Skiing with Toddlers – Family time in the Snow
Having never skied before, I have always been a little unsure of a family ski holiday so wasn’t sure what exactly to expect when we were kindly offered by Flagstone Travel to go and stay in the Alps for our first family ski experience! I am not exactly brave when it comes to more extreme sports and my previous experience of a ski lesson included a very shy, underconfident 18 year old me, in a 1-1 session with a rather cocky French instructor, which ended in me bursting into tears and running off halfway through the lesson. Let’s just say I had low expectations of what skiing would be for me!
I absolutely adore the snow and was super excited if nothing else, to be able to play with my two boys in the snow and drink hot chocolates. It didn’t seem to matter much if skiing wasn’t on the agenda for me…how wrong I was!
The Club Med Les Arc’s resort is a decent coach ride away from the local airport, which meant that after a short flight with two excited toddlers, we climbed onto the coach desperately hoping that they would nap – which of course they didn’t! Anyone who knows my children will know well that sleeping on the go has never been their forte! Luckily we took the i-pad and plenty of snacks, and lots of “eye spy” later, we arrived at the resort.
Having never stayed in a ski resort before I didn’t know what to expect, but Les Arcs did not disappoint. As soon as we walked into reception, we were greeted with afternoon tea that was set out in the bar area and children running around everywhere. There was zero pressure for the boys to behave in a certain way and we enjoyed cakes, crepes and drinks with a brilliant view of the mountains. The afternoon tea was different everyday and such a brilliant time for the children to run around and make friends, whilst reflecting back on the day of skiing for the adults.
Top Tip for toddlers – those windy roads as you reach the resort can make even the least travel sick of us feel queasy. Try to limit screen time during that part as it seems to increase risk of vomiting, dress them in layers to be able to take clothes off if they get a bit hot, and keep some sugary snacks/salty biscuits and a plastic bag to hand! Three out of the four of us found the last 30 minutes of the windy journey a little sicky, and at least one of us was sick (luckily I had that excellent Mum premunition and was able to catch it in a bag as it happened).
Part of the deal with going on a ski holiday was that the boys would be in childcare, whilst we skied. By staying at the hotel, you receive access to group adult lessons in the mornings and afternoons. I chose to ski just in the mornings, as wanted to spend the afternoons playing around in the snow with the boys. Anyone who has skied with toddlers will know that the mornings are a little manic, ensuring that everyone is up and ready, dressed (in multiple layers!), then down to breakfast, and then dropped off at Kids Club all in time to then be ski ready yourself for lessons starting from 9am onwards. On the first morning it felt a little overwhelming, as we weren’t 100% sure where everything was and who was going where – feeling a little bit like I was rushing drop off (never ideal for a Mummy already feeling guilty!). However, from the second morning onwards it became second nature and we were all used to the routine by then.
Top tip for toddlers; do a walk of the hotel the night you arrive and go and meet the Kids Club team. It really helps them see in advance where they are going to be spending their time! Also remember your red books, every child needed to be checked over by the resort Dr and although we didn’t have them, they are a requirement to prove your child’s vaccinations.
Mornings were spent skiing (9.30am-12pm), and you can match your ski level; which means that I got to hang out with a beginner group and my husband was able to go off and do his thing at a higher ability level! The ski holidays at Les Arcs are usually a week long, but as we were only there for four days due to other commitments, I decided that with only three days of skiing, I would pay separately for 1-1 lessons on the second and third morning, which meant I was able to learn at a faster pace than taking it in turns in a beginners group. This meant that by day 3 we were up in the mountains and skiing down the beautiful slopes, really soaking up the atmosphere. As the children lunch with Kids Club in the main restaurant, there was never any point in rushing to get them when lessons finished, which meant we were able to ski together for an hour after our lessons had finished, as well as enjoy the generous Apres Ski put on by the hotel at the end of the lessons (think rose, French cheeses and meats and live music or disco tunes outside in the sunshine, in the middle of the mountains) – all included by the hotel at no extra cost!
After picking my eldest up after lunch at around 1.30pm, we would then have some down time with him (more snacks and drinks!), whilst waiting to collect my youngest from Kids Club at 3pm. We left him to nap at Kids Club as he easily went down with his cuddly in the toddler room, whereas I know for a fact that he would never have fallen asleep in the hotel room, in the middle of the day.
Then from 3.30pm onwards it was time for family time in the snow, building snowmen or eating and drinking yet more (afternoon tea!). At Les Arc’s you are able to hire ski bits for small children even if they are not in Kids Club, so you can have a little go at it yourselves if you can find a quiet corner outside to do so. It meant that the boys got to practice being on Ski’s, but without actually being at Ski School (my eldest could have been in Ski School which is part of Kids Club, but we decided against this for his first visit but next year we will definitely sign him up).
Top Tip for Toddlers; Layer up in the snow! It was cold outside, but by using layers of merino wool vests/jumpers/snoods and then snow suits (we love the Dinoski ones), you are able to take on and off easily, and change layers if they get wet – which didn’t really happen for us as the Dinoski suits are so incredibly waterproof! I would also take two pairs of gloves, I didn’t but they fall off easily and get wet or have snow in them often!
Our experience of the Les Arcs resort was one that we will treasure forever – it sounds such a cliché but is really was very special. Everything in the resort is perfectly suited to families and the timings of the meals and having snacks on demand means that no one goes hungry. Not only that but the quality of the food in the resort is just incredible. By the end of our stay, the Kids Club staff would know the boys names and say hello to them in the evenings. Staff are really encouraged to join in with the guests and will often come and sit with you and join you for dinner or drinks (you can say no if you prefer not to!). The whole hotel just has a brilliantly friendly vibe, yet uber chic and has a real luxurious feel to it. You certainly won’t be disappointed and we hope to visit again next year!
With huge thanks to Flagstone Travel for giving us such a great opportunity. Contact Sarah to discuss your family’s holiday needs.