Showing posts with label family travel blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family travel blog. Show all posts

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Video of our Ski Holiday with Snowbizz

Photos and words can tell you so much, but there is something special about video, so I decided to try and make one whilst we were away on our family ski holiday with Snowbizz.  Unfortunately my video camera decided to pack up on the first day so I had to make do with some clips I took on my rather knackered old phone.

Many of the special moments were not captured and my skiing skills do not extend to filming whilst I am moving, but here is a little look inside our holiday, a peek at Puy St Vincent, the stunning views, the snow, the sledging, the siblings, the special week we had.

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Thursday, 26 January 2017

My Top Tips for Taking Kids Skiing with Snowbizz

We have just returned from our third family ski trip to Puy St Vincent with Snowbizz and we are already planning to go back next year.  It is such a wonderful little resort and the perfect place for children to learn to ski.  I wrote about our first time skiing, how the boys got on skiing at 2 and 4 years old and how to enjoy a ski holiday even if you can't ski, but I wanted to share our top tips for taking kids, because even this year we are still learning how to make things as easy and relaxing for us all.

So here are my five top tips if you are planning on taking children on a Snowbizz ski holiday.

1)  Pack light

The bigger two boys got dressed into their thermals each morning in preperation for their ski lessons, and they very rarely got out of them.  In the afternoons we either went back out in the snow so they needed them on, or they ran around the creche or the apartment still in them because it was the easiest thing to do.  One or two pairs is fine for the week if you go for something like merino wool as they are self cleaning and they wick the moisture away.  For Dylan and Archie I packed thermals, a fleece and their ski wear and then just a couple of pairs of trousers and a couple of tops for the indoor kids clubs.  (I made a little video with what we packed for the youngest two here)

snowbizz, skiing with babies, family ski holiday

2) Enjoy the childcare

The nannies are fantastic and there is so much for the little ones to play with, so just enjoy it, make the most of a little time to sit and read, or enjoy a croissant, some extra time on the slopes or even a sneaky afternoon nap.  All four of mine loved the creche and the staff and even Cora who at 6 months had never been away from me for more than 30 minutes, who had only ever been left with her Daddy, settled straight in, smiling and laughing for the ladies and not crying once all week.  

family ski holiday, ski holiday with creche, snowbizz

3) Feed them often

Skiing is exhausting, learning a new skill is hungry work so fill your apartment with easy snacks.  There are two supermarkets and we took a few familiar snacks from home for the younger two as well like rice cakes and breadsticks.  If you have a child in junior ski school (aged 5 or over) then put something sweet in their coat pocket before their lesson as two hours is a long time and they have a little break where they can have something to eat in the middle to keep them going.  The food in the restaurants is all rich and filling and the kids portions are huge, but you really work up an appetite!

3 year old skiing, family ski holiday, Snowbizz

4) Borrow books / DVDs

In between the excitement of skiing, sledging, fresh snow and new friends, our boys needed some downtime where they could just switch off a bit and rest.  The creche has bundles of books as well as DVD players and films you can borrow.  We bought a few small toys with us in our luggage and then borrowed books and films whilst we were out there.  You can also rent sledges, buckets and spades free of charge too which we made the most of.

Snowbizz, family ski holiday, muddy puddles ski jackets

5) Take them to the top

Well not quite the top, but at half past the hour you can go up on the chair lift to 2100 metres on foot.  We took all four of them (with Cora in a sling) and there is a lovely little restaurant up there as well as lots of fresh snow to play in and stunning views.  The lovely staff will stop the lift completely for you to get on and off and help children down too.  If you have a family with mixed ages then the bigger children can ski down with one parent whilst the younger ones go in the chair lift with another parent.

bundle bean, family ski holiday, snowbizz, baby skiing

Snowbizz is a fantastic place to visit with small children and everything is set up to make life more relaxing for you and to give them the best possible experiences whilst they are out there.

We were guests of Snowbizz for the week but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

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Monday, 23 January 2017

Our Week away with Snowbizz

Have you ever been somewhere and realised that you left a little piece of yourself there when you left?  That is how we feel about Puy St Vincent.  This year was the third time we have taken a family ski holiday, the third time we have headed to the snowy French Alps with Snowbizz - The Family Ski Specialists, and we know that it won't be the last.

