Hit the slopes with your small ski bunnies at one of these cool-as-ice ski resorts!
It may be lovely and warm here in Singapore, but ski season is approaching in destinations around Asia and beyond. And with Christmas break not that far away, we’re turning our minds to new destinations for a family holiday 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 (very) far ski resorts that make for the perfect wintry getaway. Fancy going off-piste and organising your vacay yourself? Or would you rather enlist the invaluable services of a ski-holiday expert? Either way, we’ve tracked down plenty of snowy options that will make a great family-friendly skiing holiday. Powderhounds: ready, steady… ski!
Where to go skiing: Asia and beyond
With more than 500 ski resorts dotted around Japan, it’s easy to find decent snow in this top-notch ski-holiday destination. The best resorts and snow conditions are found in northern Japan and along the mountains bordering the Western 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. Ready for the big guns? 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: It’s one of the easiest ski resorts to get to from Singapore – there are plenty of direct flight options to New Chitose Airport. Most hotels will arrange onward travel for the 150-kilometre journey to Niseko. There are also plenty of bus companies that 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 childcare options. Plus, the beginner’s slopes are right on the doorstep! After a deluxe chalet? Take a sneak peek at amazing chalets over at Setsu Niseko!
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 in Tohoku. Plus, it’s super family-friendly! With its six prefectures – Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima – this is a favourite for locals. This powdery paradise is the perfect pick for an authentic experience – some of the ski lifts even date back to the 1920s. Kids will love finding the famous ‘Ice Monsters’ 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 opportunities.
Home of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba 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 many slopes, lessons and challenges to choose from. Check out the Evergreen Outdoor Centre, where more advanced skiers in the family can put their footwork to the test on its backcountry trails and off-piste challenges. The centre also provides lessons on the nursery slopes 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 or train 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 at the top of their holiday wish list.
2. South Korea
A lesser-known ski destination in Asia, the slopes in South Korea make for a great skiing holiday too (and while you’re there, enjoy a few days in the capital – check out this mum’s best picks for Seoul with kids).
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 have the perfect terrain for all kinds of skiers. Not only is there plenty of space for novice skiers (and soft landings for bottoms!), 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 250-kilometre shuttle bus transfer to Yongpyong.
Where to stay: Alpine sports are big on the menu at the modern hotel, Holiday Inn and Suites Alpensia Pyeongchang. Suites include a kitchenette, which always makes life so much easier when travelling with fussy kids!
We love that this ski resort is close enough to Seoul (just a 45-minute drive) so we can mix up our ski days with adventures in the city looking for Santa. You might be surprised, but the South Korean Santa is decked out in blue! These slopes are not one for skiers who love drama, but perfect for families looking for gentle slopes, snow sledging 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.
3. New Zealand
Being in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand’s winter season doesn’t start till mid-year. And that’s perfectly fine for us who want to escape Singapore’s heat and humidity around that time. The Christchurch-Canterbury region is basically a big skiing stretch, filled with sweeping plains and mountain peaks. It’s basically a winter playground for everyone.
They say you’ve not skied in New Zealand until you’ve skied here. Voted the best ski resort consistently at the World Ski Awards, Mt Hutt offers the best alpine experience for skiers. You get wide open terrain that spans 365 hectares with an infinite number of off-piste lines. The kids will have a ball playing with the snow here too! Enjoy spectacular views as you go down the slopes, or when you’re on the chairlift.
How to get there: It takes around 1.5 hours by car from Christchurch to Mt Hutt. Alternatively, you can travel to the slopes from nearby Methven via regular shuttle buses.
Where to stay: Fable Terrace Downs Resort is a good place to unwind after taking on the terrain, with a day spa and fitness centre available on-site. You can also take part in clay shooting, horse riding, and tennis.
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.
Les Deux Alpes
This high glacial resort has over 200 kilometres 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 runs for all levels of expertise, from total novices 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 200-kilometre onward journey.
Where to stay: Head to the heart of the Oisans to Le Souleil’Or, a cosy chalet perched at 1650-metres offering stunning views of the mountains and slopes.
