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Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?
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Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit? I’ve done the ground work for you so please read on!

If you’ve started to look for your first family ski trip you’ve probably become overwhelmed with the options available for childcare and how it all works.

I spent a few weeks doing the research before booking a (rather expensive I thought) ski trip with Esprit Ski.

Let’s face it, their website is in dire need of updating and trying to find availability for the childcare options you require online is a long process.

When you first look at the childcare there are so many options, snow club, spritelets, lunch, tea, listening service?! What even IS the listening service? How do I know what to book?

If you call Esprit they are really helpful and can explain the childcare and availability for you to make a good choice.

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

So here is my review of our hotel, Pepi Gabl, St Anton, Austria.

We were 2 adults and 1 child aged 4.

Travel Day

The whole operation was very organised. As soon as we got off the plane we were greeted by Esprit staff directing us to our coach. When on the coach we collected our lift passes (£10 per person in cash refundable deposit required) we also got our welcome pack with Esprit staff phone number as well as information on childcare.

As soon as we arrived to our hotel we were advised to collect our child’s ski hire so that everything was ready for the next day. In the ski shop we were greeted by 2 Esprit staff, they helped us to get served, introduced themselves to us and the children. Once fitted, they put name tags on everything and put it to one side. ‘Where do we need to take his skis and boots please?’ ‘It’s ok we will take them from here’! Wow, I was impressed with this!

Back to our hotel we unpacked then went for children’s tea. They asked Fenn’s name so they could sign him in (Tea is from 5-6pm each evening and is supervised – meaning parents do not need to be there). There were Esprit ski staff everywhere and I could see straight away where my money was being spent.

Fenn was shown to a table (which would be his for the week) along with a few other kids his age. Here I met his Key Worker for the week. Fenn would have 2 staff looking after him for the week (1 on the morning, 1 on the afternoon which switches each day, 2 of the days he would have the same staff member all day – when it was the other staff members day off).

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

I sat with Fenn for his tea, as it was all new to him, but as mentioned above you can leave your child for tea. You need to collect by 6pm.

After tea, we found Fenns box and hanger which we filled with all the things he would need for the day, these include; Sun cream, snacks, sun glasses/goggles, ski coat, ski trousers, indoor shoes/slippers, outdoor shoes/snow boots, thermals, fleece, buff.

Esprit provide plastic water bottles.

After tea we would usually have a bit of a play, Fenn would sit in the shower (to use it as a bath) and play with his toys, before stories and bed.

Listening service starts at 7.15pm each night. Parents need to sign their children in, and cannot leave the hotel (apart from chalet night off, which is the only night you don’t get a meal in the hotel).

A staff member sits on each floor of the hotel from 7.15pm until 10.30pm. They sit in a position so as to be able to see all exits from the floor. Every 15 minutes they put their ear to your door or have a quick peep inside (if you request).

If you child wakes, they will radio for a back up member of staff, so 1 can remain on the floor and the other can try to settle your child. If they can’t settle they will radio another member of staff to collect you.

I was a bit dubious about this service before I got to the hotel, but wow, this is the part that makes you feel like you actually had a holiday as well as your children. Assuming your child sleeps (we had one wake up where they needed to fetch me, the whole week) you actually get an evening meal with other adults each evening!

Every evening from 7:30pm (except chalet night off) you get canapes and a glass of prosecco in the bar before sitting down to your 3 course meal at 8pm. Groups that have booked together tend to sit together, and couples tend to be on tables of 4, 6 or 8 with other couples. It did feel ever so slightly like blind dating on the tables of 4 for the first two evenings but after that you really started to get to know the other guests in the hotel which was great.

You are reminded at 10.15pm that listening service is due to end soon. Some parents were happy to sit in the bar for a while knowing if their children hadn’t woken by then they wouldn’t, others used their own baby monitors on their phones. Some with older children were quite happy knowing that if their child woke they would be able to find them. The bar and seating area is next to the main entrance so you can keep a look out.

* The hotel door is locked with a push to exit button (out of small child height) and a 4 digit code to enter from outside *

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

Our First Day

We aimed for Breakfast around 7:30am it was a mix of continental and cooked. There was a good choice. On chalet day off there is only a continental breakfast provided.

We all dressed in thermals for breakfast and slippers.

A Typical Day skiing with Esprit

Fenn’s Spritelets started at 8:30am each morning in the ‘Snow Club’ room. We then could collect him anytime but officially before 6pm when Children’s Tea finishes.

