Grand Mouflon in Les Gets
Does an upscale catered ski chalet in a fantastic family-friendly ski resort complete with ski-out lift access, daily childcare, and inclusive meals sound too good to be true?
We just finished our holiday ski vacation at Les Gets in the French Alps. After hours and hours of research, I concluded that a hotel for 4 adults and 3 kids was too expensive over the holiday peak period, not to mention too confining for a group.
When you search for family ski holidays in Europe catered chalets come up quickly. Although we have loads of rental homes in US ski resorts, we don’t have the same category of serviced accommodations—at least at this level.
Chris Thompson, the Managing Director of Ski Famille, wrote an article for us last year on the best family-friendly ski resorts in Europe. I immediately gave him a call when I narrowed down chalets as our accommodation of choice as his award-winning ski holiday planning company focuses entirely on families. Their tagline? Totally ski. Exclusively family.
Mark, our private chef
What is a catered ski chalet?
At the most basic level, a catered chalet is a holiday home in a ski resort with an in-house private cook who prepares morning and evening meals. Additional services can include daily housekeeping, concierge services, drivers, and in our case, built-in babysitting.
Anyone who has rented a home over ski season that is not ski-out and does not include meals will understand what I mean when I say that the hassle factor when skiing with kids can be huge. Schlepping to the ski hill with kids and equipment, managing ski school or childcare pick ups, grocery shopping, and cooking most means parents are likely to miss the “skiing” part of their ski holiday. Not good.
Irrespective of the location, the beauty of a catered chalet is that the meals are covered. You don’t even need to think about what to eat or where and how to buy it. In addition, you aren’t dealing with restaurants either so kids can get to bed on time. Talk about relaxing!
We loved our manny
What makes a catered ski chalet family-friendly?
Ski Famille takes care of all the little details that may mean “more work, new place” instead of a vacation for parents. Core to the service is that they hire nannies who are at the chalet from 8:30-4:30p each day. The number of nannies who work a chalet is determined by the age and number of kids. If your kids are too young to ski, you can! If your kids just want 2 hours of ski school, no problem, they take care of it. If your kids only want to ski with you part of the day, no worries. The bottom line is that customization is what makes this kind of holiday work for families with different needs.
Ski Famille offers kids’ meals. Parents determine when their kids eat (i.e. early or with them), and the kids that stay back at the chalet for childcare get lunch and afternoon tea.
Our chalet also had a playroom complete with games and toys that is perfect for young kids — a safe, fun place for them to do a variety of activities. Parents leave snow gear handy so kids can go outside for supervised snow play including sledding and ice skating. The bottom line is the kids aren’t sitting around all day and watching TV. Translation, parents can get some ski time in guilt-free.
They also organized kids’ ski lessons and took care of all drop-offs and pick ups. The age of your kids determines how much or how little you’ll use their services, but it certainly makes it comfortable and easy when everything is handled for you.
The nannies are equipped to handle all ages. We had babies and school age kids in our chalet and the mix worked perfectly.
The downside? Like other service-oriented vacations, the pricing is not inexpensive. That said, our trip was packed with value and most importantly, we all loved our holiday.
Budget aside, are these vacations for every family? Perhaps not and you need to do your homework before choosing the service provider. Stay tuned for a follow up post on tips for finding the right catered ski chalet.
Tips for planning a family-friendly ski vacation
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.