Before we left for our Mark Warner ski holiday to Tignes, I asked on this blog, Twitter and Facebook what you wanted me to report back on about our time away. Well, the overwhelming response implied that many of you are married to keen skiers but don't really fancy a Winter holiday yourself. So ultimately, what you wanted to know is can you go on a ski holiday and not ski? And how would that work?
Having planned to ski every afternoon (lift passes and ski equipment had been booked and paid for), I was going to take a look around the hotel and town and collect up a few ideas and suggestions for you. However, as my littlest dude didn't really take to being left in the crèche for long periods of time, thus scuppering my intentions to practise my pitiful parallel turns, I can now actually give you a more informed response. Hence the reason for dedicating a whole post to the question.
Firstly, I'd say don't rule out skiing before trying it. I've been a few times and am destined to be forever rubbish but providing you don't scare yourself by venturing on slopes that are way outside of your capabilities, it can still be really fun even if your technique isn't particularly polished. If you don't want to commit to a week at ski school maybe book yourself a private lesson or two so you can get a feel for being on skis and see how you like it. However, if you're adamant it's not for you, I think there are three main factors to consider before booking a ski holiday.
1. What type of person you are.
2. The hotel/resort.
3. The time of year.
As most of the people that read my blog are busy mums, I'm pitching this directly at them. I'm going to assume that through working and juggling a family or being at home full time with your children, you have very little downtime or time to yourself.
How about this for a day ...
Wake up; get your children dressed and drop them off at the crèche; head to the restaurant for a late breakfast, maybe taking a book or magazine with you ... 'A second cup of warm tea? Why ever not?'; have a leisurely walk to the slopes to see your little ones enjoying (or falling over at) ski school; stroll around the shops for an hour marvelling at the beautiful mountain views that take you by surprise every time you look up, and wondering how you'd look in a (faux) fur hat and coat; a lazy lunch slope-side with your husband, maybe with a glass of wine or two; then it's your choice of a siesta or an spend the afternoon the spa, again with the opportunity to read another chapter in your book; pick the children up from the crèche (fed, watered and most probably a little tired from their busy day); spend a couple of hours with the little ones, gently coercing them in to their pyjamas while you glam yourself up for dinner with your other half; drop the kiddos off at evening crèche and head to the restaurant for your evening meal, maybe with another glass of wine or two; collect your sleepy offspring and then all head happily to bed.
Throw in a chance to flick through Twitter, take some photographs without having my armed tugged, or rewatch old episodes of Gossip Girl, and a holiday doesn't currently get much better than that for me.
What do you think? Are you still not sure about going on a skiing holiday? Admittedly, I didn't get to spend all of my days like that because I often had my feisty two year old shadow with me, but over the course of our week in Tignes, I ticked off everything on that list. Not too shabby, right? If you have a more cooperative child, I can guarantee you one of the most restful weeks of your parenting life.
This selection is vital. You need to choose a hotel/resort with excellent childcare facilities that caters for guests other than diehard skiers. The Mark Warner Chalet Hotel L'Ecrin in Tignes Val Claret is perfect for that. You can read all about the crèche here but it also has a wonderful spa and the comfiest lounge area (with wifi, yay!). The town of Tignes Val Claret is small but perfectly formed. A few shops, a handful of bars and restaurants and plenty of white snow/blue sky photo opportunities. If shopping and nightlife are a little more important to you, you can easily head to neighbouring Val d'Isere too.
The time of year
We went during the last week of the season - mid April - and while the snow for skiing was still plentiful, the weather was also lovely, reaching 17 degrees on a couple of the days that we were there. Of course, you really need to choose a high resort to get these conditions, but they were absolutely perfect for a non-skier. It meant that I could amble around the town in my t-shirt and sit outside in the sunshine at one of the lovely cafés and enjoy a coffee and a Nutella-filled pancake whilst watching the world go by. It absolutely did not feel like I was on a winter holiday and I even returned with a sunburnt nose and several new freckles.
This time of year was great for our boys too as there was no moaning about the cold and no grappling with hats, scarves and gloves every time we left the hotel. Yes, the heat did mean that some of the snow had turned to slush but boots and a t-shirt? That's a look that I can deal with. It's pretty much my daily mum-iform anyway.
So there you have it. Can you go on a skiing holiday and not ski? Of course you can!
Disclaimer: We visited Tignes and Chalet Hotel L'Ecrin as guests of Mark Warner but all opinions are honest.