Whether your family are black-run pros or new to the ‘pizza slice’ training technique, our ski experts are here to share their invaluable insights and advice. Where are the top ski schools? Which resorts have free lift passes for children? Where are the coolest après ski activities for families? We’ve chosen eight of the best family ski holidays for a thrilling alpine adventure…
Les Gets, France
This small village has a fairytale feel about it. Thick snow rests on chalet-style rooftops and open fires flicker through the windows of the street’s après ski bars. You won’t have to travel far to get there either, as the transfer from Geneva only takes just over an hour; so you can avoid a long journey with restless little ones. Les Gets is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area and has around 600km of diverse terrain, making it a good choice for all ages and abilities. When tummies start to rumble, the village’s local restaurants offer a selection of delicious Savoyard specialities – the kids can get stuck into a pot of gooey fondue, while you wash it down with a hearty red. We recommend staying at one of Residence Annapurna’s luxurious self-catering apartments, just 150 metres from the Mont Chery ski lift. When you fancy a day off the slopes, soothe any aching muscles at the spa, or take a guided tour to learn how cheese is made in the Alps. There’s also a skating rink in the centre of the village – great for a family evening out.
If you’re planning your first family ski trip, Villars is a good place to start. The ski school here is a favourite for young beginners, with lessons available for ages three and above. Children can choose from standalone ski lessons, classes with lunch and pre-school activities included, or you could book them in for one-to-one sessions. The resort’s two dedicated snow gardens mean they can practice in a safe environment; and there’s also a nursery slope in the heart of the village, which you don’t need a lift pass to access. For big kids that already know their stuff, Villars has over 100km of slopes where they can hone their skills. The Chalet Royal Hotel & Spa is a top family pick. Teens can hang out in the games room while youngsters are kept busy with the free children’s activity programme. There’s also a swimming pool and private cinema for cosy family film nights.
Sun Peaks, Canada
Take your children on an action-packed ski adventure to Sun Peaks, British Columbia. With more than 4200 acres of fine, dry snow, it’s no surprise Canada’s second largest resort is a favourite across the country. It’s got a pedestrianised centre, so it’s safe for little ones; and alongside the ski school, there are loads of child-friendly après ski events. Go tubing, skating, dog sledding or, if you’re here in January or February, you could book family ice hockey tickets to see a Kamloops Blazers game. You can’t beat the central location of the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel. Roll out of bed and you’ll be at the ski school’s meeting point a minute later, as the hotel sits above it. For the young ones, the hotel has a dedicated kids’ centre and special children’s menu at the restaurant. For you, there’s a lively sports bar and heated outdoor pool for a relaxing post-ski dip. Choose from connecting rooms or a luxury self-catering condo with two bedrooms.
Over Easter, swap chocolate eggs for pain au chocolat on a late season ski trip to the French Alps. Stay at Residence Le Nevada and wake up each morning to the smell of fresh pastries, delivered to you by the local bakery. These four-star apartments are such good value for a family stay. You’ll have a fully equipped kitchen, spa access and the restaurants of Tignes on your doorstep. The high altitude of this resort, set in the scenic Tarentaise area, means it hangs onto snow until as late as the Easter holidays, so you’ll have more flexibility when you’re deciding when to go. Tignes is a superb choice if your family are intermediate or advanced skiers, with heaps of blue and red runs and some thrilling black ones, too. If there’s a beginner in your group, the lifts for the nursery slopes are free so they’ll be able to practice for as long as they like at no extra cost, until they’re ready to conquer the tougher pistes.
Jackson Hole, USA
Known for its challenging steep chutes and black-diamond terrain, Jackson Hole’s iconic slopes are a go-to choice for advanced skiers and snowboarders. But we’ll let you in on a little secret – children love it here. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has its own Kids Ranch where little ones can learn the basics on gentle and quiet slopes. What’s more, children under the age of 14 will be given free lift passes. As a family, you can try night-skiing at Snow King mountain; go snow-tubing; or explore nearby Yellowstone National Park, where local characters such as grizzly bears and wolves roam. If you’re visiting in winter, book an enchanting sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge for a chance to see these wild creatures up close. We recommend staying at Teton Mountain Lodge. Its slopeside setting means you’ll have easy access to the mountain and, if you book in advance, we can help you save with an early booking discount.
Val Thorens, France
Val Thorens is a fantastic all-rounder. Its set at a high altitude of 2300 metres, which makes it a snow-sure resort throughout the season, and the hotels here have convenient ski-in ski-out locations, so you won’t have to lug around your children’s heavy ski equipment. If you’re travelling with teenagers, the five-star Hotel Altapura has some brilliant tech-savvy touches to charm even the most hard-to-please teens. They can take advantage of the in-room iPhone dock and Mac Mini, and try out the hotel’s Selfie Gondola – a retro gondola cabin that’s been made into a photo booth – a great spot for a quirky Instagram photo. The vibe here is very chilled, so after an adrenalin-fuelled day carving through the snow, you can relax in your interconnecting rooms or family suite. For the thrill-seekers of the family, Val Thorens is home to the longest toboggan run in Europe and has one of the world’s highest zip wires.
Val d’Isère, France
This mega famous resort has one of the Alps’ longest ski seasons, with runs for all levels. If this will be your children’s first time on skis, they can learn the art of the snowplough – or ‘pizza slice’ technique – at one of Val d’Isère’s brilliant ski schools. Lessons here are taught in English; the class sizes are small; and there’s an excellent teaching area for beginners at the top of the Solaise gondola. If you are a seasoned pro and feeling gutsy, you can master the legendary black run, La Face. Off the slopes, take a family trip to the Aquasportif centre. The young ones can splash around in the massive pool and play in the lazy river, while you unwind in one of the calming bubble baths. There’s also a driving simulator and climbing wall to tackle here. We love the Scandinavian-themed Hotel Le Yule. It’s got an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, a children’s games room and sits right next to the ski school meeting point and lifts. Pick a suite facing the mountain and rise each morning to views of the snow-white landscape from your balcony.
When it comes to child-friendly resorts, the USA’s Aspen Snowmass takes it to the next level. There’s a leading children’s ski school, dedicated trails for children, a Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Centre, and free lift tickets for little ones when you rent equipment with Four Mountain Sports. You could even take advantage of the childcare service one evening and go out for a romantic après-ski date night. Snowmass village is also really easy to get to. Fly into Aspen airport and, after around a 15-minute transfer, you can check-in to the amazing Limelight Hotel – one of the village’s finest ski-in ski-out retreats. Hit the ice rink or chill in one of the heated outdoor spa pools while the kids burn off energy in the games room. If you’re a family of hot chocolate lovers, take a well-earned break at one of Aspen’s scenic on-mountain bars and get a cocoa fix with a view.