What to look for in a family ski resort

What to look for in a family ski resort

How do you pick a family-friendly ski resort? Families come in all shapes and sizes, with lots of different needs to juggle. A five-year old’s unlikely to last a long day on the slopes without at least a few grumbles. But a ten year-old novice can soon outflank a 40-something. Especially if they started to ski later in life (ahem….I put my hand up here!). And your family might have a resident ski expert or two, who like to tackle black runs. Everyone’s different.

This winter, we’ll be travelling to Passo Tonale in Italy, to try out Crystal Ski’s family package. Our home for the week will be the Grand Hotel Paradiso. By all accounts it should offer everything a family needs. In case you’re thinking of booking your own family ski trip, here are some suggestions for what to consider – as well as reasons why we think Passo Tonale, and Crystal Ski, will have it all covered for us.

If you want to find out more about Passo Tonale and Crystal after reading this post, check out their Ski Explorer app. It shows the latest snow reports, piste and resort maps and recommended routes.

Quality kids’ clubs and tuition

Kids’ clubs aren’t for everyone, but our two have loved their times in high-quality clubs on our summer breaks. I’m sure it’ll be the same at Passo Tonale – for family skiing, clubs work particularly well. Until the children reach a certain level, it’s difficult to spend much time together on the slopes.

At Passo Tonale, Crystal’s Pepi Penguin Nusery (for under-4s) and Whizz Kids Club (4-11 year olds) are both based in our hotel. When they’re not out in the snow, our kids will find plenty to occupy them indoors, like bouncy castles, trampolines, soft play and games.

Grand Hotel Paradiso

There are excellent English-speaking ski schools at Passo Tonale, which I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ll be able to do that without all the hassle of getting the children to their own school. The Crystal Childcare team will kit them up in their ski gear, drop them off at ski school, and make sure they’re settled in the correct group, with the right instructor.

A variety of slopes, with plenty of easy runs for the beginners

Passo Tonale has lots of low-gradient pistes, starting and finishing a short walk from the ski resort’s accommodation. For more of a challenge, skiiers can take the gondola over to Ponte di Legno for red and black runs through the trees. There are even some off-piste options available, as well as night skiing for anyone with more than a three-day lift pass.

If your family heads off to ski in separate corners of the resort, and you want to regroup, the Ski Explorer app can help. Its GPS tracking and Find My Friends features make it easier to track down that black run enthusiast in your life, or just arrange a lunchtime rendezvous.

Home comforts

Anyone who travels with kids knows it’s important to create a home from home while you’re away. The Grand Hotel Paradiso’s warm, contemporary rooms are furnished with natural stone and wood to create a cosy mountain atmosphere, while the communal areas have great views of the valley.

Grand Hotel Paradiso

For a peek inside another Crystal Ski apartment, this time in the Alpe d’Huez grand domaine ski area of France, check out Gretta from Mums Do Travel‘s post on Les Balcons d’Auréa. Oh, those views….

Good food and drink

At ski resorts you can usually find crowd-pleasing meals for all the family: winter warmers, served with a hot beverage and – depending on which country you’re in – lashings of cheese. But it’s worth double-checking a resort’s restaurants, to see what’s on offer.

Grand Hotel Paradiso

The Grand Hotel Paradiso serves a range of fine local foods and regional wines, so there should be something for everyone. The bar downstairs has separate areas dedicated to different Italian tipples. Most hotels at Passo Tonale have their own restaurants, plus there are a few more dotted around the small resort.

Après ski is usually to be found in the sunshine at the foot of the slopes. Our partying days are mostly behind us, so we’ll be crashing out early, but if you wanted to, you could find a handful of bars and clubs for late-night après ski. I’m sure we’ll muster up the energy to take the gondola up to the Presena Glacier at 3,000m, though, and enjoy a bottle of bollicine – the local fine sparkling wine – with a view.

A little luxury

Grand Hotel Paradiso

Skiing’s fun, but there’s no denying that it’s hard work. It’s good to know you can ease those aching muscles, and indulge in a little pampering. Grand Hotel Paradiso has a grotto-style indoor swimming pool and hot tub, as well as treatment rooms, solariums, saunas, special showers and a steam room to relax in. Ski logistics are made a little easier, too. There’s a heated boot room with your own allocated locker. Ski hire is on-site and next door, so you don’t have to lug your equipment around town.

