Family ski holidays are a tricky business.
You’ve got the needs and requirements of several people to accommodate, some of whom may not be used to skiing all day (especially if they’re small). You have to keep them entertained, without boring yourself to death by spending the week on the nursery slope.
Throw in a long drive from the airport (‘are we nearly there yet?’), plus the sheer cost of kitting out a small army of budding skiers, and you’ve got all the hallmarks of a nightmare trip.
Doesn’t sound very relaxing, does it?
Finding a family resort that suits you
Now, if you want to pick out a destination that avoids these problems, there are some well-documented options available to you. Vaujany, for one, is a resort we always mention here at Welove2ski. There’s a whole host of others too, particularly if you want somewhere a bit more established.
But what if you want all the benefits of a family-focussed ski resort, and you don’t want to spend a week somewhere full of other British tourists? Somewhere off the beaten track, where you can really experience the culture of the country you’re visiting?
If this sounds like you, then you’re in luck. As our visit to the Trentino region of Italy came to a close last week, we discovered a ski resort that nobody on the Welove2ski team had ever skied before (believe me, that’s pretty unusual). Welcome to Folgaria.
Here are four reasons why Folgaria, in the south of Trentino, is a hidden gem for families looking for a ski resort that will accommodate their needs without compromising on authenticity.
1. The transfer couldn’t be easier
I’ve long believed that the ease and quality of the airport transfer sets the tone for the rest of a ski holiday. Find yourself waiting two hours in arrivals for a delayed bus, and you’re doomed before you’ve even begun.
On the other hand, get it right and fly to an airport that minimizes stress, and you’re on to a winner. This couldn’t be more important if you’ve got small children with you – there’s only so many times they’ll put up with watching Shrek 3 before they start complaining.
The best thing about Folgaria, then, is that it excels in this department. Verona is a major airport serviced by several airlines out of London (including a daily easyJet flight from Gatwick), and is just an hour away from the resort by road.
Renting a car is always an option, but we recommend the Fly Ski Shuttle, which will take you directly to your hotel and runs frequently throughout the day at just 32€ per head for a return ticket. Private transfers are also available.
Further away, but still a very short transfer at one hour and 15 minutes, is Venice. With no shuttle service, you’ll have to go down the private hire route – but the potential to double up your ski trip with a cultural excursion is huge.
Venice is an unforgettable place to spend a couple of days at the start or end of your trip, and a tailor-made holiday specialist like Momentum Ski (who specialise in trips to this region) should have no problem in sorting out the logistics.
2. The ski school is all about fun
Now that you’ve arrived safely, the next inevitable hurdle is ski school. The importance of a high-quality ski school should never be forgotten – one bad experience with instructors that either don’t speak English or simply don’t care, and you run the risk of putting your kids off skiing for life.
Which makes it all the more reassuring to hear that Folgaria does everything it can to avoid this. As Daniella Vecchiato, Marketing and Sales Manager for the resort, told us:
“The main aim we have here is to make sure the children have fun. If they get bored or tired, we don’t make them ski. If they prefer to go tobogganing, or to build a snowman, then our instructors are right there helping them to build it.”
You’ll also be pleased to hear that you can completely avoid the hell of morning drop offs. By special arrangement, the ski school will happily pick your kids up from your hotel in the morning, and drop them off in the afternoon. Which means your only worry will be which mountain restaurant to choose for lunch.
There is also a world-leading disabled ski school here, Scie di Passione.
3. There’s so much more than skiing
Whilst little ones might have had their fill of tobogganing at ski school, there’s plenty more to keep them amused in the evenings. For a resort of this size, it’s really quite extraordinary to see facilities for ice skating, swimming, snowshoeing and even nordic skiing readily available.
Not that you have to take them yourself, if you don’t want to. Folgaria plays host to a handful of hotels – the Luna Bianca and the Villaggio Nevada – that are part of the Giocovacanza group. Giocovacanza hotels specialise in maintaining the highest standards for family groups, organising supervised activities for children so that parents can have time for themselves. They’ve even developed their own nonverbal language to run these activities, so that kids with a variety of native languages can play together.
Then there’s the three-star Hotel Cristallo, which is known for its typically Trentino cooking as well as catering for special dietary requirements.
4. The liftpass system is flexible and full of benefits
Liftpasses can be a financial kick in the teeth for a family group. After you’ve already shelled out for flights, hotels and rental, it almost seems unfair that you can’t actually ski without handing over yet more cash.
It really can be expensive, too. Six-day liftpasses for two children in the Three Valleys this winter will set you back 416€. That’s rather a lot, isn’t it?
More good news then. If you end up taking the family to Folgaria, all kids under eight ski for free. No catch, just free skiing for small children. Can’t argue with an immediate saving like that, can you?
And even if your kids are a little older, all is not lost. The resort is continuously striking up deals with tour operators to extend free skiing opportunities for children.
Right now, your options are limited to booking with Irish operator Top Flight who can provide free passes for anyone under 13, but we expect this to change within the next year.
Adults will enjoy Folgaria, too
All this probably leaves you feeling confident that your kids will enjoy themselves. But what about you?
If you’re an advanced skier, the SuperSkirama pass covers day trips to eight different ski areas nearby, the furthest of which is Madonna di Campiglio. You’ll need a rental car, but the two-hour drive to is well worth it. Just make sure you get the most out of your day’s skiing there.
If you’re less experienced, then you needn’t stray any further than Folgaria. This is a solid ski area for beginner and intermediate skiers, with a host of wide-open blue and red runs to keep all all but expert skiers busy for a week.
Over to you
Have you been to Folgaria yourself? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us about your experiences there in the comments below or tweet @welove2ski.