Where to ski with kids: family-friendly skiing holidays in Asia and beyond

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Hit the slopes with your small ski bunnies at one of these cool-as-ice ski resorts from Singapore...

Looking for a cool Yule holiday for 2017? Christmas is creeping up fast, so we’re turning our minds to a fantastic winter escape where we can ski our socks off! No matter if you’re a snow-shy beginner, an off piste whizz, or something in between, we’ve found the near(ish) and far (very) ski resorts that make for the perfect wintery getaway. Whether you fancy going off slope and organising your vacay yourself, or want to list the invaluable services of a ski-holiday expert, we’ve tracked down plenty of snowy options to make your Christmas a very, VERY white one. Powderhounds: ready, steady… ski!

Spend Christmas in a snowy wonderland in Hokkaido, Japan. Photography: Helen Hillier

JAPAN
With over 500 ski resorts dotted around Japan, it’s as easy to find decent snow as it is to find neon lights and sushi in this top notch ski-holiday destination. The best resorts and snow conditions are usually found in northern Japan and along the mountains bordering the Sea of Japan coast.

Niseko, Northern Hokkaido
Niseko has not one, not two, and not even three ski resorts: there are a whopping four snow resorts in Japan’s official number one skiing region! Averaging over 15-metres of top quality snowfall each season, there’s a resort for all levels of expertise – and fabulous onsens for those who fancy a gentler pace of holiday! Head to the easier slopes of Annupuri if you’re feeling less brave, and advance onto the off-piste and more challenging courses at Grand Hirafu, Hanazono and Niseko Village once you’ve found your feet.
How to get there: One of the easiest ski resorts to get to from Singapore – there are plenty of direct flight options to Sapporo Chitose Airport. Most hotels will arrange onward travel for the 150km journey to Niseko, or there are plenty of bus companies who will take you to the slopes in around three hours. 
Where to stay: Hotel Niseko Alpen is a three-star ski-in/ski-out hotel ideal for families with its onsite swimming pool, onsen and child-care options. The beginner’s slopes are right on the doorstep!

Tohoku
If it’s an off the beaten track kind of ski adventure you’re looking for, then head to one of the oldest ski resorts Japan has to offer: Tohoku! With its six prefectures, Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima, this is a favourite for locals. This powdery paradise makes the perfect pick for an authentic experience – some of the ski lifts date back to the 1920s! Kids will love finding the famous ‘Ice Monsters’ that are created from frost and snow on the evergreens around the mountain.
How to get there: Fly direct into Narita International Airport from Singapore, then jump on the Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen lines from JR Tokyo Station for a bullet train journey of between 1.5-3.5 hours. 
Where to stay: We like Zao Kokusai Hotel in the Yamagata area, where you’ll find good sized rooms, hot spring baths, a spa and a great location for skiing ops.

Hakuba
Home of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba on the south island has enough going on for even the most prolific of powderhounds: there are nine resorts and over 200 runs in the area! Perfect for kids of all ages, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy with so many slopes, lessons and challenges to choose from. Check out the Evergreen Outdoor Centre for when the more advanced skiers in the family fancy putting their footwork to the test on back country trails and off piste challenges. They also provide lessons from the nursery slopes and beyond for those less experienced in your crew.
How to get there: Fly to Tokyo, then head to Tokyo Central Shinkansen Station and hop on a bullet train to Nagano in around two hours. Once there you can take a bus to the ski areas. 
Where to stay: Large ski-in apartments with two and three bedrooms are what you’ll find at Hakuba Gondola Apartments near the picturesque Happo Village. Ideally located next to the area’s main gondola (ADAM Gondola), this self-catering option is perfect for families with ‘skiing’ on the top of their Christmas wish list. 

SOUTH KOREA
A lesser known ski destination in Asia, the slopes in South Korea make for a great skiing holiday too.

Yongpyong
We want to try skiing at Yongpyong Resort in Korea’s Baekdudaegan Mountain Range, just so we can say we’ve been on the Rainbow Slopes! With buckets of snow every season, the largest of South Korea’s ski resorts has terrain perfect for all kinds of skiers. There’s plenty of space for novice skiers (and soft landings for bottoms!), while more advanced lovers of the sport can try out the 2018 Winter Olympics slaloms for a step up on the challenge front.
How to get there: Fly direct to Seoul with airlines including Korean Air and Singapore Airlines, and then take a 250km shuttle bus transfer to Yongpyong.
Where to stay: Alpine sports are big on the menu at modern hotel, Holiday Inn and Suites Alpensia Pyeongchang. Suites include a kitchenette which always makes life sooo much easier when travelling with fussy kids!