From the helpful staff in the office to the friendly greeting at Gatwick airport to the Pink ladies welcoming us to Turin, we felt looked after at every stage of our journey and in resort I felt confident leaving my children with the qualified nannies and knew that the boys' ski lessons were all overseen by Michel, who makes it his business to ensure every child (and adult) is getting the most from their time in Puy.  

This year was our first time with four children, and I was a little worried about how it would all go.  They are all still so young and with two under two, we were flying with one on our lap each and another child next to us each.  Somehow everything seemed to come together on the day and it just fell into place.  The drive up to the resort from the airport is full of anticipation and snoring as the early start means we all struggled to stay awake.  When you open your eyes to the stunning view of endless mountains, crisp white snow and tall trees it is just so magical and we were in Puy before we knew it.

babywearing, snow babywearing, madame googoo

Our week was exhausting but relaxing and we each got so much from it.  The bloke and I progressed in our skiing thanks to our wonderful instructor Hugo.  He pushed me to try some of the red runs, he took us off piste after the fresh snow had fallen and he helped me every step of the way when I struggled with my confidence.  

Dylan was in the Junior ski school this year which meant a two hour lesson each morning.  To say he loved it would be an understatement, he was dressed and ready to go each morning an hour before the doors even opened! There were four of them in his group and he spent the week on the green and blue slopes.  On the last day after much asking, I went out skiing with him.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to help him much, that I wasn't good enough myself but he amazed me with his independence and skills.  His instructor had taught them how to get their skis on themselves, how to get up when they fall and how to ski well.  We skied down alongside him amazed at how far he had come in only a week!

snowbizz, family skiing, family ski specialist

Archie loved his lessons too with instructor Matthieu.  The 'Totons' are skiers aged 3 and 4 and each group has one of the qualified nannies out on the snow with them.  Archie had two other little boys with him which meant an amazing ratio and so much attention.  He was keen to keep trying all lesson and didn't want them to end after the hour!

3 year old skiing, family ski holiday, snowbizz,

Cora and Finn were in the creche - Finn charmed everyone as he always does and Cora surprised me in the best way.  For a baby that is attached to me almost 24/7 at home, I wasn't sure how she would cope in a new surrounding.  At 6 months she is still breastfed on demand and she is used to being worn in a sling a lot. She settled into the creche immediately and didn't cry all week.  She was content and smiley for the wonderful ladies and they were very respectful of my parenting, happy to hold her and cuddle her as much as she wanted.  I popped in just before my lesson and straight after it to feed her and she fell into an easy routine whilst we were away.

family ski holiday, taking a baby skiing

The wonderful thing about a ski holiday is that there is something for everyone.  Our week was a mix of adult time and family time and we could all go off in the day and have our lessons but we all came together again afterwards, refreshed after a little time apart and with the wonderful backdrop of a snowy mountain to relax us.  Skiing is physically quite exhausting so our evenings were snuggly and our bedtimes early.

Snowbizz offers so much but the things that really make it perfect for young families like ours are the exceptional childcare and the closeness of everything.  We would leave our apartment and have our skis on within 30 seconds walk, ready to go.  At the end of my lesson, I could pop my skis against the wall with Ed and be back with the children in less than a minute.  The resort is small but has everything we needed with a selection of restaurants, ski shops and two supermarkets.

family ski holiday, snowbizz, family ski specialist

The childcare is by far the best we have come across in any country.  The nannies all seem so genuinely happy to be there and their energy and enthusiasm is catching.  I would pop in to feed Cora at sometimes quite random times but I always found them totally engrossed in play with the children - painting faces, making up songs, pushing them around in cars or following the children's games.  I felt happy leaving Cora there each day despite the fact that until last week I had never left her with anyone other than Ed and never for more than 30 minutes.

