Imagine all your childrens' dreams and some of your worst nightmares rolled into one. Sprinkle some fairy dust and voila! A brilliant, totally unimaginable outcome - a Kinderhotel. It's magic.
Take one hotel snob who has spent her whole holiday life in small, boutique, luxury hotels far from the chaos of kids. Give her two children, one just four months old and the other four years old and send her to a Kinderhotel. The outcome surprised even her!
What's a Kinderhotel? Well, it's an unknown to us in the UK. We can't seem to marry two concepts well - luxury hotel and children's paradise. Either take one or the other and actually be prepared for disappointment on both counts - standards aren't easily upheld. Somehow that gigantic softplay is just a nightmare of runny noses, germs and fraying ropes and tempers or that luxury hotel just cut corners somewhere, offending your much lighter wallet.
The Kinderhotel in Oberjoch is a revelation. It's in Bad Hindelang - a very pretty region of Bavaria in the mountains. This is a ski hotel within a quaint village with just enough runs and lifts to keep a relaxed, advanced skier happy. Heated chairlifts and seats that lower for the kids. I'm here to ski. More importantly I'm here for my four year old to ski and to get some time to actually ski and relax myself. Impossible, you must be thinking. Well, no, actually. That's why I'm at the Kinderhotel.
So, my flashy but supremely lovely Bogner ski suit, gold Indigo helmet (everyone wears one these days) and new Reusch gloves packed. I've got the best gear sorted and I'm ready to go.
The hotel is a short, one hour transfer from Munich.
Upon arrival be prepared for a pretty large hotel; 145 rooms all kitted out to the max for families. As you walk into the main lounge you are greeted by two huge mushrooms and a play area in an atrium. Shock! Horror! Parents sit around drinking coffee or tea from the state-of-the-art machines nearby or the organic loose-leaf tea selection, or a glass of wine - this hotel has an enviable wine cellar.
That's only the beginning. The Kinderhotel Oberjoch has a kids club for every age group. With truly expert childcare from just seven weeks old. I would never, ever consider leaving my child with strangers in a new place but here the standards are far above anything in the UK, baby Gabriel was amazingly cared for in the baby club whilst I watched his older brother at ski school.
In fact, the kids clubs are open for 11 hours a day.
Mine luckily are still too young to want to desert me all day for the ice skating/go-carts/table football/ climbing wall/petting zoo/ Gym hall/LONGEST HOTEL WATER SLIDE IN EUROPE!!! ( yes it manages to stay classy at the same time!) / softplay, plus the on-site ski school from age 2 upwards.
This has to be seen to be truly appreciated. They tell you to leave everything at home and yes, they have thought of everything.
Plus, they have everything that you don't have at home too.
Co-sleeping cot? Normal cot? Cot bed? In the restaurant they have three stages of Stokke high chair from the reclining version for young babies who can't sit upright, to the upright,to the chair without the seat for the toddlers.
The place is awash with all types of baby and toddler paraphernalia. Even at mealtimes wipes and bibs are freely available as is baby food and it's second nature for all bottle-washing to be done by the kitchen.
The rooms are beautifully done, toasty-warm and ours with a 'cuddle corner' too. You also don't need to bring your pram - pristine rows of every type await in the 'pram park'.
On to the food. It's all buffet and all-inclusive but don't let that put you off. The breakfasts are immense with pancakes, egg station, allergy-free station - I had my rice milk hot chocolate every day -cheeses, meats and as for every meal there is a children's buffet. All at their level with plastic crockery and cutlery with the aim of letting kids do for themselves.
The restaurant has different seating areas, some cosy, others in the atrium all stylish, comfortable and spotless before each meal.
Expect local produce and where possible organic too.
They also provide packaging in order to make and take packed lunches for those who don't want to return at lunch time or for a mid morning snack if you didn't eat enough at breakfast.
Local specialities feature regularly and there is enough variety to make everyone happy.
It's hard to fault a hotel that manages such a mammoth task as this. A kid's paradise and a relaxing experience for mum and dad too.
The snow was wonderful as was the skiing; encouraged by some of the best teachers I've encountered in a long while makes this hotel a keeper. My four year old is really skiing now.
You won't get it until you try it but once you do there's no turning back, at least until the kids grow up!