If your thoughts are turning to spring skiing, Catherine Scott suggests an ideal spot for a family-friendly Easter break.
I have to admit that I was a bit worried. Although Easter was early last year, exceptionally mild weather in March and a forecast for rain rather than snow didn’t fill me with confidence especially as we were travelling to the relatively low resort of Morzine.
I need not have worried.
Although the coach journey from Geneva did little to allay my fears as there was little snow to be seen at the valley bottom and a light drizzle had started to fall, the morning revealed an entirely different world.
Overnight temperatures had dropped just a degree or two, enough to turn that relentless drizzle into copious amounts of the white stuff. The end result was the best of both worlds: spring ski conditions with blue skies and lots of fresh snow.
Like any spring skiing the pistes are better in the morning so the early risers enjoyed the best conditions. By the afternoon things do slightly turn to resembling something like skiing in porridge on the lower, resort runs, but the early conditions more than make up for it,
Morzine is a picturesque Savoyard town, set in a beautiful valley with traditional chalet-style architecture. Yet unlike many of the traditional, older ski resorts the runs end directly in the town with the ease and speed of the Pleney bubble transporting you to one of the largest ski areas in Europe, the Portes du Soleil.
There is plenty of accommodation of all types in the town centre for those who like to virtually fall out onto the slopes. We were staying at the Ingham’s catered chalet Nomis a short free bus ride from the centre of Morzine.
Inghams also runs its own mini bus service to its Morzine chalets at the beginning and end of each day, which you should try to book in advance. We used this on a few occasions but found it just as easy to catch the free and regular ski bus which stopped just a few metres from our chalet.
Chalet Nomis is a luxury chalet which sleeps ten to 12 with its own sauna and heated boot room.
The chalet is virtually brand new and designed to offer comfortable accommodation in the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area. The large sunny open-plan lounge is split with TV/DVD and comfy sofas and fireplace with a separate dining area. There is a large south-facing terrace with wonderful views of the Nyon piste.
The chalet is located in a quiet wooded area of Morzine but conveniently located on the ski bus route to the lifts about five minutes’ ride away. The buses leave here every 15 minutes
Chalet catering isn’t for everyone, but for many it is the very essence of the British skiing holiday where you get to meet people from all different walks of life but with a common joy of skiing. All the high end bedrooms at Chalet Nomis have their own en-suite many with bath as well as shower.
We were sharing with another family, which was great news for my kids, also a man and his daughter and a young couple who were ski instructors and so full of knowledge which my husband enjoyed listening to over dinner.
The atmosphere is relaxed and informal although with the catering and service of a good hotels. As well as breakfast, cooked English if you like, after a day on the slopes you are met with a tasty cake and tea. Every night we enjoyed an aperitif and canapes before the four course evening meal with wine. Children are served separately at a slightly earlier time.
So by the end of all that you are in need of a good challenging ski to make sure you can still fit into your salopettes at the end of the trip.If a chalet holiday is not for you Morzine has just about every type of accommodation you could imagine from budget self-catering apartments to five star hotels. So there is something whatever your budget.
The local friendly skiing terrain is perfect for beginners and intermediates with the Pleney pistes overlooking the town and the 49 lifts linked with Les Gets on the local lift pass.
The other side of the valley will take you to the skiing and boarding mecca of Avoriaz with plentiful blues for stylish cruising and the four snow parks and the snowcross course. Morzine is superbly situated in one of the largest linked international ski areas of the world with an enormous 650km of piste.
We were travelling with two children and found more than enough to occupy us. The children particularly loved the adrenalin filled The Stash in Avoriaz. A piste long run of jumps and bumps and all manner of challenging terrain for children young and old. Although there are other children friendly play parks across the Portes Du Soleil ideal for skiers or boarders.
Another plus about travelling at Easter is that it is far less crowded than the traditional children’s ski holiday of February half term.
The slopes were beautifully free and the lift queues virtually non-existent. It may be that those choosing to ski at Easter had gone for the safe snow-sure high altitude resorts. But that was in our favour. I would definitely return to Morzine at Easter. If conditions do get a bit stretched, the proximity of the higher altitude Avoriaz makes this no riskier than any other resort,
A major benefit to Morzine is its proximity to Geneva airport and its regular flights from Leeds Bradford Airport. The transfer takes little over an hour which is a major plus when travelling with young children. It also means whatever hour your flights, you never have to get up too early on departure day.
Inghams features 16 ski resorts in France, including the resort of Morzine.
Travel with Inghams and stay for seven nights at the four star Chalet Nomis on a catered basis (breakfast, afternoon, tea, coffee and cakes, four course dinners with unlimited wines, tea, coffee and chocolates) with prices starting from £588 per person, including return flights from Leeds-Bradford and resort transfers. Flights are also available from Gatwick, Bristol (+£29), Exeter (+£29), Birmingham (+£29), Manchester (+£39), Newcastle (+£29) and Edinburgh (+£49). For more information and bookings visit www.inghams.co.uk or contact 01483 791 114.