The Zillertal Arena in Austria is the most family-friendly winter holiday destination for European families. This is the result of an international online survey, undertaken by SnowTrex, Europe’s largest winter sports holiday specialist. Approx. 4,400 winter sports enthusiasts took part in the survey.
What are the most important criteria for a family-friendly ski area, and which is the most family-friendly of them all? The Cologne-based ski-holiday tour operator was eager to find this out and started a survey among their customers to find the answers. In total, 4,368 winter holiday enthusiasts, from ten European nations, took part in the family-themed survey. Ski-interested families from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and France made up the largest amount of votes, but also families from Denmark, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and Sweden show up in the results*.
Zillertal Arena ranks as No. 1
In the overall ranking (including the results of all participating nations) the Zillertal Arena in Tyrol received the highest number of votes (39%), followed by the popular Les 3 Vallées in France (18%) and shopping paradise Livigno in Italy (13%). Ranks 4 to 10 include a range of well-known ski areas throughout the Alps:
- Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn
- Schmittenhöhe-Zell am See
To make ski areas more attractive for families, the local operators have to put in a lot of effort to supply a suitable infrastructure on both the mountain and in the valley. Therefore, questions on the facilities in the ski areas, the resorts and the accommodations to ensure a successful family ski holiday were a large part of the survey – and the replies turned up some surprising results.
When looking at the demographic development in Europe, it is clear that most families that choose to go on a ski holiday, have either one child (48%) or two children (41%) under the age of 18 years. Only few families with three or more children opt to go on a family ski holiday together. The most frequently chosen holiday duration is seven nights (65%) – a classic one-week ski trip. The largest part of families on a ski holiday are therefore a generic constellation of two adults with up to two children, and with an average stay of one week. Based on these criteria, the country ranking shows Austria (47%) as No. 1, followed by France (32%) and Italy (11%).
When looking at the individual participating nations, Poland is the surprising leading nation for going on family ski trips. More than half of all Polish travellers (55%) even go skiing twice per year. This reflects in the destinations they choose, such as more price-economic areas in France. Similarly price-sensitive are the Italian travellers, who prefer to ski in more local and easily accessible ski areas and therefore prefer to spend their family holiday in their own country (65%). They can only be beat by the French holidaymakers, where almost every French family (90%) goes skiing and snowboarding in their national mountain ranges. German families prefer to go on a winter sports holiday once per year (69%) and preferably choose destinations in Austria (67%) and France (15%). Only a small number of families choose to go on two holidays per year (17%). This could however explain why the Germans are more prone to shorter ski trips with only two or three night’s stay (6%).
Most important criteria
A family-friendly ski area is mostly expected to offer special services for families, including a range of activities for children. Logically, the most important criteria of the survey therefore included, besides others, children’s ski lessons, easy pistes, large kiddie fun areas and beginner snowparks. Many families deemed it most important to have easy access to the ski area (44%), and many felt that a suitable pricing for the holiday is a decisive element of a family ski holiday. This explains why 45% of the participants prefer self-catering accommodation to full-board options. Especially the French (81%) and British (79%) families tend to go for value-price, self-catering accommodation, close to the pistes. Concerning the overall child-friendliness, parents lay a lot of emphasis on the ski area facilities (63%), whilst the resort infrastructure plays a subordinate role (12%). Further, a good selection of fun and sports activities for children is rather important to most families (61%).
The international winners
The Zillertal Arena, Les 3 Vallées and Livigno seem to fulfil the criteria best. The Zilllertal Arena works as a role model in family-friendliness, offering a number of special child areas, the ever-present local mascot “Funty” and a good selection of beginner pistes, which are easy to survey. In the French Les 3 Vallées, special holiday programmes are often available for children to take part in, and easy access to the pistes is given in nearly all resorts. Sunny Livigno offers a kid’s funpark, kindergarten, play park and a range of ski school offers, which all provides a great deal of diversity for families with children. In the meantime, parents can enjoy the extensive shopping facilities.
British families prefer France
British families consider French ski areas especially ideal for a winter holiday with children. The famous Les 3 Vallées is considered the family-friendliest ski area (38%), followed by SuperDévoluy (26%), and rank three goes to Valfréjus (17%). Only on rank 4 and with a considerable gap, the first Austrian resort appears in the list (Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm with 6%). Ranks 5 to 7 are also occupied by Austrian ski resorts, with Schmittenhöhe-Zell am See (5%), Zillertal Arena (3%) and Mayrhofen-Hippach (3%). Livingo ranks on 8th place (2%).
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* All percentages are rounded.