Thinking of taking the family away skiing this year? Winter sports experts, Neilson Holidays, have compiled the top 10 most popular European ski destinations for families. Here, Neilson’s Paul Deadman looks at why these resorts are proving to be so popular with parents…
1. Les Deux Alpes, France
On the other end of the scale, Val d’Isère as a town has been around for nearly 400 years. It has an eternal Christmas feel as the streets are lined with fir trees adorned with fairy lights. When you’re not enjoying the 300km of hugely varied slopes, you’ll find Val d’Isère offers plenty for families. The Centre Aquasportif with a huge indoor pool, adventure pool, lazy river, water jets and more. The centre also has a massive indoor climbing wall to burn off any excess energy. Or for some kid-free time, take to the wellness area for and relax in the hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, or have a muscle rejuvenating massage. There are also winter holiday classics like ice skating and husky dogs sledging available so families are never short of something to do.
6. Mayrhofen, Austria
The Austrians are very family friendly and so are their resorts. We have about 20% of our bookings to Mayrhofen come from families and it’s no wonder. They offer great childcare in the fantastically named ‘Wuppy’s Wonderland ‘. They take kids from three months right up to seven years old and pack their days full of indoor and outdoor play. While the kids are being well looked after, you can head to one of the many spas for a bit of relaxation, or just hit the slopes and build up to take on the steepest black run in Austria, the 78-degree Harakiri! Or for an afternoon with a difference, take a guided tour of the frozen world beneath the snow to discover incredible ice stalactites, giant ice crystals, frozen waterfalls and even a glacial lake.
7. Chamonix, France
Chamonix may not be famous for its family friendliness, given it’s so jam-packed with adrenaline and extreme activities, but it does have a softer side. Taking an afternoon off the slopes to head out into the wilds of Chamonix with snow shoes is definitely worth it. You’ll get to see a side of this wonderfully picturesque valley you wouldn’t normally see, and the kids love being able to run through the deep snow. Or take a tour by more traditional means and see the resort in a horse-drawn sleigh. Meet Dr Zhivago (not the real one!) in the centre of Chamonix and jump on board.
8. Arinsal, Andorra
One of the main reasons we get so many families travelling with us to Arinsal is that all kids under 16 get a free lift pass with each adult that books a pass. (More money for après!). That’s not all though; most hotels in Arinsal cater nicely for families thanks to larger or interconnecting rooms, special menus for little ones and some great facilities too. There’s also on-mountain childcare right at the base of the 63km ski area so it’s easy to pop in and see that the kids are having just as much fun as you, if not more!
9. Tignes, France
Tignes has plenty to offer families on the slopes. There’s a dedicated children’s beginner area on the slopes of Tignes Val Claret with easy-to-use lifts for little ones. Once confidence starts to build, take to the many blue runs around the 300km ski area (nearly 50% are blues). Off the slopes, families with older kids (14+) can spend an evening dining in a yurt in the forest, relaxing with a drink by the fire and then heading back down the mountain on a torch-lit sledge ride. The two main villages of Tignes sit beside an enormous lake (hence one village is called Tignes Le Lac) so as soon as the temperature drops, the lake freezes and you can take to your skates to perform your best Torvill and Dean or Elsa and Anna impressions.
10. Morzine, France
Being a very well-established resort gives you plenty of options when you’re not discovering new pistes in the huge ski area. Once the slopes have closed, hit the snow with a new kind of sledge called Yooner. It’s essentially a short ski with a seat and stick to control where you go. It’s comfortable, light, very easy to use and massive family fun! If it’s a bad weather day, head over to neighbouring Les Gets for some indoor 10-pin bowling. Enjoy some friendly competition to see who really is the family king pin! Or take the kids to an ice hockey match. It’s not something we get to do too much in the UK, but it’s a great evening out. Grab a hot dog and watch the action get heated and the drama unfold on the ice.
To find out more about Europe’s best family ski resorts, head to Neilson.co.uk