Club Med – France
by Michael Morcos
Loving the French countryside, the drive through Savoie and into the village of Valmorel was a real pleasure. The scenery was filled with all the things that make France so special, including the town of Le Bourg, a tiny village with boutiques, bistros, cafes, ski stores, specialty Savoie food shops, hotels and ski lifts up to the countless ski hills in the Grand Domaine region.
When we arrived at the resort, we could see why the area was so popular. Built right on the hill, the Valmoral is considered ski-in-ski-out, where guests can jump over their balconies right onto the Alpine mountains filled with wide slopes.
Without a set plan, we arrived and decided to enjoy the indoors for the evening. Our room was very clean, modern, and comfortable. We chose one that provided a personal balcony on the ground floor and overlooked the ski hill. The combination of fresh air and mountain view were both exceptional.
After settling in, we decided to explore this lovely Club Med complex. I was struck by the cleanliness and the abundance of useful amenities that rival the top rated luxury hotels. As with most Club Meds, this resort has a very aggressive environmental policy with both water conservation and recycling programs running in place.
We made our way through the grounds and the friendly, happy and helpful staff guided us through the resort map and highlighted some activities we may enjoy.
But first….we needed food!
Most of the resort restaurants are buffet style, but this night we preferred dinner à la carte at La Laiterie, decorated to look like a rustic, Alpine style cabin with all the trimmings.
Though we stayed inside, the balcony looked quite welcoming and we would end up spending quite a bit of down-time socializing there during the trip.
The exceptional meal included some classic dishes, starting with a cheese fondue followed by slow cooked meats and veggies on a small personnel flat hot stove. We ate well and later the staff put on an entertaining show while we sipped on some great French wines.
The next day was our official ski day and it was fantastic. The mountain is perfect for all slope activities, whether you are a snowboarder, snowshoeing fan, Alpine or cross-country skier, you will enjoy the 3600 hectares and 165 KMs of slopes.
Stepping out the door, we slapped on our skis and were off. There are many different slopes from beginner to expert and quick lifts to get us up the hill fast. There are staffers throughout the grounds to answer questions or offer a lesson to brush up on your style or try something new.
While we skied, the younger members of our family had decided to stay in the resort. Valmorel is a family style resort and special care is given to the kids.
They have video arcade center, swimming pools, a large day-care and even a mini ski hill for 2-3 year olds to learn how to ski, complete with its own conveyor belt lift that brings them up to the top the bunny hill. Skilled instructors await them and your toddler will soon be flying down the hill.
We all met for a lunch on the large outdoor terrace overlooking the hill. Later in the stay, they even set up an outdoor bar with wine, beer and champagne for the guests. The terrace is just one defining feature of this great resort.
The afternoon had us enjoying a family day in the swimming pools and the heated Jacuzzi. The water was just what the doctor ordered to ease sore ski muscles!
Dinner was a choice between the two other gourmet restaurants on site– The Cerfs and Celeste. Each has fine dining and are well versed in local delicacies. I ate the Croute au Fromage, pretty much a gourmet omelet with gruyere and ham and got to taste the vegetarian gratin de crozets, both were well prepared and presented.
That night, the entertainment included all the children from the resort guest families performing with the staff in a talent show. The resort wholeheartedly supports families and offers countless ways for them to connect and enjoy each other’s company. One of my favourite memories was renting some skates and equipment to play hockey with another family in the resort’s private ice rink.
After another day on the slopes, we visited the town. There are no modern high-rises or concrete buildings, the stores and structures are all made of classic slate, wood and stone, materials that offer old-world character and charm.
Our meal that night was enjoyed in one of the four all you can eat buffets. We usually went to one of these for our lunches, but decided we would eat dinner here this evening. They were outstanding and each were decorated and accentuated to reflect the four seasons.
I particularly enjoyed eating in the ‘Summer room’; filled with reminders of the sunny season, it was really well done and helped us all warm-up quickly!
Later in the evening, as the kids played in their area, we relaxed in the Hammam. This hot and humid steam bath is mainly for relaxation and cleansing. There are also more involved cleansing Hammam options, including body wraps and body scrubs available.
The days passed by quickly and though the skiing was always phenomenal, there were other attractions in this glorious resort to experience.
Wellness treatments are also available at the renowned Club Med Spa by CARTIA. The system in place is holistic in practice, with 5 different procedures, including:
Relaxation, with flower petal baths and massages with warm body oils;
Energy, focused on rejuvenation and toning through revitalizing treatments of the legs, reflexology and body wrap remineralisation;
Beauty, including fruit seed scrubs, skin type specific facials and manicure / pedicures;
Silhouette, with relaxing sessions of detoxifying body wraps and essential oil baths; and my personal favorite, a tailor made spa for men including scalp massages, black soap scrubs, cleansing facials or toners a true and luxurious treat!
There was nothing left off the list of resort essentials at this above average Club Med location.
They have everything a visitor needs at hand; ski rentals, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), heated Jacuzzi plus plenty more.
The food was equal to the great skiing areas and we had a terrific stay.
This is a great place to ski or unwind with a special friend or with the whole family. It was a gem of a stay.