“It’s warming, has vitality and sensuality,” explains Sophie Jacquemin, the lead designer of the newly launched Club Med Val Thorens. She’s referring to the soft pink glow that greets guests in the 70-metre high lobby of this chic brand new resort. It’s a perfect metaphor for the culture that exists at all Club Med locations; from the sunny beach resorts to their ski and mountain destinations. At the newly opened Club Med Val Thorens in France, the influence of the French Alps is felt from the moment you enter the front door, with each of the four floors extending up from the lobby reflecting a different part of the mountain experience. From the “icy patch” of the first, through the “warming sun” of the next, and the “best views” at the top. The views of the real French Alps from the efficient but mod rooms are also spectacular.
Club Med has had a ski resort in Val Thorens since the late ‘90s but this new building – located across the street from the old one which has been sold for condominiums – opened December 14. This striking, geometric, timber-laden structure seems to be carved into the side of a steep winding road. It is the biggest structure in the history of Val Thorens. This Club Med is designed for families with teens or adults traveling without children. Its neighbor, Club Med Valmorel, has Kids Clubs, a swimming pool and many other activities for the kids. Part of the reason it is not recommended for babies and young children is the high altitude, which can interfere with the sleep patterns. There are 384 rooms, including 11 suites, and all are connected two by two, making it easy for a family to be together.
But it’s the outside that counts. Club Med Val Thorens is situated in the largest ski area in the world; 335 slopes covering more than 600 kilometers of terrain, with half of it easily accessible for most skiers, at the green and blue levels. It is the highest and oldest ski region in the world, but has all the advantages of modern high-speed lifts and gondolas.
Club Med are pioneers of what they describe as the “affluent all-inclusive” experience. While they are still best known for their beach resorts in tropical climates, they have introduced this concept to ski resorts, with great success. Typical of an all-inclusive, all food, drinks and activities are included in the cost of the stay. Twice daily group lessons and ski passes are included, however rentals and private lessons are extra. Club Med replaces its rental equipment every year, so chances are if you rent, you’ll be on better equipment than you have at home. Ski and snowboard lessons at Val Thorens start at the age of 12, and are taught by esteemed French ski school instructors.
There are two restaurants: The Yurt, or main restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet-style, but in keeping with the gourmand experience at all Club Meds, the buffet items are beautifully presented and are a foodie’s dream. But you can dream even more than that by visiting the Epicurious Gourmet Lounge. This unique space starts serving a late breakfast at 10 a.m., and stays open until midnight, transforming their offerings to lunch, tapas, and dinners. “Chic Picnics” are also offered, for skiers to pick up and take back to the slopes with them, to take advantage of a longer ski day. Within Epicurious there is a gourmet food shop, and daily wine tastings in an extensive wine cellar. The two Michelin star Chef Edouard Loubet has returned to his hometown to work with the Club Med Chef to create an excellent culinary experience. Epicurious also features a lounge with live music acts in the evening.
For those families looking for a break from skiing, the Val Thorens Sports Center and Aqua-Spa offers a variety of sporting, water, and well-being activities for the whole family. A short walk from Club Med, it also leads to an area of shopping where you can pick up ski or snowboard gear, as well as food, wines, and other souvenirs from the area.
“The smiles of 130 G.O.’s (which stands for Gentile Organisateur, or the enthusiastic customer service staff at Club Med) will create joy for 50 nationalities who have already booked,” said Club Med Chairman of the Board, and CEO Henri Giscard d’Estaing, at the official opening ceremony. Giscard d’Estaing also confirmed that Club Med is in development discussions to bring the first Club Med to Canada, in the ski area of Le Massif, in the Charlebois region of Quebec. Something all Canadians can smile about as well.
Club Med Val Thorens is open during ski season, from November until May. Visit clubmed.ca for details on flights and pricing.
Kathy visited Club Med Val Thorens as their guest. You can hear Kathy’s travel reports Fridays on “How She Travels” on Sirius/XM Canada Channel 167, “What She Said”.