The Prince and Princess of Wales took their kids here for their first skiing holiday, so you should follow suit! Skiers of all experience levels can take on the gigantic 600km ski area. The picturesque mountainside is surrounded by pine forests – perfect IG-worthy captures – as well as high fashion boutiques. You definitely have to up your glam factor when you’re here.
How to get there: Land in Geneva, zip along with your luxury transfer, and check into your accommodation within three hours.
Where to stay: Check into Portetta Lofts, where you can get the best of the hotel facilities whilst still enjoying the fully equipped kitchen. Especially convenient for preparing meals for young children.
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 amongst the jaw-dropping Alpine terrain, and great for families too. Plus it’s a direct flight: bonus!
As one of Switzerland’s most famed ski resorts, Verbier offers plenty of sporting activities in winter (and in summer). There’s abundant nightlife (plus babysitting options!), stunning scenery, charming villages and chalets a-plenty. Families are well catered for, and a beginner’s 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-sledging 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! Its spa and swimming pool overlook the mountains, and it has gorgeous Alpine-style rooms to boot: including a two-bed apartment for families, and just 30-metres from the Savoleyres Ski Lift. Perfect!
Mamma mia! Italy is just so beautiful that it would be a travesty not to visit, no matter what time of year. Skiing is especially family-friendly, and with almost 300 ski resorts around the country to choose from, they’re super easy to find!
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. Plus, the whole family will soon be perfecting techniques on everything from the beginner’s slopes to its off-piste terrain. Snowfall is superb and with over 1200-kilometre 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 Malpensa and then you’ll need to take a 360-kilometre journey to the resort (not one for antsy kids) or fly to Venice with one-stop for a shorter 166-kilometre transfer to your powdery destination.
Where to stay: A two-star Michelin restaurant, an award-winning spa, an indoor pool and a kids club you say? Take us to Hotel and Spa Rosa Alpina immediately!
The hills are alive not only with the sound of music, but with plenty of fun skiing opportunities too. This patch of the world is stunning and well worth the, admittedly, epic journey from Singapore.
Once considered the party town of the skiing resorts found in Austria, Söll has been working hard to change that vibe to a more family-friendly one, and it’s 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. Söll also makes a great resort for date night with a difference: the slopes are floodlit during the evening. Aww! Dog sledging is another popular activity in the area, and you can’t miss the 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 Söll. The onward transfer from Innsbruck to Söll is 78-kilometre 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 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.
Kids are not only welcome but actively encouraged in the Norwegian ski resort, Hemsedal. There’s a huge dedicated area for small skiers where kids will have a (snow) blast in the mini-park and teepee tents. Plus, there are great childcare options available for when you want to blaze down the slopes without the kids in tow. 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 be sure to check out the stunning scenery in the area too! Psst, the waterfalls are out of this world!
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 200-kilometre 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. Plus, it’s a short distance from ski school, the lifts, shops and restaurants. A whirlpool bath, sauna and games console seal the deal.
‘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 is comprised of two mountains: Whistler and Backcomb. Connected by a record-breaking peak-to-peak gondola, Whistler is the crème de la crème of the ski resort world and takes winter adventures to a whole new level. With over 50 kilometres 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. Fun fact: it’s also been voted one of the best hotels in Canada (quite the accolade), so this ski-in/ski-out pick is guaranteed five-star luxe all the way.
Need help planning your ski holiday?
Skiing holidays from Singapore definitely require some long ol’ journeys and skilled planning, and in Singapore, our kids aren’t the kind that’s born with a pair of skis on their feet. Turn your novice ski bunnies into powder whizzes with these skiing tips and tricks.
What’s a good age to get kids started?
Put a toddler in the snow and chances are all they will want to do is play. Instructors know this, so starter classes won’t be too strenuous, and things like snowball fights and snowman building will also take centre stage! It’s more about getting your little one upright on a set of skis and having a slide around on the snow.
When is the ideal ski season?
