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My Love Affair With Club Med Val d’Isere


There are ski resorts, and there are Club Med ski resorts. Check out my review of Club Med Val d’Isere below.

Sitting in the chair lift felt surreal. The scenery was like something from a movie set. I skied a few times, but I never experienced anything like the conditions when I holidayed in Club Med Val d’Isere. The area is so vast, there are so many different mountains and when you think you can’t possibly see anything more beautiful, another majestic peak appears.


So many #ski options in #valdisere ⛷ Loving the mountain! #ski #skiingholiday #skiingtime #sunwayclubmedski #skiing #chairlift

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Val d’Isere is located in one of the world’s best ski areas, Espace Killy. With an altitude of 3480 meters, over 300km of runs and 96 different lifts, the conditions are perfect. You are almost guaranteed snow from late November to April, and 50% of the slopes are suitable for beginners and intermediates. I was lucky to be brought on a four day ski trip to Club Med Val d’Isere, thanks to Sunway Holidays, who are the agents in Ireland for Club Med.


Twelve years had passed since I skied, so I was a little apprehensive. Many told me it was like riding a bike. In the gondola going to the top of the mountain, I prayed this was true! There were eight in my group and I hoped I wasn’t going to be the one holding them back…

I need not have worried, our Club Med ski instructor made me feel completely at ease and within minutes I was skiing like a native. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. What I loved about Val d’Isere was that there were so many green runs (easy runs for those who don’t know the lingo) at the top of the mountain. Regardless of your ability, beginner or advanced, you can experience the thrill of skiing from the top to the bottom. It is exhilarating.


For many years Everest Base Camp has been at the top of my adventure bucket list, I hoped I would get there one day. Riding a chair lift over 3000 meters, with Mont Blanc in the distance, I actually felt like I was there. I know it might sound like a cliché, but honestly there were times when I felt genuinely overwhelmed. 


#valdisere #skiingholiday #skiingtime #skiing #sunwayclubmedski #mountains #mountain #snow

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From a personal perspective I normally find it hard to ‘switch off’. I’m not one for yoga or meditation. In fact even when I am lying on a sun lounger, I’m constantly checking my phone.  I’m always thinking about what I have to do, and when I can do it. When I skied down the mountain in Val d’Isere, all I thought about was skiing, controlling my speed and the beautiful surroundings. My time on the mountain was my own and for that brief moment, nothing else mattered. I wondered was this what meditation or mindfulness was all about, something that never worked for me in the past.



By day three I was able to ski from Val d’Isere into the nearby resort of Tignes. I downloaded the ski app (ski tracks) which measures altitude, speed and distance. I felt a tremendous sense of pride and achievement knowing I skied 14 km from 3000 meters, and even reached a max speed of 45 km per hour – not bad for a relative beginner!



Ski Facilities at Club Med Val d’Isere

I stayed in Club Med Val d’Isere where unlike most ski holidays, ski lessons are included in the price of your holiday. Lessons are twice per day, two and a half hours per session. Club Med Val d’Isere is an all-inclusive resort, so not only are lessons and lift passes included, but meals and drinks are too. Lift passes and tuition are an expensive part of any skiing holiday, so to have these included is a massive bonus.


The hotel is a ski in – ski out resort (in fact almost all Club Med ski resorts have this facility) so you can ski directly from the hotel to the slopes, something I had never experienced before. I can’t stress enough how great this is.

There is no need to carry heavy boots and skis, to the slopes, and you can put on your ski gear and be on the mountain in minutes. The lockers are situated next to the ski slopes and they are heated – warm ski boots each morning are better than coffee, trust me!


Club Med organise a great send off too, with drinks and snacks outside. When you come back from your lessons, the après ski kicks off, with a DJ playing tunes and friendly staff waiting to greet you with more drinks and hot snacks.




Food at Club Med Val d’Isere

The all-inclusive arrangement with Club Med is excellent. They pride themselves on their extraordinary buffets, with various cooking stations and a variety of choices. This was my second time in a Club Med resort. Although I found the variety in the buffet better in the Algarve, the standard was still far superior to anything I have seen in other all-inclusive resorts.


Every day there are numerous choices of fish, meat and vegetarian options, as well as a separate room with fresh pasta sauces, pizzas and even burgers. For those who don’t like buffets, there are cooking stations, where chefs plate your dish in front of you. This avoids crowded plates, piled high with food – a pet hate of mine.

