Tuesday, August 31, 2010

where to go in the snow with the hips...part 1

Today is the first day of Spring down under, and up north, so to speak, its the first day of Autumn. The southern hemisphere is just experiencing bumper snow conditions, and it won't be long before its time to head off to the alps in the northern hemisphere. But where? Over the last few posts we've heard from a number of snow bunnies, plus we now know what to take with us, but we really haven't discussed where to go. So, lets chat about a few great snow hot spots around the world.

Now, I first started skiing at the tender age of 7, and growing up in the UK with my wonderful Swiss mum, we were fortunate enough to be able to pop over to Europe for ski trips to Switzerland, Austria, Italy and even Romania...plus in my early twenties, I worked in the Swiss alps for a couple of years, so have a huge passion for those beautiful mountains (and am perhaps slightly biased!)

When left hip was 6 months old, hubby and I travelled back to the UK and Switzerland, and could not resist the urge to head up to the mountains. Lets just say, we didn't manage to ski together at all...how can you with a 6 month old hip in tow? (Wish I'd known about those creche facilities). But nevertheless, it was still beautiful to be up there. For me, the hot spots in Switzerland are where I worked in Saas Fee, but also its rich neighbour, the famous resort of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. Both these places have fabulous ski runs and because of the glacier, you can ski in Saas Fee all year round. Love it.

Other fabulous European hotspots are Val d'isere and Chamonix in France, and St Anton in Austria, and and all of them cater really well for children.

Its worth checking out companies such as Club Med and Mark Warner. As well as booking accommodation and lift passes etc, they run fabulous children's clubs for babies through to teenagers, ensuring you can take maximum advantage and spend quality adult ski time, whilst the youngsters are cared for both on the mountain in ski school, and indoors by qualified carers. Some packages even offer 'free child places'. Evening babysitters can also be arranged which means you can also take an active role in all that very important 'apres ski'. Totally worth looking into..

Now over to the US and Canada... Some of the most famous places to ski in the USA are Aspen and Vail. Both cater fantastically for children both on and off the mountain, in particular Aspen, where kids under 6 ski free. Tempting. Like in Europe, look out for the packages containing lift passes, ski / snow boards, lessons etc, as these are totally cost effective and worth the initial expense. And how can we mention Canada without talking about Whistler and Banff, two of the most recognised names over there. Whistler is vast and very child friendly, and being able to ski into the village at the end of the day is a real bonus. The beautiful Banff area, having recently won an award its family friendly ski school, is also well renowned for its lengthy ski season (mid November till late May).

Remember the snow season in the Northern hemisphere runs anywhere between early December to mid April (or a bit later as suggested in Banff), and remember school holidays are expensive and busy. Check out the local holidays too - the mountains can get very crowded.

Yes, it really is hard to decide where to go, and these are just a few of the breathtaking places you can visit. On our next post we talk to one last reviewer, and then, to make it all even harder to choose, we explore Australia and New Zealand's ski areas.

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