According to The Bug…
You may recall that I was a reluctant skier. I was totally happy to sip a hot chocolate while my sister did the energetic bit. But my Dad insisted, and so my Mum set about getting me ready for our first family ski holiday. We spent last week in Val d’Isère with Mark Warner, and the person least inclined to come home when it was all over was me. So how exactly do you prepare a child to enjoy his first ski trip?
Tips for a successful family ski trip:
Book Lessons: I had several lessons at our local slope before we left. I found the group lessons intimidating at first, but a couple of private one-to-one lessons really brought my confidence up, to the point where I was brave enough to head out with the Mark Warner nannies on my first morning in resort.
Mark Warner use Oxygène Ski School in Val d’Isère, and they had all our booking notes on arrival. So they knew our experience, they knew that I was a bit nervous, and they knew that being in the same group as my sister was likely to make the first day go a little more smoothly!
Labelled up with every manner of contact details, and spottable from just about anywhere on the mountain, we even instilled enough confidence in our parents for them to head out to the black slopes. We waved them off and told them to be careful 🙂
I tell you, that first 3 hour lesson flew by, and it was a different boy who marched his parents off to the piste-side crêperie for lunch. By the way, this brings me to food, and it is entirely healthy to feed a 6-year-old Nutella pancakes for lunch, ok?
I only cried 3 times! The chair lift freaked me out because it was so high up, but now I can get on and off by myself. Which is more than can be said for GG – do you know she fell over and they had to stop the lift?? Duffer!
Contingency plans were afoot to take me back to the chalet – the Mark Warner nannies were quite willing to pick us up and take us back for lunch there, leaving M&D free to enjoy a full day on the piste. But I was having none of it. I wanted to ski. In fact, I wanted to ski every time we paused for breath that afternoon, “Shall we go then?” becoming my stock phrase of the week.
I did chill out momentarily, pausing to eat snow, or sneak ice down my sister’s neck – you know the obligatory behaviour of boys on tour. But it was never long before I was hankering to get back out there.
A conversation later that day had me describing my Oxygène ski instructor:
“He’s nice. He’s a bit French though…”
French or not, he managed to see me through a wobble in a white-out on day 2, where a patch of ice momentarily got the better of me, and by the end of the week I was high-fiving “King Julien” (it’s a Madagascar reference, made no sense to M&D either but I liked it) and taking receipt of my Polar Bear award.
How to go from ski avoider to ski fanatic
- Book lessons – a good teacher is the only way to instil skiing confidence in children.
- Choose your resort carefully – you need a good mix of easy slopes (greens and blues) and a simple way to get back to your hotel at the end of the day. Val d’Isère doesn’t have a lot of beginner slopes at the bottom, but there are some fantastic learner areas on the mountain, accessed by a speedy cable car. And Actually Daddy was able to hurtle down the black runs!
- Make sure your hotel has everything you need. Mark Warner had all-day childcare, provided most of our meals, and made up our rooms daily, meaning we could focus on family fun.
- Take it at your child’s pace. Don’t push, and be ready to take some time away from the piste if they need it. Mark Warner’s crèche was available to us all day, to drop in and out of when it suited our needs, and the nannies were just lovely.
- Relax the rules. My mother is a stickler for vegetables, and manners, but for this week I revelled in Nutella pancakes. I may also have been allowed to lick honey off my plate…
- Let your child dictate the slopes. We spent a lot of time on one particular green slope in the afternoons, until I decided we needed more of a challenge and stepped us up to blues!
- Be prepared to carry more than one set of skis occasionally 🙂
If you follow the above rules, there’s every chance you’ll have a professional skier on your hands by the end of a week. Just watch this short video to see my progress:
Disclosure: our Mark Warner ski holiday and Oxygene Ski lessons were free of charge for the purposes of review. All editorial content and opinions are our own.
Mark Warner operate a variety of family-friendly trips, including ski and summer holidays. Explore the huge variety on their website.
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