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Austrian, Swiss or Italian resorts for 5 y/o?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

Since this is my first post, I'll write a little bit of myself. I'm a 35 year old father of two (daughter 5 and son 3). I'm really itching to go to the alps, because I haven't been there for more than a decade and the hills of Scandinavia just do it to me. My wife is a complete beginner and not really ready to go anywhere this year. My son has only stood on skis once, so he's not ready either. My daughter, on the other hand, is learning fast and really bitten by the skiing bug. So I'm planning a ski trip, just for the two of us.

Basically, I'm looking for ski resort, preferably near Salzburg or Zürich, with nice, easy-going, well-groomed pistes. My daughter has good technique and balance, but she is a bit nervous in the steeper and narrower slopes. This is fine by me, since safety is the most important aspect. I want to avoid getting stuck mid-mountain because of a dangerous looking slopes. Variety isn't that important, as long as there's at least one easy-going slope back to the village. Comfortable and easy gondolas, as well as good family cafés are advantages. Can anybody with experience of skiing with children recommed a resort like this? I've been looking at Lech, Saalbach and Bad Gastein mainly.
post #2 of 10
Lech-Zurs is probably the best place in the Alps - my son (then just turned 6) and he loved it. Stayed at the Montana in Oberlech. Anyway you will get a lot of information from this thread, where we put in our TR and others advised about their own experiences and there are some great comparisons by very well-tracked skiers. We would have gone back this year but unfortunately cannot.

www.epicski.com/forum/thread/72589/arlberg-lech-zurs-st-anton-stuben 
post #3 of 10
I don't have kids, so take my comments with a large grain of salt.

I have been to Bad Gastein, I loved it but doubt it would be good with children. The town is built on a fairly steep hill, so walking around can be chor. There is no real ski-in ski-out accomidation, so you have to be very selective of wheer you stay to avoid trudging up and down hill with your gear. That doesn't bother me; it might bother your children (or you if you're carrying their gear). There isn't much in the way of slopes between those for absolute beginners and intermediates. If your daughter falls in the beginner-lower intermediate range, you may find things a bit difficult.

I've never been to Saalbach. It has the reputation as one of the major party resorts. That might not be great with a 5 year old, but then again it might be fine.

The resort in Austria generally rated as top for families is Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. Might be worth taking a look at.

Of the places I've been, the one that I'd think is best for a small child is Lermoos. It's small but skis bigger than you'd think. The village is quaint and a lot of the hotels are geared towards families. The hill is compact but has a surprising range of skiing. It's also quieter and cheaper than the big name resorts. I'd recommend at least taking a look at it.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks, ami and dusty!

I have actually shifted my opinion from Bad Gastein to Lech, partly because of your input. The thing I noted about Bad Gastein is that most travel agents will only give it a three stars out of five rating for beginners. The thing that had me interested at first was its multilingual ski school.

I'm slightly worried about the expensive reputation of Lech, but not that worried. It would be very accessible from Zurich, but I'll give both Serfaus and Lermoos a look. Keep thos tips coming in! ;-)
post #5 of 10
I think the three stars for beginners is a valid rating. There are small beginners slopes at the bottom of the mountain, but after that it's a big jump up to solid intermediate runs. Not much to bridge the gap. It sounds like your daughter might fall right in that gap too.

Whereever you go, you'll have a great time.
post #6 of 10
 Compared to Scandinavia (Well Sweden or Norway for sure) Lech-Zurs is like going to Wal-mart! For you the costs will be nothing, for those who have to pay in USD it got a little steep this year. Stay in Oberlech, Montana has the best food I have ever eaten..and they say its the best food in the Alps, and the family who run it are real nice, has a nice indoor pool, movie theatre (Small but perfect for kids) in it, its cozy warm, and ski-in/ski-out no question. Lech is not the easiest nor the hardest place to ski - ski schools are fine, folks speak english and german of course.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Funny how things unfold... Following the bailout of my adult company (a colleague of mine), making my own arrangements for the trip ceased to be the low cost option. The solution came in the form of a last-minute offer for a package trip to Sölden. It will just be so much less hassle and the price is right. Besides, Sölden seems to be quite beginner-friendly, especially if you take the Giggijoch gondola to all the blue pistes. Now I just can't wait to go!

I can tell my daughter can't really understand what the fuss is all about. How could she? She's never seen *real* mountains... She's mostly concerned about how steep the slopes are, but I hope she won't be taken aback by the length of the slopes. Gondolas, chair lifts... Oh my... I hope she won't be totally overwhelmed!
post #8 of 10
I'm sure you two will have a great time.

I've never been to Solden, although a friend of mine was there over New Years.

It has a reputation for quite a party resort, but he said it was easy enough to avoid that if you wanted to. The village is not especially beautiful, but the mountains certainly are.

He also said a trip up the valley to Obergurgl for a day was well worthwhile. Something to consider if you're staying there for a week. I think you can get a ski pass that includes both resorts.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Just got back on Saturday... It was - of course - a very memorable trip!

Ami, what you wrote is spot on. I've been to Sölden about twenty years ago, but I really couldn't remember anything, except the river. The village certainly isn't Austria's most beatiful and there's heavy partying during the nights. This didn't bother us, because we were in bed by 21:00 almost every night. Occasionally, I had to leave the window open overnight, and I was awaken by some drunken shouts in the middle of the night, but I could ignore it. In contrast, the church bells would wake me up very early in the morning. My daughter slept through it all. On Friday night, we had troubles finding a place to eat, since every place was packed. We tried four places before we could be seated. Apparently it's a very popular weekend resort with the Germans.

The mountain views were spectacular, especially from the top of Schwarze Schneid. The blue pistes of Giggijoch were nice and broad, with just the right amount of challenge for my daughter. I was kind of hoping for a Swedish-speaking skiing instructor, but we found two Danish ones, who could communicate very well with my daughter. These guys were brilliant and inspiring instructors and my daughter loved skiing with both of them. I wish I could've booked them for the entire week, but my wallet didn't quite agree with me. Sure, I enjoyed skiing with my daughter, but she preferred their company. They were simply fantastic with children.

We didn't make it to Obergurgl, since I had to cut the days short, so that my daughter wouldn't be totally exhausted. Giggijoch was certainly enough for a five year old and we could enjoy it throughout the week.
post #10 of 10
excellent, sounds like a great trip, you should post video or pics and any additional info which can benefit readers, and there is the Eurozone section where such a trip report in detail will fit right in.
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