Last season my wife missed out on a ski holiday due to pregnancy, and she was adamant she would go skiing this year, despite us having to take our seven month old baby on a ski holiday.
We considered leaving our son with the grandparents for a long weekend, but felt it would not be fair on him or them – and of course we would miss him too much! So we researched childcare on ski holidays and came across the Pepi Penguin Club run by Crystal Ski in resorts in France, Austria, Italy and Slovenia.
The Pepi Penguin Club takes children from 6 months to four years. As you would expect, all staff are English speaking, qualified, CRB checked, referenced and have a first-aid certificate. They club offers 3 childcare options: full day (8:30-5) costs £269, mornings (8:30-2) is £160 or afternoons (2-5) at £125 – all prices here are for 6 days. They also have a free snuggle club for evening babysitting (7:30-9:30) so parents that booked childcare can have a civilised dinner alone.
So, with peace of mind that our son would be in safe hands, we booked a week holiday with Crystal Ski at the Terra Nova hotel in which the crèche is based and an all-day slot in the Pepi Penguin Club for our little man. It would be his first time in childcare so we were understandably a little nervous about how it would go.
We checked in at the hotel fairly late. Thoughtfully the childcare staff had left a letter telling us what we needed for the first day and some forms for us to complete to help save time in the morning. So first thing, we slightly apprehensively took our 7-month-old, completed forms, our photo ID, and all his stuff for the day to the crèche.
Most of the worry was immediately dispelled by the smiling face that answered the door and the happy atmosphere found inside. One of the nannies took our little man while we finished the formalities. These included taking a copy of our ID so they would know who to allow to collect him – again reassuring. He was giggling away before we had finished the handover, and it was clear the staff were having as much fun as the children.
Having heard stories of tears (both kids and parents) and tantrums (just kids) on first day at crèche, we were very pleased to have had a smooth handover. My wife had been quite worried, but the lovely staff had smoothed away her concerns with their professional approach and the fun, loving atmosphere in the Pepi Penguin Club put our minds at rest.
With our son being taken care of, we got our kit together and headed out onto the slopes for the day. We kept our mobiles to hand just in case they called and didn’t go too far away over the mountains, but there was no call.
On the first day we collected him at about 4; there was a little squeal of delight when he saw us, but he was clearly having a good time. The staff said he had been a delight, had napped when he should and eaten well – the daily reports on collection were lovely as it was nice to know what he had been up to.
The staff had organised different activities, which included daily trips outside when the weather was nice, finger painting, bringing snow in to play with, and there were always lots of toys available. We noticed that our son started to recognise the other kids when outside the crèche. His communication is limited to shouting/screeching, but it was clear by the fuss he made that he knew them and had made friends.
When it came to the last day, they gave us a folder entitled ‘my holiday artwork’. There was finger paining, hand and foot prints, and a lovely poem -although I am not sure he wrote it. The staff had made a goodbye card, with each writing a moving personal message – again it was clear they had loved looking after him.
Overall, the service provided by the Pepi Penguin Club far surpassed my expectations. My wife and I were happy to leave our son with them knowing he was in safe hands, having fun. We had a proper ski holiday with plenty of time skiing/boarding and we also got to spend quality time off the slopes, both as a couple and as a family.