Last month we enjoyed a week away in France, with Mark Warner. A week of fresh air, blue skies, snowmen and cheese, all the cheese.
Our ski holidays over the years have definitely had mixed levels of success. That first trip of mine 10 years ago, where I determinedly trudged to ski school every day, desperate to love it as much as my keen as a puppy, ski addict, new boyf (now husband).
The time I went skiing with him and two other blokes and managed to break my leg and come home with a tibia full of metal pins.
Then our first trip as a family, where our little ones took to their skis for the first time and found their feet.
This trip was something else, it was our first relaxing family ski holiday and it was definitely a success.
We flew into Grenoble airport early on a February morning, after an easy peasy 1 hour 30 minute flight from Birmingham. The 4am start actually worked like a dream as we all fell asleep for most of the 3 hour transfer to resort.
We arrived in Tignes Val Claret, not knowing quite what to expect of the resort. I’d read that it wasn’t ‘pretty’ in the traditional ski resort sense, so we were pleasantly surprised by the drive past the lake, to the Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin on the edge of the village.
Our arrival at the chalet was fantastic, smiling staff in red t-shirts answered every possible question and got us settled in to our interconnecting rooms. Wooden interiors and cosy touches make this chalet feel like your classic, real life, alpine lodge (not to mention the fact that it was nestled under a metre or two of snow!)
Watch our Mark Warner Ski trip here:
The chalet is a new addition to the Mark Warner properties in Tignes and it really is something special. It is, incredibly well equipped, with spa, pool and fantastic in house childcare nursery and yet it still feels welcoming and homely.
That afternoon, we popped out to hire our skis, just a short walk down the road towards the main village of Tignes Val Claret. Back in the chalet, we stashed our equipment in the handy hotel ski locker room – complete with boot warmer racks (so cosy for those freezing mornings on the piste).
Before we knew it, it was time for the chalet afternoon tea that is laid on each afternoon. Homemade soup, biscuits and cakes? Don’t mind if we do. A really lovely selection of cakes, lovingly made by the hotel staff, fresh each afternoon. I was in heaven!
We explored the chalet a little more that afternoon, including the fantastic pool. It was especially designed with water jets at varying heights to massage aching post ski muscles – genius.
At this point, my slight panic at the thought of getting back on to skis the following day was starting to quietly bubble away, whilst Mr TT was chomping at the bit to get on the first lift the next morning. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over my nerves each year about getting back onto the slopes. I guess broken bones have that effect on a person, but I silenced my fears, by booking myself a couple of massages at the in hotel spa, they would be a reward for my ski bravery – ha!
Dinner was served in the main chalet hotel restaurant, after we enjoyed a few drinks in the cosy bar by the roaring log fire. That night as each evening, the food was absolutely outstanding. Sadly the lighting wasn’t great to get any photos, but of each 3 course meal during the week, there wasn’t a single dish that we didn’t enjoy.
The next morning after a hearty breakfast in the chalet restaurant, we gathered all of our kit and started to make our way out.
We took G&H down to the Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin childcare room, where they settled in immediately. H isn’t always keen in a new environment and so I’m always a little bit wary about how she will react. The nannies were so welcoming and reassuring that from the first moment there, they were both totally at home. (So much so that when I tried to pick them up early in the afternoons they refused to leave!)
I had private lessons booked with the local ski school Evolution 2. I’ve found in the past that I get brilliant value from the one on one lessons, they’ve really helped my confidence in a way that I just don’t manage in a group.
My lovely instructor put me at ease straight away. I explained that I just wanted to be able to come skiing each year feeling comfortable and not terrified at the prospect of getting back onto the slopes. He tailored all of my lessons with this in mind and I every day I gained a little more confidence. Thank you Wim!
Mr TT meanwhile was his usual over excitable skiing self. It’s always a challenge when we are all at such different levels of ability, but he found people to ski with every day. He took full advantage of the social ski sessions organised in our chalet, meeting up with new pals to get out on the first lift.
One of the best things we’ve found about every Mark Warner holiday we’ve been on is the people. Not only the staff but also the other guests. On each trip we’ve been on with them we’ve met families whose company we’ve enjoyed during the week. Little play mates for our pair and grown ups for us to chit chat with. It’s a lovely atmosphere in their resorts and the Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin was the same.
During the week we did go out skiing together, me putting him through his paces on my favourite blue runs (ha!). It was such a treat to sit and have lunch (cheese fondue!) or hot chocolate on the mountain, whilst the kids were happily having adventures with the brilliant Mark Warner nannies.
With busy lives at home, who gets to have day time dates with their other half? They were really special mornings that will remind me of why I love him, weeks later, when we are back at home moaning about who needs to put the bins out..
During the week, G&H attended ski lessons for 5 mornings in Tignes Val Claret, organised by Evolution2. These were a mixed bag, H wasn’t keen every day. It was only at the end of the week that we worked out that she’d progressed so much that she’d been sent to the top of the nursery slope and didn’t like going up alone.
Over the week their skiing really improved and they were so happy with their medals at their ‘graduation’ ceremony.
On the last day of our trip they had an hour of private tuition with Evolution2. This was absolutely fantastic and worth every penny. Tristan (their instructor) met us in Le Lac and skied up the hill pulling the kids behind him as they held onto his poles. He was pulling 2 children, skiing uphill and Mr TT and I couldn’t keep up with him walking!
They absolutely loved this hour and said it was a highlight of the trip for them. He taught them to use a button lift and come all the way down a green slope on their own. If you’re skiing with young children, I’d definitely recommend stretching to an hour of private tuition during the week. I think (as it does for me) it really helps to have some tailored tuition.
If we travelled back to Tignes I’d book all of their lessons in Tignes Le Lac. It’s a short bus ride away but it’s so well geared up for new skiers with loads of easy green runs, magic carpet lifts and other facilities which would be brilliant for kids learning.
This trip with Mark Warner to Tignes was one of the easiest and most enjoyable trips we’ve ever done with the children.
Learning something new, fresh air and big blue skies are so good for the soul. We came back feeling so refreshed and revived, we’re already planning our next trip!
(I’ll be back with another post on the nitty gritty of the resort and the chalet.)
Disclosure: With huge thanks to Mark Warner Holidays. We were invited to travel with Mark Warner free of charge in return for an honest review.