The Alps will never be the same again

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Although we could have done without the two-year-old travel tease, it definitely made the French alpine air sweeter on our first post-pandemic getaway in the mountains. There was no way we were letting another ski season slip through our fingers, and with European borders and international air travel becoming lighter by the day, the iconic all-inclusive resort specialists Club Med were quick to sanction the mission.

Host to over 25 ski resorts around the world and around 45 other warmer destinations around the world, there’s no doubt that Club Med’s seven decades of prowess and tradition are well known. The main asset is undoubtedly the all-inclusive dining offer – luxurious and plentiful – but it may take the delicate nature of the logistics of any ski trip to really see the value of a unique Club Med vacation package. .

Club Med Valmorel seen from the Apartments-Chalets

Access to the resort, variable weather conditions, cumbersome ski equipment – a trip in the snow has more obstacles than an Olympic athlete could overcome, which is why Chalet-Apartment Exclusive Collection of Club Med Valmorel piqued my interest when it arrived in my inbox.



Essentially private enclaves attached to a few Club Med resorts around the world, the Exclusive Collection is the irrefutable gun in Club Med’s high-level hospitality arsenal. Five-star service, private spaces for merriment and relaxation, and most importantly, a dedicated concierge to ease all those ski anxieties. If Club Med wasn’t the only way to get a ski vacation before, the Exclusive Collection might be the slam dunk we’ve been looking for.

So how carefree and luxurious was it? So much so that I can no longer consider any other way of doing the Alps now.

Before leaving

Let me tick the boxes before I get into the good stuff, as I thought it was necessary to point out how easy it is to fly in Europe. At the time of travel (March 2022) we went through check-in and transit on Emirates via Dubai and arrived in Switzerland without a single hitch. Armed only with our international vaccination certificates (no pre-departure or arrival tests required), we quickly realized that post-pandemic fun was in full swing across Switzerland and crossing the border into France was completely uninterrupted, just like the good old days.

Even before you have dusted off your suitcase, you can get to know the resort of your choice and the surrounding village using the Club Med app. Book a spa session, check the schedule for the week or familiarize yourself with the trail map to anticipate your first day on the hill. It’s surprisingly detailed and I felt like I knew the three quickest ways to get to the bar long before arrival.

The real pre-departure boost for me was when the Exclusive Collection concierge made contact to arrange airport transfers and ensure our ski gear was waiting for us in private lockers via the easy check-in service. from Club Med. We were able to pull through all the way from the plane to the runways.

The back of the Valmorel ski area, facing Saint-François-Longchamp

Club Med Valmorel

I have experienced my fair share of the Alps, and I must say that the small town of Valmorel is one of the most attractive in France; both aesthetically charming and technically exciting in terms of the terrain on offer. You will find it nestled at the foot of a huge alpine bowl just over two hours from Geneva and home to 50 ski lifts that access 237 kilometers of slopes. While the trails themselves are more suited to ski cruising with wide runs and not too difficult, the hills and treeless bowls mean that no freeride line will ever be the same after another dump of the good stuff. . Plenty for beginner pizza lovers and mountain enthusiasts.

The main town sits at an altitude of 1,200 meters with Club Med Valmorel perched above at 1,460 meters providing ski in ski out most of the season. Club Med proper has three sit-down restaurants, two bars, a spa, in-house ski school, indoor and outdoor pool, sauna, gym and a Jacuzzi. On the lowest level are the general ski lockers, while chalet guests are blessed with their own private locker space away from the hustle and bustle with a dedicated Exclusive Collection concierge team. Every morning they are happy to accommodate any last minute requests or even just make you a pre-grated coffee.



The main station’s hard product is modern and trendy, if a little kitschy in some ways. Let’s just say that’s exactly what you would expect from a French alpine resort. All areas are easy to access with a subtle strap for your wrist that doubles as a key card.

The Exclusive Collection Apartments-Chalets

Club Med Valmorel’s Exclusive Collection Chalets-Apartments are once again perched above the resort with perhaps the best views of the entire town. Available in two, three or four bedroom configurations, it’s everything you’d expect from a Savoire chalet – multi-story living areas, double balconies, a fireplace, sunken tubs, ski lockers and a butler kitchen. Again, the decor is what you’d expect from any classic French vibe, but the amenities well and truly make up for any lack of style.

