So when is it best to start? We must have taken no end of advice on this and couldn't really get a straight answer. With an anxious five year old daughter and an eager two year old it never seemed the right moment. EspritSki was recommended by friends and their well established formula works a treat. Lessons are on offer for any child over three and there are plenty of older children learning for the first time to keep each other company. Although our daughter Emily could have started a couple of years ago I'm glad we waited until now. If nothing else at five they are better able to cope with instructions, never mind the cold and a tiring day. At two Charlie was too young for lessons but Esprit's solution is a superb 'snow club'. This is a pretty good intro to the ski holiday environment and aside from the wonderful in-house nursery there was plenty of outdoor time making snowmen and drinking hot chocolate. Charlie came home happy and exhausted!
EspritSki was founded by two ex RAF officers who spotted a gap in the market. British families were faced with dropping their charges straight into a French ski school or for those too young a French run creche in the resort. This wasn't for everyone and the industry was clearly losing out on a lucrative market. Esprit's solution is to provide a small army of British staff who do a superb job of putting children and families at ease. Although the ski classes Emily attended were still run by French ESF instructors, the British trained staff were right alongside, encouraging the kids and making sure they had everything they needed. The result is confident happy children who feel very much 'at home' and progress quickly. But there's more to it than the skiing of course. In Belle Plagne where we stayed Esprit have a superbly appointed hotel and every comfort is provided. A hearty breakfast saw us thorough until adults' afternoon tea at 4pm before dinner at 8pm. The children have their high tea at 5pm and there's just time for a swim in the hotel pool with the adults before bed. From 7.30pm the Esprit staff man the corridors so you can relax and go down for dinner knowing the kids are well looked after. It's a well practised routine based on plenty of experience and the needs of families are always placed uppermost. Esprit have done their research well and have turned what could be a very stressful holiday into a smooth experience with plenty of support. Hats off to them - we will definitely be back next year!