Wheeeeee!’ Our three and a half year-old daughter Imogen ‘W came hurtling straight towards us i a rather out-of-control parallel, with a beaming smile on her face. And I felt a huge lump in my throat – before feeling a thump and nearly being rugby tackled to the ground at the bottom of the nursery slope. Imogen’s ski lessons were going well! ‘I doubt we’ll actually get much time to ski.’ ‘The kids might hate it.’ ‘Isn’t easier just to stay at home and wait till they’re a bit subject to a good deal and the right kind of childcare. After a bit of research, I discovered Esprit Ski’s new BAT (baby and toddler) weeks, which promised saving £479-£719 per family, depending on the children’s ages, plus extra bat-themed activities and fun. BAT weeks are run on selected quieter weeks during the season and are perfect for those with pre-schoolage kids. Free infant places, half-price nursery places, half-price Spritelets ski lessons for kids aged three to four (two hours a day for five days) and Snow Club (nursery with indoor and outdoor play that runs for the rest of the day) were also offered. This was the incentive I needed to came in with And – nearly gr nursery Scarlett and Imogen enjoy playing in older?’ ‘Sigh.’ My husband and go for it, and a few months later, here we the snow by the hotel one afternoon I had nearly talked ourselves out of our first family ski trip, but not much could beat that “eureka” moment on the slopes, for all involved.
As a keen skier, I’d been itching to get back on the snow post kids (they were now three and a half and a 18 months old), subject to a good deal and the right kind of childcare. After a bit of research, I discovered Esprit Ski’s new BAT (baby and toddler) weeks, which promised saving £479-£719 per family, depending on the children’s ages, plus extra bat-themed activities and fun. BAT weeks are run on selected quieter weeks during the season and are perfect for those with pre-schoolage kids. Free infant places, half-price nursery places, half-price Spritelets ski lessons for kids aged three to four (two hours a day for five days) and Snow Club (nursery with indoor and outdoor play that runs for the rest of the day) were also offered. This was the incentive I needed to go for it, and a few months later, here we were in the little resort of La Rosière near Les Arcs in France mid-January.
A ROARING SUCCESS
So how did we get on? That was the burning question all of our friends and relatives had for us on our return! In short, we loved it. My husband and I had thought that perhaps we’d get a couple of hours of skiing per day and maybe have to take it in turns to have a go while the other one looked after the kids, but we soon found out we could have from 9am until 5pm to ourselves, kid free, if we wanted it. Amazing, especially considering our other family holidays had consisted of self-catering weeks in Yorkshire with friends, which were great, but there was no time for a quiet lunch to ourselves and we still had to do the shopping, cooking and cleaning up post-meals that you’d do at home. Despite the opportunity, though, we found we couldn’t hold out till 5pm to see the kids and often picked them up in time for tea and cake in the chalet – it was meant to be a family holiday after all and we wanted to see our kids a bit!
Our chalet, Chalet Schatzi, was large, with room for 30 guests and sat right on the slopes at one end of the town overlooking the nursery ski area. Our suite was huge, and included a separate room for the kids and a sitting area plus a balcony from which you could see Imogen having her lesson (with excellent ski school Evolution 2; evolution2.com – Esprit staff helped out the instructors by picking up kids that fell over or needed a nose wipe!). Breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner (aperatifs, then three courses plus wine for the adults or high tea for the kids) were included in the price, plus the kids’ lunches were included in their childcare packages. There were four other families there, so it was great to socialise over dinner, plus Imogen made friends with a little girl of a similar age to her who was in the same ski lessons and childcare every day. Our 18-month-old, Scarlett, was too young for ski lessons (Esprit starts them aged three), and was a bit reluctant to be dropped off in childcare every morning, but soon settled after we’d left, got more used to it after a day or two and was looked after amazingly well by lovely staff (nursery hours were 9am-5pm). Imogen was taken off our hands at the chalet at 8.30am. We tended to pick her up after her ski lesson at 4pm, but Esprit staff would have brought her back to the chalet at 5.30pm in time for her dinner if we’d wanted, and even kept an eye on her during dinner, so that we wouldn’t have had to look after her ourselves until 6.30pm! Esprit really do seem to have thought of everything in order to offer families all the facilities they need on holiday – there was even a baby listening service while you had dinner – two staff would sit in the stairwell of the chalet and listen out for crying kids.
La Rosière, which sits at a pretty snowsure 1850m, is small and not rocking a huge après-ski vibe, but it’s perfect for families, with the nursery slopes right in resort and plenty of pistes for a week of skiing for all levels, with more over the back of the mountain, thanks to the link with La Thuile in Italy (a total of 160km of slopes). On-mountain prices are very reasonable compared to the bigger resorts, too.
This was the bit we were dreading the most pre-holiday, as anyone with young kids can appreciate! We flew from Gatwick to Chambery on a flight that left at 6.50am. The kids were exhausted as they were awake from 4am and were too excited to sleep much on the way there (there was a two-hour transfer to the resort), so they were a bit manic at times. But that was soon forgotten about as we slipped into holiday mode. It was a much more civilised mid-afternoon flight time on the way home and the kids both slept for some of the way to the airport, tired after a week of fun! Oh and Esprit has a room at Chambery airport with toys to amuse the kids with while you wait for your flight home – another fantastic touch. So stop procrastinating, start saving and have a great holiday with your little ’uns! Warning: You may get hooked on these holidays and have to go every year!
A week in Chalet Schatzi in La Rosière with Esprit Ski, including return flights, transfers, halfboard accommodation, free wi-fi and free baby listening costs £1,822 for a family of four as mentioned in the article. BAT weeks run in all Esprit resorts and 2016 dates are: January 10, 17, 24 and February 21. Visit espritski.com. See larosiere.net for more on La Rosière.