This little resort buried 1600 metres up the slope is the place we spend all year looking forward to visiting and we are not alone.   The personal service of a family run company means there are families that come back year after year and many new families are captivated on the first visit.  For children learning to ski, this is the perfect resort with small classes and the nursery slopes on their doorstep.

toddler in snow, family ski holiday, snowbizz with a toddler

Skiing may not be the first thing you think of when looking for somewhere to take young children, but it is an amazing holiday for every age and we have definitely got the ski bug!

sledging, family ski holiday, snowbizz

muddy puddles, family ski trip, snowbizz,

snowbizz, family ski specialists, sledging with a three year old

snowbizz, family ski holiday

snowbizz, crete ski slope, family ski holiday

bundlebean, family ski resort, skiing with a baby, snowbizz

learning to ski, snowbizz, family ski holiday

learning to ski, family ski holiday, snowbizz, puy st vincent

Thank you to Snowbizz for hosting us last week - we may turn out to be your most loyal customers!

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Friday, 11 November 2016

Our Weekend at Butlins Bognor Regis

We had a fantastic weekend at Butlins Bognor Regis over the half term holiday.  It wasn't our first visit to Butlins, we went about two and a half years ago when we only had two children and we all loved it.  I knew that there would be so much for them all to do, although I was a little nervous about travelling with our four aged five and under.  

I remember before, writing about how amazing the staff are and that hasn't changed at all.  There was always someone about and they always had time to answer a question or show us the way.  The guys manning the indoor fairground rides were playing games with the children as they went round, the staff in the restaraunts always helped us out and the red coats kept them all entertained.  

There was so much to do for every age, and I loved watching Finn get as involved as his big brothers.   There is enough things included in your stay that you really don't need to spend much at all whilst you are there and the indoor fairground rides were perfect for my little trio.  There were four rides and despite us being there for half term weekend we didn't have to queue once.  It was the little things like that that made the break special and took away the stress.  The outdoor fairground rides were more suited to the bigger two so we timed it for naptime.  It is worth noting that the dodgems are only for slightly bigger children (Dylan was tall enough at 5 but Archie wasn't at nearly 4) which caused a bit of upset but Archie was easily pacified with a go on hook a duck.

As it was Halloween weekend the whole place was decorated and as well as a huge pumpkin tent where you could pay extra to carve a pumpkin, there was also a coffin scene set up that the boys could play in.  Lots of the shows had a Halloween theme too with the skyline gang in haunted house and Billy and Bonnie the bears having a Halloween surprise.  Butlins were very clear that whilst dressing up is allowed and encouraged, they wanted spooky not scary and there were always lots of children dressed up (no scary masks or pretend weapons). 

We visited the Splash park once and I wish we had found the time to go back.  It was perfect for young children.  My boys are all non-swimmers and they could have played in there for hours.  There was so much shallow water and a big water works with sprinklers and slides that was perfect for non-swimmers.  There were lots of staff and lifeguards around which was reassuring and there was a wave machine and deeper water for older or more water confident children.  

Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins fairground

There were lots of shows on, the main one was Braniac Live this weekend but sadly we had to miss it.  The big show is ticketed so you are told which one you can attend but if you want to sit near the front you have to queue for a couple of hours and if you want to sit at all you have to queue.  There was no way we could stand in line for too long with all four and ours are too little to really get anything from it if we were sat or stood at the back so we decided to skip it.  The show was aimed at Dylan's age upwards so we weren't too bothered and we watched some of the others in the centre including the Skyline Gang and Fireman Sam.  These ones fitted with their concentration spans a bit better and we could turn up just as the show started and still find a space. 

Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins puppet show

There were a couple of outdoor parks which we really appreciated.  My boys need to run off steam sometimes and we usually followed a show with something outdoors.  There was one park aimed more at preschool children and that was Finn's favourite.  I don't know if they are busier in the summer but they were pretty empty in this mild October so there was plenty of space to run and play. 

Little Green Radicals, Butlins Bognor Regis

Many of the areas had something for bigger and smaller children and the soft play that sits in the middle of the tent had an older and younger kids half.  There was also a quieter play area, one half with soft shapes and walkers and the other side with a craft activitiy.  We didn't make it to the set messy play sessions that they run, but there was always something going on and Dylan and Archie made pirate masks whilst Finn zoomed around the other side.  I found it a great place to chill out as each area is surrounded by a low fence so the children are contained and you can easily watch both sections from whichever one you are in.

Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins play area

We really didn't spend much whilst we were there, we ate huge breakfasts and dinners that were included with our dining plan and then just had snacks for lunch.  We did go on the go karts and the ride on trucks (£5 and £2 respectively, trucks in the picture below) and we had one game of bowling (£14 for the four of us for one game as three and under play for free).  

Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins racing
We did try out Scoop for ice cream, and then revisit it the next day - seriously good ice cream and you could get all sorts of flavours and toppings (we highly recommend the cookie dough).  They had three flavours of sorbet which is great for Finn who can't have dairy and I love the pink cow bench and tables outside.

Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins Scoop

Butlins is such a fantastic place to visit with young children and all four of ours had a brilliant time.  There is so much included that you really don't need to spend much but there are lots of things you can pay for if you want something extra.  I made a little video about our visit if you want a better look at what we got up to.

We were provided with our weekend away for the purpose of this review as part of the Butlins Ambassador program but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Butlins for a Bigger Family

We spent the Halloween weekend down at Butlins Bognor Regis and I was really impressed at how well they catered for bigger than average families like mine.  Having four children means we are often too big for one room and many holiday companies seem to be geared up to two child families.  We stayed in the Wave Hotel as they have interconnecting rooms and it meant we had a brilliant space to sleep and relax.  Each room has two bedrooms, a master bedroom with a living area and balcony and then a kids room with bunk beds.  We therefore had four bedrooms between us which was perfect and would accomodate families much bigger than ours.

I loved the size of the room - the kids room is compact but with plenty of storage and bunk beds.  The boys loved that they had a light each and a TV each at the foot of their beds.  The wall was full of shelves for storage and the underwater theme was really fun.

The master bedroom was light and spacious and easily fit a travel cot in for Finn.  There was lots of floor space and we brought toys with us like Cora's playmat to keep her occupied.  Each room has a balcony too which had a table and a couple of chairs on.  It wasn't quite the weather for sitting outside but we did use the balcony for drying swimwear and people watching.  

Each room can sleep up to 5 (with one in a cot) so families of six or more need to book adjoining rooms.

We had the hotel dining package which meant we ate our breakfast and dinner at the Deck restaraunt each day.  It was absolutely brilliant and there was never trouble seating us.  Many tables were designed for bigger families and there were always plenty of high chairs as well as space for the buggy when we needed it.  The buffet style was ideal as we could all eat whatever we fancied and there was no keeping toddlers entertained whilst we waited for food.  There was plenty to suit little ones with a low down serving area full of kids favourites like fish fingers and peas as well as Ella's Kitchen pouches.   Dylan preferred the adult food though and that was no problem at all.

The indoor kids rides were suitable for children under 1.5 metres and adults are not allowed to accompany the children.  Finn on his own would never have ridden on one, but with his brothers he loved it and there is no minimum age.  Lots of them were set up in fours which was great for families like mine.  

Although my children are all still young, they already have different needs and there was so much for each of them to do.  The soft play area had one side for more independent children and then another side for younger ones.  There was also a playtime area with one half specifically set up for the youngest guests with soft shapes, walkers and toys and then the other half had arts and crafts, animals and other toys for older toddlers and young children.  Everything seemed so well thought out and there was nothing there that seemed harder for a larger family.

I am not sure what the official ratios are for Splash Waterworld, but we were able to take all four children in together quite happily and the design of the pool with so much shallow water made it safe and easy to watch all four.

I would really recommend Butlins for a break with a larger family.  There is so much for everyone and it is all so well designed that there is never an issue.  Everywhere is pushchair friendly and despite it being busy there always seems to be enough space.  We definitely intend to take our four little ones back. 

If they could make the giant deckchairs just a little bit bigger though, that would be great!

We are working with Butlins and our visit this weekend was in exchange for a review.  
All thoughts and opinions are completely my own. 

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