Taking a family on a skiing holiday is certainly an exciting proposition, especially if it’s the first time the children have been to a winter sports resort. The combination of fresh air, continuous activity and good food normally leaves them happy, but tired, at the end of each day. They sleep soundly and wake refreshed each morning to start all over again. Many adults wish they could do the same just as easily!
But the cost of a skiing holiday for a whole family can be quite expensive, even if a suitable resort is chosen carefully and a close eye is kept on costs. For parents who have skied themselves before their children came along, taking the them along is the only way of continuing their own desire to ski or snowboard, unless they want to leave the children at home with friends or grandparents. Plenty of ski companies are used to this situation and have catered their packages to suit family groups by offering different childcare options in resort, special instruction for children and child-friendly catering. What they can’t ensure though is whether the children actually enjoy their skiing once they get there and that can be the big worry for parents taking their children on a winter sports holiday for the first time. For many parents, the thought of it all going wrong and the holiday turning into a disaster is enough to put them off completely. But, as a parent, what if you were happy beforehand that your children knew what to expect and were going to love it? Well that’s the opportunity offered by going along to an indoor snow centre before you book that trip abroad.
In the past some parents have tried taking their children for some pre-holiday familiarisation sessions at a dry ski slope, but these places are not always suitable for young children. The slopes are steep, uncomfortable for falls and quite far removed from slopes with real snow. However there is now a much better alternative. A “real snow” sports complex, like the new Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead near London, offers a range of sessions for children of all ages. For the very young, there is the chance just to play around in some snow, while older children can take their first steps in learning to ski or snowboard.
The Snow Centre offers private tuition for children as young as 3 years old and organised junior group tuition for children from 4 years upwards. The centre also has toboggans and ringos to provide even more fun. After a few sessions at The Snow Centre children usually can’t wait to get to the mountains to try out their new found skills. Knowing that the children are happy and comfortable on snow is very reassuring for parents taking them on holiday for the first time.
Safety is just as important at The Snow Centre as it is on holiday. All children aged 16 and under will need to wear one of the helmets provided and adults need to do the same in certain sessions. The centre encourages parents to set a good example in front of their children.
Another aspect of coming to a place like an indoor snow center is the opportunity to try out ski lifts. Perhaps you can remember the first time you had to get onto a POMA lift in a ski resort; quite a scary, high pressure situation, especially if you have a huge queue of people watching you! Several indoor snow centres have POMA button lifts, exactly like the ones you will find in many ski resorts and the staff will take great care to make the first time experience for children a stress-free one.
Language is not normally a problem with most European ski schools but if you prefer not to leave things to chance, it could be easier to get those first crucial lessons taught at home, in English, by teachers qualified with the British Association of Snowsports Instructors.
An indoor snow centre not only provides real snow, it also provides realistic temperatures. The cold environment gives children a chance to try out their winter clothing (or to realise that what they have is not going to be up to scratch). At The Snow Centre there is also a branch of Snow+Rock where winter clothing and equipment can be purchased as part of the visit.
Booking children up for a course of sessions at an indoor snow centre can be looked upon as a kind of insurance policy for ensuring a great winter holiday. There can be few happier moments for parents than watching their young children ski down the mountain for the first time, so all the preparation they do to make that happen will be well worth it.
Michael Baker is a snow sports journalist based in Europe. He has reviewed many mountain resorts and indoor ski and snowboard centers around Europe. A ski and snowboarder himself, Michael brings the perspective of a participant not just a bystander.
Article Source: Increasing the Chances of a Great Family Skiing Holiday