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Valmorel: Club Med's Family-Friendly Haven

clock 2nd May 2012 | comment2 Comments

Club Med Valmorel, the latest ski offering from Club Med, was opened in December 2011 and has proved to be a welcome addition to the all-inclusive specialists programme. The hotel has gone down well with families, especially with beginner to intermediate skiers.

With this is mind one of Iglu's longest serving members took her family to check out the resort over Easter, coming back with a glowing report on the new resort. Here's what she had to say about Club Med Valmorel

Club Med Valmorel:

We all know that Club Med is good for families, but Valmorel is superb. As a brand new resort they have designed it with families and children of all ages in mind. Babies, toddlers, older children and teenagers have all been thoughtfully considered. There are a large number of interconnecting rooms, the location is a perfect ski in, ski out (even in mid-April), and the childcare staff were brilliant.

The snowgarden, where the younger children and beginners have their lessons is at the heart of the resort, right outside the Petit Club & Mini Club, and has two magic carpets. It can be viewed from one side of the bar terrace and is overlooked by some of the rooms making it easy for you to see what the little ones are up to, without them seeing you! Our boys really enjoyed their lessons, there was a good mix of nationalities in their groups and the ESF instructors spoke good English.  

There is the usual fantastic selection of family-friendly entertainment; parties, themed days, shows, activities, a soft-play room for toddlers and hang-out area for teenagers. The pool is a good size and is well used, late in the afternoon it fills up with families but is generally quiet during the day. The in-house entertainment system in the rooms had a great selection of recent animated films — perfect for a bit of downtime before dinner.

A nice touch was that they did some GoPro filming of the some of the children in their lessons on the mountain. The film was then played on the screens in the bar, which is great to see as you often have no idea how they are getting on or what they have been up to. Also, on request they copied it onto a memory stick (available in the shop) for you to keep.

For non-skiers there is a good gym and a fitness programme throughout the day, the fitness programme has some early and late classes if you are really keen and want to combine it with skiing as well! There were quite a few non-skiers using the gym, pool and Spa. The pool area also has a steam room and outdoor hot tub over looking the slopes.

Club Med's restaurants can really differ from resort to resort, and Club Med Valmorel certainly doesn't let itself down. There was a great selection of food throughout the week, highlights being the raclette lunches, oysters and steak tartare, there are plenty of tables of all sizes and the choice of dining areas offers a nice bit of variety.

The Valmorel Ski Area:

The ski area may not be the largest, but is more than enough for a week on the slopes. There were lots of families out skiing together, for which the slopes were ideal and there was a notable lack of people hooning down the slopes at speed. 

Valmorel offers predominantly blues and a few red runs so it is perfect for children progressing their skiing, as well as adults who enjoy intermediate skiing. A real bonus was that the slopes were virtually empty and we didn't encounter any lift queues all week - even during the school holidays!

Club Med Valmorel comes highly recommended.



I love April Skiing

clock 16th April 2012 | comment1 Comments

April may be the end of the season to most, but for Iglu it's a chance for most of the team to enjoy some hard earned slope time, even if it was the third or fourth trip of the season for some of them! AJ, our fearless Head of Sales, takes you through what the guys got up to last week in the snow.

I love April Skiing!

Spring snow madness hit the mountains yet again this season. Reports of the death of the season of 2011/12 after the warmth of March were greatly exaggerated. As usual there is more snow falling in April than March and we love it. This would be the fifth year straight that my ski week in April has been better than my week in March.


Chamonix on arrival.

Iglu had big end of season parties in three resorts for Easter last week.

My team were in Chamonix, the legendary home of Alpinism. There’s no better way to start a holiday then to have snow hitting your ChamExpress transfer vehicle on the way from the airport. We knew that meant powder from the very first day of skiing and despite the mind numbing tiredness that comes with a 4am start, we were grinning.

Monday was sunny, powdery and perfect as we hit the top of Grand Montets, in Argentière, for thigh-burning long powder runs. Tuesday was good but it was getting leg wearyingly slushy down lower. Good thing then that it puked down on Tuesday night, with around 25cm of fresh falling. It also got a little colder and the snow held for the next two days when we explored the Brévent/Flégère areas.


Top of the Grand Montets.

There was one final treat left though — Thursday night brought another big fluffy dump and Friday was the best day of the week. The sun peaked out and there was 25cm of powder all the way to the valley floor so we got to hit the trees of the Grand Montets. We did some GoPro filming and I hadn’t realised just how big my smile is when I’m bouncing in powder. My scurrilous ski buddies called it my pow-pout but I’ll take that kind of ribbing if I’m doing deep and steep powder tree runs, on Friday the 13th April 2012!

