What’s this? Club Med is launching a new resort? Yes, Club Med are opening a brand new 4 Trident resort in the popular French ski area in Val Thorens in the 3 Vallées. The resort will be called Val Thorens Sensations and is due to open on the 14th December 2014. They’ve used crowdsourcing to help decide on certain aspects of the new build, starting a Facebook community where followers helped to make key decisions, such as whether there should be an indoor climbing wall (they voted yes!). Sensations is set to operate from November to May, promising optimal snow cover during that time due to the resort’s high altitude.
Who is the new resort aimed at? The new resort will be aimed at groups of friends, singles, couples and families with teenage children. The resort is accessible to young children too (from 2 years up), however, there will no kids clubs or kids entertainment programmes running.
So what makes this newbie stand out from the other Club Med resorts then? The resort will stand out from the rest due to its contemporary design, which features huge bay windows that will give guests a fantastic view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. There are 3 sun-facing terraces and the majority of rooms promise to have breathtaking mountain views. Each of the rooms will be one of four different categories – there will be 361 Club Rooms, 12 Deluxe Rooms, 5 Junior Suites and 6 Suites.
We know that Club Med is all inclusive, so what dining options will this new resort provide me with? There will be 2 onsite restaurants which will stay open from 7.30am till midnight, so whether you’re an early riser or a night owl then there will be something to suit you. One of the restaurants will provide a buffet set up and the other will be a concept restaurant, catering for the more gourmet tastes and offering a menu of local cuisine. For those dying to get out on the slopes, a self-service take-away corner will provide guests with a range of hot drinks and snacks, which can be taken out onto the slopes with them.
What about the après ski? If you’re after a drink, then Sensations will have the choice of 2 bars and a packed schedule of evening entertainment. One bar will offer a more cosy and intimate setting, whereas the other will provide a more open and lively atmosphere. From 3.30pm each day, the Wine Cellar and Grocery Store will play host to a range of wine tasting sessions, after which guests can purchase goodies to take home with them.
Can I hire equipment direct from the resort? Val Thorens Sensations have struck up a partnership with Rossignol and will also be supplying equipment by Lacroix and Dupraz, meaning that guests will be able to rent top quality boots, boards, skis and more. Once you’ve got your equipment sorted, you’ll also have the option to take ski and snowboard lessons, which are included in the price and aimed at all levels from beginner through to advanced. The resort is also in a ski-in ski-out position, making it super easy to get out on the slopes once you’ve got your equipment.
When I’m not on the slopes, what other activities can I do? Sensations will put a special focus on health, fitness and wellbeing, offering a range of additional packages which include fitness training, nutritional advice and spa treatments. If you want a break from the slopes, or you just fancy working on your fitness a bit more, then a range of fitness classes are included in the price of your stay. Zumba, Body-Balance and Pilates are just some of the classes on offer. Alternatively, if you’re a little shy about training in a room full of others, you can choose to join in with a toning workout video, which will be available from the privacy of your room. For all those gym and weight fanatics out there, there is a fully equipped cardio and weight training zone. If you’re on the lookout for a bit more adrenaline then there is also a large 10 metre high climbing wall with 4 routes, mountain biking, sledging, snow mobiling and boardercross. If you fancy a swim, then you can head to a nearby pool, where you’ll receive free entry as a Val Thorens Sensations guest.
I’m too tired for more exercise, what can I do to relax here? After a hard day on the slopes, why not relax with a Turkish Bath? All customers will have free access to the onsite Turkish Bath and will have the option to pay extra for spa treatments to wind down after an exhausting day.
Spa treatments aren’t really my thing, what else can I do? If you’re still looking for more to do, then the resort will also house a tenpin bowling alley and a shopping boutique. Also on offer is a selection of ‘a la carte’ excursions, which will allow guests to pick and choose outings as they please. These will include a Baroque art guided tour, a traditional themed evening in a yurt and a snowscooter outing.
What else can you tell me about Sensations? This new resort promises to be very digitally focused and wi-fi will even be available out on the slopes. High speed internet, ranging from free packages to high speed paid packages will be available in the hotel. The resort even has its own app so that users can look at the daily schedule of events, find ski buddies and share content such as images and music. In most public areas, digital screens will display information relating to daily activities and weather conditions. To top it all off, Sensations promises effective queue management to heighten guests overall experience, making it as stress free, fun and relaxed as possible.
January can be a financially tight month but offers some of the best skiing of the season. With this in mind, and in our ongoing efforts to help more people hit the slopes, we've refreshed our Guide to Cheap Skiing. And if you're looking for a cheap last minute holiday be sure to check out our Top Tips for Last Minute Skiing.
Cheap ski deals are a bit of a misdemeanour as skiing is never cheap. By the time you have added your travel, accommodation, lift pass, ski hire/carriage, lessons (if needed) and food & drinks in resort, you are often lucky to get away with spending less than £1000. That's not to say that with good planning, realistic expectations and a bit of luck you can of course get a great deal, saving a small fortune.
People often flock toward the likes of Bulgaria and Andorra for a cheap ski break, but the realism is they are catching up with the rest of Europe year-on-year for price, yet the ski areas are not always as snow-sure or as challenging as the more renowned resorts. Andorra's lift pass prices are catching those of France, at £180, and the airfares to Bulgaria mean it often costs more than a cheeky week to a more renowned resort with a shorter flight.
Having taken into consideration the resort costs, including lift pass & ski hire, the holiday costs and the ski areas, I have put together an indication of where the best value cheap ski deals currently lie. There are a couple of self catered apartments, some value chalets and an all inclusive package, to give you a good indication of what to expect and where to look. Bargain hunting for cheap ski holidays starts as soon as the winter is over, so you now don't need to hold on in hope of getting a last minute deal.
