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Big Holidays with Dear Little Ones

Planning a ski holiday with kids is more difficult than you might think. That's because there are so many family-friendly winter offers in Austria that it's hard to make a decision where to go.

“You choose!“ says my sister and she really means it. As a single parent she has her hands full with every imaginable task. So there is no choice but to relegate oneself to one’s fate and to start studying the options. A task that is not undertaken without a hidden agenda. After all, if little Bastian is happy and kept busy, the adults will have adequate time and peace of mind to make it a holiday suited to them as well.

The task is anything but easy, especially if you do not have a preference for one particular winter sports region. Child-friendly facilities such as pistes and lifts designed for kids and children’s courses or special meals for the juniors can be found almost everywhere. After a while, though, one offer seems especially interesting: in the Children’s Ski World in Weissensee in Carinthia there is a so-called measuring bear named Meterix who manages a unique discount programme. The smaller the guest, the lower the cost. Sounds good you think, and you read on.

There’s a character named Bobo who accompanies the little ones on their first skiing attempts and makes learning fun. There is also a mini club, known as kiddie club, where Bastian can play to his heart’s content while mum and auntie enjoy an espresso in the winter sun or race down the slopes on their own skis.

So far so good – but that doesn’t last very long until the next attractive offer changes your mind: On the Riesneralm there is the “First Austrian Children’s Ski Seesaw” plus the longest lift conveyer belt on which the young skiers can make it to the top easily, safely and comfortably. Then there’s a magic carpet, a bumpy train, adventure parcours… I can just hear my nephew screaming with delight.

Austria has even developed its own quality seal to designate optimal children’s supervision during the winter holidays: “Welcome Beginners” guarantees among others “a freely accessible children’s playground, full-time day care with or without skiing, and a theme dominated children’s nursery with mascot.” So far 15 ski regions have been granted this seal of approval, among them the Winter Sport Region Kasberg and "Lars the Polar Bar" in Au-Schoppernau in Vorarlberg, the Winterreich in Hochkönig and the Rauris Hochalmbahnen in Salzburger Land, or the Kreischberg and the Stuhleck in Styria.

“Fifteen?” I ask myself. That makes exactly fourteen too many for me to make a decision. And then, in a flash, the next highly promising alternative pops up: in the Tannheim Valley there is a Sioux village, two magic warming igloos, a giant tube slide, and a snow park encompassing an area of ten thousand square metres with animals all stemming from the stone age. And on the “Shriek Mountain” (Kreischberg) – the name says it all – there is the chance to plunge into the “Dinoworld” or into “Yabaa Dabba Doo-Land.”
Before completely retreating into my own childhood, it’s time to go and get a fresh cup of coffee and attempt to achieve a somewhat better perspective. Then, full of renewed vigour, the holiday destination emerges that will delight young and old alike: “McDumboland” in Fieberbrunn/Pillerseetal. This is a place where little Bastian will not only benefit from the “newest pedagogical and technical advances in skiing instruction that make learning to ski truly children’s play” – he will also be occupied with so many activities that he will fall into bed happy and exhausted while the grown-ups are able to spend time in the sauna or at the bar. Kids aerobics, sailing down the slopes dressed as an Indian, a big children’s olympics with all manner of agility contests and a final picnic on the McDumbo mountain with the mascot of the same name… What more could the little rascal ask for?

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