For a long time, the ESF was the only outfit in town. But now there are three more: Zig Zag (telemark, heli-skiing, technical ‘top-up’ clinics), 360 International, and Ski Session. Tuition can be cheap here compared to that in the bigger resorts – two hours of private instruction from the ESF, for example, is half the price of that in Meribel. A week of half-day lessons can be much cheaper, too. The ESF also offers competition skiing, cross-country, snowshoeing, and Handiski which is tuition for disabled skiers.
Best for families who’ve been skiing before
The fact that you have to ride the cable-car to reach the slopes should be a deterrent to first-time families. They’ll be happier up at purpose-built Samoens 1600 instead. There you’ll find the largest area of nursery slopes in the Haute Savoie – and that includes the likes of Chamonix and Morzine, amongst others. So there are plenty of gentle slopes on which the wee’uns can brush up their technique.
More experienced families seem to be very happy down in the valley – provided they don’t want to ski all day, every day. The ice rink, for example, is a pretty and popular alternative to the slopes – but you might want to book accommodation with a pool as back-up.
Les Loupiots is the local creche (from three months to six years), and the ESF runs a kindergarten (three to six years), and regular ski classes (six to 14 years) up at Samoens 1600: “Very nice, knowledgeable people,” commented one reporter. Meanwhile, Zig Zag offers multi-activity samplers for children over eight years of age.