A guest post from Pantelis Karvounopoulos, coffee addict and traveler.
The Alps, with their breathtaking scenery, are an excellent destination for families that love skiing and want to spend time together. However, it can be hard to decide upon the best destination: the French or Austrian Alps.
There is no easy answer.
But here is some information about both regions. We hope it will help you decide what’s right for your family.
The French Alps
Let us begin with the renowned Rhône-Alpes. Compared to Austria, the altitude is much higher. This is usually good news for families, because they can find excellent snow conditions for a greater period of time (at least six months), including off-season periods, when offers and discounts are numerous.
The French Alps are also synonymous with huge resorts (The Three Valleys, for example, or the famous Portes du Soleil), which means they provide extensive family options, such as
- Ski runs for beginners, experts and everyone in between;
- Children’s ski clubs; and
- Ski schools and amenity centers close to chalets and hotels.
Several French Alps resorts specialize in family skiing holidays, boasting a rich experience of more than 20 years. In fact, the French Tourist Board awards family-friendly resorts the “Famille Plus” label. Look for it.
In general, French resorts cater to the affluent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find bargains.
The Austrian Alps
Austrian resorts in Tyrol and Salzburg feature state-of-the-art lifts, and the slopes are usually in impeccable condition. In recent years, Austria has also worked to lengthen their ski season (in order to match France), installing extensive snow-making facilities.
The Austrian Alps have smaller ski regions, which are considered family-friendly, mainly due to their manageable size, appealing prices and courses for all sorts of skiers. Silberregion Karwendel is an excellent example. Family friendly accommodations are often quality-checked and certified by the national tourism organization with a special seal designating outstanding child supervision. So far, fifteen Austrian ski regions have received this seal.
Generally, one can also find family discounts in Austria. For example, in many cases the rule is “the smaller the child, the lower the cost.” And many lift companies offer free rides to children under the age of 6, or even 10, years old. In addition, when it comes to food and drink, Austria is widely considered more economical than France.
To Sum Up
Competition among French and Austrian alpine resorts is fierce and accommodation quality has reached unprecedented peaks. The French Alps are more cosmopolitan and promise better snow conditions during non-holiday periods, but the Austrian Alps can equally meet your expectations without inflating your budget.
There are plenty of bargains out there and it usually pays to book early.
Skiing is not cheap, but it doesn’t have to be extraordinarily expensive, especially if you budget appropriately.
First, be aware that whether you choose France or Austria, a family ski vacation often includes triple or quadruple (or more, depending upon the size of your family) costs for lift tickets and hotel rooms. You should also budget for ski wear and equipment, ski school and instructors, meals and, of course, some shopping.
Next, if you have kids in school, and can only travel during school holidays, you’ll be looking at premium pricing. Parents of toddlers and preschoolers may need to plan on daytime childcare or private nannies.
Still, you shouldn’t let the potential costs discourage you from a dream winter vacation.
In addition to booking early, here are some tips for saving money.
- Plan your family ski excursion carefully and start preparations as soon as possible.
- Look for “free child” deals or at least packages including childcare.
- Check which resort offers “après” activities, i. e. free supervision of children before bedtime, giving parents the opportunity to relax and enjoy their meal without babysitting costs.
- Let your teenagers entertain themselves. Look for resorts with games rooms, film libraries and fast Wi-Fi.
- Search for lift passes and equipment bargains, such as “two-for-one” deals.
Good luck and enjoy the Alps.
About the Author
Pantelis Karvounopoulos is a coffee addict and a traveler. He works at Alpine Elements, a UK-based activity travel agency specialized in Family Ski Holidays. He began skiing five years ago and is obsessed with active holidays of every kind.
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