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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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