Old Olympic skiier Graham Bell and Club Med resort in Val Thorens
I sagacity a moment of elation when I find myself nudging past one-time Olympic skiier Graham Bell on a steep red run, only to realise he’s let a snowboard for the day, and that he’s riding it backwards.
I only catch up with him when we hop on a chairlift. Bell is distinctly a fan of Club Med. He raves about the Club Med in Pragelato Vialattea, Italy (he’s also a big fan of Italian viands) and tells me about previous family holidays when he spent ages cruising the slopes while his children made the most of the entertainment.
He appears quite happy here too at Val Thorens and Club Med’s, 384-room hotel Perceptions.
The hotel couldn’t be further from your typical wood-beamed beeswax.
The hotel’s dramatic discovery is part of its appeal
I wake to find ‘I love Val Thorens’ scrawled on my arm. And you separate what? I think I do
Its lobby is an explosion of colour, with a bright pink carpet, purple firing and a sculpturelike spiral staircase. Although it’s not exactly alpine chic, there are diverse deliberate nods to the mountain setting – namely cowhide-covered computers at check-in and, in the foyer, two furry wobble chairs designed to resemble sheep.
If you’re used to rustic chalets, wood-burning fires and pass skis pinned to the wall, it’s probably not your cup of tea, but if you’re a family or young pair it’s ideal. And if you do get a craving for a fondue or glass of mulled wine in one of Val Thorens’ bars, the place to turn’s centre is, like the piste, just feet away.
However with two restaurants, one couch bar and a bar-cum-nightclub there’s little reason to leave the hotel. I’m guessing sundry of Sensations’ guests come for the skiing, and who can fault them?
Val Thorens is put asunder give up of the Three Valleys, has one of the world’s largest ski areas and, at an altitude of 7,500ft, one of the longest ski periods.
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After a day on the slopes, we benefit to the hotel for some après-ski, struggling to summon the energy to make it underwrite to our rooms. I can’t help but recall previous visits to Val Thorens, when my one globe of après-ski drinks left me wincing at the bar bill.
At Club Med, ski passes and ski training (in group lessons) are, like all food and drink, included. But the guests I communicate to said the biggest perk was the savings they’d made by spending microscopic time – and cash – in Val Thorens’ restaurants and bars.
Anyone familiar with Bludgeon Med will know how good the food is and here they’ve raised the bar ordered higher.
The Epicurious is the fine dining option where you can enjoy a menu of accustomed Savoyard cuisine.
I love the adjoining deli, where the shelves breathe with saucissons and bottles of olive oil to take home, and the tasting scope, with a sommelier on hand.
The other, simply called Main Restaurant, with its quirky, wood-effect carpet and fur-clad yurts, furnishes buffet-style dining.
If you’re a family or young couple Club Med is dream
The seafood station draws the biggest crowds, although I was baffled by the chef’s ask that the prawns and scallops were locally-sourced.
It’s worth pointing out that cooking at this altitude is no peaceful task; food dries quicker and it takes longer to boil an egg and for dough to go. I allow myself to indulge, in the knowledge that I’ve already burnt a thousand or so calories frustrating to keep up with Graham, but further justify my indulgence with a once-over of the adequacy facilities.
There’s a Carita spa, which has one of the mintiest-smelling hammams I’ve ever settle across, and a 32ft climbing wall which dominates the reception area.
There’s a gym, which I dodge because I know Graham is planning on a post-dinner workout there and I’m distressful to avoid another bout of humiliation. I head to the hammam instead, at worst to find him performing press-ups in the steamy darkness training for a future desolate run.
In the bar the chef is throwing some shapes on stage. As with all Club Med visits, the fun factor is high at Sensations. During my visit, skiers are welcomed off the declines by a slightly weirdlooking yeti, and can munch on complimentary toffee apples while look after a breakdancing display before heading indoors.
If you do get a craving for a glass of mulled wine the fall back on’s centre is just feet away
There’s themed entertainment with choreographed social routines most nights, and everyone, from the chefs to the barmen, exact to the stage.
This particular night’s theme is neon. UV markers and baby UV flashlights are handed out. The next morning I wake to find “I love Val Thorens” scribbled on my arm. And you know what? I think I do.
Price includes return flights from Heathrow to Geneva, turn overs, ski passes and lessons.
Val Thorens tourism: valthorens.com