Skiing and snowboarding in Val Thorens
Having embarked on just one adrenaline packed ski trip previously, I was both curious and anxious to see how I would fare the second time round when I hit the slopes at world famous French resort Val Thorens. Would I remember how to put my ski boots on, let alone my technique? Would I accidentally tumble and fall hundreds upon hundreds of feet down powdery, white slopes on my behind as many times as on my previous trip to La Plagne, France back in 2014?
As skiing is undeniably addictive, my last excursion (where I managed to make my way down semi advanced red slopes I’ll have you know) left me hungry for more and before I knew it I was in the world famous Val Thorens, Europe’s highest slope lined resort in the very heart of the never ending three valleys. With a 2,300m altitude and an extended ski season from the end of November to the first week of May, there I was guaranteed plenty of time to hit the slopes to experience some truly breath taking, panoramic views.
Fancying that extra ‘piste’ of luxury, I stayed in the suitably stylish all-inclusive four star Club Med Val Thorens Sensations resort which I booked through Irish owned operator Sunway Travel. After hearing so much about Club Med resorts and what they have to offer from friends, I was curious to see if my break away lived up to expectations and whether Club Med really did offer bang for my buck as it were.
On arrival to Club Med Sensations (which is situated in the picturesque resort Saint-Martin-de-Belleville) I was greeted and shown to my room, a cosy Club suite with all the necessary mod cons and a beautiful balcony overlooking the snow-capped Alps. Although fairly basic, my hideaway provided a haven of relaxation after many an enjoyably exhausting day on the slopes. Not only had I a cosy bed I could sink in to, but I also had a plasma TV that acted as a weather station each morning along with all the necessary condiments that every girl (and guy) could possibly want. The Club Med Val Thorens Sensations resort has 384 rooms from deluxe to junior to standard suites which truly are the crème de la crème if you fancy splashing the cash ala Victoria Beckham. In addition to this, it also boasts a spa, two restaurants (one of which is Michelin starred) and two bars which I was delighted to find were a hive of activity, atmosphere and style each night over my five day stay.
On my first night I enrol for ski classes (which are included) alongside holidaymakers of all nationalities and levels of expertise. Club Med’s hip, mod vibe meant this was a touch screen operation. Two instructors guided me through the process. Being slightly nervous I was delighted to find they were able to cater for someone who was “not a beginner, not an expert but likes the red slopes.” As it was my second time skiing I was pleased to find I was put into a class in the most advanced beginner category.
I met my ski instructor and group which can be between 1-15 people outside the building at 9.30am each day. Most classes start at 8.30, 9.30 and 10am which ensures you are back in time for a hearty lunch, a glass of wine and a good old fashioned post-ski gossip. One of the more practical aspects of the Val Thorens Ski Sensations is that Club Med not only offer skiing and snowboarding classes but they also provide an onsite ski hire service. Unlike my previous trip, this meant I could get suited and booted in the resort, rent equipment (although at an additional cost) and ski right out the door which takes away the strain of lugging skis and boards halfway across the resort. It is all very en vogue.
One of the best aspects apart from all the snow filled activities on offer at Club Med is the food. As Club Med holidays are all inclusive, I found myself attacking the buffet on numerous occasions (which was delectably dangerous). There was a vast variety of cuisine on offer from hot dishes to salads to breads to fine French cheeses. It was such a mouth-watering experience it reminded me of a trip I had on cruise ship recently. Of course the best part of being ‘buffet queen’ each day is that you feel you deserve every bite from clocking up your calorie allowance on the slopes. In addition to lunch and dinner, snacks and a wide range of drinks from non-alcoholic to alcoholic are offered freely for each time you return to the resort. Think unlimited prosecco, fine French wine and beer flowing from day to night. This was both amazing and arguably dangerous at the same time.
I spent four days on the piste with my instructor and group which saw me go from being bambi on ice to finally flying solo. Although admittedly I didn’t exactly over exert myself (as the resort was so much fun) I did manage to shoot down some blue slopes by myself which I was suitably impressed with. Considering I had arrived at the very beginning of Val Thorens ski season, I was very lucky to be allowed try my hand at snowboarding also. Although I was only managing some basic moves and constantly trying not to fall, I must admit snowboarding is one hundred percent for the cool kids. There’s just something about the gear that makes you feel tres magnifique.
If there’s one thing I learned about Val Thorens it’s that the resort caters for people of all ages and capabilities from the gentle slopes of St. Martin to more challenging routes like Cime de Caron. It also provides something for non-skiers with a shopping centre, boutiques, bars, Michelin restaurants, gourmet cheese shops and pâtisseries aplenty. Val Thorens is a village that has developed rapidly over the years and if you find yourself wanting a day off the slopes you certainly won’t be bored. The area also has plenty of facilities for kids although Club Med Sensations tends to focus on adult skiers which considering my basic ability worked out extremely well.
Would I return to Val Thorens Club Med Sensations? Certainly. Would I do anything different next time around? I suppose I’d sign myself up for more advanced classes, work on my technique more and try not to panic at the height of come of the slopes so much. I’d also try and eat less, though judging by the French fancies on offer at Club Med Sensations that’s a task and a half.
Rebecca travelled with Sunway to the 4 trident Club Med Val Thorens Sensations in France. Club Med offer 64 all-inclusive sun and ski resorts worldwide. Their ski resorts in France, Italy, Switzerland, China and Japan offer a full range of snow sports on the All-Inclusive Club Med formula which includes ski lift passes and skiing or snowboarding lessons for all ages and abilities. Some Club Med Resorts also offer cross-country skiing and all Club Med Ski Resorts have a Ski Service® where you can rent your equipment quickly and easily. Club Med Ski holidays start from €1569pp per adult on an all-inclusive basis in Val Thorens Sensations. For more information call 01-2366800 or visit http://www.sunway.ie.
As featured in The Sunday Business Post May 2016