Iglu had another crew in St Anton for the week. Here’s a quote from JT on 12th April: Having an amazing time here, it's dumping down with snow at the moment, so tomorrow is gonna be insanely epic. Can we move Iglu to St Anton please? Ha ha.


Chamonix after some fresh snow.

And the response from Christian and the crazy crew in Les Deux Alpes was pretty similar: Same in Deux Alpes... had a solid thirty or more up high, fifty in the wind blown. Great end season conditions... love from Les Airelles!

The snow is still falling and we have reports coming in from Chamonix today that the higher areas are still pow-ticularly good.

See you on the slopes in April next year. AJ.



Club Med's New Milky Way

clock 16th April 2012 | comment1 Comments

Club Med, the popular all-inclusive ski specialists are returning to the Milky Way for 2012/13. Club Med Pragelato will be their first hotel in the Milky Way for two years after they relinquished their Sestriere property two years ago.

Pragelato may not seem as obvious a resort to enjoy the delightful 400km of skiing the Milky Way, or Via Lattea in Italian, offers, but when you see the resort you'll quickly see why Club Med have taken residence there.

Club Med Pragelato Via Lattea

The resort of Pragelato was built for the 2006 Winter Olympic games in Turin, with the job of hosting the ski jump and the cross country skiing. After the Olympics left the village, the Milky Way was left with a charming, purpose build resort surrounded by trees and in a naturally preserved site — note to the French, it is possibly to built charming resorts, they don't have to look like Val Thorens!

The Club Med hotel is more akin to their summer programme then their winter offerings, with the resort being built in the style of a chalet-filled village, as opposed to one or two large hotels. The complex was previously managed by another company, but Club Med have taken over and are currently redecorating and upgrading the resort to bring it up to their 4* standards.

This resort looks like it could be the ideal hotel for a romantic getaway, a family ski trip, or hitting up the Milky Way in style with some friends, for a chilled, yet awesome holiday. Club Med Pragelato will boast three restaurants, including La Trattoria — serving up local Italian cuisine — La Taverna— with its Savoyard fare and charm — and the hotel's main restaurant — boasting the usual array of fab food available in Club Med's renowned buffet.

For lunches there are also three mountain restaurants to visit, meaning you can take advantage of the huge ski area, yet still enjoy Club Med's hospitality. Chalet Mollino over in Sauze d'Oulx is exclusively for Club Med guests and can seat up to 300 during peak season, which is amazing considering the resort only has 234 rooms! If you are skiing a little further afield, or prefer more intimate lunches there is a restaurant seating around 30-50 people in Sansicario and another similar sized restaurant across the border into the French resort of Montgenèvre.

The hotel also boasts a decent modern spa, which is one of the very few additional costs, along with a couple of bars — including a chilled out lounge bar if you don't fancy the French entertainment.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way, or Via Lattea, is one of the most underrated ski areas in the Alps. The huge area boasts a whopping 400km of skiing across two countries, with the majority of easily accessed slopes being in Italy, with the French resorts of Claviere and Montgenèvre a few lifts and a morning of skiing away.

Cruisy blues and confidence building reds are the order of the day, with the most difficult skiing being at the top of Sestriere and over in Montgenèvre. There is tree-lined skiing everywhere, which both helps keep the snow in great condition and offers protection on white-out days, making for great all round skiing. There are a few snowparks and a border cross, if you are that way inclined too.

If you fancy skiing Claviere and Montgenèvre from the Club Med Pragelato, then it's a full day out on the mountain, hence the restaurant. It will take a good hour and a half to two hours each way for a good level skier, so make sure you leave early to make the most of it and give yourself enough time to get back! There is also night skiing in Sestriere to enjoy, with Club Med offering buses from the hotel to the slopes on the relevant evenings.

Milky Way Piste Map
Click to see full screen map.

Sestriere's longest piste: 9km
Sauze d'Oulx's longest piste: 5km
Montgenèvre's longest piste: 7km
Claviere's longest piste: 6km

All-in-all the Milky Way is a fantastic intermediate resort, a great place to build confidence, enjoy a few cruisy runs on the mountain and to enjoy some Italian sunshine and great mountain food. My idea of heaven! The hotel is the best value 4* resort in the Club Med brochure and with its brand new facilities and tree-lined mountain charm it will be popular with couples, families and relaxed skiers alike, looking for affordable luxury and not a typical French resort.



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