A Family Story of Club Med All Inclusive
I travelled to Club Med Val d’Isère in April 2023 with my family—two daughters aged 9 and 10 and my wife. It was our first winter experience with Club Med and after a fantastic week I wanted to share our experience from a family perspective. Unlike half board or bed and breakfast there are a multitude of variations of what is included with ‘All Inclusive’. Across summer and winter holidays ‘All Inclusive’ takes many shapes and forms, so with this in mind I wanted to highlight the things we experienced on our All Inclusive trip which made me realise the great value Club Med represents.
Lift passes are included
99% of people who go to the mountains in the winter need a ski pass, so you would normally have to factor this into your holiday cost. However with Club Med your lift pass is always included; it’s always the area lift pass too so you won’t need to upgrade. With some six-day lift passes in French resorts now a whisker under 400€ so this is a big factor in the value-for-money equation. So on arrival we received our four Espace Killy lift passes with no faffing or queuing.
Food is included, all the food you could want
There are two restaurants in Club Med Val d'Isère, an à la carte feature restaurant which is possible to book for a specified night, and then the main restaurant which offers a buffet service: this is where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The buffet style in the main restaurant is really handy for a family because the endless options mean no child will go without something they can eat! It also means hungry children (after a day of skiing) can get fed quickly rather than waiting for meals to be delivered to the table. The quality of the food was fantastic and unlimited.
There was a spectacle of amazing food for breakfast, as you could imagine. There's a station with a chef preparing omelettes of your choice in whatever fashion you want. Next, there’s a bread station the likes of which I've never seen with at least 15 types of bread and pastries! There was a great selection of cereal and fruit along with the obvious cooked options such as bacon and eggs. Another chef stands by to cook fresh fried eggs, or if you wanted something more traditional, cheeses, cured meats and hams were widely available. There was also a fresh fruit station with fresh juices and smoothies. Room service is available and it's also possible to have breakfast in your room, but unfortunately we didn't make the most of this treat!
Lunch consisted of a vast array of great food and something to suit everyone, either those looking for a quick pit stop or a full five-course feast. The location of the hotel, right on the slopes, makes it really easy to be able to ski back for lunch. Savoyard specialities such as raclette (half a wheel of cheese heated and poured onto potatoes), crozets (durum wheat cheesy pasta) were a highlight. There was a great choice of salads, pizzas, soups and of course, the restocked bread station. There was plenty of pasta for the kids too. Club Med Val d’Isère has a large south-facing terrace looking down the valley (towards Italy). This is the location for a wonderful lunch experience with a barbecue. This is possible when the sun is out which, unfortunately, was not the case except one day on our trip (we had loads of snow). It was a really nice touch with beef steaks, sausages, sweet corn and burgers—again all included during your stay. Even if that wasn't to your liking you could still use the normal restaurant for your lunch or have both!
Where to start? We headed for the fish bar with oysters, mussels and fresh fish like tuna, salmon and bream with a chef to cook it right in front of you. A pizza station with at least seven different types of pizza was always on offer and this seemed to be a favourite with the children (not just ours!). There was also a pasta bar with different pastas being made in front of you each evening. There was a meat station which had various things like pork, steaks, chicken and veal. An Asian-themed section served a different dish every evening—the kids tried dim sum and teriyaki noodles along with at least one dessert with every meal! At both Lunch and Dinner the ice cream station was always busy!
Around 4 p.m. in the lounge area, snacks and treats were set out, these ranged from meats and cheeses, to waffles and crêpes for the kids. One afternoon there was a special sweets stand which is best described as a buffet with popcorn, waffles on sticks and mountains of sweets. It was a great touch and unsurprisingly every child in Club Med loved it! Nothing extra to pay here for this great experience.
Ski lessons for adults and kids are included
Five days of lessons are included, both mornings and afternoons for all levels from beginners up to advanced including going off piste. This is obviously great value in itself but the Club Med childcare arrangement for getting the kids in their ski gear and to their lessons is invaluable.
On the day that you arrive you visit the ESF (Ecole du Ski Français/French ski school) desk which is located in the hotel and verify the level that you've chosen for you or your children. They'll then advise you on what happens the next day.
It was all nice and simple on the first day, the meeting point for the kids was in the main Lounge area. You check your children in and then the Club Med kids club staff gather each ski class depending on what level they're in. Once the kids are checked in, parents don't need to do anything else from that point onwards. They are taken up to the kids’ ski locker room where they have a special area only for kids, which has boot-warmers and an area for the helmets, gloves and spares. They’re taken up one class at a time to get ready and this arrangement is one of the best that I've seen.
