Why did we chose Austria for our winter holidays?
Last year we discovered the amazing concept of Kinderhotels where you can leave your children with the Kids club for up to 12 hours a day so that you and your partner can go skiing, enjoy the sauna, steam bath, pool and some well deserved adult time. Everything is included in the weekly fee: all meals, i.e. breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, kids club and activities, swimming pools, sauna and steam bath facilities, ski lessons and ski hire for the children etc…
We had always been tempted by Club Med ski holidays but it’s too expensive, too crowded a bit of a hassle to get to. The Kinderhotel we went to last year was only 2 hours drive from our Zürich home.
This year, we received brochure from Kinderhotel Post as early as September. We were on their database as we made an enquiry last year but it was already full. Their marketing is very good: they proactively sent us a letter and once you’re on their website, every page ends with a call to action “book today” or “ask for a commitment free quote”. To be honest, they got me at the cover of the brochure: beautiful thermal outdoors bath surrounded by the mountains and nicely little chalet house.
Rooms at Kinderhotel Post are generous and nicely appointed
The room we wanted was 45sqm2 and could comfortably fit us and the kids in a separate area, with a balcony for only 2,500 euros all inclusive. My mum was the one who said: you’d better book early! So we did, around October, and that room type was already booked out! We had to upgrade to a bigger room with 60sqm2 including:
- a master bedroom
- a large children room with bunk beds plus a sofa, a desk and wardrobe with lots of cupboards,
- a lounge room with TV, sofa, dining table and chairs,
- a very large bathroom with shower and separate bathtub, toilet, double sinks, heated floor, towel heating rails and PLENTY of shelf space for your vanity case and beauty products
- an extra separate toilet (luxury we can’t live without anymore)
- and a very well designed entrance where you can store all your shoes, coats, jackets, and additional cupboard, storage space and a full length mirror (very important to me)
What with the separate doona in Northern Europe? We discovered this custom for the first time in Sweden, then in Switzerland, Norway and now Austria!
Each bunk bed had its built in side table and individual light. Both bedrooms had a door to the bathroom, so the kids enjoyed running in circle…
Nice gestures and details:
- at check-in you are greeted with soft toys for the children
- you discover in your room two bars of chocolate, unfortunately one is white chocolate and the other one is strawberry flavoured chocolate 🙁
- they provide each room with a woven basket which is very handy to carry towels to go swimming or to carry your laundry(see laundry section below)
- at check-out you get offered a gift bag including some local dried rose and lavender, some crayons and toys for the children, a cook book and their Summer catalogue.
INTERNET TIP: There is only wifi at reception, and each time you want to use it on a device, you have to login with a code and password. The connection is rather slow as everyone is sharing the same. There is also high speed internet through a cable in rooms so what we did, because there is no way we can live without wifi in our room, was to bring a router so all our devices, including our sister’s in law’s who was staying in the room right above us, could have access with no set up required.
Pools and wellness centre: heaven for children and parents
This was the absolute highlight of the trip. The kids totally loved it and went swimming for at least an hour every day. There are three swimming pools at Kinderhotel Post:
- an outdoor thermal bath heated at 31 degrees, emptied every night and filled back around 10am every morning. Before dinner around 6pm you can hear the bells of the nearby church ringing, look a the dark sky, snowy mountains and the glowing moon as you relax through the bubbles of the pool. BLISS. Unique experience that was totally worth the whole trip and every cent!
- an indoor swimming pool, 140cm deep so you still have to keep a close eye on you children
- a baby and toddler pool heated at 35 degrees with a Jungle Book theme and fun water features.
There are lots of toys there available to all guests including floaties, noodles, balls, things to dive and grab under water etc… all you need is to bring your swimmers.
And here is the wellness center with sauna, steam room, relaxing room, solarium and spa massage services, all very clean and decorated with good taste…
Everything is designed for children at Kinderhotels
- Bathroom steps so they can reach sinks
- Children size bathrobes and slippers
- Soda fountain and Ice cream bar
- Slides everywhere
- 700 sqm2 playground plus video games and fusball
- Baby pool with water heated at 35 degrees
- Hipp Baby shampoo available in the showers of the pool area
What is provided free of charge for babies and infants:
- Bottle warmer, kettle, vaporizer
- Pram, pushchair and back carriage
- Changing pad
- Baby Monitor
- Cot and baby rocker
- Highchair, Bibs
- Baby Bath
- Bicycles and bicycle helmets (summer)
- Carriage, Bobs, snowtubing and ice skates (winter)
You can travel light without portacots and usual baby equipment. How cool?
Very important criteria for me! Verdict…. it was really good, tasty and well presented.
On Saturday when you arrive it’s buffet for everyone with fancy canapés, which makes sense from a business point of view as it’s the day when people check-in and check-out.
