Wow it has been a LONG time since I wrote a blog post, but I just have so much to say.
Last week my family went to Mt Buller, Mon-Fri to stay on the mountain for 4 nights. In my early twenties I worked overseas in Colorado in the ski resorts and have been eager to expose my kids to snow life.
Straight up, we had an absolute ball. Our trip was super organised and planned to a tee, and that planning paid off. We were travelling with another family of five, so had four adults and six children between us in a 3 bedroom apartment. The children were 1, 4, 4, 6, 7, and 8 years old.
We stayed at the Enzian Hotel, which came to a little over $1000 a night. Whilst this sounds awful, it didn’t seem even nearly so bad when we split the costs between the 2 families. There were 11 beds, plus a fold out couch (that we didn’t use), and we had the portacot too. The apartment had 2 bathrooms on top of a full kitchen, and spacious lounge so it didn’t feel crowded at all. Was a great size for our double crew.
Our accommodation was a mere 70m or so from Alpine Retreat rentals, so that was were we got skis for the kids and for the adults who required them. There are a few places to hire gear on the mountain, most of them similarly priced. I would never recommend hiring in Melbourne or Mansfield, because if you have an issue with your gear you cant replace it.
For us 2 kids swapped skis, 1 adult swapped boots and skis and another swapped a helmet. So for us, having our gear locally was imperative.
The accom was a short 5 minute walk to the village and Bourke street, and a 2 minute walk to the Lydia chair lift. Whilst not super central, it was close enough. There are free shuttle buses around the village too if needed.
Now onto the fun part…. ski school! The 5 kids who were old enough were each enrolled in ski school for 3 x 6 hour days. The children are grouped as 3-6yos and 7-14yo. The younger kids program operates a little more like childcare. You sign your children in and out, they have inside breaks more often, more snacks, and smaller classes. The older kids spend the bulk of their day outside with less snacks provided, but more snow time.
I was blown away with how all the kids did in ski school. The 3 bigger ones (6, 7, and 8yo) were all on the chair lift by the end of the second day doing green (easy) runs on the slopes. The 4 year olds were slower to get going, but we’re unsure if that is because they were just playing and mucking around. Poppet had worked out how to stop by the 3rd day, so would likely have been ready for the chair lift if she had a 4th day of lessons.
Muffin (the 1yo) was a little more complex to manage, but we came up with a great routine which worked well.
You see, if you have a lift ticket you can go tobogganing for free. So every morning hubby and I dropped the girls to ski school at 930am, then I hit the slopes and hubby took Muffin to the toboggan run for an hour or so. At 1045 I met him back at the hotel and we swapped. He hit the slopes and I waited back at the hotel and met with an on mountain babysitter ($35ph) each day. They arrived at 11am, we had a cuppa, and then I breastfed Muffin to sleep at 1130, then I left. Each day he slept until 3pm, little champion.
Meanwhile hubby and I snowboarded together, drank cocktails on the mountains, ate yummy lunch, and had 3 lovely date days. It’s been ages since we’ve spent so much fun time together without kids. This was made even more special from day 2 as we started spotted our kids or our friend’s kids tearing it up on the slopes.
We picked the girls up at 3:30 from ski school, and split up again. 1 of us would continue on the slopes with Missy Moo (7) who was keen to keep going, and the other took Poppet (4) back to the hotel to relieve the babysitter by 4pm.
We continued this pattern all week and it worked great.
Come Friday morning we checked out of the hotel, then all tobogganed together, ate donuts and hot chips, made snowballs and just mucked about before heading back to Melbourne.
So let’s break down some costs… roughly it a little under $1000 per day for the five of us. I’ll break it down.
Each girl was $611 for 3 full days of ski school. This included meals, snacks and lift tickets. This didn’t include rentals.
Hubby and I were $332 each for 3 days of lift tickets.
You also need to buy a reloaded card (like a Myki) for $5 each. This is called a Btag.
Babysitting was $35, and we did that for 5 hours each day… so $175 per day for Muffin.
Our rental bill was for hubby and both girls for 3 days of use. We got a small discount after getting given incorrectly sized skis for Poppet which I felt wasted a day of her lessons. Our tab for rentals was $200 total for the 3 of them. This was 3 x helmets, 2 sets kids skis and boots, 1 x adult snowboard and boots. I had my own gear.
Now parking… we paid for expensive parking, there is no denying it. We paid for fancy pants VIP parking which meant we could drive right up to our hotel. The alternative is parking much further away and getting a shuttle bus up to your accommodation (which also costs money). As our apartment had a kitchen we planned to fully cater our dinners, so we had a decent amount of food and drinks to cart in. Therefore parking close by was handy. Was it worth $420 to park for the stay? Yes. I would pay it again without a moments thought.
So including the accommodation, that brings our total to approx $5051 for 5 days of holidays. Add to that the extra costs of meals (both self catered and purchased on the mountain), plus fuel and we probably got to around $5500 or a little less for a 5 day holiday.
Did we love it? Yes
Will we do it again? Hell yes.
In summary here are my top tips:
The 5 days we were there we simply needed to show our Btags (the reloadable lift ticket card) to use the toboggan. This means that on days that we didn’t have a lift ticket we still used the toboggans without paying extra. If you don’t have a Btag the toboggan is $15pp, which in my opinion is very over priced given there is no magic carpet etc.
The hot donuts under the stairs in the village are delicious; 10 donuts for $10 (although our bag had 16?!)
The kids in ski school (both age groups) were well fed. None of the kids were very hungry at afternoon tea time, and spoke happily about all the food and snacks they got. We did put some extra snacks in their pockets just in case. Some dietary requests are catered for, but my friend’s lactose free son simply missed out on hot chocolate as they didn’t have any lactose free milk. I’m not sure why he wasn’t given a hot choc with a milk alternative instead.
Got anymore questions? Let me know. I can’t wait to get back to the slopes another year.
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