We've snooped around for the perfect way to have a family ski holiday with pre-teens, teens and other big kids!
Here at Muddy Towers it’s our job to sniff out all the cool stuff to do and all the mega deals out there, and so, just for you, we’ve spent the Christmas hols snooping out how to have a really fab winter holiday with big kids.
The snow has been dumping down which bodes well for a long and late skiing season (alpine tradition says that an infestation of mice and honey bees in summer leads to heavy snowfall in winter, which is what has happened this year. ‘Tis true. Honest.) There are loads of ski companies serving creche-tastic holidays for families with tiny ones – think wrap-around childcare, night nannies, baby-listening, in-house ski schools and trips in horse-drawn carriages to the village carousel – but what about those of us with older kids? We want to ski with them (within reason, we don’t really want them sobbing about the cold and dribbling over our new ski outfits) and we might even want to spend time with them apres-ski (although the toffee vodka is strictly for moi, n’est-ce pas?) Muddy has done the hard work of digging deep and snooping out the best way to ski with big kids in tow.
Ski companies who LOVE big kids
Yep, there are some out there! These guys don’t necessarily have to saddle themselves with all-guns-blazing creches, smiley nannies and myriads of toddler-friendly pleasures so they can put their money where it matters – into cool stuff for big kids. Think TVs larger than my house, games rooms, table tennis, pool tables, hot tubs and Nintendo Wiis galore, all to keep them out of trouble. Our fave recommendation for where to stay with big kids are two in Morzine and Les Gets – the perfect resorts for tweens and teens where you can let them loose to explore, eat crepes, swim or ice skate in safety.
Chalet Fourmiliere is new in town and is the perfect party venue for grown ups – think 3500 square feet of luxury, with stunning double height dining room, mezzanine library, cosy sitting room with open fire, outdoor hot tub – but also makes the perfect base for families with teens. It has a games room, pool table and plenty of games, books and DVD’s. They will also organise the best ski instructors for your big kids. They are pretty hot on any and all concierge services too – your lift passes will be waiting at the chalet, ski and boot hire takes place in the chalet (enjoy drinks and canapés while you’re at it), they will take you to the lifts in their mini bus or Land Rover and pick you up when you are ready, even book tables for lunch at the best mountain restaurants.
Reach4TheAlps are fab with big kids. A traditional chalet company who provide the fully catered experience of the upmarket variety, they have enormous games rooms with TVs and table tennis, plus hot tubs that kids feel welcome to use (which doesn’t often happen in catered chalets, trust me). They put as much care put into kids’ tea as they do the main affair, and older kids are welcome to eat with the adults. Again, that doesn’t often happen – I’ve stayed at plenty of chalets where kids are banished to their bedrooms in the evening and big kids are often at a loose end.
If you have any inset days coming up, bring the big kids with you for a short stay for 3-4 days. Reach4thealps offer short stays departing on Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday and include the fully catered experience, a 3-day Morzine and Les Gets lift pass and return transfers from Geneva. Chalet Fourmiliere‘s short stays are hugely popular, and tend to run Wednesday-Saturday. Actually, inset day or no inset day, just get yourself out there.
Best resorts for big kids
Smaller resorts might restrict your off-piste madness but it means big kids can go off skiing solo and still find their way back (hopefully). This is where Morzine and Lets Gets really hold their own (although once you add in Avoriaz there is plenty of opportunity for off-piste chaos) You can put your feet up with a hot chocolate (insert vin chaud, cold beer or shot of Genepy if you’d rather) while your kids negotiate the lifts on their own. Uh, yes please… With Morzine and the greater Portes du Soleil area the top resort in Europe for keeping the slopes open by conserving snow as well as making their own, there is no need to seek out those huge higher resorts. We skied on superb snow (and empty slopes) during the first week of the season and with lifts open until nearly the end of April, you can bag a late ski holiday without paying the prices of mid Feb. A bumper bonus is that Morzine and Lets Gets are a mere 90 minute transfer from Geneva airport, so no long coach journeys with whining teenagers.
Go for a resort that offers ski schools specifically suited for big kids and teenagers. Many resorts (including Morzine and Avoriaz) offer snowboarding camps, ski racing weeks and free-style skiing extravaganzas.
Other perfect resorts for big kids are Alpbach in Austria, Beavercreek in Colorado (unashamedly exclusive but, you know, let’s aim high) and Pila in Italy, which has a small area of well-groomed, snow-sure slopes. None of these are high resorts so you won’t get the coach loads of University students descending to wipe you out on the slopes (yes, I’m talking to you. You know who you are.)
Another option is to go for a car free resort so the big kids can explore on their own. Your kids are probably waaaay more mature than mine but I still struggle with a 12-year old who doesn’t realise roads are where you might find moving cars. Fab-tastic options include Avoriaz just above Morzine, the charming village of Wengen in Switzerland, Oberlech in Austria or, if you’ve got dosh to splosh, Sun Peaks in British Columbia.
The fun stuff for big kids
For boarders look no further than Real Snowboarding in Morzine/Avoriaz – fun, cool and serious about their boarding, these guys are the real deal. The main men, Barry and Dave, teach all levels of snowboarding but thrive on coaching freestyle boarding (they both coach the British Military freestyle snowboard teams and Barry coaches the British junior snowboard team, so they know their biscuits). They run lessons for all abilities but their snowboard camps are a must for all keen boarders (my son loves them). Book now for their snowboarding camp this Feb half term and in the Easter holidays from Monday 7th April…details are on their website.
Ready to book?
Need any more convincing? Get going and book now for the best luxury deals out there, and check out for yourself what Morzine has to offer.
Fancy a last minute offer? Check out Reach 4 The Alps for their fab-tastic short stay offers: 20-23 January NOW €495 pp for 4 nights, includes transfers and a 3 day Morzine/Les Gets ski pass at Chalet Martinet. Also 20-24 January NOW €545 pp for 4 nights, includes transfers and a 3 day Morzine/Les Gets ski pass at Chalet Aux Joux and at Cairn Lodge.
Also, HOT OFF THE PRESS! Chalet Fourmiliere is offering free transfers to Geneva for all last minute January bookings and flexible dates in January. Breaks start at from €480 pp for 3 days, based on two sharing a room. Or fancy pushing the boat out? Get 10% off half term week for exclusive use of the entire chalet, 16 to 23 February. It’s pricey but worth it!