Ask Joan: Family skiing trip, going to the Olympics in Rio

Suitable skiing holiday for Down syndrome girl, tickets for Rio, family holiday for new year


My husband and I love to ski but since we had our children we have skied very little. We have a 12-year-old daughter with Down syndrome and an 11-year-old son. We would like to bring them skiing next February but are concerned about finding a place that will suit our daughter’s additional needs. She would most likely need one-to-one teaching from an instructor with good English. The nursery slopes would need to be easily accessible as I feel she wouldn’t walk very far in her ski boots. – BC, Galway

Austria is a great place for family skiing and I think the resort of St Johann, in Tirol, would be a good place for you, only an hour from Salzburg. It is a nice friendly place and easy to ramble around when not skiing. The Crystal Hotel which is right beside the slopes has prices from €839pps for a week in February. The four-star Sporthotel only five minutes from the gondola has a pool and leisure centre. A week half-board will cost from €1,029pps with, (01) 240 1700.

The Wilder Kaiser Ski School in St Johann has a great record of teaching Irish children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. The instructors speak English well.

Your daughter would enjoy one-to-one classes and probably mornings would be enough for her to get used to skiing. If you would like to give her a taste of skiing in advance, there is a club called Kilternan Karvers, run by Eddie and Kathleen Sythes at the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan. They teach pupils with special needs to ski. You can contact them on (01) 295 5658 and

I’m thinking of travelling to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next August. Is there a particular Irish travel agency organising packages or would it be better to book flights and hotel accommodation separately? – LF, Dublin.

Trying to get individual tickets will be very difficult as tickets are being distributed to Brazilian residents and to authorised resellers only.

Ireland does not have an authorised ticket reseller, but you may find that the bigger travel agencies will be able to access tickets. Contact and There are packages with tickets available for three, four and seven days from, the official UK reseller.

Prices for a three-night package to see four sports competitions with hotel accommodation will cost from $3,925pps.

We are looking for a 10-day family holiday setting off immediately after Christmas to the sun. We have two teenagers who enjoy water sports and ideally there would be an all-inclusive teenage club. Normally we would look to places like Morocco/ Tunisia /Red Sea but with the current unrest we don’t really want to take any risks in travelling to North Africa/Middle East. – ES, Dublin

The prices at Christmas/new year are always very high. There is some availability with Falcon Holidays to Gran Canaria. There are all-inclusive holidays staying in nice hotels from €939-€1,564pps. Further afield, Club Med has some nice properties in the Caribbean and one in Florida, but not a lot of availability. The agent in Ireland can be contacted on and (01) 236 6800.

Cruises, especially the larger ships, can be an ideal holiday with teenagers. Check for availability with, (01) 408 1999 and, (01) 817 3558.

Send your queries to