Location! Location! Location! The Choices You Make For Your Ski Accommodation Will Impact Your Family’s Alpine Experience Greatly.
Skiing holidays is one of the most fun and exciting vacations to embark on. It is however perhaps one of the more expensive trips to make and also one that requires a great amount of planning. If this is your first time, you’ll find that the first big decision you’ll have to make is booking the best ski accommodation for you and your family. Over the years I have stayed in a myriad of accommodation types including lodges, 5-star chalets and bed and breakfasts to know what to look for to ensure the kids are well catered for. I have compiled a list of things to consider before you book your accommodation:
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #1
Book Early. Ski resorts tend to book out well in advance so be sure to plan ahead and make those reservations early. Some families return to the mountain year in and year out and they typically book 1 to 2 seasons ahead. If left to the last minute, you may be left with either the most expensive or inconvenient in terms of location, options.
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #2
Ski In Ski Out. Select accommodation with a ski in ski out option. This means that you’re putting your skis on the second you set foot out the door and you ski down the slope to the chair lift. The same applies to having the ability to ski straight back to your accommodation on your return.
As first timers, try and find accommodation that is close to the beginner runs. You will be exhausted and so will the kids. You want to be able to just pick up your skis or snowboards and return to your hotel easily. On our recent trip to Falls Creek in Australia, we made a last-minute decision to head up to the mountain. Because we booked late (and by late, I mean 6 weeks out!), we could only find apartments that were a shuttle bus away from the beginner chair lifts. Handling those skis, poles and overtired kids sure was hard work!
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #3
Apartment. If available, book an apartment with full kitchen facilities. Not only do apartments tend to be more spacious, having a kitchen means that you can prepare your own meals. One of the many things which irks me about alpine resorts is the horrendous waiting times required at restaurants during the lunch period, not to mention the exorbitant prices. I simply didn’t want to have to deal with a long queueing process whilst juggling cold, hungry and tired kids so being able to head back to the apartment to grab something to eat was just bliss!
If you’re on a budget, having a kitchen is the best way to save money. Bring everything you need! We brought frozen home cooked meals and we just heated them up for dinner. Hassle free, in the comfort of our own space. This is particularly handy if you have fussy eaters or kids with dietary allergens.
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #4
On Mountain. Many families sometimes prefer to opt for off mountain accommodation and travel up each day. Staying on the base of the mountain can be substantially cheaper and whilst it makes sense if you’re on a budget, there are some disadvantages to consider:
- Travelling up and down the mountain each day takes up a lot of time. By the time you drive up, find some parking, and then getting on a possible shuttle to the chair lifts, it would mean you would have to get up early if you want to take advantage of a full day.
- If you feel like you’ve had enough for the day but the rest of the family are still keen to continue (well you have paid for a full day so you’d want to take advantage of it), you would have nowhere to go. Sitting in a café waiting for the rest of the family is simply not ideal. If you had accommodation on the mountain you could just head back at your leisure.
- You would have to eat at the restaurants on the mountain. So be prepared for long queues and expensive menus.
During adverse weather, the mountain is sometimes closed off. This happened on our recent trip and all day trippers were not permitted to go up for 2 days. I felt terrible for the families who had already paid for lift passes and hired all their ski gear only to be stuck at the base of the mountain. And even if your travel insurance will cover it, its still disappointing.
- If you’re staying off the mountain, most likely you’ll hire ski gear from there too. Unless they have a representative on the mountain, what would happen if something went wrong eg boots were too small, the ski breaks or the clothes were ill fitted. You would be stuck with that issue for the rest of the day.
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #5
Party Central. One of the many things I used to look forward to after a full day of skiing was the apres-ski scene. Inevitably it was always filled with party goers, backpackers and all the international ski staff that were off duty. And it was raucous! But now that I have a family and wish to have a quiet night in, I make very sure that the accommodation is not close to the most popular party spot on the mountain!
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #6
Driveway. If you have the option, select accommodation that has a drive in drive out facility so you can offload before parking. It is so convenient getting everything out of the car right at the apartment and not having to also worry about the kids. And we always have so much stuff! Bags, toboggans, food, snacks, pillows, backpack, cameras etc…. We are heading back up to the snow this weekend and unfortunately on Mt Buller in Victoria, there is not drive in drive out facilities for any of the accommodation. We have to park in the car park and then catch a shuttle or taxi. So I might leave my wok at home on this occasion!
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #7
Dry Room. I am not a fan of accommodation that doesn’t have a dedicated drying area in my actual room. A drying space is essentially a hot room where you’ll place all your ski gear (apart from your actual skiis) to dry overnight. You want everything to be nice and toastie for when you hit the slopes the next day. Putting on wet clothes is the worse feeling!
Shared drying rooms down the hall don’t do it for me because it doesn’t provide the convenience of being able to strip off in the room and I also always have a fear someone will take my stuff. And for me it’s kind of “gross”. So unless I get my one private one, I’m never happy!
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #8
Pool, Spa, Sauna. There is absolutely nothing better than to soak a day’s skiing away in a spa or sauna. And you’d be surprise but you don’t need to be staying in a luxurious chalet to have access to this. The kids absolutely loved the pool (and it was pretty basic! No frills) and being able to end the day in the water. So do check if these facilities are available before booking anything.
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #9
Congestion. It is inevitable that the resorts get overcrowded, especially on the weekends. Every mountain will have a 1 or 2 main spots where they serve both as entry points and the hub for ticketing, shopping, and dining facilities. It can get quite chaotic and is always on the go so if you prefer a quieter environment, avoid hotels in these areas.
SKI ACCOMMODATION TIP #10
Shopping. Some alpine resorts offer a wide range of shopping. Yes, shopping and if this is your thing and your holiday is not all about just skiing, you might like to consider the proximity of the hotel to the shops. Some examples could include places like St Moritz which is known for their designer shops, delicatessens, and homeware boutiques or perhaps more familiar international shopping brands at Banff.
Well there you have it. Some practical tips to consider when you’re looking for ski accommodation. Do your due diligence so that you may get the best type of hotel for every member of the family. Have a wonderful time! Stay safe and I hope the kids will have a blast!
Do you have any other handy ski accommodation tips to add to the list? Tell us in the comments below!
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