Vive la FRANCE! Club Med in the mountains? says there’s a lot more to the all-inclusive brand than pools and cocktails...
My first experience on a black run is entirely unintentional. The idea is simple enough — in order to access the green run, we first have to cross the black, inching horizontally over the horrifyingly steep incline.
“And we’re not going to accidentally start skiing on the black?” I ask the instructor.
“No, we go across, like this,” he gestures, inching slowly forward on his skis.
I’m very suspicious altogether. And rightly so, it turns out. Seconds later, I’ve picked up a ferocious amount of speed, and am hurtling towards my presumable demise. I skid with the grace of a drunken giraffe and fall, legs akimbo, sliding arsefirst down the run as skiers gracefully swerve around my remains.
As I sit, scooping fistfuls of snow out of my knickers, I look back and see the rest of my group edging slowly across the run, like a gaggle of ducklings.
My inability to slow down becomes something of a theme throughout the day, much to my own frustration and the chagrin of my instructor. Whenever I try to slalom across the slope, I lose my way and end up plummeting down the mountain, leaving echoing screams in my wake.
7 October 2017
This is how I find myself sitting in a snow bank, staring down the mountain, the rest of my group nowhere to be seen. There’s only one way down, and I’m trying with all my might to summon the courage I need to get back on my feet. I try to embody the spirit of every powerful woman I know — Beyoncé, Oprah, Mulan.
But Mulan ultimately fails me (or I her) when, moments later, I spin around again, skiing backwards for three terrifying seconds, before falling and smacking the back of my head so hard, my vision blurs. It’s a handy reminder that you’d be catastrophically idiotic to ski without a helmet.
I call it quits soon after, nursing a bit of a bruised ego (and a very bruised bum). I’m not sure either can take more of a battering, so I make my way back to the resort.
I’m staying (and skiing) at Club Med Val d’Isère, an all-inclusive resort in the middle of one of the chicest skiing areas in Europe. You might associate Club Med with swimming pools and daiquiris, but here you trade your sun lounger for a pair of skis. The Club Med ethos remains — everything is included, from your lift pass to your evening beer — so you could easily make it the week without putting your hand in your pocket.
Despite the concept coming along leaps and bounds in recent years, I’m always a little apprehensive at the thought of all-inclusive buffets.
Thankfully, the food on offer is a smash. Think juicy, rare beef cut into thick slices upon your request, doused with a red wine reduction and served with a creamy gratin dauphinois. There’s a raclette station too, where you can swathe whatever you please with oozing, smoky, melted cheese. Each meal is accompanied by a never-ending flow of excellent house wine.
The all-inclusive element is made super easy — there’s no confusion about what you can get, or complicated beverage packages to decipher. Instead, you just wander up to the bar whenever you please.
Your lift pass and lessons are included, which is worth considering when you’re comparing prices with other operators. All those extras can really rack up, adding a good few hundred euro on to the price of your trip.
The only thing not included is your ski gear, though this can be rented on site.
And Val d’Isère? There are 300km of runs to play with: 26 black, 41 red, 67 blue and 20 green. I’m told that in this region, the greens are like blues elsewhere, the blues are like reds, and so forth. I choose to believe this because even the greens seem pant-wettingly scary from the top.
On my first day, I succumb to the