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6 European ski resorts for thrill-seeking families

Finding a holiday that gets the thumbs-up from the whole family is surely one of the holy grails of parenting. With great get-away-from-it-all vibes, cosy boutique hotels and enough adrenalin-fuelled activities to keep everyone smiling, skiing might be just the answer you’re looking for.

 

1. For the Adventurers… Meribel, Les Trois Vallees

Le Coucou, Meribel

Meribel is a favourite for family adventurers, with 330 pistes at your feet and countless snow sports to experience. Expect chocolate box chalets and tree lined slopes – suitable for first-timers and seasoned skiers alike. You will have access to both Courchevel and Val Thorens – each with their own personality and breath-taking scenery. If you are planning a big ski day – take a pack lunch and head to Orelle, known to locals as the Secret Valley. For the true thrill seekers, why not organise a night-time toboggan session, where you will take to the floodlit piste with a sledge.

Perched along the slopes near Belvédère and close to Le Rond Point des Pistes, Le Coucou Méribel is an inviting ski-in/ski-out hotel right in the action. If you are looking to be off the beaten track, stay at Le Refuge de la Traye.

 

2. For the picture postcard experience… Lech, Austria

Try to conjure up an image of the perfect ski resort and you’ll probably picture something that looks a lot like Lech. Classic snow-covered chalets huddled beneath majestic towering peaks. Slopes suitable for every level where the snow is said to fall earlier and stick longer. A-list-worthy accommodation nestled in seclusion but connected to the largest ski area in Austria. It ticks every box.

After you’ve reached new heights out on the piste, return to Severin’s – The Alpine Retreat for alpine lodge hygge with high-end furnishings and state-of-the-art technology. Or stay at the Kristiania Lech Hotel where bespoke services include therapeutic massage in the comfort of your own room and a bath butler to ensure you can sink straight into a piping hot bath. Actual bliss.

 

3. For ice-cool contemporary indulgence… Val Gardena, Italy

Val Gardena

Regularly voted Italy’s best ski resort, Val Gardena has all the effortless chic you’d expect from an Italian holiday destination – at over 1,000 metres above sea level. In the UNESCO World Heritage protected Dolomites at the south-eastern edge of the Alps, this is an open-air playground where everyone gets to join in. From pristine slopes, snowshoe walks and frozen waterfalls to medieval castles, sleigh rides and late-night shopping boutiques – this is the stuff that dream family holidays are made of.

Take in the full spectacle with a stay at the mountain lodge hideaway Hotel Montchalet where epic views combine with spacious suites and a sleek spa. Plus there are cots for babies and even beds for four-legged friends.

 

4. For old-school charm with a new twist… Gstaad, Switzerland

Gstaad

Don’t be fooled by Gstaad’s reputation for traditional old-world glamour. This car-free resort in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland knows exactly how to do 21st century luxury too. In and around Gstaad, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants, world-class spas and 200km of pistes that attract the most discerning snow sports enthusiasts. And for winter fun with a difference, try the freestyle snow parks, floodlit night skiing, husky rides or igloo building. Enough to please even the pickiest mini members of the family.

Combine the very best of early-20th-century elegance with a modern-day escape at Le Grand Bellevue. There are baby cots, interconnecting rooms, children’s robes for bathtime and a playroom – not to mention the specialist Polar Bear Kids’ Club offering ice skating lessons and cooking classes.

 

5. For skiing with time for a siesta… Sierra Nevada, Spain

El Lodge Ski and Spa

Spain tops a lot of lists for sun-drenched summer getaways, but it’s also a sizzling ski destination when winter rolls around. With slopes reaching an altitude of 3,300 metres, Europe’s most southerly ski resort has a season that often stretches from late November into early May. As you’d expect from Spain, there’s a relaxed family-friendly feel with runs of every colour and a kids’ snowpark with ski-bobbing, tobogganing and sit-skiing. And if you feel like mixing it up, it’s only 35 minutes to the spectacular city of Granada or day-trip distance to the beaches on the Mediterranean coast. Don’t forget your bucket and spade.

When you’re done conquering the slopes head home for a siesta or a dip in the open-air pool surrounded by snow-capped peaks at the Alpine-style boutique hotel El Lodge Ski and Spa.

 

6. For the best of both worlds… Crans-Montana, Switzerland

Crans Ambassador

Can’t decide whether to go alpine idyll or ultra-modern resort? The French-speaking twin towns of Crans and Montana in the heart of Switzerland’s Valais region could be the answer. Serious skiers and boarders get jaw-dropping runs with views from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. Away from the slopes there’s also some serious retail and spa therapy to be had. Newbies and youngsters in the family get a world-class golf course turned snow-play paradise. You’re never too old to try snowtubing for the first time.

Ski in, chill out at the Crans Ambassador with wraparound mountain views, indoor pool, performance lab gym and guided skiing.