Winter is here, and for all the snow bunnies and little daredevils in your family, that means just one thing: time to hit the slopes! CK Ski has compiled their top family-friendly ski resort destinations to help you plan your wintry adventure to the mountains over the holidays. Whether it’s a short-haul trip to Japan or China, or a vacation further afield to Europe or North America, here are CK Ski’s top picks for family-friendly resorts!
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
For first-timers, parents and children alike, or those who are retuning to the sport after a few years, it is a good idea to practice and brush up before your holiday and familiarise yourself with your skis and snowboards again. With lessons for all ages, Slope Infinity in North Point is an indoor slope that offers just that. PLAY in Kwun Tong is another great indoor ski and snowboard option.
For parents new to skiing (and seasoned professionals too) it is important to think about your fitness before you travel. Remember to plan a few fitness sessions into your weekly routine about six weeks before you hit the slopes.
Japan is renowned for reliable deep, fluffy powder. The region of Niseko includes a number of Japan’s most celebrated ski resorts, including Niseko Hanazono, Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area. Older children will enjoy the night skiing in Niseko, with lifts open until 9pm. Ski Japan can help book your accommodation, lessons with Niseko Base, transfers and any extras you may need for your holiday.
Travel options: From Hong Kong, it’s a short four-hour flight direct to Sapporo, Chitose Airport with Cathay Pacific.
Stay: Try the Green Leaf in Niseko Village – take part in the Onsen experience: a complex of hot baths, showers and communal volcanic thermal pools. Costs start from around $1,200 per person, per night.
Season dates: December – early April 2015
Happo One, Hakuba, Japan
Happo One is a fantastic option for families. It is one of nine resorts in the Hakuba area and is accessed by a direct flight to Tokyo and a four-hour drive or train transfer. The snow is exceptional and with Evergreen Outdoor Centre offering private and group lessons for children and parents alike, your little ones will be well looked after on the slopes. The slopes are beginner- and intermediate-friendly, with a few steeper black runs for the more advanced skiers. Neighbouring resorts of Cortina and Iwatake are good resorts for parents and older children looking to access off-piste (recommended with a guide).
Travel options: Fly direct to Tokyo Narita in four hours and transfer to Nagano via the Shinkansen train. From Nagano, it is a short bus ride to Happo One. Alternatively, book a direct Chuo taxi transfer from Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports (approx. three-four hours, traffic dependent).
Stay: The Double Black Hotel, nestled in the Wadano forest and ten minutes from Happo One ski area, is a great option for families with older children. The reasonable 3-star hotel includes a Japanese Onsen to relax in post-skiing and a cosy bar with hearty food and snacks. Cost starts from $680 per person, per night. For larger budgets, try the family-friendly La Neige Higashikan, approx. $2,200 per person.
Season dates: November – early May 2015
If you are seeking an easy-access ski resort with minimal travel for the children, Yuzawa is a good option. The resort of Gala Yuzawa is handy to reach, situated with its own train station on the Shinkansen line, just 90 minutes from Tokyo airport. The area is also known for its Onsen (hot springs), with baths located at the ski resorts, hotels and public bath houses. With 11 ski lifts, it is great for beginners and intermediates, with the Canyons Ski School offering private and group lessons in English.
Travel options: Fly to Toyko Narita or Haneda airport with Cathay Pacific, then take the Narita Express to Tokyo main station and alight on the Shinkansen bullet train to the resort.
Stay: The Hatago Isen is only 300 metres from the nearest ski lift and offers an East-meets-West style of accommodation. Prices are from $850-1,445 per person, per night, including breakfast.
Season dates: December – end of April 2015
Yabuli, Harbin, China
Harbin, China is an area made up of multiple ski resorts with Yabuli being the largest and most famous. Located in the Heilongjiang province, the resort is generally quiet with large, sweeping runs, perfect for beginners and intermediates. If you are travelling with younger children, Club Med is ideal as they offer the ‘Petit Club Med,’ a crèche facility aimed at children aged two to four, available in their Yabuli property. In addition to childcare, the Club Med package includes food, group lessons, ski passes, ski hire and other leisure and evening activities.
A visit to the Harbin Ice Festival is a great day out for the children, consisting of the snow sculptures show on Sun Island, ice activities on the Songhua River, the Ice Lantern Show in Zhaolin Park, and the Ice & Snow World to the west of Sun Island.
Travel options: Travel to Harbin Taiping International Airport via Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Beijing and Yabuli is about two hours away.
Stay: Club Med, Yabuli offers an all-inclusive package for hassle-free skiing with children with packages from $4,552 per person, excluding flights.