The stressful first morning getting ready in a hot ski room with hundreds of other people didn’t happen and it meant the whole process was stress-free with absolutely no tears from the children or adults! Once the kids are ready they're taken down the hall to another waiting area where they sit on benches for their ESF instructor to come. All of this is done by the Club Med kids reps.
The kids return for lunch once they have skied with their instructor in the morning. The kids club reps then take the children for lunch in a special area of the buffet restaurant. There is the option to give children ‘independence’ where they have a special wristband so they are able to wander around the hotel during that lunch break with their friends. Afternoon skiing lessons finished around 4 p.m. for the children and the kids club reps will continue to look after them if you like, or you can pick them up from the same place that you dropped them off.
On the third day, in the evening, the ESF instructors come into the hotel and you're able to meet with them and talk about the performance of your child in the lessons and what the ski instructors have observed. This was a really nice touch and gave us a good insight into what they were doing in their lessons. At the end of the week there was a skills test for the children depending on which level they were in, and this culminated on the last day of skiing with a medal ceremony. The ski lessons last for five days and it's really important that you choose the right arrival day so the lessons start the day after you arrive.
Boot rooms are the best in the Alps
The quality of the ski boot room always seems to be a major factor in my overall holiday enjoyment and my experience at Club Med Val d’Isère was fantastic: the locker rooms are unbelievable, every room has its own specific locker with boot heaters and hangers for your coats and sections for your skis, helmet and gloves. In short, it's another small thing that has a big impact on your holiday.
Drinks are included
Drinks are available from the bar from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., and there are also coffee and water stations dotted around the building for your use, 24 hours a day. There's a fabulous range of drinks on offer, be it cocktails, draft beer, red or white wine and rosé. Soft drinks and kids’ cocktails as well as some evening specialities seem to flow constantly. You can drink throughout meals also, so basically from the moment you arrive you can order drinks from the bar until you leave!
Entertainment and activities, are included
The Club Med staff are drafted in every evening to put on a performance which the kids really loved, there were various shows with themes throughout the week. A full-on disco and DJ was no doubt a highlight for those who have the stamina to stay up after 10 p.m. On a daily basis there was a band who played between Après and dinner. There are a number of activities for children in the evening (outside of the kids’ club rooms), including bracelet making, t-shirt painting and even creating their own dance show. There is always something going on in the hotel from yoga classes and gym access to free fitness classes and aqua aerobics.
It felt like there were five staff for every guest: they were prominent and on hand. The ‘Chef De Village’ (General Manager) was also always around, conspicuously placed at breakfast, dinner or even to welcome you home from skiing. It felt like there was nothing that the staff couldn't do for you in a happy and friendly way. This was another thing that made our stay really enjoyable. One night we were invited for aperitifs and drinks with the ‘Chef De Village’ in the speciality restaurant, another nice touch we’ve never done before.
The lovely pool area in the hotel was large enough to cater for the number of people staying and never felt busy or overrun. The pool is 17 metres long and heated with fantastic views out over the mountains. The outdoor jacuzzis and hot tubs were a real feature too. Saunas are also located in the pool area and a separate spa area ‘Spa by Cinq Mondes’ offers massages for an extra fee.
Club Med Val d’Isère is located in the quieter Legettaz area, the crucial part of its positioning is the fact that it's ski-in/ski-out. It’s really easy to ski down to the bottom of the Solaise and Bellevarde lifts which are under a minute away. Immediately outside it also has its own small beginner area for little ones starting out. Skiing in the Espace Killy area and staying in Club Med we were able to arrange to have lunch in Club Med Tignes. This meant that after we dropped the children off in the morning we skied over the mountain and stopped there for lunch. It gave us a really good opportunity to see another Club Med in a different resort, which we would choose to go to in the future. The Club Med is located right next to the lifts in Tignes Val Claret and shares similar qualities to Club Med Val d'Isère with regards to its great location and ease of access to skiing.
With so much included we spent next to nothing on our trip, just some photos from the official photographer and some soft toys for the girls when we wandered into town. This was a refreshing change to the eye-watering end of week room bill we normally receive which is the culmination of wine at dinner, the odd beer in the bar and plenty of unsanctioned soft drinks the children seem to have had. If you were to tot up what you would spend on lunches up the mountain, drinks, snacks and treats for the children, this is where Club Med becomes such an appealing option for a family ski holiday.
We really felt we got great value on our trip, and would definitely stay with Club Med again as it’s worth it. Club Med do some fantastic offers when they go on sale and also some good Black Friday deals too—you won't find a Club Med holiday cheaper anywhere else so if you want to talk through some options contact us here.