The secrets behind Club Med skiing success
In the past 10 years, one holiday brand has been investing in skiing and broadening its appeal beyond its traditional French client base. The secret to Club Med’s growth in popularity, especially with British skiers, is simple – huge investments in new luxury hotels across the Alps, and constantly delivering value for money.
Since this well known French hotel group was acquired by a group of Chinese billionaires, the company have gone from strength to strength. Access to billions of Euros of investment capital has enabled the business to expand quickly with the opening of a new ski resort in each of the past 6 years.
The recent openings include new 4* hotels with 5* spaces in Valmorel, Val Thorens, Samoens, Les Arcs and opening for the 2021 ski season is a new slopeside hotel in La Rosiere. In 2022 a new Club Med resort will open on the East Coast of Canada in the Quebec area, the first North American resort for Club Med.
Planning has also been approved for a replacement new hotel in Tignes, currently, code-named “Ski Line”. This remarkable new hotel will be highest in Europe and will include an indoor ski slope, perfect for guests visiting in the summer months.
The group are not only building new hotels but also carrying out a multimillion Euro upgrades were completed last winter at the resorts in Alpe d’Huez to add more luxury rooms, and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool and Val d’Isere to upgrade rooms to a 5* standard and complete fit-out to the public areas within the hotel.
5* space in a 4* hotel
Several of Club Med’s ski resorts, now have 5* areas, while the hotel is rated 4*, a limited number of rooms are graded 5*, guests see a number of added benefits besides larger and nicer rooms, these included, private resort transfers, access to exclusive 5* lounges and spas, concierge services and room service. Priority bookings in the spa and speciality restaurants.
Another new concept from Club Med are their private chalets. These 2, 3- or 4-bedroom apartments have a private butler and access to 5* spaces. (not available in all resorts) Guests have full access to the other areas in the hotel but have their own private space, very popular with family groups.
Club Med pioneered the concept of the all-inclusive holidays which was quickly copied by hotels and tour operators. The reality of most all-inclusive holidays is a typical “tour operators” idea of all-inclusive, a Greek hotel forced by the tour operator to include limited free local drinks and a beer, canteen styled dinning and if you are lucky ice cream for the kids, which was proudly announced to be all-inclusive.
Club Med pushed the all-inclusive to the limited to include everything you need on a skiing holiday except travel insurance and Ski equipment rental, if its required, many skiers have their own equipment.
Everything that’s included in the Club Med all-inclusive price.
- Flights from most regional airports including resort transfers (ATOL bonded)
- Full area ski pass
- Full days ski lessons (5 days)
- Qualified ski guides for off-piste skiers- safety equipment provided
- Kids clubs and childcare
- All acholic drinks and cocktails- (Champagne only included in 5* hotels spaces)
- A massive buffet Breakfast
- 4-course buffet lunch with unlimited wine
- 4 or 5-course evening meal either buffet styles or in the table service speciality restaurant
- Unlimited wine and cheese with evening meal
- Après ski high tea and soup
- Snack and hot drinks throughout the day
- Pre-dinner canapes
- Evening entertainment
- Room with interconnecting rooms
- Free ski carriage on all Club Med’s charter flight
These little extras you’d expect to pay for in the ski resort, such as your lift pass, ski lessons or guide, all add up, especially on a family skiing holiday. A full area ski pass can cost upwards of €300 for a 6-day adult pass. Ski School, another £200. Mountain lunches, wine, snacks and après ski drinks, can be expensive in ski resorts, especially if you ski in a group and it’s your round!
Food is a special treat at Club Med
Whether you are a foodie or have children who are fussy eater, the dining experience at Club Med will not disappoint. The new Chinese owners of Club Med while providing lots of capital, haven’t influenced the company’s French roots. Good food is very much at the heart of the Club Med offering. For example, the executive chef at Club Med Sensations resort in Val Thorens is local, Edouard Loubet, the holder of two Michelin stars.
One of the most vital meals on a skiing holiday, has to be breakfast, it sets you up for a day of activity. At Club Med, the choice is endless, from the classic English cooked breakfast, continental breakfasts with breads and jams, fruit, yoghurts, cheeses, cereals, cooked meats, pancakes, fresh juices and tea & coffee.
Lunches are probably the most fun meals on a skiing holiday. Most of Club Meds resorts are ski in ski out, so returning for lunch is simple. The resort at St Moritz is the only one that isn’t, so Club Med have their own private restaurant on the mountain exclusively for Club Med guests, naturally, its included in the cost of your holiday. There is a similar restaurant at Club Med Pragelato, in Italy, although this is ski in ski out, it’s in the corner of the ski area, so for guest’s convenience, there is an option to dine on the mountain, or return to the hotel.
In several of the most popular ski areas, in France, Like the Espace Killy, Three Valleys and the Paradiski domains Club Med have several resorts and its possible to have lunch at any of the other hotels by simply making a reservation with the hotel reception. Its included in the cost of the holiday!
Where ever you choose to lunch, your in for a treat. If it’s sunny, the tables on the terrace’s will be ready for your return. The choices will include, fish dishes, various meat dishes, curry, rice, pizza, pasta, wide choice of salads, Asian inspired dishes, sushi, even fresh oysters and foie Gra.
Most guests dress up for dinner, normally congregating in the bar area. Club Med encourage the party atmosphere with changing dress codes each evening. Canapes are served in the bar area before guests make there way to the restaurants. In the evening you can choose either the buffet option or dine in the speciality restaurant for local mountain dishes such as raclette or fondue. The speciality restaurant should be booked in advance via the reception. The cost is included in the price of the holiday. The buffet option changes daily, one of the popular nights is the seafood, expect oysters, Lobsters giant prawns, razor clams and huge choice of shellfish and white fish dishes. Steaks, pasta, Pizza and a huge variety of salads and desserts are always available. The cheese table is something to behold, if like me you have a thing for cheese.
The other guests at Club Med
Club Med is an international brand, with sales offices worldwide, consequently, the guests are truly multinational. Not surprisingly France is the biggest market, closely followed by Brazil! The British are the third biggest market for Club Med.
Adult only groups, which often have many different ability levels enjoy the ski included lessons and guiding and Im dare say saves guests a lot of credit card bills when it comes to buying a round of après ski drinks. Additional discounts are available for groups of 8 or more and in most cases are offered private transfers between the airport and hotel.
Families are particularly well catered for. Most of the rooms are the newer Club Med resorts are interconnecting, very popular with families but it’s the kids clubs and child care and included full days ski lessons, that’s the biggest draw for families. All Club Med’s hotels have areas for youngest’s and teens hang out, with supervised activities and games available.
For Couples, Club Med is a great choice too, excellent large rooms, many with views across the slopes. In house spa’s and treatment rooms allows couples looking for a more intermate ski holiday to enjoy time together.