We haven’t even got to the start of the school summer holidays yet. But if you want to take the family away on a ski holiday, now is the time to start planning your winter.
Two kinds of families in particular need to get their skates on.
The first are those who want the services of a family-skiing specialist; the kind of holiday company which offers exclusive, English-speaking kids clubs and nurseries for the children of their guests.
Many of these companies have a loyal following of clients who rebook the same chalets or chalet-hotels each winter – often as soon as they get back from the Alps. After a busy season in 2014-15, these tour operators are reporting another jump in demand for the school-holiday weeks in 2015-16.
For example, family specialist Esprit says that two of its most popular chalet-hotels, the Crystal 2000 in Courchevel and Les Deux Domaines in La Plagne are already sold out for the Easter week starting March 27. Both are also over 75% full for February half term. (The company has more availability in its smaller chalets and over Christmas and New Year.)
Meanwhile, the Family Ski Company, which has chalets in Ardent (near Morzine), Reberty (a suburb of Les Menuires) and Les Coches (part of La Plagne), reports being 75% full for February half term and 50% full for Christmas, New Year and the first week of the Easter holidays (starting March 26).
It’s not just families in search of childcare who need to act quickly. Those who want a regular chalet from an independent tour operator during the school holidays should book soon too. Val d’Isere specialist YSE reports its chalets are almost full now for New Year 2016, and 75% booked for February half-term. Meanwhile, all but one of Fish&Pips’ chalets in Meribel and Val d’Isere are full for February half-term.
Availability for self-catering apartments and hotels is still much looser – as the rest of Europe tends to book later than we do. And of course some families will be considering the option of taking their children out of school, and risking the wrath of their headmaster. But if it’s a traditional Brit-friendly chalet or chalet hotel you’re after, for New Year, February half term or the first Easter holiday week – especially if it offers childcare – then you need to start planning. Aim to book before the summer holidays are over. There’ll be a flurry of activity in early September once children are back at school and the nation’s thoughts turn to winter.