From Sunday on, dinner is a four course menu and you choose your main during breakfast.
It’s important for us that dinner is served at the table, otherwise it’s a hassle to look after the kids and go and get your food at the same the time. Children have the option to have dinner a bit earlier, at 6pm, with the other kids at the kids club but ours preferred to have dinner with us. Plus we went with my sister in laws’ family and my father in law, so it was a bit like a family reunion.
With no further due, here is the food porn:
Hearty Breakfast with local produces (eggs, milk, butter, yoghurt) from the surrounding farms:
My eldest son had a chocolate doughnut every single morning… 🙁
Austrians know how to make bread, yum!
The waffles were not crispy but very tasty, eggy. The scrambled eggs where soft and juicy, unlike the dry version you usually find in hotels. There were also perfectly cooked soft boiled eggs, fresh from the farm! and it’s still a mystery how it can stay there under the heating lamp and not turn into hard boiled…
or you could have made to order sunny side up eggs or omelettes with speck and mushroom.
You could either have lunch at the hotel or you would be given 8 euros vouchers to eat at selected restaurants on the slopes. Note that the Austrian signature dish on the slopes is NOT grilled entrecote but rather sausages: 3 or 4 types of sausages to choose from, with fries i.e. bratwurst, curry wurst, ein paar wiener, ein paar frankfurter (those come in pairs). Most also had chicken nuggets, schnitzel and spaghetti bolognaise or burgers.
TIP: You can find chargrilled meat day on Thursday at l’Apres Ski Restaurant in the lower part of the Lofer ski field, but we found out after we already had lunch (and it was not covered by the vouchers). Once you’re on the slopes, it’s on your way down towards the first set of gondolas.
Between 15.30 and 16.30, the hotel serves afternoon tea with a selection of nice cakes, not too rich, and some fruits (usual fruits you find at breakfast).
All day, you can help yourself with fresh fruits from fruit basket, organic tea with a dozen variety of black, roiboos or herbal tea and of course the soda fountain and ice cream bar for the younger crowd.
The lounge area is just divine with its cosy and stylish fireplace, comfy armchairs and table with white thick tablecloths and sofas with cushions against the windows dressed with luxurious curtains and filling the room with lots of natural light.
It was also the perfect place for after dinner drinks: digestive, tea, coffee, to spend more quality time with your family. There is a soft play area in the lounge so the little ones could stay nearby without getting bored.
The four courses consisted of:
- a well presented entree
- a creamy soup,which we all loved whether it was trout, cabbage, corn, or capsicum based
- a main, with a choice between two meat and one vegetarian dish
- a dessert
Cheese was always available at the buffet and they had some a fine variety of tasty cheeses we all really enjoyed: goat, cow, hard, soft, double cream etc…
Ski: nice, cute but limited when you are used to the huge stations in the French Alps
Although we didn’t get good weather that week, we enjoyed fresh powder as it snowed most days. It was still very enjoyable and made up for the blue sky and the sun burns.
The hotel is located 10 minutes drive from two stations:
- Lofer is the biggest one with 45 km of slopes including a great kids parc, Bobo the penguin and a magic tunnel where our eldest son practiced over the first few days before taking real ski lifts! <proud mum>
- Heutal is the smaller ski field with only 14 km of slopes. It is where children who book 2 hour/day lessons practice.
What we also enjoyed was that is was not overcrowded. There were many British families but we were not invaded by waves of French children as you’d see in the French Alps (as it was the French school holidays).
The service: disappointing
That was the disappointing part of this experience. You’d expect everything to be smooth and seamless with all the logistics taken care of like what we had at Muchetta Kinderhotel in Switzerland last year. It wasn’t the case but many times, the owner of the hotel himself saved the day. Here are a few examples for you:
- I emailed on the Wednesday before our Saturday arrival to book a massage and didn’t get a response before I checked in. Then I had to check back several times as it was still not confirmed the day prior, which I found quite annoying.
- The children ski lesson package is poorly managed
- you have to go to the ski school on the slopes (10 min drive) to directly enrol your child on the Sunday
- the hotel staff said the ski hire was not included but it was, but when we arrived at the ski school office in the Sunday morning without our son, we find out he had to be there to pick his shoes and ski equipment as ski hire was in fact included in the package. As we didn’t have a car, we were dependant on the shuttle bus which only runs three times a day: once in the morning and twice in the afternoon. Fortunately we were able to call the hotel and the owner personally brought our son there, waited for us to be all set and drove us back to the hotel.
- Although it sounds obvious that transportation and lunch are included when you book your son for a 4 hour a day ski lesson package, you still have to individually book him to those things. Again the reception staff failed to explain it to us, so on the first day the shuttle bus left without our son and the ski instructor had to pay for his lunch. The flip side is that the owner of the hotel, again, took our son to the slope where he then got in a carriage pulled by a cool snowmobile so he could catch up with the rest of the group!
