Parallel Trails is all about family ski holidays and skiing as a family. We are passionate about skiing and families who love to ski. This ski travel website aims to help you enjoy the perfect family ski holiday. It includes tips and advice so families can enjoy skiing holidays in parallel with their children - the team behind Parallel Trails love to ski as a family so we know how good it feels to go skiing with your children. Parallel Trails is an independent ski travel site for the family ski market, offering practical and honest articles on family ski holidays and family skiing. Why don't you join us on our online family snow & mountain adventure. Happy family skiing! © Parallel Trails 2017
This summer the Parallel Trails team did what many families do during the school holidays. We drove to France and enjoyed some sun (and maybe a little cheese and wine). We had a pool, splashed around and then sat on sun loungers doing a little bit more of nothing. I guess it was ok.
But just to liven things up a bit, we took a minor detour on our way to the Ardeche, popping into Holland because I'd heard that in a country renowned for being as flat as a pancake you can ski. Just over three hours from Calais, past Bruges and Brussels and not far from Maastricht, is Landgraaf. It might not seem like much as you drive through the outskirts, but it is home to SnowWorld. Which is a pretty amazing indoor ski slope.
Like us, you may have experienced one of the UK's indoor slopes. The Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead has a 160m slope. The Chill Factore in Manchester has a 180m slope. SnowWorld at Landgraaf has a slope length more than double both of them at 390m. From the outside it looks enormous. Inside it boasts two main slopes that run either side of a six-man chairlift and freestyle zone full of kickers and rails. There are also two nursery slopes, with magic carpet lifts that are perfect for beginners.
This is one serious bit of indoor skiing kit! One of the main slopes is often closed to recreational skiers because it is a FIS-standard slalom piste that is regularly water-injected and used by national ski teams for training and racing. And as you would expect this vast refrigerator, which is kept around -4 degrees, the snow conditions are excellent. It may be man-made white stuff, but it is a joy to ski on, allowing beginners to build confidence and more advanced skiers to really get to grips with their edges.
But SnowWorld is more than just an indoor ski slope. It has the feel of a mini-resort. There's an on-site hotel, bars and restaurants and ski hire. Plus there is also an outdoor park featuring a high-ropes obstacle course and a toboggan run on rails.
We stayed two nights on a B&B basis at the on-site hotel, which seemed just about the right duration of stay. Although with Calais only three hours away, you could easily get an early morning crossing, stay one night and still enjoy everything the climbing park and ski slope.
We were in a split-level family room, which offered comfortable accommodation for the four of us. The most eye-catching and novel feature was the glass-walled shower and toilet unit, which takes a little getting used to but is a clever use of space. The regular room rate is 110 euros per night.
You can obviously take your own skis and boots to use on the slope, but there is a full range of equipment you can hire on site. Ski and boots cost 10 euros, while helmets are 2.50 euros (or free if you book a lesson). There is a large basement hire centre and changing area, which leads through to the automatic doors that open out into the freezing snow-covered slopes.
You scan your lift pass - we had 8 hour passes that cost 30 euros each - to gain access to the slope. At this point your time begins to tick down but each time you leave the slope the clock stops. So you only use the time when you are actually skiing, which is a great as it allows you to come and go throughout the day.
We took advantage of this feature to break up the skiing by spending some time on the high-ropes course and toboggan run. There are various price packages on offer, including a 24.95 euros combination ticket giving you access to both attractions.
There are two high-rope courses to choose from with the higher one more challenging than the lower course. In a couple of places you can swap between them (if you're finding it too tough or need more of an adrenaline rush!) and although your harness is securely clipped on throughout, it is harder than it looks!
Our 10 year old positively ran around the course, whereas mum and dad, who are in their early 40s, struggled a little more with the sense of danger. Our minds were definitely playing tricks on us. Walking across elevated balance beams, leaping from one raised platform to another, and inching your way along a single cable line between two posts really does get your pulse racing. It was, however, terrific family fun and gave the children a chance to out-perform the parents.
After getting our feet back on terra firma, we grabbed some lunch in one of the cafes at the bottom of the slope. Then it was time to re-activate our lift passes and click our skis on again. Being at SnowWorld is a little like being in a casino in Las Vegas - once you're inside it is all artificial light and you are never quite sure what time of day it is.
It was no surprise that we found we had the slopes to ourselves pretty much at 10pm. It was quite a novelty for the boys to be wearing salopettes rather than pyjamas at this time of night. But it rounded off one of our most unusual family skiing days perfectly.
So what's the verdict? Would we return to SnowWorld? Absolutely. Its relative closeness to Calais and on-site hotel makes it ideal for an alternative summer or autumn weekend family skiing adventure. The slope length is better than anything the UK can offer, so if you are looking to warm-up your skiing legs and brush up on your technique before your family skiing holiday this winter, you should give the facility at Landgraaf serious consideration and decide to go Dutch.
Sebastian, aged 12, says: "As we drove through the entrance to SnowWorld the first thing I saw was an amazing outdoor climbing course and it made me excited even before we got out of the car. When we went inside SnowWorld for the first time I couldn't believe how massive the slope was. The hotel room was very nice and I thought the toilet was funny and clever. We all enjoyed the food in the restaurants. The best bit of going there was the climbing ropes course - I found it hard at first but kept going and really enjoyed it."
Ollie, aged 10, says: "Skiing inside was amazing. It was cool watching the racers train and I had fun on the ramps. The snow was really good and I practiced my short turns down the really long main slope. It was crazy to see a six-man chairlift inside a building. It was cold just like a mountain and on the last day we skied at 10 o'clock at night before going to bed. I enjoyed sleeping in the hotel room, which had an upstairs bit where mummy and daddy were. You should go as it's fun and there is lots for children to do."