Jisan Forest
We love that this ski resort is close enought to Seoul (just a 45 minute drive) so we can mix up our ski days with adventures in the city looking for Santa (he sometimes wears blue in Korea). Not one for skiers who love drama, but perfect for families looking for gentle slops, snow sledding and just a good old fashioned snowball fight.
How to get there: Once you’re in Seoul, it’s an easy drive of just 45 minutes to the ski resort. 
Where to stay: Rooms are spacious and good value at the Hotel Thesoom Forest, located in Yongin-si.

FRANCE
Amazing food (all that glorious cheese!), fantastic wine and friendly people make this a great pick for a long-haul skiing holiday. Plus there’s Paris and EuroDisney to consider…

 

How’s this for a winter holiday view from your hotel? Photography: Le Souleil’Or

Les Deux Alpes
This high glacial resort has over 200km of groomed slopes ranging from a lofty 3,570-metre run to a gentler 1,650-metre affair. The resort has tons going on both on and off piste, and there are ski ops for all levels of expertise, from total novice through to daredevil ski wizards. Kids will love checking out the medieval village of Venosc where you’ll also find some great restaurants and plenty of delicious French vino.
How to get there: Yes, we know the resort is in France, but it’s actually quicker to get to Les Deux Alpes from Geneva Airport. Transfer from Geneva to the resort can be arranged by private car, taxi or bus for the 200km onward journey.
Where to stay: Head to the heart of the Oisans to Le Souleil’Or, a cozy chalet perched at 1650-metres offering stunning views of the mountains and slopes.

Reward yourself at the bottom of the Verbier ski slopes with a huge slab of Swiss chocolate!

SWITZERLAND
It’s not all cheese, chocolates and watches in Switzerland (although that doesn’t sound so bad). Some of the most famous ski resorts are nestled amongst the jaw-dropping Alpine terrain, and great for families too. Plus it’s a direct flight: bonus!

Verbier
As one of Switzerland’s most famed ski resorts, Verbier offers plenty of sporting activities in winter (and summer), abundant nightlife (plus babysitting options!), stunning scenery, charming villages and chalets a-plenty. Families are well catered for, and the beginners area on La Chaux is especially good for kids (and adults!) finding their ski feet, while Le Tzoumaz and Nendaz have nursery slopes and children’s play areas. If the little ones are getting weary on their skis, take a break and go dog-sledding or ice karting instead. Oodles of fun guaranteed!
How to get there: Fly direct to Zurich with Swiss Air or Singapore Airlines and then use a 2.5-hour transfer to the resort, or alternatively fly to Geneva (with one stop) and transfer in just over an hour.
Where to stay: Chalet d’Adrien gets rave reviews and we can see why: with a spa and swimming pool overlooking the mountains, gorgeous Alpine-style rooms, including a two-bed apartment for families, and just 30 metres from the Savoleyres Ski Lift, this is the picture-perfect spot.

ITALY
Mama mia, Italy is just so beautiful that it would be a travesty not to visit, no matter what time of year you get the opportunity. Skiing is especially family-friendly, and with almost 300 ski resorts around the country to choose from, they’re as easy to find as pizza and pasta!

Dolomite Mountains
The long journey from Singapore to Northern Italy is well and truly worth it: once you get to the Dolomite Mountains you’ll be blown away by the breathtaking scenery AND the impressive array of ski resorts – 12 of them – all at once. This is an all-round winner no matter your skiing prowess and the whole family will soon be perfecting techniques on everything from beginners slopes to off-piste terrain. Snowfall is superb and with over 1200km of pistes to play on, you’re all going to need a LOT of pasta and pizza to keep your energy up!
How to get there: Singapore Airlines will fly you directly to Milan Malpense and then you’ll need to take a 360km journey to the resort (not one for antsy kids), or fly to Venice with one stop for a shorter 166km transfer to your powdery destination. 
Where to stay: A two-star Michelin restaurant, an award-winning spa, indoor pool and a kids club you say? Take us to Hotel and Spa Rosa Alpina IMMEDIATELY.

AUSTRIA
The hills are alive not only with the sound of music, but with plenty of fun skiing ops too. This patch of the world is STUNNING, and well worth the, admittedly, epic journey from Singapore.

Hotel Postwirt is the pretty mountain hotel you’ve always dreamt of staying in!