For ski breaks, definitely consider weeks other than New Year, Christmas, and Chinese New Year. Although these times are the most popular with families, they are the most expensive and the busiest – i.e. not the best in terms of value for money. So while the powder may not be as fresh as mid-winter, March and April are likely to be warmer which is important if you have young children who will be affected by the cold. There are also fewer crowds and availability at the best resorts and chalets is much easier to come by! If you have very young children, enjoy the lack of term scheduling and exam date constraints and ski during these less expensive off-peak dates.
But of course, nothing beats a magical white Christmas, especially for Singapore residents dying to escape the tropical heat. And we must say, a lot of resorts do put on all kinds of special events that make for a wonderfully cosy holiday atmosphere.
Apartment, chalet, or hotel – which is best?
We agree there are a lot of choices, but there’s definitely something for every sort of family! Here are the benefits of each type of accommodation.
They really provide that home-away-from-home feel, allowing plenty of space for children to run and play. Best of all, chalets are great for gatherings involving several families, and the kids will have a ball playing with cousins or friends. Chalets usually come well-kitted out with playrooms and media equipment that will keep children occupied, while the adults enjoy a few après ski drinks by the fireplace at the end of the day.
These are much more convenient for single families travelling, giving you the option of preparing meals yourself, rather than hauling the whole family to restaurants every night. Apartments also tend to be a little more centrally located in the village than chalets if you do opt to step out for meals.
Two words – kids clubs! Children’s clubs and professional childcare give kids the opportunity to meet and play with people their age, with a wealth of activities to take part in both on and off-piste.
What gear do I need?
Some items are certainly important, but you don’t want to be one of those with “all the gear and no idea!” Rent equipment on your first trip, and you’ll be able to get a feel of what suits you before committing to a big purchase. However, we do recommend you purchase the following items:
- Waterproof trousers and jacket – Waterproofing is key as the kids will be up and down in the snow constantly throughout the day, and keeping dry (and therefore warm) is paramount.
- A good pair of ski goggles and sunglasses – It’s a winter holiday, but it’s still going to be sunny! Sunlight reflecting off the snow makes it hard to see, and nothing is more painful than burnt eyelids (yes that can happen!). Goggles may suit little ones more as they are harder to take off and will fit more comfortably round the back of helmets.
- Warm socks – Those ski boots may look chunky and thick, but without a good pair of socks, your feet will soon start to feel the chill. One good pair works better than layering socks, as cramped toes in tightly laced boots aren’t comfortable!
- Gloves – Kids love falling and playing in the snow, so gloves need to be waterproof, warm, and not too chunky (if they don’t have the dexterity to make a snowball, you are not going to have a happy child).
- Thermal underwear – Hands down, the warmest layering you’ll get! And again, it’s a lot more comfortable for your children to have one good thermal than bundling up in multiple, lesser-quality layers.
- SPF 50 sun cream – Like with sunglasses, don’t be fooled by the snow! Make sure the kids have it on all exposed areas before they head out for the day.
- Comfortable snowshoes for walking to dinner – Insulated and water-resistant. (Note: Uggs aren’t waterproof! We’ve learnt the hard way).
Ski experts if you need their help…
1. Ski Safari
We’ve used this top-notch ski specialist ourselves. No matter where in the world you want to go, nothing is too much trouble when it comes to tailor-making the perfect ski holiday for families! 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 snowstorm and more fluffy white stuff when it comes to organising an awesome snowy holiday.
2. Lightfoot Travel
Luxury holidays are made easy by Lightfoot Travel, and that includes ski holidays to wintery destinations. Check out its advice on how to get prepped for your ski vacay.
3. Antipodean Luxury Travel
If your next ski holiday destination is New Zealand, you can consider getting help from these folks. Antipodean Luxury Travel curates “wonder-filled” vacays in that region, which has been recognised in Travel+Leisure Magazine. Let them do all the planning so that you can travel fuss-free.
4. Scott Dunn
The experts at Scott Dunn are reliable and knowledgeable when it comes to luxury travel. You don’t even have to lift a finger – leave everything to the team! There’s a travel specialist assigned who’ll take care of all that you need (including the smallest details). Plus, you get flexible financial protection. Score!
Enjoy your ski holiday, folks!