Five crucial ingredients for the perfect first ski holiday with kids

BC- That is Before Children, Mr & I were regulars on the slopes of Lake Tahoe. It was with two heavy hearts, and one bulbous belly that we turned our attention away from snowboarding and onto matters much closer to home – our new baby son.

It came as a surprise last year, when Mr announced that he thought the time had come to dig out the boarding clobber and introduce the kiddiewinks (Pinkie who’s 5 and Blue who’s 8) to the world of skiing, as one of Mr’s friends was arranging a group trip for his ‘Big Birthday’.

When March rolled around, we were poised to don our skiwear and head off to France. A quick wardrobe adjustment made (massive, no colossal salopettes must have been all the rage in the early noughties, but there was no way I was going to wear them this season in Puy St Vincent). As it turned out, it was the least uppity resort and I possibly could have got away with them.


Fantastic Staff

I’ve always believed I wouldn’t leave my children with ‘just anyone’, my motto being “If I wouldn’t leave my purse or keys, I wouldn’t leave my child.” The girls (all British) at Snowbizz were so professional and trustworthy whilst still being warm enough for the children to adore, I think I would have been comfortable leaving them with a winning lottery ticket or a suitcase stuffed full of used bank notes.


Doorstep Skiing

The position of the apartments was as close to perfection as possible. We were slope facing and could literally call over to the ski school from our balcony. As a child, I had skied with my parents and can remember the agony of walking long distances in ski boots to catch the lifts, or my poor dad trying to carry everyone’s skis and walk in shin shattering 80’s boots. No such thing here, the lifts were right outside the door and the slopes graduate down to a gentle halt just near the entrance for the lockers.

We woke the first morning to a magnificent blue bird day, and with the children’s noses painted in luminous sunscreen looking much like Shane Warne, we headed off to ski school. After checking that every item the children possessed was name tagged, tags provided by www.easy2name Mr and I left Pinkie and Blue to it (naturally, we spied from a safe distance), and when I was convinced that all was well we took the chair lift up to the slopes.

In Tahoe trying to get off the ski lift on a snowboard was nothing short of perilous. It was with such joy, I mean JOY, that I gently slid from seated, to gliding, to standing on the slope, that I think the word ‘miracle’ was uttered by both myself and Mr. To start the holiday in such auspicious circumstances boded well for the rest of the week.


Quiet pistes

The wide, tree lined slopes were just the right amount of empty; there were enough people to say goodmorning to, but not enough to form a lift queue. After a few gentle runs, Mr and I headed up to the top of the mountain on the four-man lift. The views were incredible. The Altitude Bar sits near the drop off for the four-man and it seemed rude not to stop; after all, we were wearing too many layers and were rather warm. An espresso and coke later I was wide awake and ready for more!


Private Ski School and Creche

We arrived back at ski school at 12.45 to see Pinkie and Blue on the slopes before they finished at 1pm. They were actually skiing, my off spring had taken to it like proverbial ducks, and we couldn’t have been more proud. Just as we were basking in their shared glory, Pinkie fell. It looked like it hurt. Mr grabbed me as I instinctively tried to break our cover and rescue my distressed princess. Too slow, the instructor was there as was a Snowbizz girl (easily identified in bright pink) they had scooped her up with minimal fuss and with a big hug Pinkie was back smiling on her skis.

We decided to have lunch in one of the cafes on the ground level of the apartments, there are quite a few to choose from, none of which were noisy at night. With a tummy full of delicious pizza Blue decided he wanted a private ski lesson, and Pinkie opted for the crèche to fill the afternoon.

The ski lesson was easy to arrange. Blue wanted the longest lesson possible, but we were advised not go mad on the first day. After Blue’s very successful lesson, we persuaded him to join Pinkie in the crèche. He was not thrilled at the prospect of “going back to playschool”. He needn’t have worried though, as the Snowbizz girls knew he’d be joining them after his lesson, they had waited for him before heading out to go sledging. He soon perked up and as I was tired, I decided to put my board away and watch them play. It was a very enjoyable few hours sitting in the gorgeous sun, sipping a beer and watching my children having the time of their lives.


Kids Club

After a bath and a rest, the children decided they wanted to go to the kids club for the evening entertainment. Through the course of the week the activities varied from movie night, disco, sledging, pizza night and party games, all of which the children enjoyed a great deal. Most evenings we went ‘up the hill’ to La Chaumiere restaurant, that served delightful French food, heavy on calories and taste. The children came too and although their bedtimes were late compared to at home, their mornings were too (ski school started at 10).

We all settled into the new regime very easily. Only one night did we have a Snowbizz girl to babysit so we could linger over our delicious food, rather than eat and leave as we had been doing. Note to self: two pairs of skinny jeans, a few jumpers and one pair of snow boots would have been adequate to pack. There’s no need for anything dressy in this family resort.


If the children are happy, then so are we!

The week passed remarkably quickly and was deemed a success by all. Pinkie had to be bribed out of the crèche every evening, and Blue was going over moguls and enjoying red runs after just 5 days on skis. Mr relaxed for the first time in months and looked like the same guy I’d married over ten years ago. I, well I just had the best time because as all mum’s know, if the children are happy so are you. The skiing was brilliant, the weather glorious and the resort made it easy to be lazy.

The coach journey back to Turin airport was about 2 hours long and at times felt like an eternity, but the Snowbizz girls were with us all the way, through check-in right up to the security gate. Had they been allowed I’m sure they would have accompanied us to the steps of the plane. All the children were waving and blowing kisses to them as we turned the corner ready to remove our coats and shoes.

The talk on the plane was mainly each family discussing what they’d do differently next year and what had worked well and would be repeated. The general consensus was that everyone had a brilliant holiday and were all keen for more next season.

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