We thought a family skiing holiday would be off the agenda this year with the turmoil of the economy.
Taking a week's holiday when we were unsure about whether we'd still have jobs when we came home seemed a risk, so we'd planned not to go. That is, until we discovered it was possible to book a short break for substantially less at the start or the end of the season. If you choose your destination carefully, with just a short transfer from the airport, and there's good infrastructure in the resort to get you on the slopes quickly, a family skiing trip for three nights is possible.
We chose Serfaus, a family-friendly resort in Austria, just an hour from Innsbruck airport (flights with easyJet start at £20). Rooms, lift passes and equipment were also significantly less than we're used to paying.
An hour after landing at Innsbruck we were settling into our room at one of the best family-friendly hotels we've ever stayed at. Hotel Bär is in the heart of the beautiful village of Serfaus and children are at the centre of everything it offers. They have their own area with soft play, a theatre, two giant slides and organised activities from 9am to 9pm. Alex loved it and we couldn't get him out!
Best of all, the hotel is all-inclusive so there was no more to pay for soft drinks, meals and snacks.
Getting to the slopes was part of the fun. Hidden by the beautiful church in the centre of the village, a five-minute walk from the hotel, is an underground silent subway. Just 10 minutes later, you can be in the cable car ready for your first run down.
Getting kitted out can take ages but it's all done cleverly at check-in by computer and we had everything we needed to get going in about 20 minutes. A record for us!
The skiing tuition is also excellent. English-speaking teachers, small groups, a dedicated children's restaurant and even a dedicated children's chair lift (complete with bottom warmers!) showed clearly that children come first.
And then there's Murmli Village, a 80,000m2 wonderland in the heart of the resort. Young children are cared for by nursery staff, and the older ones learn to ski using eight special children's lifts, which are magic carpet conveyor belts - no fiddling with hard-to-master button lifts or drag lifts.
If they don't want to ski there's a crèche for children up to five years old, or they can enjoy plenty of outdoors fun activities, including slides, toys and see-saws.
As well as the dedicated children's area there is a special adventure trail where Murmli, the marmot mascot, guides children through his snowy home. Murmli also has his own money, his own cable car and can be seen meeting the children every day.
We fell in love with Serfaus and everything it has to offer, and hope to go back one day.