Snow holidays

Feeling sand-weary? Karen Iley checks out some cool destinations for family fun with the white stuff

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Sainte Foy, France

A relatively new resort, Sainte Foy has been charmingly developed to blend in with the original Alpine style of its surroundings. Close to posh Val d’Isere, this is a great spot for families simply because it’s so quiet – even, apparently, during the school holidays. Ski passes are cheaper than nearby areas (165 euros per week), and kids under seven ski for free. Two nursery slopes are perfect for little ones and learners, and the Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF) offers a morning ski school for kids at a lovely, central beginner’s ski slope, with a restaurant nearby where proud parents can watch their kids’ first ski holiday steps. Skiers are unlikely to get bored, but husky sledging, snow shoeing, snowmobiling and horse riding are all available nearby. Luxury tour operator Premiere Neige offers top-notch, spacious chalet accommodation, complete with log fires, hearty breakfasts, delicious afternoon tea and gourmet dinners. Kids can enjoy their own special menu and are well-looked after at ‘Cub Club’ a crèche and club for newborns up to 12 years, with indoor and outdoor play areas, private nannies and babysitting. The firm can also provide all sorts of kiddie stuff, including cots, car seats and strollers – even monitors, sterilisers, games and DVDs, so you don’t have to lug loads of kidde paraphernalia. All accommodation is within close vicinity to the crèche and ski lifts, so there are no shuttle bus headaches, just a pleasant stroll to the slopes.

Getting there: Fly Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Geneva from Dhs3,185 per adult. Accommodation in a luxury chalet with Premiere Neige, including breakfast, tea and dinner, costs from Dhs3,890 per adult per week. Self catered apartments cost from Dhs4,300 per week.
+44 870 383 1000; snow@premiere-neige.com; www.premiere-neige.com.


Mzaar, Lebanon

The best equipped and most popular winter sports resort in Lebanon, Mzaar gets our thumbs up by virtue of the fact you can be in Beiruit in less than four hours from Dubai. From there, it’s about an hour’s drive to the village of Mzaar, which lies just below the ski slopes. An ideal resort for beginners and kids, there’s an excellent ski school for little snow monsters aged five years and above, and plenty of wide, gentle slopes on which to learn. The main hotel in town is the Intercontinental Mountain Resort & Spa, a five-star establishment on Mount Lebanon, just 100 metres away from the slopes and with the warmth and feel of an Alpine chalet. Complete with indoor pool, a kids’ fun centre, babysitting services and – perhaps most importantly – other kids, outside childcare companies such as Blast’Inc can provide qualified nannies to look after nippers aged six months to 10 years, either in the warmth of the hotel or outdoors for some fun in the snow.

Getting there: Fly Emirates from Dubai to Beiruit. Emirates Holidays offers a four-night stay, including half-board accommodation, transfers, room tax and service charges for Dhs4,901 per person, based on twin sharing accommodation and valid until March 31.
04 343 9999; emirates.holidays@emirates.com; www.emirates-holidays.com.


Saas Fee, Switzerland

Known as The Pearl of the Alps, this pretty, traditional mountain resort is car free and incredibly child friendly. Full of character, it has been awarded the ‘Families Welcome’ seal of approval by the Swiss Tourism Federation. KidsHotels (family-friendly establishments with spacious rooms, babysitting and play areas), plus a wide range of hotels and apartments, cater to all family budgets, and the infrastructure as well as the wide variety of activities on offer ensures everyone is entertained. Not huge, 100km of slopes are nevertheless enough to keep skiing families occupied. Wide, gentle nursery runs and the Eskimos ski school make it one of the Alps’ best areas for young beginners, while kids under nine skiing with an adult get a free ski pass. Treat yourself to a week in UK-based specialist travel firm familyski.co.uk’s luxury Chalet Hotel La Collina, complete with open fire, cosy bar, leisure area with swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi, and crèche and play area for kids. Familyski.co.uk offers great childcare and activity and skiing programmes for little ’uns aged three months to seven years and above, as well as special meals and early dining for younger guests. Hitch a ride with the toy train bus – 10 minutes to the nursery slopes – or it’s a pleasant five-minute walk through the village to the Express Lift (there’s a locker next door where you can leave your ski gear). Other resort activities include a sports centre with pool, toboggan run, ice rink and husky dog sledging, as well as a bakery museum where kids can bake bread, and the world’s largest ice cave hewn out of the Allalin glacier.

Getting there: Fly with Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Geneva from Dhs3,185, where familyski.co.uk offers guests free transfers at 2.30pm. Or, fly Swiss Air to Zurich from around Dhs3,900 and take a train. A week’s accommodation in La Collina costs Dhs3,700 per adult, Dhs3,150 per child, including breakfast, tea and dinner.
+44 1684 540333; enquiries@familyski.co.uk; www.familyski.co.uk.


Ardent, Portes du Soleil, France

The Portes du Soleil is something of a hidden gem and an excellent choice for families skiing with young kids. It’s somewhat surprising – but not necessarily a bad thing – that many skiers are unfamiliar with the area, despite it being one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with a vast 650km of slopes offering interesting, varied scenery and a chance for some great on-piste touring through France and Switzerland. With runs for all abilities, an excellent snow record, ski lessons from ESF and just a 90-minute transfer from Geneva airport, it’s the ideal spot for a quietly active family holiday. Ardent is a small, traditional wooden village with unspoiled charm, so it’s not for energetic après-skiers, but is perfect for playing in the snow after tea. Widely viewed as the best family skiing location in the Portes du Soleil, it is located right at the heart of the ski area with a fast bubble lift to the main slopes. Apart from the excellent childcare packages and skiing programmes offered by familyski.co.uk, the firm operates several top-notch family hotel chalets to which you can ski virtually to the door.

Getting there: Fly Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Geneva from Dhs3,185, familyski.co.uk offers transfers to the resort for Dhs325 per person return. Accommodation in a luxury family chalet with familyski.co.uk, including breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner costs Dhs4500 per adult, Dhs3,700 per child.
+44 1684 540333; enquiries@familyski.co.uk; www.familyski.co.uk.


Seefeld, Austria

Fancy sloping down an Olympic run, reveling in Tyrolean hospitality and taking a winter walk with a lama? Seefeld, Austria’s magnificent plateau region, offers just that – all in a traffic-free setting perfect for families. Some of Austria’s resorts have a bit of a reputation for wild skiing and late-night partying, but in Seefeld, relaxed enjoyment is the name of the game. Additional family activities include
walking trails, swimming, day trips to nearby Garmisch and Mittenwald in Germany, or a spectacular train ride into Innsbruck. One of five ski schools in the area, Schischule Seefeld’s Gizzi Kids’ Club, is a popular indoor and outdoor kindergarten for kids aged 18 months to eight years, while the school also offers specialised ski lessons for kids and youngsters aged three to 15 years. The four-star Aktiv & Spa Resort Alpenpark with its 140 rooms, many of them interconnected, also has professional childcare six days a week at its Filo Kids’ Club for guests aged three to 12 years, complete with an adventure play area, soft-play corner, climbing wall, bouncy castle, loads of games and a family spa.

Getting there: Fly Emirates from Dubai to Munich. Emirates Holidays offers flights and seven nights’ accommodation in the four-star Aktiv & Spa Resort Alpenpark from Dhs6,326 per person, valid until April 10.
04 343 9999; emirates.holidays@emirates.com; www.emirates-holidays.com.

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