Skiing is one of my favourite winter outdoor activities. I was so keen to get Jesse learning to ski that he had his first lesson at the Chill Factore in Manchester two weeks after his third birthday. Consequently, we’re now looking at possible resorts for our first ski trip with kids in tow. Technically, it won’t be my first trip with kids in tow. I’ve been going on the annual school ski trip for pretty much as long as I’ve been teaching. As such, I’ve seen a fair few resorts that claim to be family friendly. This year we were skiing in Folgarida, Italy, with 58 kids. We had everything from complete beginners to expert skiers with us. Here’s what I thought…
Folgarida is located in the north-east of Italy not too far from the Swiss border. The resort is located at an altitude of 1400m while the highest lift will take you up to 2180m. It neighbours the bigger, flashier resort of Madonna di Campiglio where those with deep pockets will find an array of high-end stores to splash their wads of cash. Folgarida, by contrast, is far quieter with only a small supermarket and a handful of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from. This, however, gives it a very personal, intimate feeling.
We stayed at the 3* Hotel Kapriol, which is located just 300m from the gondola. The hotel is a family run affair and their hospitality is top class. Although the rooms are basic (as you’d expect from the 3* hotel) they are immaculately clean and the restaurant serves great food. They also have a nice bar and a ski storage facility. All in all, this is a great, budget friendly option for families who want to be close to the ski lifts.
The range of skiing in Folgarida is definitely suited to families. With 150km of pistes there’s more than enough variety for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are plenty of blue slopes to learn and build confidence on so young children, particularly, are really well catered for. Furthermore, red groomers are aplenty to then blast down as your skills develop. However, advanced or expert skiers may see the sense in buying the additional lift pass over to Madonna in order to extend their experience. There are a handful of black pistes, some of which offer you some big-grin skiing, but overall the skiing in Folgarida is more geared towards beginners and intermediate skiers.
The ski school is well established and the English speaking instructors were a big hit with our group. For very young children there is a nursery area and fun park located adjacent to the main ski school. This is handy as it’s just a short walk from where you disembark from the gondola. Consequently, their little legs won’t be worn out before they begin. As well as a magic carpet to transport the smallest of skiers to the top of the nursery area and the gentlest of slopes for them to learn on; the children’s fun park also has tube rides, party games, disco music and people walking around in giant costumes. All-in-all it’s a fun and protective environment for little skiers.
Once they’re ready to hit the main slopes the lift system is, on the whole, very good. There are many modern 4 and 6 person chair lifts to ease queues. In fact, we only spotted one serious bottleneck spot over the course of our week there. As such, when you’re skiing in Folgarida, you really will spend most of your time skiing. There are a small number of older two person chair lifts that are in need of updating. However, the same can be said of virtually any ski resort.
Overall, the skiing in Folgarida is a great option for families. With its wide variety of nursery and intermediate slopes the whole family will be able to access the mountain. Furthermore, with prices that tend to be much cheaper than the likes of France and Switzerland, your meals and all-important après ski should also be far more affordable. You’ll also get the benefit of some truly beautiful mountain views from tree-lined slopes. I, for one, can’t wait to return.