Family Skiing Holiday Part II - Useful Tips

Continuing on from Rupert's family ski holiday in Alpe d'Huez, we've put together a series of useful tips to help you make the most of yours.

<--break- />1. Ski lessons in Alpe d’Huez

In advance, we booked ski lessons for the kids for the start of the week; we chose small group private lessons for the kids through British Masterclass, who turned out to be one of the best ski schools we’ve come across. From the first day they had the kids skiing ‘sausage and chips’ (parallel, carving), banned from the menu were ‘pizza slices’ (snow ploughs) and what a difference it made to their skiing ability! After seeing how well the kids had come on the adults subsequently booked themselves in for private lessons, even those that thought they were advanced skiers soon learnt what real skiing felt like! The lessons consisted of one group having an afternoon of guiding with ski tips on all different types of terrain and another group having a ‘carving lesson’ which we all thought we were doing, but soon realised we weren’t!

These lessons propelled our skiing to another level giving us the control we felt on greens to the same feeling on steep and in places icy blacks. Sitting on a ‘bar stool’ now has new meaning in my book I can’t wait to try out my new found skills on our end of season ski trip in a couple of weeks time! I honestly thought I was a good skier, but I learnt how to do a ‘real carved turn’ and I would strongly recommend however good you think you are at skiing, get yourself to Alpe d’Huez, book a lesson with Mel, from British Masterclass and it will increase your enjoyment of all types of ski runs ten fold. British Masterclass were so good that if for no other reason but the amazing quality of the ski lessons we’ll be booking to go back to Alpe d’Huez - the only issue will be keeping up with the kids!

2. Ski Hire in Alpe d’Huez

Ski hire was also pre-booked through our tour operator at the Sport 2000 shop in Les Bergers Centre. One suggestion is to ask for this to be invoiced on separate family vouchers - if you are all in one big group it can be manic in the ski hire shop especially when it’s busy and you are hanging around waiting for other members of your group to get sorted. It’s also far easier when it comes to dropping off your skis as they need to check skis and boots off against one another and if you drop them all off en mass this becomes a bit of a logistical nightmare!

3. High Tea

We arranged ‘high tea’ (dinner time for the kids) with the chalet girls to be at 5.30 pm which gave us plenty of time to feed and bath the kids and get them to bed for our aperitifs and dinner at 7.30 pm.

4. The logistics of our family ski holiday

Now to the reality of our family ski holiday! ALWAYS pack or buy a good selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks for the journey (once you’re through customs of course) as food on the plane can be expensive and you may not get a chance to grab food / drinks when you land before your resort transfer. There’s something about travelling which makes kids bored far quicker than they normally would, so food and drink not only keeps them occupied it also helps avoid both you and the kids from melting down and having a holiday strop at the most inappropriate time! In the kid’s hand luggage pack books, favourite toys etc but try and discourage noisy toys and games + toys with small bits that get dropped and lost under seats!

We landed at Grenoble which (if you haven’t before) can appear to be small, cramped, under-manned and slightly chaotic. It is in fact, small, cramped, under-manned and chaotic! But like all holidays, hold your nerve, take a deep breath and if possible send one or two adults off to find the bus and get the kids out of the equation. On the way get the kids to visit the loo as well as many coaches have toilets, but they rarely seem to be in working order! Once on the transfer bus, if you haven’t already booked your lift pass, book it now to avoid wasting time in resort. Do though, ask about family passes, typically consist of 2 adults and 2 kids, as this can save you a fortune.

We were lucky as our flight and transfer was pretty uneventful and we arrived at the chalet in good spirits and were welcomed by our chalet hosts, who happened to be the same girls from the year before when we went to the Chalet Tetra in Les Arcs with a similar group. Without doubt, all of us had an amazing family ski holiday and we’re already planning next year’s chalet holiday in Alpe d’Huez!

5. Check flight times

Double check your flight itinerary which the experienced ski travellers will know can have flight amendments up until a week before departure. Our flight times suited us well, having 9.30 am flight meant a relatively civilised 5.00 am start but often flights will depart at 7.30 am, so if like us you live over 100 miles from the airport you should consider getting a hotel and parking deal so you can get a reasonable night's sleep near the departure airport.

6. Tips for the Slopes

Heated hand warmers - from £2 for a pair, stuff them in the children’s gloves and they give you half an hour to get them back to the chalet if it’s freezing! They can reheat up to 1,000 times so worth every penny but make sure you get small ones so they can easily fit in a pocket or into the palm of a glove. Snacks and treats on the slope – always carry incentives to get tired children home on that last run back. Remember to carry plenty of drinks too.

7. Pre-book Airport Parking

Consider pre-booking airport parking at the actual terminal rather than the cheaper off-airport/coach transfer option. Although more expensive consider the time and hassle-saving factor of simply walking into the airport departure lounge following an early morning start. Bliss! On return the same applies – you can save almost an hour both ways. Just be aware that many covered car parks have height restrictions – so if you are in a high vehicle with a roof box you will need to check that you will get in OK! (typically anything under 7ft is OK but do check!).

8. Duty Free

If you buy duty free on your way home, select to pay in the country's currency as then you pay the actual exchange rate and not the duty free operator's rate which will be poorer. If you'd like any more information on any of the chalets or topics discussed in Rupert's blog post then please drop us a line or give us a call for a more in depth chat.

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