The one holiday my boys have often mentioned and I’ve managed up to now to ignore is skiing.
The thought of cold, wet snow and the effort of getting into all that gear has never seemed as appealing to me as our last trip to France lazing in the French sun with a good book and a glass of wine.
As it was France, I also knew I’d still be able to get my fix of wine and cheese, so I took up the offer and broke the news to my boys. They are eleven and thirteen and always up for doing stuff that has an air of danger attached to it. Just like the adventure holiday in Wales a couple of years before. Nothing phases them and I knew they would soak up every moment of this next adventure.
We only had a week to prepare and thanks to friends and family (and Ebay) we gathered the clothing and equipment together that we needed and managed to get it all into three suitcases.
We flew from Birmingham to Geneva with FlyBe and then had a three hour coach journey to our hotel.
By the time we reached our hotel La Berangere in Les Deux Alps we were all shattered and the prospect of having to queue with a coach full of families to check in and sort our luggage filled me with dread.
To my delight, we got off the coach, were led into the hotel by some very smiley Mark Warner staff, given our room number and told we could go straight up to our rooms and our luggage would follow! Even better than that, there was afternoon tea being served in the bar that included bread and cheese and a lovely selection of cake.
Our rooms were basic but comfortable and we had a lovely view out over the village and the mountains. When we arrived the sun was shining and there was hardly any snow.
The week comprised of ski lessons with ESF for the boys from 9.15am – 12noon and my youngest son was booked into the kids club so every day after his lesson, he was taken back to the hotel, had a lovely two course lunch that he could choose each morning and then activities in the afternoon including a trip to a local creperie and mocktail (non-alcoholic cocktail) making at the hotel.
He also had his tea with kids club at 5pm each day, again, choosing each morning from the kids menu what he wanted. We picked him up at 6pm and at 7.30pm he was off again for movie club.
It worked out really well as although the hotel restaurant menu was very nice, he’s a bit of a picky eater and wouldn’t have liked many of the choices. It also gave my older son a break from his younger brother. They have that brotherly love hate thing going on at the moment and relish the opportunity to spend time doing different things.
We needn’t have worried about the lack of snow either. Of course, higher up the mountains there was lots of it. However, by mid-week we were having downfalls of snow overnight and waking up to at least six inches of fluffy snow at hotel level, even deeper up top.
Every morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast including a selection of cereals, pastries, and cooked sausages, bacon and eggs.
Whilst the boys were skiing, I chilled out at the hotel, making some lovely friends with other mums and wives who were either non skiers, or more so the case, were injured skiers and as the week went on, the number of injured skiers went up! Another reason I really don’t see the appeal.
The hotel had a pool and a therapy room so I enjoyed a swim, often having the pool all to myself, and had a lovely back massage.
We also wandered into the town for coffee and to watch the skiers.
Afternoon tea was served every day and it was a chance to catch up with all the skiers. There was always a home made soup and bread, drinks and a lovely selection of home made cakes, and of course, we had to sample a bit of everything!
The choices of starter, main and dessert at dinner were always varied and washed down lovely with a complimentary bottle of wine.
Evenings before and after dinner were spent in the hotel bar. The kids made lots of friends and the parents chatted. It was a lovely atmosphere and the Mark Warner staff also put on some entertainment throughout the week.
One of the nights they challenged us to invent something out of foil. So we designed a ‘ski wee’ modelled here by my youngest son, and we won! So a free jug of a cocktail of our choice and some chocolate for the kids went down very well.
Unfortunately, my eldest son was taken ill half way through the week and the Mark Warner staff were amazing. Giving us lifts to and from the local doctors, helping us decipher prescriptions and conversations with the doctor. They were really amazing and couldn’t do enough for us. So he had to abandon his ski lessons for the latter half of the week but we still managed to have a good time.
We also spent a day in the old part of Les Deux Alps, Venosc, going down the mountain in a cable car. It was a lovely, sleepy little town with cafes and a few small local craft shops.
The very picturesque and quaint old town with its lovely little craft boutiques (PIC)
One of the friends we made had been to the resort many times and she took us on the cable car to the very top of the mountain where we nearly got blown away but had a very nice hot chocolate to recover.
By the end of the week my eldest son felt well enough to get back on his skis again and by now, my youngest son, after a week of lessons, was turning into a proper little skier so he guided his brother down the slopes and it was lovely to see them enjoying what they’d wanted to do for so long.
My youngest son was awarded his level one skiing badge and certificate at a presentation by the ski school and we also got to watch a DVD of them throughout the week.
I was really impressed with the holiday for many reasons, but for me, what made it all so much easier was the support of the lovely, friendly Mark Warner team. Many of the families we met felt the same and I think we were the only ones there who’d not been on a Mark Warner holiday before.
I definitely think we’ll be trying some more Mark Warner holidays. I’d quite like to try a warmer destination but I think my youngest son already has his sights set on getting his level two skiing badge. The only down side is that he will be too old for the kids club next year.
Courtesy of Mark Warner, Carol and her family flew from Birmingham to Geneva with FlyBe and stayed at La Hotel Berangere in Les Deux Alps on a half board basis for seven nights from 8th to 15th April (flights and airport transfers included).
Additional costs -
Bookings for 2012/2013 ski season are now available with prices from £495 per person. See the Mark Warner website for more details about free child places.