To keep things fair and comparable I have looked at mid January, traditionally the cheapest time of the season where the resorts are fully open and for arguments sake have kept to London(ish) airports.
Self catered holidays can be a false economy due to the cost of food in resort, though sneaking some dry foods and packet mixes into your suitcase can help with this — student-style skiing! But if you are there for the skiing and/or the nightlife, accommodation is often at the bottom of the list, therefore squeezing into a 20m2 apartment with three friends won't bother you in the slightest.
Having kept to the dates mentioned before, you might be surprised to hear that the resorts of Avoriaz, La Plagne and Alpe d'Huez topped the list for accommodation costs and reasonable lift pass prices. Okay so €5 or so a pint may be the main downfall here, but there are some great value places to eat in both these ski areas. Pizza Roll in Alpe d'Huez is well used buy the underpaid resort staff and at €3 a pizza who can blame them. In Avoriaz ski down the Les Marmottes restaurant in the Lindarets valley for some great value mountain food — which will be much appreciated if a diet of pasta and sauce is on the menu in the evenings!
Alpe d'Huez offers 260km of great skiing, a glacier, Europe's longest black run — the 16km La Sarenne — the infamous Le Tunnel's moguls and the great value Quartier des Bergers Apartments apartments. The lift pass is £165, but includes use of the both the heated outdoor pool (budgie smugglers required), the indoor pool & sports centre and the resort bus, the ski & boot hire is from £75, ski carriage is £17.50. The cheapest ski deal here is again on the 18th January on a flight from Gatwick airport at £276 per person, based on four people sharing — the cheapest deal, but slightly higher resort costs.
The Cassiopee apartments in Belle Plagne often offer great value, whether getting an early summer deal or a last minute cheap trip you can find prices here for sub £270 per person (based on 4 sharing). The lift pass is around £235 for the Paradiski Unlimited pass and ski hire is around £85 for skis & boots and ski carriage is £35. The best price at the moment from Gatwick airport on the 7th January for as little as £285 per person, based on four sharing a four person studio apartment — offering cosy but low cost accommodation.
Chalet holidays can actually offer better value than staying in an apartment, due to the fact most of your catering is covered (the staff have one night off during your stay). You are usually given a hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and a three course evening meal with wine. If you have good chalet hosts you can usually have a large breakfast with cereals, a cooked option and some fruit, then make yourself a cheese, ham or jam sandwich for lunch (though do this quietly as you are not supposed to) and ski back for tea, coffee and cake at 4pm and still have time for an aprés ski beer.
Based on out-and-out price, the Chalet Alice in Les Deux Alpes offers fantastic value. Again using a Gatwick flight the price for two people in a twin room is only £354 per person on the 25th January. So the difference in cost to have two full meals and afternoon tea, with only one evening not catered, is just £103 pp. Les Deux Alpes is a student favourite, offering good nightlife, glacier skiing and reasonable resort prices — the lift pass is only £190 and ski & hire is again around £85 and ski carriage is £35.
For a great overall deal, great value on the mountain and the chance to ski two countries in one holiday, then the Chalet Quatre Saisons in La Rosiere offers fantastic value. The ski area sits toward the end of the Tarantaise Valley, opposite Les Arcs and bordering Italy. Skiing down to La Thuile you can enjoy fantastic mountain food at great, Italian prices, giving great savings throughout the week. This time based on a flight into Gatwick and with two people sharing a twin room the price stands at £295 per person — at £180 for your lift pass with ski hire from as little as £55 (or ski carriage for £39) you are looking at £530 for a week with everything bar lunch and one evening meal paid for!
Over in Les Deux Alpes, there are some ridiculously good value all inclusive deals with the Club Med Les Deux Alpes, though if you fancy a different resort the Club Med Arcs Extreme often has comparable prices. Club Med offer something different to the typical British ski holiday, first of all they are French run, owned and styled hotels, though they have English speaking staff. If you are here for the skiing and not the resort nightlife the hotels have everything you need. The price include accommodation, transport, all inclusive meals and drinks (apart from champagne etc), lift pass, ski school and on charter flights ski carriage. You can ski back to the hotel for lunch, a beer or a snack, the bar is open until early until the early hours and there is entertainment for all ages. If you head out on the 26nd January you are only paying £1084 per person, based on two sharing — this means if you have your own skis you don't have to spend another penny (apart from travel insurance) and if you don't ski hire starts at £104 pp.
Whilst this deals is great last minute value, Club Med also offer terrific Early bird savings of up to £200 pp so booking early is highly recommended.
In a quick round-up, here are the overall price comparisons for the best value self catered, chalet and all inclusive for seven nights:
So depending on how much you expect to spend on meals both in your accommodation and on the mountain, whether you are heading out into resort to party, fancy a glass of wine over dinner, or want the freedom to enjoy a drink whenever you fancy, depends on what works out best for you. Self catered are cosy, but low cost, chalets are comfortable, yet good value and Club Med include everything you need for a great price.
* The prices in this article were correct at time of publish, though are subject to change at anytime.
Iglu's Head of Ski Product, James Box recently caught up with James Cove of Planet Ski to discuss the the latest season trends and recommendations for the coming season.
Filmed from the new chair lift in St Anton, the Tanzbödenbahn, see why James loves this popular resort and which resorts we can expect UK skiers to be enjoying this season. Offering an inside look at the ski industry and our expert team at Iglu, the video takes interviews to new heights - literally!
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