He essentially had a Snow Club in the morning and Ski Lesson in the afternoon. They work this way for the little ones so that their lesson is when it is a little warmer.

Snow club involves play inside as well as a trip outside including a bus trip to a Llama Farm.

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

Lunch is provided in the hotel and is supervised.

After lunch they would get Fenn changed into ski gear and taken out for his lesson which was from 1:30-3:00pm each day. After ski lessons they would get him changed and they all enjoyed hot chocolate in the hotel. They would then play until tea at 5pm.

Most days we collected Fenn around 3:30pm after his ski lesson.

Afternoon Tea is served every day (except chalet day off) and there was usually a sweet and savoury option (soup, sandwich, cakes, biscuits) The cakes were very good.

There is a permanent free drinks station with kettle and steriliser.

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

Childcare Options with Esprit

Nursery – 17 weeks to 3 years 4 months

Spritelets – 3 and 4 year olds (This is booked as 1 item and includes; Snow Club AM, Lunch, Ski Lessons PM)

All other Ski Lessons are on a morning (or all day)

Children can do Ski Lesson AM, Lunch, Snow Club PM (These are booked as 3 separate items depending on what you require)

Ski Lessons (5 days only) on the website are sold as the following:

Beginners (5-9 years old)

Improvers (6-10 years old)

Intermediates (7-12 years old)

Now this was the confusing bit as there were 3 year olds in Beginners.

From what I worked out the above is a guideline and depending wholly on your child’s ability depends on which class they can go into. It is best to speak to Esprit staff if you want to do this when booking. On their first day the Ski Instructors will asses each child’s ability and they can move around classes.

On a whole, the childcare was outstanding. Staff were friendly, flexible and really put you at ease. Trust me although my child is in nursery in the UK I was still unsure about leaving him with someone he doesn’t know for a whole day, but I didn’t need to be at all worried.

I will definitely be booking with Esprit again. They have nailed skiing with childcare.

Planning your first family Ski Trip with Esprit?

Chalet Day Off

You are welcome to use the listening service and go out for dinner (which the in-resort rep will be happy to book for you!)

Alternatively, there is a good pizza take-away 2 minutes’ walk from the hotel (cash only). You are welcome to bring pizza back to the hotel – this is what we did along with a few other families.

Awards

2 Days before the end of your trip there is Ski Races and Awards Ceremonies for all children to receive a ski medal.

No Ski Lesson Day

The day before you leave there are no Ski lessons (notice above Ski Lessons are 5 days only).
Lunch and Snow Club still runs as usual and there was an optional childcare for 3 hours on the morning to take children out sledging (so that adults can still get a full days ski). This was something to book in the hotel the day before.

We decided to take our child to the swimming pool that morning. Others used it as a day to ski with their children.

St Anton – Good Points

A short transfer (around 1hr) from Innsbruck airport which is great for little ones.

A fantastic modern leisure facility with large indoor and outdoor pool, ice skating, and spa.

Good beginners’ area behind hotel.

Lots of good shops and places to eat.

A big sledging run from the top of the Nassereinbahn Gondola (unfortunately due to weather we didn’t get to try it but others said it was great fun. (Sledges can be hired from the ski hire shop).

St Anton – Bad Points

Ski run grades (blue, red, black) did not feel very consistent.

No easy run back to resort for beginners if they had taken the Gondola up.

Ski pass gives access to Lech and Zurs, accessible by bus or ski lift. It’s a day trip to get over there due to the time required.

St Anton ski area a tad small and linked areas hard to access.

Pepi Gabl – Good Points

Located right next to Ski Hire shop (which is also Ski Locker).

Located right next to one of the two main Gondola lifts (Nassereinbahn).

In house Sauna/Steam Room.

All childcare in house.

As located a little out of the centre we never had any issues with noise at night.

Little one’s ski lessons right behind hotel.

Fantastic staff.

Pepi Gabl – Bad Points

Located at one end of St Anton so 10 minutes’ walk to the centre of St Anton including the Spar shop.

Some of the rooms are in need of a little maintenance – our room had a damp area on one wall where the paint was crumbling off.

Summary of our Ski Trip with Esprit

On a whole, the childcare was outstanding. Staff were friendly, flexible and really put you at ease. Trust me although my child is in nursery in the UK I was still unsure about leaving him with someone he doesn’t know for a whole day, but I didn’t need to be at all worried.

I will definitely be booking with Esprit again. They have nailed skiing with childcare.

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