Luxury winter holidays are more popular than ever according to a report published last year. Chalet Ski Stats found that bookings are up compared to last year, and 54 per cent of operators have seen overall spend on winter holidays increase compared to 2014 / 15. With so much for the whole family to do, it comes as no surprise that more and more parents are taking their little ones to enjoy time in the snow. Besides the ski, parents can relax in the surroundings of a luxurious resort set in breathtaking scenery, whilst the kids have fun taking part in all the brilliant activities on offer.
This winter, we are following the adventures of four families as they head to different parts of the world to hit the slopes. In part one, we find out what Little Scandinavian blogger Bianca Wessel, her husband Børre and their daughters Beatrice, age 14, and Amélie, age 10, got up to when they went to Norefjell in Norway. The girls have been skiing since they were 2-3 years old and the family ski every Christmas, half term in February as well as at Easter.
Scroll down to find more about their trip, from what they loved about their resort, to what they packed in their suitcases.
This Christmas we went skiing to Norefjell, a ski resort famous for hosting the Winter Olympics back in 1952. The mountain area offers 28 slopes and 14 lifts with the tallest top of the mountain stretching up to 4,787 ft above sea level. And it’s easy to get there too! The flight from London to Oslo is less than 2 hours. Then there’s a one and a half hours drive from Oslo to Norefjell.
NEED TO KNOW
You can ski from November to April, both downhill and there’s endless of cross country trails through the scenic open mountain landscape. And you are escaping the crowds by going to Norway as most people will go to the alps. We think family skiing in Norway is a well kept secret!
ON THE SLOPES
Norefjell offers a range of slopes for all abilities, from complete beginners to the more advanced who like extreme rides and fast speed. Snowboarders can enjoy a special made snowboard park with jumps and fun rides. There are separate children’s slopes with easy ski lifts and also ski schools as well as ski hire next to the slopes. Throughout there is several cafes and restaurants as well as family apres ski!
OFF THE SLOPES
There’s a range of activities outside the slopes too; swimming pool, a 17 meter tall climbing wall as well as a tots combined climbing wall and and playroom too. During the holidays there’s always a kids club on throughout the day with activities such as arts & crafts sessions to cinema and kids disco. The kids club usually hosts sledding competitions too which is great fun for the whole family.
SNOOZE IN STYLE
When you’ve been out all day in fresh air with skis on you’ll need somewhere comfortable to stay! Norefjell offers several accommodation options; from self catering chalet to full service hotels. We tend to stay at Norefjell Ski & Spa, a ski in ski out hotel with all the facilities you could dream of – even an amazing SPA with lots of treatment as well as a large wellness area; and nothing is more magical than watching the sunset over snowy mountains, from an outdoor jacuzzi!
EAT LIKE A LOCAL
Although the hotel has two restaurants we tend to dine out and we especially recommend Norefjellhytta, a ski lodge situated on the slopes (you’ll get there by car too). This restaurant serves up locally sourced food in gourmet style. And they cater very well for little ones too, from providing crayons and drawing booklets to offering kids portions etc. The staff at Norefjellhytta tend to go out of their way to make sure their guests enjoy both the food and atmosphere. We recommend sitting next to the open fireplace and having the ‘mountain tapas’ sharing plate for lunch. The set menu served in evening with wine pairings is a proper treat too! Baby high chairs available.
The mountain Norefjell is surrounded by historical farm land with available activities including ice skating, horse riding, dog sledding and so on. There’s also a few nice shops in the village; from sports and outdoor wear shops to traditional crafts.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT SKIING AS A FAMILY? DO YOU GO EVERY YEAR?
Skiing is one of our favourite family activities as it’s something we can do together outdoors, that we all equally enjoy. It’s been amazing to see how the girls have developed as skiers, the positive feeling of achievement and all the fun we’ve had along the way.
And nothing tastes better than a hot chocolate in one of the ski in ski out cafes on the slopes – as when you are all together as a family after a few hours of skiing together!
As we grew up with snow and skiing we can’t help missing the Norwegian winters. The 2 – 3 ski holidays we make a year makes us cope, just about.