Season dates: November – March 2015
Verbier, Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Verbier provides access to the huge expanse of the four valleys ski area, and is a great resort choice for families. The terrain is varied and for older children and parents alike looking to improve, Verbier offers a number of excellent ski schools and courses including European Snowsport and The Warren Smith Ski Academy. Your family will appreciate a true chalet experience after a hard day’s skiing and Ski Armadillo in Verbier offers just that. With a selection of premium chalets, Ski Armadillo provides exceptional service, dining and a very reasonable package price that includes half-board accommodation, a driver and afternoon tea and cake.
Travel options: Fly direct to Zurich with Swiss International Air Lines and it’s just over two hours to the resort, via the scenic Swiss countryside. Alternatively, fly to Geneva with one stop en route, and then it’s a one and a half hour journey to the resort.
Stay: One of Ski Armadillo’s 14 chalets, varying from 4-16 people, for mid- to high-end budgets, from $6,000 – 28,000 per person, per week, depending on your travel dates.
Season dates: 29 November – 26 April 2015
The Dolomiti Superski region encompasses 12 resorts featuring 1,200 km of pistes, over 5,000 vertical feet of terrain and seriously impressive scenery. The region includes the welcoming atmosphere of the Ampezzo region to the Dolomiti di Sesto and Alta Badia and the towering peaks of the Val de Fassa and Val Gardena. Dolomite Mountains, a tailor-made adventure company, designs itineraries for active families and classic ski holidays, ensuring you make the most of your stay in this fabulous region. For advanced family skiers, Dolomite Mountains can create a bespoke trip with an UIAGM/IFMGA mountain ski guide, who will match the slopes and routes to your abilities and interests.
Travel options: Fly direct to Milan Malpense with Cathay Pacific or to Venice (with one stop) for a shorter transfer to your resort.
Stay: Try the 4-star Park Hotel Faloria in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which offers family suites for up to six people. From $620 per person, per night.
Season dates: 29 November – April 2015
Lech has fantastic early season skiing in December due to the region’s microclimate. Lech neighbours the fun-loving resort of St Anton, and with its picturesque alpine charm, is a great option for families who enjoy cruising the blue and red runs. For more challenging skiing and families with older children, try the slopes of St Anton, a short bus ride away. Adventurous families can try the ‘The White Ring’ – a circuit linking Lech, Zürs, Zug and Oberlech in over 22km of piste. Chalet N, offered by luxury tailor-made operator Scott Dunn, is a gorgeous high-end nine-suite chalet, positioned on the Oberlech slopes with a personal lift to the slopes below. This luxurious chalet includes a lavish spa and wellness area, two dining rooms, vast living area, private cinema, Finnish Sauna, salt cave steam room and pool area – all ideal for relaxing after a hard day on the slopes. In addition to the private chef and personal butler on hand, the chalet can arrange childcare.
Travel options: Fly direct to Munich from Hong Kong with Lufthansa and Lech is a 2-hour, 45-minute transfer. Alternatively, fly to Zurich direct with Swiss International Air Lines and Lech is approximately a 2-hour, 20-minute transfer.
Stay: Chalet N, Scott Dunn, from $108,780 per person for one week, includes a direct flight with Swiss International Air Lines, private transfer, staff, a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner, beverages, ski pass, welcome massage, laundry service and more.
Season dates: December – April 2015
With direct Hong Kong flights and a two-hour transfer to the resort, Whistler is an easy, exciting family-friendly option for your winter ski break. The three main centres are traffic-free and the chalet-style apartments on the hillsides give it a charming ambiance. The PEAK 2 PEAK gondola, spanning Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, offers easy access to both mountains in 11 minutes. There is a designated ‘Family Zone’ and a beginner snow park where teenagers can practice their first tricks. The Whistler resort offers childcare and camps including Whistler Kids for babies aged 18-48 months should you fancy a morning ski child-free.
Travel options: Fly direct to Vancouver with Cathay Pacific, and then it’s a two-hour resort transfer.
Stay: The Evolution Lodge includes an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna, games and media room, for you all to enjoy after a day on the slopes. Cost is from $1,200 per person, per night.
Season dates: 24 November – 21 May 2015
Weather and snow conditions are a very important part to skiing. Here are CK Ski’s top website resources for up-to-date snow conditions, throughout the season:
CK Ski is a Hong Kong-based snowsports information service and representation company for organisations worldwide keen to promote their offerings in Asia. If you are planning your next ski holiday and need advice, please get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Main image sourced via Shutterstock