Grand Hotel Paradiso

Festive Fun and non-ski activities

Of course, if you’re a family of ravenous ski hounds, you’ll all want to be out on the piste, all day every day. But the chances are, that one or more of you might want some variety. Whether it’s a day off to rest beginners’ achey legs, or an afternoon with the kids to give them a break from the slopes, it’s good to make sure there are non-ski activities at the resort, so the family can mix it up a bit.

Passo Tonale has plenty of activities to try – from dog-sledding to cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. To keep the kids entertained, the resort organises races, illuminated runs, face painting and hot chocolate sessions.

These ‘ski-extra’ activities are something Crystal Ski seem to do very well. I enjoyed reading about marshmallows and vin chaud by the firepit at Les Arcs 1950 in this post by Rainy Day Mum.  Nisbah and her family from Five Adventurers tried reindeer and husky rides, snowshoeing, ice fishing and star gazing in Lapland. Globalmouse even took advantage of a Crystal Ski day trip out of her Slovenian ski resort, to visit the city of Ljubljana.

If you’re interested in reading more tips on what to do before heading off to a family-friendly ski resort, check out this post by Truly Madly Kids on their half-term trip to Les Arcs.

What do you enjoy, on a family ski trip?

Passo Tonale is in Italy. It’s a high mountain pass linking the regions of Trentino and Lombardy. You can find more details about this resort and others on the Crystal Ski website.

We’ll be skiing at Passo Tonale and staying at the Grand Hotel Paradiso as the guests of Crystal Ski. Follow us on Twitter, Intagram and Facebook to see the live action. In the New Year you’ll be able to read all about our trip. What would you look for, in a family ski resort? Let us know, so that we can report back.

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  1. September 19, 2017 / 9:08 am

    I bet you cannot wait for your family ski holiday! I can’t wait till my boys are old enough – think we have a couple more years to wait. Your tips are fab – I can imagine that variety is key, especially with little ones. #familytraveltips

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      I think we’ve hit optimum age for them to learn now. You’re right, I’m so excited.

  2. September 19, 2017 / 11:26 am

    Sounds like a great resort. I can’t wait to take my kids skiing in a few years time, it’s such a magical experience. #familytraveltips

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Good times ahead!

  3. September 19, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    Okay, I’m still waiting to give skiing a go. I think my time is coming! #familytraveltips

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      You should!

  4. September 19, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I love the idea of the kids’ club taking them to ski school as well – as a distinct novice, if I went with my daughter we’d both need lessons so trying to sort her and myself out at the same time is probably a recipe for disaster. I do think I should make a start sooner rather than later otherwise she’ll have outstripped me by lesson 3!

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      I’m sure my two will be better than me by the end of this trip, Cathy….

  5. September 19, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    This looks like a really great hotel! Italy is supposed to be amazing to ski, I am sure you will love it. We tend to go to Austria or Switzerland. As the rest of my family are super skiers, I tend to look for places where I will have things to do as well (spas, towns close by to visit etc.) not to mention the accommodation is really important. I want the whole ski chalet thing, open fires, really cosy etc. etc. Now, I must look at booking our spring trip! 😀 #familytraveltips

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      I haven’t skiied in Italy yet, either – only Austria and France. It’ll be interesting to compare the different places. I like the sound of cosy open fires!

  6. September 19, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    Wow! This resort looks incredible!! I have never been on a ski holiday but my husband is really desperate to go! The rooms look gorgeous -and so does the swimming pool! I love that there are all the extra activities available like dog sledding and face painting for the kids. Cant wait to follow your trip!

    • September 19, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks Katy. I do want to give the dog sledding a try!

    • September 20, 2017 / 8:28 pm

      I rather suspect we will, Claire! x

  7. September 20, 2017 / 8:55 am

    You’ve got me excited about skiing now! Counting down the months til I see snow #familytraveltips

    • September 20, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      It’s exciting, isn’t it?

