February half-term is considered the time for a family ski trip – the kids are on holiday, you’re likely to get good mid-season snow conditions, and resorts typically offer a host of family friendly events on and off the slopes throughout the week. Yes, it’s one of the best times for some family fun in the mountains.
Sure, prices can be high – it’s peak season, after all – and it can get busy on the pistes, but if you plan ahead and shop around, there are some fantastic off-the-beaten-track resorts that are uncrowded and good value.
We asked Heidi, who burst onto the ski holiday scene this year with their flexible approach, for their top half-term picks this season.
Happy half-term holidays, folks!
If you wanted to create the perfect ski family friendly resort ideally situated in one of the highest and most spectacular ski areas of the French Alps, you’d probably come up with Avoriaz – which is exactly what they did.
Okay, it’s not exactly off-the-beaten-track like some of the other resorts in our top five, but it’s so suited to families, we couldn’t not include it. Compact and easy to navigate on foot, Avoriaz is super child friendly, with no traffic bar the occasional horse-drawn sleigh (a must-do for any visitor). All of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out, and you have terrain for all levels of skier right from your doorstep; the kid-friendly Lil’ Stash snowpark, with it’s famous ‘banana swing’, is always a big hit and just a short easy blue piste down from the centre of the resort.
You can also drop the kids off at the Village des Enfants ski school in the morning, while you go off exploring (the Fornet sector is especially fun on a powder day, with brilliantly playful off-piste terrain that is accessible right from the lifts).
With short transfers – just 90 minutes from Geneva – and lots of flight choice, Avoriaz is also really easy to get to.
The resort can get busy during the half-term, but constant upgrades to the lift systems handles the numbers well, and with 600km of pistes spread throughout the Portes du Soleil, there is plenty of space for people to spread out.
If you want to avoid the crowds, but don’t want to curb your skiing at the same time, head to Les Menuires. Located around 90 minutes drive from Chambery airport (and a little further from Grenoble), it’s a resort that gives you access to the massive Les Trois Vallées ski area (600km of pistes and counting), but at a price that’s just a bit more affordable compared with its neighbours like Courchevel and Val Thorens.
Most of the local slopes are easy groomers, and the green La Montagnette slope is now specifically dedicated to absolute beginners, to ensure their safety and peace-of-mind. For young children just starting out you’ll find fantastic ski schools to build their confidence on the bunny slopes.
Meanwhile, older kids can join the Ski Patrol Experience, a free, interactive 90-minute workshops where they will learn about the dangers of the mountains from the snow patrol experts and have the opportunity to try out a mini snowmobile, mini electric snow groomer and a simulator for helicopter transportation, among other exciting experiences.
With so much terrain to explore, you’ll likely need a lay day, and thankfully there’s no shortage of non-ski activities here. Catch a film in the cinema, hurtle down the mountain on the Roc n’ Bob sledding track, or soothe aching muscles in a relaxing spa.
Easygoing. Great value. Peaceful. These are just a few of the reasons why a half-term skiing holiday in La Thuile in Italy has earned a place in our top five. The Italian schools don’t break up for the February half-term, so you can enjoy quieter slopes here than in neighbouring La Rosière, France.
The lack of crowds here mean it’s ideal for beginners, with good nursery slopes accessible straight from town and easy blues to build confidence. The La Thuile Ski School, founded in 1964, has a great reputation. Meanwhile, intermediates looking to clock up milage on empty, wide slopes have access to over 80 pristine pistes, with incredible views of Mont Blanc and the iconic Matterhorn.
There are also some guaranteed whoop-inducing bumps, rollers and tunnels at the 1,000m-long Funcross – a big hit with kids (and grownups) of all ages.
La Thuile also offers free childcare (three hours each morning and three hours in the afternoon), giving parents time to go off and explore kid-free. If you’re looking for fresh tracks after a snowfall, the tree runs down from Les Suches are a real honeypot.
Located under two hours from Geneva, transfers are a breeze too.
If you’re taking the kids to the mountains for the first time, family friendly Flaine should be on your shortlist. It is one of the easiest resorts to reach via plane, being just over an hour’s transfer from Geneva.
Flaine’s popularity means the slopes can get busy during half-term, but with all the activities going on, it’s totally worth it. Plus, you can virtually fall out of bed and be on the slopes – most accommodation lies within easy reach of lifts, and it’s a really easy resort to get around.
Kids just starting out? There are four free ski lifts in Flaine – three covered magic carpets, plus the Télébenne gondola lift – as well as three dedicated beginners’ areas. There are also several excellent ski schools to choose from.
Beyond the beginner slopes, there is terrain for all levels and interests. Don’t miss the blue Les Cascades run, where you can ski 14 kilometres on the edge of the Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval nature reserve without seeing a single ski lift. Meanwhile, there are several good freeride spots in Flaine and across the whole Le Grand Massif ski area for families looking for some off-piste terrain to play among.
Flaine is not resort for partygoers – it’s far too quiet – but there is still plenty to do once the lifts close, including husky rides, ice skating and swimming in Flaine’s popular aquatic centre.
For something a bit different during half-term, Switzerland’s charming, car-free ski resort of Wengen – easily reachable from Basel, Geneva and Zürich airports – is just the ticket. You’ll start your trip in a very special way – it’s only accessible by train, so you’ll ride up into the mountains on the traditional railway.
Once there, you’ll find a charming car-free resort located on a sunny ledge where in-resort transport is limited to electric taxis plus a few licensed motor vehicles.
With a large nursery slope in the centre of town, and plenty of blues and reds for intermediates further up the hill, Wengen is a hit with beginner and intermediate skiers.
But if you fancy something more challenging, you can clock a new PB on the longest downhill World Cup run at Lauberhorn – a thigh-burning 4.2km top to bottom.
There are several good ski schools in Wengen and non-skiing kids are well looked after too, with babysitting and day care options available.
Finally, we can’t not mention the view – this is hands down one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places to ski, with front-row views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau a constant source of awe.