Skiing holidays with children might sound stressful but if you follow some simple advice you could be enjoying a stress-free ski trip with the whole family. We speak to ski nanny Emma, a resident in Châtel in the French Alps, who shares her expert tips on how to enjoy the perfect skiing holiday with kids.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am qualified as a primary school teacher in the UK but I couldn’t resist the mountains so I re-located to Châtel in the Portes du Soleil, a lovely part of France. I have over 15 years’ experience babysitting and nannying for children aged two weeks to 15 years. Chatel Childcare offers flexible childcare which comes to you and takes all the stress out of family ski holidays. My calm, fun and positive nature means children quickly feel at ease with me and barely notice that their parents have left – although they are of course always delighted to see them when they get back.
What kind of services does your business offer families?
Using a nanny for your childcare during a ski holiday offers the ultimate flexibility for your family. Babies and non-skiers can be cared for and entertained in the chalet or apartment where you are staying which helps them to feel secure. Indoor and outdoor activities can be specifically tailored to the children’s wishes and tiredness levels. No need to clock watch to get back for the end of ski school as you can be confident that your nanny will be there for the collection. Having a nanny come to your chalet for an evening babysit gives the adults the opportunity to check out some of the excellent local restaurants and bars on ‘chalet night off’. Ultimately you get to indulge in your skiing, guilt free, safe in the knowledge your children are having as much (if not more) fun as you are.
Does Châtel offer any other activities for kids in the winter apart from ski school?
The latest addition is a fantastic indoor soft play centre which is a great way to burn off energy on a snowy afternoon. There are also play areas by the lake at the top of the village including outdoor soft play, a huge hit with older children. In the village centre is a beautiful traditional carrousel. The swimming pool has a great children’s section with lots of toys including an underwater trampoline. I try to take the children in my care on a different activity for every day of their holiday (although sometimes it is hard to tear them away from soft play.)
What are your top tips for a stress free family ski trip?
Where to begin! Bizarrely I think one of the most important things on a family ski holiday is clothing. Invest in good quality well fitting ski kit, pack spare gloves and make sure everyone’s ski boots fit well. If children are well kitted up they stay warm, dry and happy and there is no fussing. Be realistic with your expectations. You’ll find that two or three hours a day is enough ski time for younger children, more than this and you risk a slope side meltdown from tiredness. Try to build flexibility into your holiday rather than forcing too much ski time, for many children half an hour with mum and dad in the hot tub or crepes for tea can be the highlight of their holiday.
What do you think makes Châtel a great place for families to visit on a skiing holiday?
Châtel has been given the Famille+ award which means it is committed to providing the very best facilities for families on holiday. To earn and maintain this award the village must provide family friendly activities both on and off the ski slopes. It must also provide high quality childcare and have a child-friendly medical service locally. Châtel puts on a huge range of activities for children of all ages and events for families to enjoy together.
Find a resort with a short transfer time from Geneva
Aeroplane travel with young children can be draining and the last thing you want at the end of your flight is a slow going coach drive half way across the country. Châtel is only 90 minutes from Geneva and Chalet Transfers and Professional Transfers are small companies based in Châtel who will whisk you away to your holiday destination. Child seats are provided.
Skiing for all levels and abilities
For beginner adults and children you can master the snowplough and gain confidence with an adventure down the gentle green slope which winds its way through woodland and open areas. Numerous shorter beginner pistes can be found at the foot of the mountain as well as in the Super Châtel area above the village. Marmattons is an area dedicated to teaching children to ski as is the ESF snow garden which is full of obstacles and fun. Many blue and red slopes can be found in the ski area as you progress. For people who are after more of a challenge, Châtel offers several black runs, with Rhododendrons being a personal favourite. Châtel is extremely popular with off piste skiers with a plethora of tree runs and wide slopes easily accessible (of course this is always dependant on weather conditions and avalanche risk levels- be careful out there!) As part of the vast Portes du Soleil ski area you need never ski the same slope twice.
What essential items should parents remember to pack and what kind of things can you source/ provide?
Most essentials can be bought in resort but brands may differ from the UK so if you prefer a particular formula or nappy brand then bring them with you. Sunglasses are so important in the mountains and glare from the snow can make the sun’s damage worse. Proper snow boots are essential (wellies and socks won’t cut it.) I am always happy to give advice about snow/ ski kit for children to my clients, be that before or during their holiday. I provide a range of age appropriate toys and craft activities. I also have car seats, buggies, a travel cot and a huge selection of children’s equipment.
Any advice for first timers or those who are unsure about taking their kids skiing?
Do it! Skiing is a wonderful way of exercising and enjoying the outdoors together as a family from as young as two right through until children are adults themselves. Seeing children beaming with confidence as they show their parents their new skills is one of my favourite parts of my job. Be organised with your packing and don’t be afraid to ask your hosts or childcare provider for advice on what to bring.
Stay at Chalet la Fontaine located in Châtel, just 90 minutes from Geneva.