Choosing ski resort accommodation

Choosing the right accommodation for your school skiing trip

It is often a good idea to visit your favoured ski resort and provider before you commit to the trip, and most companies are only too happy to arrange an inspection visit for key trip organisers. As well as being able to have a look at the resort facilities and how suitable the location is for your group, you will be able to suss out the accommodation - a key consideration for packs of school children, many of whom may be away from home without their families for the first time. The quality and convenience of the holiday accommodation can often be the difference between a great school trip and a trip that they teachers will not be keen to volunteer for again the following year.

Types of accommodation

The type of accommodation you will select for your group's ski holiday will probably depend upon the number of children you have on your trip, and on what is available at your resort of choice. Typical places to rest your head in the mountains include resort hotels, especially group focused "ClubHotels", large chalets, and youth hostel or bunk houses. For smaller groups where perhaps only ten or fifteen of children are travelling, smaller chalets may be an option, depending on demand and the time of year. The term chalet traditionally refers to a small wooden hut, perhaps derived from the word shelter. But in the modern age, a chalet can refer to everything from a small Alpine dwelling to a big, modern looking hotel.

Six things to consider when choosing your place to stay

Where are the children going to sleep? In a bedroom, well yes, obviously, but would you prefer dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds, or would it be better to pair them up in standard rooms. The former will likely be kinder to your budget and more geared towards your type of group, though in peak season for school groups you may find more competition for such rooms which can actually make standard rooms in less popular hotels better value. There may be some practical reasons for choosing dorms over standard hotel rooms, but the weight of your decision here is likely to be price based.

Where in the resort is the chalet located? The actual location of your group's lodgings is a big consideration. You may be lucky and find the perfect chalet at a great price, close to everything you want to visit. But chances are you will have to make some compromises. If you opt for an out of town location you will almost certainly save some money. On the other hand you may prefer to be close to resort for the convenience and less time spent traveling each morning and afternoon. In resort itself, it may be better to be near to the ski lifts, or you may prefer to be within touching distance of the resort's main streets.

Do you have exclusive use, or are you sharing with other holiday makers? Obviously your children are going to be little angels, but there is quite a difference between having the place to yourself and having to co-exist with other members of the holidaying public. If you have the run of the place it may be easier to negotiate suitable meal times, plus, not having to worry about your charges interacting with other people in such a closed environment will be one less thing on your mind. Clubhotels are the perfect choice as you get sole use, they are close to the piste and often cheaper!

Does it meet recognised health and safety requirements? In these days of sue first, ask questions later, American style litigation, you are responsible for providing a valid risk assessment for the trip. Any group accommodation provider worth their salt will have this information ready to give to you. Many leading tour operators work with the umbrella STF or School Travel Forum group, which sets a health and safety policy which member companies will follow. Certainly worth asking your chalet if they can provide you with details of their safety guidelines.

Will you be getting Full board, or Half Board accommodation? It may not be practical to travel back to your digs during the day, especially if you aren't staying close to the piste. Assuming you are not too far away, it is certainly worth checking what is on offer, as catered chalets may be able to arrange a hot meal break mid way through the day, to save you having to find a café bar or restaurant.

Who actually runs the chalet? Is it the company you are booking with, or does somebody else manage it for them. Any accommodation provider with a jot of sense will be warm and welcoming, but even if you do not get the chance to make an inspection visit, it could be worth trying to speak with the chalet manager to get an idea of how 'accommodating' they are going to be. The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere that does not really want to have children running around and to be in constant discussion about keeping them quiet.

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