Taking the stress out of trying to amuse the whole family on your next holiday is easy to do - just check out a ski holiday with something for everyone in the Austrian resort of Kaprun
After years of holidaying on sunny beaches, my parents got fed up listening to the cries of boredom from my brothers and me after all the beach activities had been exhausted. They decided, on the advice of some good family friends, to try out a skiing holiday instead. The price at first seemed high, but when they took into account that everything was included, from food to lessons, coupled with the fact that they got to ship us off to ski school and they were free to do what they liked, it seemed like the perfect holiday.
Agreed on Austria
They chose the small village of Kaprun in Austria because we were going early in the season and it had a glacier so snow was guaranteed. By the end of the week, despite our bruises, we’d all had a great time and not one argument. This was a first, and so skiing holidays became the holiday of choice for our family from then on, and after trying other resorts, Kaprun quickly presented itself as the favourite.
So what makes this small, picture-perfect alpine village so special? Well, the skiing options are pretty extensive. It’s not as big as, say, Courchevel or Les Arcs in France, but that means that parents and children can quite easily break off into groups without straying too far apart. Ski schools are numerous, but bear in mind that very young children who are just getting to grips with skiing are not taken to the glacier, whereas adult ski classes are. However, you can arrange pick-up services for the children if you are staying in a catered chalet.
The best skiing option for beginners is the Maiskogel slope that finishes in Kaprun itself. Start on the bottom half of the slope, which is shallow and wide, then once you have got to grips with the basics, head to the top half to really test your new-found skills. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is particularly appealing for snowboarders and intermediate skiers. It is more like one big bowl and you can ski pretty much anywhere. Safe off-piste routes have also been marked out for the more advanced among us.
Nearby Zell am See, connected by free ski bus, is a beautiful resort that sits nestled over large Lake Zell. The skiing here on the Schmittenhohe boats stunning views down to the valley and town and there is a better range of slopes, from blue to black, so ski schools for all ages and abilities can use the same ski area.
One of the benefits of Kaprun is that it doesn’t feel like a resort. This is because it isn’t just a resort. It has all manner of local businesses and a real community feel and because of this there are a lot of locals around who are very friendly and helpful. Another bonus is that everyone seems to speak English - better than a lot of the English do by about 11pm, in fact. The resort is not too crazy and filled with drunken holidaymakers, however, so it is very family-friendly and children can go into most, if not all, of the bars up to pretty late in the evening.
Après-ski wise, my personal favourite is Paletti’s. The bar has a great atmosphere and serves some of the best pizzas I have ever had, from around €8 each. The bar opens at 4pm, but doesn’t really kick off until 10, so it’s pretty child-friendly before this time. Pavillon in the centre is another lively choice, but maybe leave the kids at home if you plan to go in late, as the music gets pretty loud. A more mature option is Hilbergers, opposite Paletti’s. The food here is great and it’s a popular choice with locals too.
There are a good number of hotels in Kaprun, most of which have excellent restaurants. A few of my favourites are the Steigenberger Hotel
, Hotel Orgler
and the Hotel Sonnblick
. However, they are not really the cheapest options. If there is a large group of you, say six, then it may be more cost-effective to stay in a self-catering apartment. There are loads of these in Kaprun and they are usually of a very high standard. An alternative that works well for families with children is the catered chalet option with companies such as Crystal and Esprit. They offer great crèche services as well as knowledgeable and friendly staff.
Where to stay
(Schlossstrasse 751). One of the most upmarket hotels in Kaprun, this hotel is a real gem. It is located right in the heart of Kaprun and has great spa facilities, which will come in handy after a full day on the slopes. The views to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier are also pretty special. Double rooms from around £150 per room, per night.
(Schlossstrasse 22). This family-run hotel is small and friendly. The food here is also good quality and the traditional log fires are a very enticing place to relax each evening. Double rooms from £75 per person, per night.
(Schlossstrasse 394). Another family-run hotel with personal service to match. The food is also excellent and there is an outdoor heated pool so you can go swimming surrounded by snow and mountains – a magical experience. Double rooms from £70 per person, per night.