Suzanne Baum sloped off with her family on their first skiing holiday together. It was, she reports, a slippery but somewhat thrilling experience.
With two teenagers and a five year old boy, family holidays are not as easy as they once were. My older sons want to sleep all day and party at night and the younger one is bouncing off the walls at 6am….and unsurprisingly also wants to party all night.
So how to please all three-and keep us parents sane-often proves tricky! As much as a skiing holiday tempted me, I also had my reservations… After all, a skiing trip would involve us all getting up (much to my youngest son Jake’s delight) at the crack of dawn to attend 9am ski lessons; this would surely go against the grain of two stroppy teenagers on ‘holiday’!
Throwing caution to the wind (of which there was fortunately little of in the Alps!), I decided not to let this stand in our way; let their raging hormones scream around the mountains of Valmorel. I’d be high up on a chairlift unable to hear a sound reliving my dream of skiing-a sport I was so good at in my teens.
How wrong I was…on so many turns! For not only did their first experience at skiing give my older sons Zack and Leo such a buzz, but they eagerly set their alarms for an 8am wake up call to hit the slopes as quickly as they could. And my fantasy of whizzing down the slopes like I did as a youngster was all but a dream-by day two my boys were skiing right past me; leaving me the one having a blazing tantrum at the top of the slopes as I tried to recall how to snow plough my way down!
Our first skiing trip with Club Med was indeed a thrilling experience for so many reasons and the beautiful resort of Valmorel provided the perfect location for a family holiday.
Valmorel is one of the less well-known corners of the Alps that you reach after a two and a half hour transfer from Geneva airport. For anyone who has kids this may set alarm bells ringing (trust me, I was dreading it), but it really is not as bad as it seems! The journey is so picturesque and the snowy mountains so alluring that the transfer time is absolutely worth it. For once you reach the hotel, its views are so breath-taking it really is picture-card perfect.
Although we visited Valmorel in March there was still plenty of snow, with fresh snowfalls twice during our week-long stay. This in itself proved a novelty; especially for Jake who was able to have his own snow garden right outside his bedroom.
On the subject of our rooms, this (and the lack of English-speaking kids; more of that later!) was the only fault with our holiday. Don’t go, like I did, with huge expectations for five-star accommodation. The bedrooms are small; our interconnecting rooms did not fit a family of five in whatsoever so keep this in mind. (The hotel does offer larger rooms though at a higher premium).
That aside, we discovered that so little of our time was spent in the rooms it hardly mattered. For when not on the ski slopes, the kids were either in the teenage room, swimming pool, kids club, or in true Club Med style enjoying one of the entertainment shows from the amazing team of GO’s (the term given to the hotel staff whose job it is to keep guests happy during their stay!).
The reason why Valmorel is so perfect for beginner skiers is that it offers a number of long and winding blue and red runs; there are also sharp and steep black runs to challenge the more advanced skier. With lift passes and ski (or snowboard) tuition included in the hotel’s all-inclusive deal, and the ski room’s proximity to the pistes – its entrance swings directly onto the last curve of the main run home, making for ski-in-ski-out ease-of-access –it really is a first-class skiing experience.
With my husband and I, together with our older sons, in the same tuition group, we were so impressed by our superb ski instructor who had the patience of a saint! I’m not sure if he had ever dealt with a neurotic 42-year-old mother who panicked at everything from a fear of falling out of a chairlift to an Avalanche occurring (never mind worrying about my kids falling over!)-either way, his utter brilliance had us all skiing well by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, Jake spent his mornings in the mini club which, with its own nursery slope, was very sweet. However, the lack of English speaking kids proved somewhat frustrating for him so at times it was an effort to get him to go.
As an all-inclusive, the food cannot be faulted. Every meal offered a superb collection of dishes and with snacks throughout the day (and endless alcohol) there was never reason to be hungry (or sober!). Having come across numerous Israeli families during our stay, we were pleasantly surprised to learn of a room on Shabbat full of freshly baked challah and Kiddush wine; this is a weekly tradition according to the hotel that has welcomed many Jewish guests since it opened four years ago.
By the end of the week my skiing may have proven an uphill struggle but as a family holiday it ticked all the right boxes. No arguments, complaints of early mornings, boredom or late nights; a full day skiing left us all shattered. A week in our family with no one getting piste off is a rare occurrence and an experience I’d like to repeat as soon as possible!
For more details, visit www.clubmed.co.uk
Adult – from 1649 GBP Children – from 1509 GBP (Prices correct for winter season 2015/16)