Wine is served by the bottle at your table and the staff are always on hand for top ups if needed. The staff overall are very attentive. The manager greets guests at all meal times, a rarity nowadays. Deserts are delicious too and so is the selection of home made ice creams. Thankfully most of the excess calories are burned off on the mountain…

I really liked the bar in Club Med Val d’Isere – it is modern with a great atmosphere. There is a wide choice of cocktails available, included in the price of your holiday. Drinks were served in large glasses too, tiny wine glasses are a common sight in all-inclusive resorts – another pet hate of mine!


There is entertainment every night, from musicals to magic shows, followed by a DJ until the small hours. Guests love to get involved in the entertainment at Club Med Val d’Isere, and the dance floor was packed every night with rows of people following the entertainers dance moves. This is typical of what you can expect at all Club Med resorts, a friendly fun atmosphere throughout.




About Club Med Resorts

I should point out that Club Med have a staggering 70 resorts worldwide. Although the name suggests the Mediterranean, they have resorts in the US, China, the Maldives, as well as cruises and adult only resorts. A massive bonus for families is that children under 4 stay free at all Club Med Ski resorts, and under 6 years stay free at Club Med Sun resorts.


Club Med have 23 ski resorts in France, Italy and Switzerland. Club Med Val d’Isere, although suitable for families with teenagers, doesn’t offer lessons to children under 12. For that reason it tends to attract more couples and groups rather than families. However if you are planning a skiing holiday with young kids, some of the other Club Med resorts are perfect for families and include lessons to children from age 4.


The combination of the excellent tuition, great food and the ski in ski out facility, makes them hard to beat. I have seen many parents try to carry their children’s skis and boots as well as their own. The difference between skiing directly from your hotel, versus getting on a ski bus, carrying skis, boots, hats and gloves, is priceless.


How cool are the #kids on the #slopes in #valdisere #sunwayclubmedski #ski #luxurytravel #snow #travellingwithkids #familytravel

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Après ski in Val d’Isere

If you fancy taking a day off skiing, you can use your lift pass to take the gondola to the top of the mountain, and enjoy a coffee on the slopes while taking in the views. The town of Val d’Isere is worth exploring too, there are plenty of good shops and lots of great après ski bars. However, the best après ski bar is located on the mountain.


Part of a chain of French après ski bars, La Folie Douce has to seen to be believed. We went one afternoon and discovered hundreds of people drinking beer and dancing on tables to the latest tunes. It felt like a nightclub at 2am but it was only 4pm – it was crazy but fabulous at the same time! Thankfully it is situated right beside the gondola station so if you have one too many, you don’t have to ski down the mountain – although I’m sure many have tried…

If you don’t want to venture too far, you can always chill out at Club Med Val d’Isere and enjoy the on site facilities. Club Med’s stone and wooden facades fit in perfectly with Val d’Isere’s traditional chalets, and there is a great outdoor terrace with views of the mountain. If you are feeling energetic there are daily fitness classes as well as a large indoor swimming pool, sauna and spa.

I have some some amazing holiday experiences over the years. Skiing down the mountain in Val d’Isere is up there with the best of them. All Club Med Ski holidays include flights, transfers, all meals, drinks, lessons and lift passes so if planning a ski trip make sure you take this into account when comparing prices. For information on prices and Club Med resorts visit


Like Club Med resorts? Read my post on Club Med da Balaia in the Algarve.


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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


DestinationsEuropeFeaturedSki Holidays

Top Ten Ski Resorts For Families


Thinking of going on a family ski holiday? Check out my top ten ski resorts for families from Crystal Ski and make sure you get it right!


It is so refreshing to see families getting together over dinner without iPads or ear phones in sight. To hear children chatting about what they accomplished that day and to see the pride in which they relay their stories. The fresh air, the exercise, the overall feeling that you are doing something good, makes skiing a great family holiday experience.

There are some things to watch out for though. You might not have happy kids at dinner time if your chalet is miles from the ski slopes, with no ski bus in sight! Likewise you don’t want to end up carrying two sets of skis and boots all the way home!

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

For this post, I got some advice from the ski specialists Crystal holidays who are the experts in family ski holidays. They also offer excellent childcare facilities in many of their hotels. Check out their family guide to the mountain which offers advice on childcare, ski school, what to wear, where to stay and lots more!