- On Sunday morning we didn’t get the 4 course menu asking us to choose the main dish (between two meat choices and one vegetarian choice), nor did we understand we were supposed to get one, so when dinner came, we thought it was just a buffet like the previous day! Some of us had to get up, grab food from the buffet which… is mainly for children! Then when I came down a little later, the waiter asked what we had chosen, and then, understanding the situation, explained how the menu worked but it was a little too late.
One positive point though was my sister in law’s birthday. We called in advanced so they could make a cake to suit her taste, which was nice. However they brought the cake without candles first, then when we asked, they came back with the sparkling fuse but left it to a side table until I asked them to bring it in front of the birthday girls so we could sing as so that she could blow it! Little things like that, that make the whole experience imperfect and slightly amateurish.
TIP: if you’re a logistics freak like us, and decide to not have a car there, read the above, ask for the shuttlebus timetable and make the relevant arrangements upon arrival!
What to wear at Kinderhotel Post
The rooms are very well heated with heated floor in the bathroom making everything dry very quickly including your throat! So here is my recommendation on what to pack:
- Night gowns instead of winter pyjamas
- short sleeves and shorts pyjamas for the kids
- T shirts and jeans or shorts when the children play indoors but the usual ski gear and layers for when they play outside
- jeans, light sweater or even a dress and cardigan + flat shoes for meals at the hotel’s restaurant
- thongs/ flip flops for the swimming area
- 2 swimmers per person as you will use the pool a lot
Laundry at Kinderhotel Post
One thing that was missing from their website was about their laundry services. I needed to know the night before we left as I was packing. No time to send and email and wait for a response, so I packed for 10 days.
TIP: they have two washing machines and dryers available to use for free, including washing powder, so you can pack light!
- 3,136€ for 7 nights (with a deposit of 627€ to be paid prior to the stay), including:
- all meals for us and one child
- 60sq m2 two bedroom suite with 2 toilets
- 5 days x 4 hour per day ski lessons + ski hires for one child (valued at 288€)
What was charged extra at checkout:
- 280€ for 7 days for an extra child aged 3 to 5 years old. Read the additional children prices here.
- 60€ for 60 minute Intensive Back massage and foot reflexology. Divine! Here is their Treatment Menu.
- 120€ for 5 days x 2 hour per day ski lesson for our younger son
- 210€ for 5 days ski hires for me, my husband (except for shoes that he brought along) and our younger son
- 80€ ski lift pass for 5 days for our eldest son: you’d expect it to be part of the ski package as there is no way he can have those lessons without a ski pass right?
- approx 324€ ski lift pass for me and my husband for 5 days.
GRAND TOTAL: $4,210€ for 4 people for 7 nights
TIP: make sure your credit card can handle a final payment of 3000€!
Next time we reckon we can save on ski pass by planning it a bit better and maybe by downsizing slightly the size of the room, but overall we’re quite happy as a similar package at Club Med is minimum 6,000€ for a family of four in a 30sqm2 room (from 12,000€ if you chose a 60sqm2 room) and there might be too many people for my liking. At Kinderhotel Post there are 49 rooms. The hotel was fully booked but it didn’t feel too busy.
Would we go again to Kinderhotel Post?
Yes definitely and we’d bring along my parents too and perhaps some international friends, unless we find a similar hotel with a much bigger ski fields close by. We might also want to hire a car next time we go as we didn’t get a chance to visit the beautiful city of Salzburg this time round.
Once you’ve stayed at one hotel of the Kinderhotel chain, you are awarded 3% of the total bill to redeem on your next trip. That’s already a free 2 x 60 minute massages for me there 🙂
Now that we know it all about the logistics, we can make it a nearly perfect experience!
How to get there?
Kinderhotel Post is located in Unken, 50 minutes drive from Salzburg train station and approx 35 minutes from Salzburg’s airport.
- Call the hotel one hour prior to arrival so they can send their own car to pick you up for 45€ instead of 80€ quoted to us by a cab who had no idea where Unken was.
- On the way back, the hotel’s car can drive you to the airport for only 35€. We were driven by a nice guy whose daughter is a supervisor at the kids club and were lucky to be the first guest in his 1 day old Mercedes!
From Oslo there are direct flights with Norwegian air, that’s how we flew back on the Saturday. However to get there, if we had taken the direct flight leaving on the Saturday prior it would have been 600€ per person. By choosing to fly to Munich, Germany on the Friday then take a 90 minute train ride from Munich to Salzburg the next day (35€ for 4 people), it was only approx 200 euros per person, meaning we saved 1,600€, minus 100€ which we spent on a night at the Sheraton hotel in Munich!