  8. September 21, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Great tips. I’ve never been skiing but this would be useful if we do

    • September 24, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      Thanks x

  9. September 21, 2017 / 9:46 am

    I didnt learn to ski as a child and it’s almost impossible now so I would need (very patient) tuition too! I’d love to take the kids – my little speed demon daughter would absolutely love it. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • September 24, 2017 / 6:51 pm

      Never too late, Katy! Still time for you to learn… xx

  10. September 21, 2017 / 11:01 am

    So you may be winning me over – I certainly like the look of the food, hotels and rooms – and I think my son would love it. As long as I can stay curled up by a log fire, I think I’m in!

    • September 24, 2017 / 6:59 pm

      I’m sure they’d let you do that!

  11. September 21, 2017 / 11:33 am

    This place looks fab. My boys are far better than me at skiing now! And they have no fear #farawayfiles

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:03 pm

      Mine will no doubt overtake me soon, too….

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:07 pm

      I know. Don’t they look amazing?

  12. September 21, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    This looks like it ticks all the boxes for a family ski trip. The resort sounds ideal, the hotel looks gorgeous and with everything so close, that makes for a happy holiday.
    We never did ski as a family as our son skied on a school trip and wasn’t that keen to go again! Hubby and I learned to ski a couple of years ago and it was a fantastic experience. Always hear good things about Crystal Ski – hope you have a brilliant time.

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:08 pm

      Ah yes, I remember reading about your ski trip. Sounds as though it was a big success. It’s always more difficult to learn when you start later, but I’m determined to improve!

  13. September 21, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    Ha! My teenager’s class in Copenhagen has been there the past two years and it’s my middle teen’s turn this January! They loved it – when there was snow! Sending wintery wishes for clumps of fresh stuff for your tour of Passo Tonale! Enjoy! #FarawayFiles

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:14 pm

      ooh yes, let’s hope so! I’ve been told it’s very snow-sure, so fingers crossed.

  14. September 22, 2017 / 5:39 am

    Ahhhh, I am not into ski resorts at all but after seeing this I feel like I have been missing out. The facilities of this place look incredible (way better than my apartment). Plus, I like the non-skiing activities. Looks like an experience to add to my bucket list. #FarawayFiles

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      Yes, there’s so much more to the place than skiing.

  15. September 22, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    Oh I am jealous, I would really like to go on a skiing holiday – I went many moons ago. I like the mix of all that you’ve mentioned. I just have to wait a bit until the baby is older perhaps…

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      The time will fly by…..

  16. September 22, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    I would love to take my girls here! The scenery is breathtaking! It’s great how the team look after little ones so well and all the facilities are conveniently placed too.

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      I know. Sounds as though it’s going to be a great service.

  17. September 23, 2017 / 10:01 pm

    We haven’t been on a ski holiday with our boys yet, but at 6 & 3 we are hoping to take them soon. We loved skiing before kids so cannot wait to get back on the slopes! Great guide Nell

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Thanks Lisa x

  18. September 24, 2017 / 9:42 am

    I really hadn’t realised there is so much to think about and that there is so much on offer for families who enjoy skiing. What an excellent resource

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Thanks Zena x

  19. October 2, 2017 / 10:50 am

    Ooh that swimming pool and hot tub, I want to get in!! Some great tips here, thank you. Particularly useful for us to know that the age for the kids clubs is under 4’s then -11’s. That would make me put off going until next year when both kids would be in the same club, would be great for them to learn together. Hopefully hubby will be mended enough to ski by next year too! Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips

    • October 2, 2017 / 1:51 pm

      I hope you do get to go skiing some time, Nat. I’d be really interested to hear what you make of it!

  20. November 12, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    I love skiing in Italy and the food on the slopes and the bombardinos! Have also introduced our boys to the snow and skiing since they were very little – January this year we all had a blast with Esprit in Tignes – can’t rave enough about: https://zenbabytravel.com/2017/01/24/esprit-ski-holidays/ Will keep an eye on your travels with Crystalski at Passo Tonale, thanks for sharing Nell!

    • November 14, 2017 / 12:48 pm

      Ooh, I’ve heard good things about Tignes. I’ll have a look!

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