As family skiing specialists, our sole focus is on making taking children to the mountains easy and fun, regardless of how old they are.
We understand why parents might have reservations when it comes to taking that first family skiing trip. Querying whether the children are too young to really enjoy time in the mountains, or whether it’s better to wait until they are a bit older is very common. With this in mind, we have answered a few of the questions we frequently get asked when parents of young children call us to discuss taking their family to the mountains for the first time.
Q: At what age can my children start ski school?
A: One thing that often delays parents taking their children skiing is the belief that they are too young to go into ski school. We suggest four as a great starter age, but children can start from the age of three across all of the resorts we operate in.
We offer our own tailored ski lessons for three year old’s in the resort of Les Gets. These starter lessons still run 6 mornings a week, however they are slightly shorter in length, running for just 90 minutes instead the usual two and a half hours.
These lessons are fantastic for young children just starting out and have been specially designed for three year olds so as not to overwhelm them – after all, there’s nothing worse than putting children off before they’ve even started!
Q: How do I know if my children are ready for ski school and what happens if they don’t take to it?
A: This is a difficult one because every child is different. If your child is confident, reasonably coordinated, and has experience of listening to instruction from someone other than Mum or Dad, they will most likely be fine in ski school.
However, it’s also important to remember that the mountains are a completely different environment. Young children can struggle with the feeling of wearing ski boots, the unfamiliar surroundings or simply just being left by mum and dad. We use English-speaking ski schools across all the resorts, and in all of our resorts our childcarers can stay with the youngest children, making those initial few days as stress-free as possible.
Ultimately, we see hundreds of children go through ski school without a problem but if for any reason they don’t take to it, our childcarers are always on hand to either help and encourage or take them back into the in-chalet childcare.
Q: What about under 3’s?
A: If your child is too young to go into ski-school (or old enough on paper but you don’t feel they are quite ready for it), they can still have a fantastic time in the mountains. Ice skating, sledding, and snowman building are all fantastic activities that are not only great fun, but will also help to familiarise your children with the mountain environment.
Most children also enjoy having a play on skis with mum and dad from the age of two, so why not hire a pair for the afternoon and have a go? Our Mini Marmots childcare service encompasses a vast array of snow-themed activities including snow painting, igloo building and picnics on the piste. This service is available for children aged from four months to five years and is all about fun, non skiing children definitely won’t feel left out.
Q: Should I worry about the altitude?
A: Whilst the altitude is not something to worry about, it is something to be aware of. For children under the age of 12 months, we recommend checking with a doctor before travelling to our higher resorts (La Plagne & The Three Valleys), especially if they have a history of respiratory related problems.
Being at high altitude can affect children’s sleep or in extreme cases they may develop altitude sickness, although they do tend to adjust after a few days and it is uncommon at the heights seen in European resorts. It’s also important remember that the higher the altitude, the closer to the sun’s rays you are, so apply sunscreen to children regularly.
Q: My children are too young to ski but I still want to be able to spend some time together as a family whilst away. What else do ski resorts have to offer?
A: It often comes as a surprise to people, but there is a lot more to a family ski holiday than just the skiing. Ski resorts have a fantastic selection of other activities that will keep even the youngest children entertained. From ice-rinks to indoor soft play, swimming pools and toboggan runs, the mountains make for a great family holiday, without even putting on a pair of skis!
Top places to check out include the Aquafun indoor swimming pool in Les Bruyeres, the soft-play in Les Menuires, and the little train that runs around Les Gets village. More information can be found on the Apres Ski pages across our website (Les Gets, La Plagne, Les Menuires). A hot chocolate or ice cream in the sun is always going to go down well!
Q: How do I go about packing everything I need for my young children, in addition to my already bulky ski-wear?
A: You’ll struggle to ‘pack light’ for a family ski holiday. Adult ski wear is bulky and once you add children to the mix, the suitcase tends to fill up pretty quickly! Thankfully on a Ski Famille holiday everything you need for young children and babies is provided in your chalet, meaning you only need pack what you need for the journey.
Sterilisers, bed guards, high chairs and travel cots, along with plenty of toys and games are all provided saving on that precious packing space. We also provide complimentary nappies and wipes for all infants – so you can strike those off your packing list too!
If you these questions and answers spark yet more questions don’t panic. Our friendly team in the UK office can talk you through all of your queries and concerns. Most of us are skiing parents ourselves and all of us know what makes a mountain holiday with children go with a swing.