You can imagine my excitement and trepidation as we set off on our journey to our first ski holiday since starting a family. Pregnancy and caring for a small baby meant it had been a few years since I had hit the slopes. I really wasn’t sure how ski holidays with young children could work!
But my first attempt at a family ski holiday was a huge success with the help of a very special chalet in Morzine-Avoriaz, the beautiful ski resort in France.
Catch the train to the slopes
For a start we chose to travel by train to our ski holiday. I love to travel by train and think it is an excellent way to travel with children. We had a relaxed day on the train where you can walk about with your baby or toddler. Speeding through the flatlands of northern France on the TGV, it was exciting to watch the gradually increase of relief in the landscape as we approached the mountains.
Lovely Savoyard villages with creamy stone and round towers were huddled and shuttered against the cold. At first there were just vestigial traces of snow, then a covered field or two, then we were actually in the mountains. We picked up a hire car from Geneva and drove through a picture postcard landscape of snow-encrusted woods to Morzine.
Ski holidays with young children
The Chilly Powder concept is all about family ski holidays and I can hardly begin to describe the sense of relief we felt walking into the chalet and finding a bunch of other couples with babies and children.
Our 16-month-old daughter wolfed down a freshly prepared meal at the big table with the other littlies at the 5.30pm children’s dinner. My main concern at this stage was that she would turn up her nose at my cooking when we returned home.
Morzine is not just a ski resort and French alpine village. It is traditionally a family ski resort and has all the facilities you would expect or want, including good childcare.
However, if you want to avoid the hassle of nursery drop offs and make the most of each moment you need a specialist alpine family holiday. At Chilly Powder, Francesca and Paul Eyre have designed a family ski holiday where the adults get a holiday and the kids get a holiday and the whole family is happy.
Childcare in Morzine for ski holidays
The on-site facility must be fairly unique for ski chalets and the kids are well cared for by a team of qualified nannies. They also enjoy time in the snow with excursions and visits to the chickens and rabbits in the garden.
You may find this difficult to believe but they have cared for babies as young as three weeks old.
I think part of the reason parents can feel comfortable bringing their young children here is that Francesca and Paul have lived in Morzine for 17 years and their three children have been born and raised here. If any problems arise you know you can be confident in their advice.
You don’t have to leave the chalet except to ski (and perhaps to explore Morzine’s nightlife on Thursday night while the nannies babysit). That means more time to ski, more time together as a couple, and more time to spend with your children.
The whole focus is on making this a home away from home for everyone and the warmth and professionalism of the staff is the key.
Take a look at this useful packing list for ski holidays with young children.
Grown up time ski holidays
Yes it was great sharing a chalet with other parents but don’t worry, the conversation is not restricted to nappies and nurseries. This ski chalet doesn’t feel like a kid’s ski chalet, it feels like a luxurious grown-up chalet with a roaring fire, bar and big windows to let in the sun.
Molton Brown toiletries, fine bedlinen, fluffy bathrobes and comfortable beds make this chalet an attractive option even for those without children.
Once the babies were all in bed and the older children ensconced in front of a DVD we gathered for canapes and drinks by the fire before sitting down to discover what Chef had prepared for us that night.
They have a baby listening service and the staff often do a corridor walk to check all is well. So we could relax and enjoy the delicious food and wine that kept on rolling out of the kitchen. Don’t expect to stay here and lose weight, however hard you ski.
There’s an adult only area in the library, with big leather sofas and a pool table. Certain times of the day are adults only in the hot tub. Most importantly, the evening meal is a blissful chance to enjoy an excellent dinner with fine wine in good, grown-up company.
Paul and Francesca are parents themselves and they ensure that adults only time is sacrosanct. This may not work for all families but it certainly worked for us.
Ski holiday time!
Once the children were happy in the creche – it was time to ski!
The Chilly Powder chalets are in the small hamlet of Les Prodains, between Morzine and Avoriaz. Here you look out of the big chalet picture windows and out onto snowy meadows and woods rather than apartment blocks.
There’s a doorstep ski delivery service and a ski hire shop less than 100 metres away. Even closer is the telecabine that whisks skiers and snowboarders up to snow-secure Avoriaz – the best gateway to the vast and magnificent Portes du Soleil ski area.
From the pistes you can enjoy the blue Le Crot run back to the door. This is a true ski to the door location – one of only a handful in Morzine. A bus runs every 15 minutes down to Morzine and yet more skiing and boarding options.
Getting away from the pistes
One day we decided not to ski and went for a drive. Lac du Montriand is only 15 minutes from Morzine and exquisite under its silent blanket of snow. There are a couple of little restaurants and if you carry on to the lakehead you can walk 30 minutes or so to a frozen waterfall.
About 20 minutes drive away from Morzine, just past the village of St Jean d’Aulps, is the melancholy Abbaye d’Aulps, a 12th Century Cistercian monastery.
Make sure your hire car has winter tires and is suitable for driving in the often snowy conditions in the mountains. The roads are cleared and gritted of course but conditions can still be treacherous so don’t take it lightly.
On another afternoon our hostess and her dogs took us on a winter walk in the valley behind Morzine. The landscape is magnificent, with every tree encased in ice and snow, more like ice sculptures than plants for a season.
And on the way back to the car we stopped for a vin chaud at a little mountain restaurant and then tobogganed down the hill.
A soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi surrounded by piles of snow at the end of a day on the mountain is the perfect wind-down before you collect your little ones from the nursery downstairs.
This is a luxurious ski chalet full of alpine charm, with family photographs and big picture windows that look out onto a snowy garden, meadows and forest. It’s a place where the whole family can feel at home.
By Natasha von Geldern
More information on Ski holidays with young children in Morzine:
One of the many great things about Chilly Powder is that it is a chalet/hotel so you can book as a group or just individual rooms. Au Coin du Feu has 17 bedrooms with a ski to the door location while Chalet Le Plan des Rochers has seven bedrooms and is perfect for family groups. Chilly Powder also welcome weddings, celebration weekends and family parties.
They are open all year round and Morzine is also a great summer holiday destination with a multitude of attractions and activities from swimming in the lake to canyoning, paraponting, golf, or ziplining.
Return rail fares from London to Geneva can be booked at oui.sncf.
Sixt has two car hire pick up locations in Geneva – at the airport and in the centre of town and a selection of hire vehicles suitable for driving in the mountains.