area back to the front side. The old village is picture-postcard pretty – overall a solid choice for a family ski holiday.
2. Arc 1950 – France
Arc 1950 is the newest village in the Alps – built in the naughties it might be about the same age as some of your kids. It was designed specifically to make skiing easy for families – so all the accommodation is attractive and the resort is car-free. Also, there’s no carrying of equipment for miles, as each residence in the village is ski in – ski out. The programme of activities for families is very special too. Every day of the week during the winter season there’s a different activity and theme, so once your children have had enough on the snow, there is plenty going on off of it. Arc 1950 connects to the Paradiski area of 425km of slopes, and being 1950m above sea level it’s a snow-sure choice for a family ski holiday both at Christmas and Easter.
3. Arabba – Italy
This resort is not the easiest base to choose within the ‘Sella Ronda’ but what it does offer is a quick access point to this popular circular ski route. It is also less well known than some of the bigger name villages on the Dolomiti circuit, great for feeling like you really are in Italy – away from the crowds, very ‘Italian’! Every corner you turn on skis will reward you with another stunning panoramic of the jagged Dolomite Mountains. It is a small village and my family loved it! It’s an easy two-hour drive from Venice-Treviso airport too.
4. Saint Lary – French Pyrenees
This famille plus resort in the French Pyrenees offers a traditional village base with a busy ‘high street’ full of bars and shops, great for an early evening saunter. One short bubble ride (or cable car) and you are in to the main ski area. There is plenty to keep a family of skiers entertained. The Pla d’Adet area has easy green and blue runs, and further around the mountain the options increase. Over the back of St Lary, if your children can’t manage the steeper run down to Refuge d’Oule, the slow two person chair lifts runs in both directions and is worth the adventure for its great views from the terrace for lunch.
5. Lech – Austria
The Warth and Lech ski areas were linked last winter. Add to this the huge expansion in St Anton with the Stuben/Zurs link, and the Arlberg ski area (in which Lech sits) becomes the biggest linked ski area in Austria. Lech really is a top choice for a family ski holiday. Confident skiers will enjoy the circular route of the Weiss Route while younger skiers have plenty of choice just one (heated) chairlift up around Oberlech. If it all becomes too much you can take a horse and cart ride around the village for some people watching. Tour operator chalet options can make Lech a reasonably priced resort for a family trip.
6. Big White – Canada
If you can stomach the flight across the Atlantic with your children, Big White is worth thinking about for a special family ski holiday. You’ll find incredible levels of service with just the right level of ‘have a nice day’. Wide rolling pistes and a compact village centre make it stress-free once you get there. There are fantastic child care options in the Kids Centre, right in the middle of the village. In winter the trees turn in to amazing ‘snow ghosts’ when the vast amount of snow that falls here combines with the cold air – kids adore looking at them.
7. St Martin de Belleville – France
A little village in the huge Three Valleys ski area, St Martin makes a great base for families. Les frantic than some of the bigger, more well known ski resorts in the area, St Martin is an old French village that since last season, has a fast link in to the ski area. If you can book a babysitter, the 3* Michelin restaurant La Bouitte is perfect for a foodies’ dinner, while Le Montagnard offers a more rustic alternative. The long run back to the village, Jerusalem, has been turned into a blue run this season, with the steeper sections bypassed and some sections increased in width. Perfect for kids and a great choice for Easter skiing.
8. Ax Les Thermes – French Pyrenees
Ax Les Thermes is just 90 minutes from Toulouse airport in the Ariege area of the French Pyrenees. Families are well looked after here, and with a pleasantly low price tag. There are plenty of pisted areas for beginners and young children, and some fun off-piste if parents have time to sneak in a few extra runs (or possibly for the more adventurous teens). Dog Sledding at Plateau de Beille is fun to try and the thermal spa is a definite plus point for tired muscles. In the town you can even take your ski boots off and warm your feet in the town’s thermal channels completely free of charge! This is a great place for a budget-friendly family ski holiday with great value meals available on and off the mountain.