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Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

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London, England...
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Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

Do NOT put your child into ESF in Meribel.

1 instructor had thirteen 4 year olds to look after and took them up the mountain. I watched from a distance as my boy (and a few others) sat crying and crying and being ignored, and told myself it was best to leave.

Then waiting for them at the bottom of the bubble I saw my son straggling at the back of a different group. Their instructor shepherded all but him back to the base and I watched as my son wandered crying off into the crowds towards the roads of Meribel. I pointed him out to the instructor and asked if he was meant to be looking after this child and he said 'no, I just found him at the top of the lift so brought him down with my class'

After rescuing my distraught boy (4 years old remember!) I confronted the manager of ESF Meribel. Rather than being appalled and apologetic, he was agressive, dismissive and arrogant, telling me to 'turn the page and get over it' and after speaking to the instructors, trying to spin me a revisionist version of the events I had actually watched - telling me that my son had been moved classes and that he had 'run off' into the crowd and that the instructor had rescued him. Lies constructed to cover their truly abysmal dereliction of duty and care. They really are an appalling company who care more for the turnover and numbers than for the children in their care. It is only a matter of time before some poor child really does go missing on the mountain, and far from giving children confidence and fun in the snow they provide a miserable and frightening first experience of being on skiis.

Luckily we were able to arrange our boy some one on one time with a Magic instructor who really cared and gave him back some confidence.

i would never trust a child of mine again to an ESF instructor.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone with similar experiences with ESF.

Talloires, France
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358 posts
37 reviews
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1. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

Unfortunately in half term ESF is more a babysitting service than a Ski school...

I have seen snakes of 15-20 kids with the instructor at the front... Pretty difficult to notice if you lost someone!

It is worth finding a ski school with limited group sizes. I hope your little boy will forget the bad experience quickly!

Chester, United...
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2. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

At that age surely groups should be much smaller?

London, England...
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3. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

Yes, we were promised it would be 8 maximum

Kent
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192 posts
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4. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

How awful for you and your son! My kids are now all grown up but learnt to ski in Meribel with Magic In Motion, who were excellent. You will also find the BASS instructors in the 3V excellent. I do hope this experience has not put you and your son off - he will soon be old enough to join you for the week skiing - does not take long before they are flying past their parents!

Good luk for your future skiing hols.

5. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

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Removed on: 8:34 am, March 19, 2013
Guildford, United...
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6. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

Simon I was so sad to hear about your experience (in the Sunday Times) so tried to look you up and found this post. EXACTLY THE SAME THING happened to us in Meribel 4 years ago when our son was also 4 He was with Magic in Motion (who we chose ironically because they were an Anglo French company and were recommended to us for their small classes). On the first day we went to meet him at the end of his lesson at the designated meeting point. I had been anxious about him joining the class and had shared my concerns the night before when the French female instructor had visited our chalet and taken our money. She had laughed at me when I asked if I could come and watch and said "I suggest you stay as far away from the mountain as possible". There were only a few children in the class and I had noticed one of the two instructors (the woman from the night before) assigned to the class skiing down by herself (could not be bothered to go with the class). The other French instructor and the children returned without our son. When we asked 'Where is H' he replied 'Who is H?' Words that still haunt me to this day. (I had made a point of introducing him to him three hours earlier and explaining it was his first time in a group etc but it was as if the instructor had never set eyes on him yet alone supposedly taught him for 3 hours!!) I felt sick and the next 20 minutes were the worst of my life. They did not know if they had lost him at the top nursery slopes or on the lift. After a long frantic search we discovered him very much in harm's way having walked a long way out of Meribel along the main road ("I was trying to find you, Mummy") which he had crossed many times and I suspect without looking as he had little road sense. I had screamed at the female instructor to get the police and when she neared the station she had spotted him in the distance and brought him back to me. Her first words were a nonchalant 'It was not our fault" (oh yes it was - they had with staggering negligence, managed to leave him at the bottom of the lift and even more unbelievably not counted the children when frogmarching them from the lift all the way to the meeting place...I believe he was in a class of 6). The instructor was not only totally unapologetic at the time she tried to tell me it was no big deal and that her own child was somewhere around and she didn't exactly know where but he was very smart (or some such crap). If my son had not had been present and my obvious priority I would have hit her (and sometimes wish I had). I'm still traumatised by this. We looked into suing them but the company accepted responsibility, apologised and most importantly reassured us that measures had been put in place to ensure this would not happen to another family (such as ensuring the children in the class wore bibs etc). My children have never had group lessons since and I now hate skiing holidays. I do sometimes regret not taking further action and after reading about your experience, even more so. PLEASE ACT to make sure the next 4 year old who is left walking out of Meribel frightened out of his wits is not run over, snatched or found at the bottom of the ravine. It seems that some ski schools employ seasonal workers with barely any credentials and yet we just assume a level of childcare that is most certainly not present. PS We told our little boy that we was in our sight the whole time (lied and told him he was not in any danger) and have made a point of NEVER talking about it in front of him since so not to traumatise him and it seems to have worked and with my youngest son (now 4 himself) we always lightly talk through a strategy and give him a 'ticket' with out details to give to 'a mummy' if ever we should be separated as I wish so much I had done so with H as he probably would have found his way to the Information point if I had thought for one second he would be left alone, unsupervised in the middle of a ski resort. Good luck and I'm so sorry your family have been through such an upsetting experience.

Meribel, France
4 posts
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7. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

How Horrid, I live and work in Meribel and the big group sizes are a problem. I'd not heard of Magic making the same kind of mistake, they actually have a pretty good reputation in resort. If anyone reads this before they book their next holiday I really recommend typing into google 'independent ski school Meribel' and going with one of the smaller operators, there are lots at our chalet we use parallel lines, but there are lots of others.

If you need any advice just contact us (I think you can do it by clicking the name or posting on this thread) and we'd be happy to recommend somewhere for you.

Edited: 12:57 pm, May 31, 2013
8. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

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Removed on: 8:05 am, September 22, 2013
Edited: 8:05 am, September 22, 2013
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9. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

ESF managed to lose my 4 year old son over New Year. Luckily an English Father spotted him sitting on his own crying at the bottom of all the pistes in Meribel and found my phone number in his pocket and phoned me, I was over in Courchevel panic stricken as I was a good hour's ski away. The nice man took him to the ESF office (he didn't even have his ESF bib on!) and phoned me back to say he was safe, ESF then phoned me to say all was fine. When I reached the ESF office my son had been taken back up the slopes and I was told that they hadn't lost he must have 'wandered off on his own).They refused to admit any liability, didn't apologise. I still shudder when I think what could have happened to him. They had also failed to provide him with an English speaking instructor and said he couldn't keep up and had to be moved down a group. All in all a dreadful experience.

Guildford, United...
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10. Re: Meribel ESF ski school lost my child

We gave up on ESF many years ago when our boys were smaller and it doesn't sound like they have improved much.

We spent several years going to Colorado where the maximum class size was 6 and the whole teaching system better. And France is so expensive at half term that it didn't cost all that much more!

They got all of their confidence back and both ski like demons.

And the only hanks you get is 'come on dad, hurry up'.

Edited: 2:20 am, October 01, 2013