WHAT DID YOU PACK? ARE THERE ANY ESSENTIAL ITEMS THAT MADE YOUR TRIP EASIER?
When packing for a family ski holiday you can easily end up with a lot of luggage. To avoid paying for extra luggage, make sure you only bring what you need. On a ski holiday you will need very little daywear and hardly any evening wear. The kids will stay in their base layers when back at the hotel, snuggling in front of the fireplace in the hotel suite. We had a laundry machine and tumble-drier too, so you don’t have to pack much spares. I still recommend having at least two sets of thermals for everyone in the family. If it’s around zero degrees celsius, two layers will be fine when doing activities outdoors. But if it is colder i’d recommend a mid layer; a micro fleece top and trousers or similar. Everyone needs proper winter shoes too, lined and with a good grip. We wear Moon Boots in the mountains – it’s the best boot for snowy conditions. Always wear a hat when outdoors and choose gloves rather than mittens for the younger ones, to make sure they are warm. Another thing we wear if it’s really cold is a ‘buff’, to cover your neck and chin. Perfect Moment have this integrated in their jacket which is excellent.
Bring a simple LBD and accessories for evenings when you are dining out in the hotel restaurant or at Norefjellhytta. Our girls had one dress each and then a top & skirt set. We had ballerinas for indoor use but really, no one will lift an eyelid when you turn up in your winter boots.
HOW DID YOU GET TO THE RESORT?
We tend to get a rental car at the airport. If you book in advance you can get fairly good deals. The drive is really straight forward, through a enchanting forest landscape before reaching the mountains and the resort.
WHAT HAS THE SKI BEEN LIKE THIS SEASON?
This season started of slow as the weather has been too mild. But during Christmas the temperature plunged and it started snowing. At the moment you couldn’t have wished for a better season! It’s cold in the valley but it is usually much milder up in the mountains, with only a few minus degrees – and lots of snow.
HAVE ALL THE FAMILY SKIED?
We all ski. Even my mum who is 70 years old not only skis with us but races us down the slopes. My husband is on telemark, a traditional Norwegian type of skiing, a cross between cross country and slalom. It is pretty amazing to watch him ski! The girls and I are all on slalom skis and as we don’t have the luxury of skiing in London, we use the opportunity when we are in Norway to ski every day! One day we had so much snow and fog that we could hardly see, but we still went skiing. We pretty much had the slopes to ourselves that day!
WHAT DID YOU WEAR ON THE SLOPES? HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY TRENDS AROUND THE RESORT?
In arctic conditions and with the weather changing in a spit of a moment you need to wear proper skiwear regardless of trends, that will keep you and your little warm dry and warm. No one likes skiing or being outdoors if they get cold and wet. To invest in proper skiwear is essential. But as what goes for trend, we did notice more vibrant colours this time and also a more retro trend with fitted ski pants and bright red, navy blue and white knitted ski jumpers. I remember having that style of ski jumpers in the early ‘80s! Besides that literally everyone wears helmets with go-pro cameras fitted…
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN GETTING UP TO WHEN YOU’VE NOT BEEN SKIING?
It is not all about skiing when going on a ski holiday. What really matters is family time and having fun together. We went swimming in the pool, we played a lot of cards and yatzy, watched films together and went sledging in the moonlight. Some very special memories to take us through a hectic everyday when back in busy London.
AND FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY TOP TIPS FOR FAMILIES WHO ARE TAKING THEIR LITTLE ONES SKIING FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Top tip must be ensuring you have what is needed before you go, so especially that your child are kitted properly to ensure a positive experience. If unsure about what to get I’d recommend asking the skiwear shop or customer services when shopping online. They are there to help!
Then secondly, hire a ski instructor. You might be fine travelling in all sort of challenging slopes, but skiing with your child is an entirely different ballgame. Leave it to someone with experience. Then they can tell you all about how much fun they’ve had and what they’ve learned during lunch!
Then last but not least; if they’ve had enough of skiing, perhaps they want to go sledding or building a snowman together with you instead? Being outdoors and skiing should be fun and for kids, playing and just having fun in the snow is probably what is the most important part of a ski holiday!
With thanks to Bianca Wessel of Little Scandinavian X