The winter season is nearly here – and that means just one thing… winter holidays on snow are just around the corner! CK Ski have compiled their top family-friendly ski resort options to help you plan your family adventure to the mountains. Whether it’s a trip to Europe, sampling the delights of resorts in Switzerland, Italy and Austria, or an Asian ski break to Japan or China, here are CK Ski’s resort choices for you to grab your family ski fix from Dubai.
Preparing for your trip
For first-timers, parents and children alike or those who are retuning to the sport after a few years, it’s a good idea to practice before your ski holiday and familiarise yourself with the equipment. Visit Ski Dubai, the indoor snow centre situated in the Mall of Emirates and take ski and snowboard lessons or practice on the five slopes and freestyle Zone.
For parents new to skiing (and seasoned professionals too) it’s important to think about your fitness before you travel. Remember to plan fitness into your weekly routine, about six weeks before you hit the slopes.
1. Verbier, Switzerland
Verbier provides access to the huge expanse of the four valleys ski area, all on one lift pass and is a great resort choice for families. The terrain is varied and for older kiddos and parents alike looking to improve, Verbier offers a number of excellent ski schools and courses including European Snowsport and The Warren Smith Ski Academy. Your family will appreciate a true chalet experience after a hard day’s skiing and Ski Armadillo in Verbier offers just that. With a selection of premium chalets, Ski Armadillo provides exceptional service, dining and a very reasonable package price that includes half-board accommodation, driver in resort and afternoon tea and cake.
Travel options: Fly direct to Geneva with Emirates and transfer to resort in one and a half hours. Alternatively fly direct to Zurich with Emirates or Swiss International Air Lines and it is just over two hours to resort, via the scenic Swiss countryside.
Stay: One of Ski Armadillo’s 14 chalets, varying from 4-16 people, for mid to high-end budgets, from AED 2850 – 13,260 per person per week, depending on your travel dates.
Season dates: 29th November – 26th April 2015
2. Dolomite Mountains, Italy
The Dolomiti Superski region covers 12 resorts featuring 1,200 km of pistes, with over 5,000 vertical feet of terrain and seriously impressive scenery. The region includes the welcoming atmosphere of the Ampezzo region to the Dolomiti di Sesto and Alta Badia and the towering peaks of the Val de Fassa and Val Gardena.
Dolomite Mountains, a tailor-made adventure company, designs itineraries for active families and classic ski holidays, ensuring you make the most of your stay in this fabulous region. For advanced family skiers, Dolomite Mountains can create a bespoke trip with an UIAGM/IFMGA mountain ski guide, who will match the slopes and routes to your abilities and interests.
Stay: Try the four-star Park Hotel Faloria in Cortina d’Ampezzo, offering family suites for up to six people. From AED 300 per person, per night.
Season dates: 29th November – April 2015
3. Cervinia, Italy
Cervinia is one of the highest resorts in Europe and you’ll find superb snow conditions until late in the season. Linked with Zermatt in Switzerland, it is possible to ski between the two resorts until May. The resort sits above the tree line at just over 2000m with the Matterhorn dominating the scenery. It is a great family resort for beginners and intermediates, looking to improve and practice on wide, well-groomed pistes. And for food lovers too who can take advantage of lunchtime stops at yummy Italian mountain restaurants.
Travel: Fly direct from Dubai to Milan Malpense airport with Emirates, and then it is two hours to resort.
Where to stay: Try the four-star Sporthotel Sertorelli, located near the pedestrianised precinct and ski lifts.
Season dates: December – early May 2015
4. Lech, Austria
Lech has fantastic early season skiing in December due to the region’s microclimate. Lech neighbours the fun-loving resort of St Anton, and with its picturesque alpine charm, is a great option for families who enjoy cruising the blue and red runs. For more challenging skiing and families with older children, try the slopes of St Anton, a short bus ride away. Adventurous families can try the ‘The White Ring’ – a circuit linking Lech, Zürs, Zug and Oberlech in over 22km of piste.
Chalet N, offered by luxury tailor-made operator Scott Dunn, is a gorgeous high-end nine-suite chalet, positioned on the Oberlech slopes with a personal lift to the slopes below. This luxurious chalet includes a lavish spa and wellness area, two dining rooms, vast living area, private cinema, Finnish Sauna, salt cave steam room and pool area – all ideal for relaxing after a hard day on the slopes. In addition to the private chef, and personal butler on hand, the chalet can arrange childcare.