Niederau, Austria

Home to the excellent 1st Wildschönau Ski School and Crystal Holidays Pepi Penguin Nursery childcare, Niederau is one of Europe’s top family resorts. There are plenty of wide nursery slopes and easy to use lifts. For any advanced skiers, your lift pass covers a further 145km in Alpbach. There are toboggan runs and horse-drawn sleigh rides and the nearby Wave Water Adventure World has plenty of slides for all the family.

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Innsbruck.


Chamrousse, France

Chamrousse is an ideal choice for a first time ski holiday. With numerous self catering apartments built between the trees, not only is the setting perfect, but it offers great value too. There are plenty of slopes for beginners but advanced skiers can ski into Criox de Chamrousse, the highest point of the resort, for some black runs. There is a snow park, perfect for teenagers who have mastered the skills and a kids park for the younger ones. There are also lots of cross country skiing runs and best of all – your lift pass is free in this resort for 2016!

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Chambery.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

Tignes, France.

Tignes offers a huge variety of accommodation to suit all tastes. Choose the family hotel Diva which houses the Crystal childcare team or the many chalets situated in the heart of the resort. It also offers slopes for all levels, with lots of nursery slopes and even off-piste skiing for any dare devils! It is part of the Espace Killy ski area, which gives access to glaciers in Tignes and Val d’Isère, but offers much better value than staying in the upmarket Val d’Isére. The resort is purpose built so lacks the winter wonderland feel, but offers world class ski facilities and non ski activities, such swimming pools and ice skating rinks.

Transfer time 2 hours 30 minutes from Chambery.


Avoriaz, France

Avoriaz offers great facilities for a family ski holiday. Also purpose built so not quite the picture postcard, but good snow conditions are almost guaranteed. Kids will love the Aquariaz indoor water park. The natural snowpark with jumps in the trees, is great for any teenagers who are at an advanced level. It is car free so very easy to walk around and the streets are full of snow, so doorstep skiing is common with most accommodation. There are even horse-drawn sleighs if you want to get around the resort without walking!

Transfer time 2 hours from Geneva.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top Ski resorts for families

Alpe D’Huez, France

One of the sunniest and largest ski areas in France, Alpe d’Huez offers skiing to suit every level. It is home to the longest ski run in the world, the Sarenne, and has lots of beginners slopes very close to the resort centre. Choose to relax in the outdoor swimming pool, or try your luck at the bowling alley or ice skating rink.

Transfer time 2 hours and 15 minutes from Chambery.


Alpbach, Austria

When you think of Winter wonderlands, Alpbach springs to mind. It is one of Austria’s prettiest villages and with plenty of nursery slopes to keep the little ones happy. The ‘Ski Jewel’ from Alpbach to Niederau offers 145 km of piste for advanced skiers too. There is also an indoor swimming pool and outdoor ice rinks if you fancy a break from skiing.

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Innsbruck.


Claviere, Italy

This quiet Italian village is located right on the border with France. This family resort is renowned for quiet slopes its short lift queues. It is connected to the Milky Way’s 400km of runs so perfect for advanced skiers too. There is also an ice rink and plenty of outdoor activities such as sledging and bum boarding.

Transfer time 1 hour 45 minutes from Turin.


Saas Fee, Switzerland

A high resort, snow is almost guaranteed in Saas Fee. There are lots of long ski runs with a dedicated family area close to the village where slopes are very quiet. The village is car free with plenty of good aprés ski bars to choose from. Kids will love the ice skating rink, swimming pool, dog sledding  and the numerous taboggan runs. Every week there resort hold a flaming torch light walk and Swiss fondue night, a perfect way to round of a family day on the mountain.

Transfer time 3 hours from Geneva.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

Seefeld, Austria

Seefeld hosted the Winter Olympics twice and recently the Youth Olympics so the skiing facilities are hard to beat. There is a separate area for beginners and intermediates as well as a large network for cross country skiing. There is an ice skating rink, a casino and plenty of restaurants and bars in the pedestrianised centre of the village. It also offers excellent floodlit night skiing with heated seats in their weatherproof chairlifts!  It is also very close to Innsbruck if you fancy a day out sightseeing or even shopping.

Transfer time 45 minutes from Innsbruck.


Bardonecchia, Italy

Bardonecchia in Italy is located in a sunny valley, right on the French border. Kids will love the ice rink and sports centre and there are over 80 shops here if you fancy taking a day off skiing. Slopes are generally quiet with short lift queues. It is perfect for beginners and intermediates but your lift pass gives you access to Montgenévre in France if you fancy going a little further afield.

Transfer time 2 hours 15 minutes from Turin.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

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