Soll
Once considered the party town of the skiing resorts found in Austria, Soll has been working hard to change that vibe to a more family-friendly one: and they’ve done a stellar job! Kids are taken care of at the awesome Snow Pirate kids club, while the grown ups can ski on the bigger slopes without worrying about little ones keeping up. Soll also makes a great resort for date night with a difference: the slopes are floodlit during the evening. Awwww. Dog sledding is another popular activity in the area. And hot chocolate guzzling!
How to get there: Airlines including Lufthansa and British Airways offer flights from Singapore with one stop along the way to Innsbruck, the nearest airport to Soll. The onward transfer from Innsbruck to Soll is 78km and takes around an hour in a private car or taxi.
Where to stay: Family rooms sleeping up to six are what’s on offer at the pretty four-star Hotel Postwirt, and beds are hypoallergenic! This is a family-run hotel so it totally gets us.

NORWAY
Norway has become popular in recent years as a ski destination, and with a good chance of also ticking the Northern Lights off your bucket list, it’s a stunning option that generally offers less eye-watering ticket prices than some of its other European counterparts.

The family friendly slopes of Hemesedal are a perfect pick. Photography: Kalle Haggland @ SkiStar courtesy of Ski Safari

Hemsedal
Kids are not only welcome, but actively encouraged in Norwegian ski resort, Hemsedal. There’s a huge dedicated area for small skiers where kids will have a (snow) blast in the mini park, teepee tents and in the great childcare options available for when you want to blaze down the slopes without the kids in tow. We’re loving that there’s even a ski kindergarten for the super small family members. The area also provides plenty of snowy challenges for skiers of all abilities. Head up trails that lead to the rugged Skogshorn Mountain and check out the stunning scenery in the area too – waterfalls, people!
How to get there: Jet off to Oslo (no direct routes but try KLM or Swiss Air for one stop options) and then make the 200km transfer by private car, taxi or express bus. 
Where to stay: The ski-in/ski-out Rådyrlia Cabins are nestled smack bang at the base of the slopes, within easy walking distance of ski school, the lifts, shops and restaurants. A whirlpool bath, sauna and games console seals the deal.

Kids ski school on Whistler will have the little ones whizzing down the slopes in no time. Photography: Mike Crane courtesy of Ski Safari

CANADA
‘Go big or go home’ is a motto we’re on board with, so if you’re after one of the ultimate skiing experiences then be prepared to fly to the other side of the globe to visit Canada! Not for the fainthearted, the journey is immense (don’t forget to check out our survival guide for flying with kids!) but the end gain will be the stuff that powdery dreams are made of. Also: maple syrup and bacon.

Whistler
Comprised of two mountains; Whistler and Backcomb, connected by a record-breaking peak-to-peak gondola, Whistler is the creme de la creme of the ski resort world and takes winter adventures to a whole new level. With over 50km of alpine trails, a Family Adventure Zone (bungee jumping or zip lining, anyone?) and slopes for all levels of expertise, this is one winter holiday that will fill the memory banks for years to come.
How to get there: It’s a long slog but totally worth it! Fly to Vancouver (usually one stop on the way in Hong Kong or Japan) and be prepared to spend around 20 hours in the air, and then complete the journey with a two-hour transfer to the resorts. 
Where to stay: If you’re going all that way for your dream ski holiday, it’s only fair to spend it in one of the best resorts in Whistler: Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Recently voted one of the best hotels in Canada (quite the accolade), this ski-in/ski-out pick is guaranteed five-star luxe all the way.

NEED SOME HELP?

Skiing holidays from Singapore definitely require some long ol’ journeys and skilled planning, which is why we’re kinda tempted to outsource. Consider using one of these great ski specialists to tick the ‘skilled planning’ box for you…

Who wants to try these slopes in Whistler? Using a ski expert to plan your trip will def make it easier. Photography: Mike Crane courtesy of Ski Safari

Ski Safari
We’ve used this top-notch ski specialist ourselves, and nothing is too much trouble when it comes to tailor-making the perfect ski holiday for families, no matter where in the world you want to go. Staff all have first-hand knowledge of the ski locations and resorts they suggest, and the outstanding service really will make your plans feel less of a snow storm and more fluffy white stuff when it comes to organising an awesome snowy holiday.
www.skisafari.com

Lightfoot Travel
Luxury holidays are made easy by Lightfoot Travel, and that includes ski holidays to wintery destinations. Check out its advice on Skiing 101 for kids to help get packed and prepped for your vacay.
www.lightfoottravel.com

CK Ski
Based in Hong Kong but organising ski holidays around the globe, CK Ski will create your winter jolly for you. This conveniently gives you more time to worry about how you’re going to entertain the kids on the flight instead of the nitty-gritty-planning-the-holiday part.
www.ck-ski.com

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