Snowmass (US) or Serfaus (Austria) with young children?
Posted: 22 June 2015 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]
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We are thinking of taking our first skiing holiday with our two young children this coming northern hemisphere winter (having moved back to Australia when we had our first).  They’ll be almost five years and almost three years old in early 2016 (we are likely to go for two weeks’ skiing starting middle of January).  I’ve looked at two options and was wondering whether anyone had any information on either in relation to family holidays:

(1) Serfaus / Fiss, in one of the Kinderhotels (we are thinking Hotel Loewen or Hotel Baer in Serfaus, both run by the same family).  My two reservations are: (a) how much English is spoken at hotels in Serfaus?  I speak fluent German, my wife and kids don’t speak much at German all (although the eldest child understands a bit). (b) how snowsure is Serfaus?  It *seems* good but I have very little reliable information, and don’t want the kids’ first experience of snow to be on ice / hard pack. 

(2) Snowmass in Colorado: seems to tick a number of boxes: less time difference to Australia, snow sure, high service quality.  My one question is: are there any hotels that have similar facilities (creche, child’s club, child care workers who take the children to and pick them up from ski school) as the Kinderhotels in Serfaus offer?

Other alternatives we’ve thought about are one of the ClubMed resorts (a bit put off by the idea that the kids would have their first lessons with the ESF, after everything I’ve read on this forum and in the book), Avoriaz or looking into a British-run family-focused tour operator.

Any suggestions, tips or input would be very much appreciated.  We don’t really have dry ski slopes in Australia so I can’t really prep them for a ski trip other than taking them to the local ski slopes in Australia (if we get any meaningful snow this year).

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Posted: 24 June 2015 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Source of inspiration for an Alpine getaway, but ever since he donned skis in one episode.
Serfaus. With a dedicated children’s area on the slopes and a hotel that caters particularly for families, it ticked all the right boxes.Proper preparation prevents poor performance – so the mantra goes.

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Posted: 28 June 2015 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Been twice to Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis. Both times in low snow seasons. However psites were in excellent condition with the use of snow making to top up natural snow asa back up.

Excellent dedicated childrens park and learning area. Instructors generaly speak English to a good standard. Hotels and guest houses are excellent quality and my experienc eof family orientated hotels have been excellent.

Not many Brits go to the area many Dutch and German skiers. Book early to get what you want. With young children the closer to the lift system the better.

Good skiing

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Posted: 06 July 2015 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Having ski’ed Snowmass often, I would heartily recommend it for families.  The teaching terrain is superb for first timers - -  The mid Mountain “meadows”, a separate area reached by gondola, has a perfect gentle pitch for first timers.  Since it is mid Mountain, it has terrific snow and is well away from the high traffic areas.  There is a nice mid mountain lodge right there, and you can download when you are through.  There’s lots of fun novice terrain as you progress - - lunchline and dawdler are especially good.  Now, as far as hotels go, I don’t think you’ll find extensive children’s programs at the hotels.  There is an excellent childcare adventure center at the base of the ski area (The Treehouse (under 4) and the “Hideout” (above 4)) , but its unlikely there will be anything in the hotel itself.  You might want to locate adjacent to the child center at the Stonebridge Hotel, or the Westin (directly connected with a 2 minute ride on the “skycab” cabriolet lift).
There are a couple of other factors to consider, especially if you are going for 2 weeks.  There’s not much going on at Snowmass Village after the lifts close, and while Aspen is a nonstop party, it is a 25 minute bus ride away.  Not very convenient with 2 toddlers, especially on a cold, cold Colorado night.  A second factor is altitude sickness.  It is high (8,200’) and very dry in Colorado and that takes its toll.  A continental climate at 5000’ in Austria is much more comfortable. 
I know Sefaus has a reputation as a wonderful family resort, but have you considered other, more snowsure resorts in Austria?  Obergurgl has great snow and good nursery slopes.

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Posted: 12 August 2015 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thank you all for the advice, it is very much appreciated. 

jjparis - I hadn’t really thought about Obergurgl but on reading the right up it seems another great alternative.  Did you find it had much to offer by way of childcare and entertainment for small children?  One of the things that appeal to us about Serfaus/Fiss/Ladis is that the resorts and many hotels seem very focused on keeping the kids happy and offering childcare.  Also thank you for your thoughts on Snowmass - I hadn’t really thought about the altitude sickness before, that will certainly be a factor.

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Posted: 12 August 2015 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I could also commend the resort of Zauchensee, in the Ski Amade area.

We stayed at the Zauchenseehof hotel..reviewed on trip advisor
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1156007-d647210-Reviews-Zauchenseehof-Altenmarkt_im_Pongau_Austrian_Alps.html

Staff were superb at our time of staying.

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Posted: 20 August 2015 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Zauchensee is a good hill, with pretty decent snow, but Obergurgl Is higher, with more snow and a much greater vertical drop.  And while the village is not big, it is much more substantial than Zauchensee.  I think hotel alpine in obergurgl is very much what you are looking for, although there are others.  Check out. http://www.hotelalpina.com/family-hotel-obergurgl-childrens-world.html

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Posted: 20 August 2015 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Did both back to back, Obergurgl was wind scoured with ice and sastrugi high up. Fresh snow had been blown away at all levels. I do like Obergurgl, been 4 times so know it well. Zauchensee was full of pristine powder, not many people and extensive infrastructure and of course with the Amade ski pass much more is easily available.
Typical, you cannot guarantee conditions anywhere!

So much will depend on the abilities and resiliance of the individuals as to how they cope with prevailing conditions, head high it can be rough and icy, head low it can be slushy and wet. Pay your money and take your chance.

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Posted: 20 August 2015 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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For what it’s worth, WTSS rates Obergurgl with 5***** for snow: ”  Glaciers apart, one of the most snow-sure resorts in the Alps; good for a late-season holiday”

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Posted: 25 August 2015 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Skiied Obergurgl a number of years ago and was not impressed.  the village felt “unfinished” (it may have improved) and the hotels were expensive.  I never understood the appeal for Brits - they seemed to like it in spite of its nature, rather than because of it.  I also thought the skiing areas were small and not well linked.  The Zauchensee area (we stayed in Flachau) offers a larger extent of skiing which is more varied.  The different areas are well-linked by buses, there are some excellent hotels, and the mountain restaurants are reasonably priced.

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