The chalets are buried in the snowy slopes of the Massif du Cheval Noir and are accessible by a short walk (weather permitting) or a complementary car is available to transport guests door to door. Almost every time we needed a ride there was a friendly face patiently waiting to take us where we wanted to go.

All of the chalets are somehow centered around the Exclusive Collection private lounge, which luckily for us was right across from our digs. It is essentially a common area chalet which houses the specialist concierge team as well as a private bar and kitchen to escape the hustle and bustle of happy hour at the main resort. More often than not, the conclusion of our daily routine was to relax and watch the fire crackle with champagne in hand, usually struggling tremendously to find the motivation to leave.

Chalet Club Med Valmorel
Club Med Exclusive Collection Chalets

The service

In a traditional resort with hundreds of rooms and even more guests, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that an offer like the Exclusive Collection really takes attention to another level. And while the hard product is well and truly commendable, the service is where the presentation of the extra dollar really shines through.

First, Exclusive Collection’s dedicated concierge is on hand 24 hours a day — and even before your stay if you need packing advice or have any special requests. It would be remiss of me not to praise Ludivine here who looked after all of us throughout the week – whether it was booking spa treatments for the girls or a ski tour in the backcountry for us guys. More importantly, Ludi and his team have simply taken the headache out of post-pandemic travel. Earlier airport transfers and pre-departure testing, for example, were an afterthought for us, and it’s all thanks to them.

The Exclusive Collection Concierge was also in direct communication with Marina – my second special mention of our stay and the most thoughtful host in our chalet. With bubbly energy and a beaming smile, Marina was the first awake each day, cooking the most decadent breakfasts I’ve ever seen, warming the cottage each afternoon with a lit fire and, of course, keeping the fridge stocked with bottles of 1664. Club Med’s usual carefree attitude is one thing, but there really is nothing to worry about when you stay at the Exclusive Collection chalet apartments.

Hospitality

As a quintessentially French brand, if there was one destination in the world where Club Med should excel in its food and drink, it’s France. To be honest, there are almost too much choice available. After having an overview of the culinary options on arrival, I was concerned that the reception team spread a bit too thinly for reasons of quantity rather than focusing on quality.



That might sometimes be true for the odd buffet option, but there were definitely some notable mentions you should prioritize – La Laiterie Gourmet Lounge, for one. It’s an a la carte dining space a few floors above the sometimes chaotic buffet area.

You can both show up for lunch (the burger with local meats and cheeses is a must) or request a priority dinner reservation from the Exclusive Collection Concierge in the evening where you can enjoy mountain-style tapas or a fixed menu. It’s relaxed, relatively calm and the table service is there. Don’t forget to browse and taste the fantastic regional drops from the adjacent wine cellar.

Dinner at the Gourmet La Laiterie Lounge

Downstairs, the sun-heated outdoor terraces open from mid-March (which was just right for us), and let’s be honest, there are few places in the world I’d rather be than on the slopes with a rosé by hand . As for the main dining areas and their buffet dining offerings – the choice was overwhelming at times and people circulate a bit much at peak times – but I enjoyed the evening meals, whether caviar and oysters or fresh sashimi and lobster tails.

From the moment you open your eyes each day, there’s gourmet food at every turn. We often found ourselves full of appetizers before we had even sat down for dinner. One thing is certain, the French do not allow anyone to follow any diet at any time during their stay.

Chalet Club Med Valmorel
Afternoon tea at the chalet

The bar has been raised, and good luck drinking it dry

Within hours of arriving at my first Club Med, the magnetism of the brand was already sucking me in, as it had for all of the loyal devotees around the world who return time and time again year after year.

And I was spoiled, no doubt, with only the best of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection to soak it all up for my first experience. But I soon realized that at the heart of the cottage twist of my stay is what these loyalists expect from all The expression Club Med throughout the world, exclusive or not. Warm hospitality, enthusiastic help that’s never far away and an all-inclusive rate that cuts down on the bullshit and means you worry less about arranging your lift pass and more about the cocktail you’re going to try next.

As with any resort chain, Club Med’s hard product can be a moving target around the world, but the consistency of the personalized experience is what keeps people coming back. So much so that the Alps for me will never be the same without a Chalet Club Med Exclusive Collection.

Chalet Club Med Valmorel

Boss Hunting stayed as a guest of Club Med Valmorel.



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