If you want a family holiday you can remember as fun, competitive, challenging and exciting, a trip to the slopes could be just what you need. Family ski holidays make for incredible memories. The sheer joy of being high on a mountain with those you love most as you learn new skills together and test your endurance is exhilarating. The fresh alpine air will leave you feeling refreshed, and by exercising each day there’s no chance of returning home feeling like you’ve overindulged. For parents that enjoyed skiing and snowboarding pre-kids, it’s a chance to show off your skills and teach your children something you love.
Australia and New Zealand have some of the best ski resorts in the world, and most offer great fun for all the family. Many resorts offer child care services, children’s activities, specialised kids lessons and child-friendly food. To make the most of all this, it’s essential you do your research and plan well ahead.
When you plan ahead, skiing and snowboarding doesn’t have to be expensive. Many resorts offer incredible early bird family specials that offer great value on things such as accommodation, lift and lesson tickets, classes and ski gear hire. If you are flexible with your dates, the start and the end of each season are great cost savers. Some resorts will even offer a refund if there is little snow.
So where are the best family ski resorts?
Located in the Kosciuszko National Park, about 500kms south of Sydney, Thredbo is Australia’s best-known ski village. Thredbo caters really well for families, and offers a range of chalets, lodges, hotels and units. Kids can have fun with a number of activities that include downhill skiing, night skiing, boarding, snow shoeing, tobogganing and skidoo rides.
Perisher consists of four amalgamated ski areas, which form the largest ski resort in Australia. Located in the Snowy Mountains near the town of Jindabyne, Perisher is a great intermediate resort. Kids are well catered for in junior ski programs, and families can choose to stay either on the mountain or in the town. Activities include skiing, boarding, snow tubing, tobogganing, first tracks and groomer tours.
Mt Hotham is a busy ski resort that caters for both the advanced and first-time family skier. Located in the heart of the Victorian Alps, 360km from Melbourne, Mt Hotham offers plenty of accommodation options and activities for the kids. The Milo Mighty Mites caters for 3 to 6 year olds, the Milo Kids’ Klub offers fun for 7-14 year olds and the Hotham Day Care centre provides care for kids aged 3 months to five years.
Victoria’s Dinner Plain is a firm favourite of families with young children due to its fairytale setting. The beautiful architecture reflects the cattlemen’s history of the area and blends into the surrounding snow gums. Dinner Plain is a small, intimate ski resort with 200 lodges and chalets, however, a shuttle service operates between Dinner Plain and the larger resort of Mt Hotham.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
The New Zealand ski resort of Cardrona is perfect for a group of varying skiing abilities, and it’s a frozen playground for both kids and adults. The Digger Kids’ Club allows for morning skiing, a hot lunch and movie and then more skiing in the afternoon. It’s voted New Zealand’s number one family resort, with terrain perfect for the little ones.
How to make it fun once you’re there
1. Plan your runs
Little legs tire easily, therefore short runs are essential for keeping kids enjoying the experience. The frequent rests on the chairlift will also be exciting. Remember not to spend the entire time in lessons, as kids should be made aware that skiing and boarding is all about the fun.
2. Play follow the leader
Kids love to be in charge and make decisions on where they are going. Let them lead you down the slope (taking care to stay on track), and if they’re up to the challenge you can ask them to throw in a couple of easy tricks which you can copy.
3. Know when to call it quits
Follow your children’s lead when it comes to time on the slopes. Insisting you get your money’s worth by staying on the slopes until 4pm can tire kids out and can ruin an otherwise fun day.