Travel options: Fly direct to Munich from Dubai with Lufthansa or Emirates and Lech is a 2 hour, 45 minute transfer. Alternatively fly to Zurich direct with Emirates and Lech is approximately 2 hours 20 minutes transfer.
Stay: Chalet N, Scott Dunn, from AED 51,500 per person for one week, includes a direct flight with Swiss International Air Lines, private transfer, staff, a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner, beverages, ski pass, welcome massage, laundry service and more.
Season dates: December – April 2015
5. Niseko, Japan
Japan is renowned for reliable deep, fluffy, powder. The region of Niseko includes a number of Japan’s most celebrated ski resorts, including Niseko Hanazono, Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area. Older children will enjoy the night skiing in Niseko, with lifts open until 9pm. Ski Japan can help book your accommodation, lessons with Niseko Base, transfers and any extras you may need for your holiday.
Stay: Try the Green Leaf in Niseko Village – take part in the Onsen experience; a complex of hot baths, showers and communal volcanic thermal pools. Costs from around AED 570 per person, per night.
Season dates: December – early April 2015
6. Happo One, Hakuba, Japan
Happo One is a fantastic option for families. It is one of nine resorts in the Hakuba area and is accessed by a direct flight to Tokyo and four hour drive or train transfer. The snow is exceptional and with Evergreen Outdoor Centre offering private and group lessons for children and parents alike, your little ones will be well looked after on the slopes. The slopes are beginner and intermediate-friendly, with a few steeper black runs for the more advanced skier. Neighbouring resorts of Cortina and Iwatake are good resorts for parents and older children looking to access off piste (recommended with a guide).
Travel options: Fly direct to Tokyo Narita from Dubai and transfer to Nagano via the Shinkansen train. From Nagano, it is a short bus ride to Happo One. Alternatively book a direct Chuo taxi transfer from Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports (approx. three-four hours, traffic dependent).
Stay: The Double Black hotel, nestled in the Wadano forest and ten minutes from Happo One ski area, is a great option for families with older children. The reasonable 3-star hotel includes a Japanese Onsen to relax in post skiing and a cosy bar with hearty food and snacks, from AED 320 per person, per night. For larger budgets, try the family-friendly La Neige Higashikan from AED 1040 per person.
Season dates: November – 6th May 2015
7. Yuzawa, Japan
If you are seeking an easy-access ski resort, Yuzawa is a good option. The resort of Gala Yuzawa is handy to reach, situated with its own train station on the Shinkansen line, just 90 minutes from Tokyo airport. The area is also known for its Onsen (hot springs), with baths located at the ski resorts, hotels and public bath houses. With 11 ski lifts, it is great for beginners and intermediates, with the Canyons Ski School offering private and group lessons in English.
Travel options: Fly to Toyko Narita or Haneda airport with Emirates, then take the Narita Express to Tokyo main station and alight on the Shinkansen bullet train to resort.
Stay: The Hatago Isen is only 300 metres from the nearest ski lift and offers a Western-Japanese style of accommodation. Prices are from AED 405 – 685 per person, per night, including breakfast.
Season dates: December – end of April 2015
8. Yabuli, Harbin, China
Harbin, China is an area made up of multiple ski resorts with Yabuli the largest and most famous. Located in the Heilongjiang province, the resort is generally quiet with large, sweeping runs, perfect for beginners and intermediates. If you are travelling with younger children, Club Med is ideal as they offer the ‘Petit Club Med,’ a crèche facility aimed at children aged two to four, available in their Yabuli property. In addition to childcare, the Club Med package includes food, group lessons, ski pass, ski hire and other leisure and evening activities.
A visit to the Harbin Ice Festival is a great day out for the children, consisting of the snow sculptures show in the Sun Island, ice activities on the Songhua River, Ice Lantern Show in the Zhaolin Park, and the Ice & Snow World in the west of the Sun Island
Travel options: Travel to Harbin Taiping International Airport via Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Beijing and Yabuli is about two hours away.
Stay: Club Med, Yabuli offers an all-inclusive package for hassle-free skiing with children (excluding flights).
Season dates: November – March 2015
Weather and snow conditions are a very important part to skiing. Here are CK Ski’s website picks of up-to-date snow conditions, throughout the season:
www.weathertoski.co.uk – they know their snow.
www.snow-forecast.com – weather maps, snow reports, cameras for 3000 ski resorts.