Information about skiing in Grindelwald for children and beginners. Tips and review of Bodmi, Grindelwald, and the Snowli Kids Club.
Skiing Lessons for Children
In Switzerland, most children tend to start skiing lessons around 3 years old. Much depends, of course, on their willingness to learn, athletic ability, as well as their physical size. We know of some children who were very eager to learn to ski at 3 years old, but their feet were still too small to fit into the smallest sized ski boots.
Our son started to express an interest in skiing at age 3 and was happy to put on his ski boots and skis in the snow, although he was not brave enough to move on his own. Any “skiing” was done with my husband holding him and guiding him down the slopes.
Given his reluctance to do much independently in the snow, we felt he was not ready for skiing lessons at age 3; he still needed time to just play in the snow and get used to the idea of being outside in the cold.
But a year makes a big difference and our son was totally ready for skiing lessons at 4 years old. Not only was he excited about learning to ski, he was also motivated to learn something new.
Our daughter, on the other hand, is someone who never wants to miss out, especially if it involves her brother doing something fun and exciting. She started her skiing experience at the tender age of 2 years and 10 months, including lessons for children her age on a very tiny “slope”, i.e. a snow-covered garden.
Hence, much depends on the child and, like most things in life, if you want them to enjoy and succeed at skiing, your child’s willingness to learn to ski must come from them independently.
We travel to Grindelwald, Switzerland, every winter for some family time in the snow.
There are three main beginner areas at Bodmi:
- The flat area in front of the Snowli Club (see below for more details) for beginner children;
- The small slope with magic carpet in front of the Hotel Bodmi (for both beginner children and beginner adults);
- The beginner slope with a platter lift (for both beginner children and beginner adults).
The “half day” lessons are 3 hours long (from 10.00 to 13.00), with some warming up time beforehand.
Once your child advances through the levels, he or she can choose to have whole day lessons with a lunch break in between.
The skiing instructors are all multi-lingual (the average Swiss speaks 2 to 3 languages!), and the classes are often conducted in a mix of German, French, Italian, and English. Other languages might be offered (including Spanish and Russian), depending on which skiing instructors are available.
More information about the childrens’ skiing lessons at Bodmi can be found here.
Skiing For Beginners at Bodmi, Grindelwald
Bodmi is mostly an area for beginner skiers, which is both a good and bad thing in itself. It is located at only 1,200 m above sea level, and it is a short bus ride from the centre of the main village.
Being so close to the village can have its advantages as it is not too far from most places of accommodation, something which families with young children will appreciate. In addition, it is a convenient location for tourists with time restrictions to try a quick skiing lesson or simply have some fun in the snow without having to pay for an expensive cable car ride up a mountain.
However, perhaps the main disadvantage of Bodmi is the fact that it is quite isolated from the main skiing areas for more advanced skiers.
Unlike larger ski resorts, you cannot drop off your kids on the beginner slope and go off on your skis to a red or black slope; Bodmi is not connected to more advanced slopes, so you have to catch the bus back to the village to get the cable car to either First or Männlichen/Kleine Scheidegg. This means that you will lose a bit of time commuting between Bodmi and the main skiing areas.
We have tried the childrens’ skiing area on Männlichen, and whilst it is a more convenient location if the whole family or group is skiing, it is also colder and more windy up on Männlichen. It also takes more time (and effort) to reach Männlichen with the cable car, something to bear in mind if your children are young and are prone to changing their minds about skiing at the last minute!
I think there are pros and cons when choosing between Männlichen and Bodmi. Whilst our children are still quite young, I think Bodmi is a great choice for us, but we might change locations once they become more skilled at skiing and taking different ski lifts.
Also, once your child reaches the level of Blue Star or Red Prince (or Red Princess), most of the classes are likely to take place at First.
Skiing Lessons for Beginner Adults
Grindelwald is a great place to take skiing lessons for beginners, especially adults. The Bodmi area has relatively flat areas, as well as a magic carpet to allow you to learn on a short blue slope.
One side of the magic carpet is reserved for skiing, whilst the other side is for tobogganing (sledding).
You can book your lessons at the main Grindelwald Sports office on the main street in the village.
The Bodmi area is often busy with adults taking private or group classes, as well as young children skiing with their parents or just generally playing in the snow.
Snowli Kids Club, Bodmi
If parents wish to take a whole day out for themselves (whether to ski or otherwise), you can also enrol your children in the Snowli Kids Club at Bodmi where they can have lunch and/or play in the afternoon.
The Snowli Kids Club is located in a small wooden hut, just a bit behind the main Hotel Bodmi. The area downstairs is a dining room used by the instructors and ski students for their lunch break. And upstairs is a large playroom filled with an assortment of toys and books.
Two qualified child-minders are on-site to take care of your children, whether it be playing indoors or outdoors in the snow.
If your child is taking a skiing lesson at Bodmi, you can make arrangements for the ski instructor to take your child to the Snowli Kids Club after the lesson. This means that, once you drop off your child for his or her skiing lesson in the morning, you can almost have a full day for yourself; pick-up is no later than 4.00pm.
For older children who take whole day skiing lessons, lunch breaks are often taken at the Snowli Kids Club.
Your child must be at least 3 years old to attend the Snowli Kids Club. Our children absolutely love the Snowli Kids Club and talk about it throughout the year!
You can book a place at the Snowli Kids Club, as well as the skiing lessons at Bodmi, over the phone. You will then receive an email confirmation, together with details of where to go to pay in full once you arrive in Grindelwald.
More information on the Snowli Kids Club Bodmi can be found here.
How to Get to There
Grindelwald is about a 2 hour drive from Zurich.
In winter, part of the route (especially towards the end) can be icy and/or covered in snow, so make sure you have snow chains easily accessible in the car.
Grindelwald is accessible by train, and the travel time from Zurich main station to Grindelwald Grund is about 2 hours and 10 minutes with at least 2 changes.
The train journey is, however, very scenic and the train changes usually take place on the same or adjacent platform, so it is not too stressful, even with children.
Once you are in Grindelwald, the best way to get to Bodmi is by bus. The Bodmi Arena, or the Bodmi beginner skiing area, is accessible for cars but there is very limited parking available.
If you are staying somewhere central and close to the main street in Grindelwald, it is best to access Bodmi by bus, either with bus number 122 or 124. It takes approximately 25 minutes by bus between Bodmi and Grindelwald Grund train station.
Most of the bus drivers speak some English, and you might even be lucky enough to get a friendly Australian bus driver who has lived in Grindelwald for over 20 years!
The majority of the buses are fairly new and accessible for wheelchairs and prams or strollers.
Once you have arrived at Bodmi, you will see right away the Hotel Bodmi, as well as the Bodmi skiing area with magic carpet.
If you are using the magic carpet, you will need to purchase a ticket from the Grindelwald Sports office on the slope.
The Snowli Kids Club is located in the area behind the Hotel Bodmi.