No other holiday compares to being in the mountains, the feeling of adrenaline as you fly down the slopes (and the unbeatable pleasure of toasting a day on the pistes with a vin chaud, aka mulled wine!) Before having kids my husband and I enjoyed regular ski holidays. As our boys are getting older and more adventurous we have started to consider taking them on their first ski holiday.
We are a little apprehensive about this of course because winter sports holidays are FULL on! I know our boys will likely last on the slopes for only a few hours per day. They will need ski lessons by English-speaking instructors specifically trained to teach kids, a crèche for when they are not on the slopes and we will need accommodation that doesn’t just state that it’s family friendly but truly IS family friendly.
So does such a place exist? I think I’ve found the perfect place for a family ski holiday and I have a feeling you’ll agree with me!
La Grange au Merle by Clarian Chalets is a luxurious alpine retreat in Châtel, in the French Alps. The six-bedroom chalet is owned by Clare and Iain, parents of three young children. As avid skiers the couple fell in love with the Portes du Soleil region and bought the property last year to offer a luxury catered chalet with all the facilities families need for a memorable winter sports holiday.
Their newly renovated historic farmhouse boasts luxury catered accommodation for 10-15 guests, great food, an enviable location close to kid friendly outdoor activities, beautiful scenery and a variety of slopes.
The owners have used their first hand experience to design their chalet with families in mind. The facilities they offer for children, teens and adults certainly tick all the right boxes for a perfect family winter sports holiday.
Childcare – To be honest one of the main factors that has put me off a winter sports holiday up until now is knowing that my boys will last only a few hours on the slopes before they are ready for some indoor play. (And I know that my hubby and I like to make the full use of the time available on the slopes!)
Clarian Chalets offer an exclusive in-house crèche service which caters for the differing needs of Snow Babes (3 months – 3 years), Little Yetis (3 – 6 years) and Mountain Lions (7 – 10 years). They pride themselves on offering a private crèche run by qualified, experienced and enthusiastic staff which is flexible to the changing needs of parents and kids. So if we wished to pick the kids up after their ski lessons one day we could, or if we wanted to have lunch with the kids and then drop them back off for indoor or outdoor play with their nanny we could do that too. This sounds like the perfect arrangement to me.
Early kids tea – I love my boys and I really enjoy occasional family dinners BUT I have to be honest, they can never be classed as relaxing occasions! The Clarian Chalets chef serves kids tea at 5.30pm, which is the perfect time for popping the kids in bed and then enjoying a peaceful home-cooked meal with a bottle of local French wine.
Family accommodation – The chalet has five-bedrooms on the ground floor including a spacious family suite with bunk room (and star effect lighting which my boys would love!) There is also a bedroom in the mezzanine, (which could be perfect for accompanying Grandparents or child free friends who may enjoy their own peace!)
Large garden – I wouldn’t want my boys cooped up indoors when they could be building snowmen or igloos and having snow ball fights. I know they would love the large garden at Clarian Chalets and would enjoy playing in the alpine outdoor playhouse!
Kids chill out zones – Of course like any other kids my boys do enjoy a good chill out in front of the TV and so I know they would love the TV/games room which is conveniently on the same floor as the open plan living area so we could keep an eye on them in the evenings.
Well equipped with kids paraphernalia – You need ALOT of kit for a ski holiday, particularly when travelling with kiddies, so it’s very convenient that the owners provide everything parents could possibly need to entertain and care for their kids. The full list can be found here, it includes toys, games, books, art supplies, high chair, baby monitor, travel cot and even an off-road buggy, sledges and snow shoes…. they truly have thought of everything!
Convenient ski hire and passes – I’ve always begrudged the time it takes to go down to the ski hire centre on the first day of a ski holiday but this isn’t the case at Clarian Chalets. Skis are fitted and delivered to the chalet and all airport transfers, lessons, guiding and ski passes are arranged in advance too!
Babysitting – I’m not sure I would want to leave the cosy open plan living area after a day on the slopes and can imagine me sitting in front of the log fire enjoying chatting with friends. However, if hubby and I did fancy a night in Châtel babysitters can be organised by the Chalet Manager.
On call chauffeur – I love the idea of having a chauffeur on call to be able to conveniently reach the slopes and pop down to the best sledging spots and local pool.
Facilities for the grown ups (because it’s not ALL about the kids!)
Hot tub and sauna – The absolutely perfect place for relaxing after a day skiing and the nightly bedtime battle with kiddos! I close my eyes and I can picture myself here with a glass of fizz in hand…
Private wine cellar – My husband likes to think of himself as a wine connoisseur so he would be in his element exploring the carnotzet stocked with premium wines.
Why is Châtel in France so family-friendly?
Châtel itself has been awarded the Family Plus Award in recognition for its dedication in providing a family friendly resort including child friendly beginner slopes, three dedicated sledging runs (with padding at the bottom to soften the blow of any crashes!) and many restaurants with kids menus.
Away from the slopes there is a new leisure facility which has a children’s pool and play area. There are also two cinemas in town and bowling alley so even the most energetic of kids could never be bored.
For me there are a few features which are truly the icing and cherry on the cake of this exceptional family friendly chalet and ski resort. Firstly, Châtel is a major ski resort that is not as well-known or developed as other resorts in the French Alps and has fought hard to retain its traditional character with independently run shops, bars, chalets, quirky shops, etc. The area also has a good snow record as it benefits from its location near Lake Geneva. I’m told that as the water rises from this body of water, it passes over the mountains and falls as snow on the other side. It makes for good snow in the winters and lush pastures in the spring – hence the valley being named Vallée d’Abondance!
The cherry on the cake is the close proximity of Geneva airport. Lengthy transfers with impatient children are not my idea of fun, as I’m sure any parent would agree. Châtel is just a 90-minute drive from Geneva which is a feasible amount of time even with the most energetic of toddlers!
So what do you think?
Have I convinced you that La Grange au Merle by Clarian Chalets is the perfect place for a family ski holiday?
* This post was written in collaboration with Clarian Chalets. Winter 2017/2018 prices start from £735 per person per week (assuming two people to a room). All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own. Contact Clare and Iain at Clarian Chalets for more information.
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