We’d looked forward to our first family skiing holiday for ages. New arrivals to the family, and the sheer expense of it all, stood in the way. But finally, 10 years after our last ski holiday as a couple, it happened.
We were rather apprehensive. How could the needs of our six- and eight-year-old sons (to learn to ski while having a great time) be reconciled with ours (to keep three kids happy as well as get some time to find our own ski legs again) or with those of their one-year-old brother?
Well, take a world-class resort – Val d'Isère hosted the Winter Olympics in 1992 and World Championships in 2009 – with a solid snow record, an operator with 25 years' family ski holiday experience, and a reasonable hotel welcoming 100 kids and parents, in the village centre, plus excellent childcare, consistently decent food and plenty of enthusiastic young staff, and you have it.
There were a few drawbacks, including long coach transfers and a very early start on the way home. Our rooms in the Chalet Hotel Ducs de Savoie were pretty spartan. But the staff did tidy every day and keep it pretty clean. In fact, the team of 32 were definitely the hotel’s best asset – young, committed, incredibly hard-working, cheerful and enthusiastic.
Our youngest son (1½) went to nursery, based in the hotel, and seemed to enjoy the jolly atmosphere and trips to the snow. The older kids were well catered for too, with excellent ski lessons, accompanied by Esprit staff. It was nice for them to be in an English-speaking group and to hang out with the same children at the hotel afterwards. There were plenty of qualified staff and they seemed to enjoy looking after children and babies.
The skiing was wonderful – L’Espace Killy is a vast area, with incredibly efficient lifts and beautiful long runs catering to all ability levels, fully interconnected with the neighbouring resort of Tignes.
A lot had changed on the slopes in the 10 years since our last trip. Thankfully, fluorescent, garish skiwear is a much less common sight. Skis are shorter, fatter and easier to master. But Eye of the Tiger still manages to blare out from the chairlift attendant’s offices.
Most importantly of all, every one of us thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and we regularly talk about the next. We’d happily recommend Esprit, and, in fairness, a higher standard of accommodation would most likely have been significantly more expensive.
Read more about Esprit's Chalet Hotel Ducs de Savoie in Val d'Isère.