Lech Zürs, Austria
Situated in the Arlberg, the cradle of skiing, the ski region of Lech Zürs has been delighting snow-loving families from around the world for many years, thanks to 97 lifts and cable cars, 350 kilometres of runs and 200 kilometres of high alpine deep powder snow runs for experts. Lech is a medieval village with charming Tyrolean chalets, pensions and hotels that ensure a fairytale quality to your holiday. As for the skiing and boarding, beginners are well looked after with plenty of green terrain and seven ski and snowboard schools with fantastic instructors who will have your child leaving the snowplough far behind in no time flat. Apart from Lech, and Zürs, you can use your Arlberg Card to ski at the neighbouring resorts of Warth-Schröcken, Stuben, St. Christoph and St. Anton.
Courchevel is an internationally-renowned playground, with 150 kilometres of nature’s best terrain and if that’s not enough, it’s part of the Les 3 Vallées, the biggest interconnected ski area in the world. There are four mountain villages chock-a-block with family-friendly accommodation, terrain parks and pipes, and for beginners, there are four fun ZEN (Zones for the Evolution of Novices) areas that allow skiers and boarders to learn in a safe environment. Experts are not forgotten either, with great powder skiing, tree glades and steeps that are in some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.
Verbier sits on a plateau on the Entremont mountain range between the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. From the gentle nursery slopes in town, to the blue runs at Savoleyres, Lac des Vaux or La Chaux, the intermediate runs from Attelas and the challenging off-piste terrain, all levels are catered for. There are almost a hundred lifts over 410 kilometres of terrains, the biggest being the Verbier-Mont Fort cable car, which carries 150 people. With its beautiful snow-topped chalets, incredible facilities for children, range of activities and the fact that you can visit Lausanne and Montreux easily from here, Verbier is ski heaven.
One of the most picturesque villages in Switzerland, Zermatt is home to nine of the 10 highest mountains in Europe, with the Matterhorn front and centre everywhere you go. There are three ski areas, Rothorn, Gornergrat and the Matterhorn Glacier, with a ridiculous amount of marked trails (over 500 kilometres). Children starting out will love Wolli’s Adventure Park at Sunnegga, with some excellent ski schools such as Schweizer and Stoked. Parents will love that children up to age nine travel for free on all of the mountain lifts all year long, with other discounts for kids up to 16. There is sledding, climbing, hiking, skating – you can even try your hand at curling.
You have to be good to host the Winter Olympics, and Innsbruck has held it twice... three times if you count the first Youth Winter Olympics back in 2012. Fittingly, the ski region here is called Olympia Skiworld, with one pass linking nine ski areas – Axamer Lizum, Patscherkofel, Muttereralm, Nordkette, Rangger Köpfl, Kühtai, Schlick 2000, Stubai Glacier and Glungezer – offering up a combined 300 kilometres of snow-white runs. You can stay in town and do day trips to various resorts, or stay in one of the quaint villages – and there are many – close by. Stay in the city and ski at the Nordkette, accessed by a high-tech funicular railway then cable car. Even if you don’t ski watch the action at the Nitro Skyline Park, with skiers and boarders silhouetted against the city far below. Stay in Igls at the foot of the Patscherkofel, base yourself in Mutters and ski Mutteralm, or stay in Axams and explore the Olympic slopes of
Axamer Lizum. Stubai Glacier has excellent skiing for families as well as the Top of Tyrol observation deck and the brand new Ice Grotto. Walk through it to see up close what glacial ice looks like.
Experience another culture, taste different food and try to learn a few new words. Ski Italy, can tailor make a ski adventure for your family.
The Alta Valtellina area has several mountains based around the towns of Bormio, Livigno and Santa Caterina Valfurva offering over 200 kilometres of ski runs. All levels of skiers and snowboarders are catered for, and the scenery is gobsmacking. Base yourselves in Bormio or Livigno, with its two ski areas – Mottolino and Carosello 3000.
The ski schools are magnifico, and it's easy to navigate around the slopes and to get back to base to pick up your kids so you can head out for a family ski together. There's also the Husky Village dog sledding, which is highly recommended. They are great with kids and it's worth getting the professional photos afterwards as they're superb.