Buon giorno from Pragelato & Bonjour from Val Thorens
I have arrived at Club Med Pragelato Vialattea after a 3 hour scenic drive from Milan airport. It was a sunny day and so we enjoyed our first meal sitting
outside the Italian “La Trattoria” restaurant dining on a wide array of authentic Italian deli products including antipasti, fresh olives, cheeses, meats and bread before the next course of delicious pizzas and pastas accompanied by a glass or two of Italian Rosé. This was living “la dolce vita”, I was in heaven and I hadn’t even skied yet.
The weather had been sunny for the past few days so when we arrived there wasn’t much snow in the village as it is based at the bottom of the mountain. I was a little disappointed but at the same time it did give me an impression of why people still come here during the summer season to explore the region with 3 protected national parks and many hosted activities. However, when I woke up the next morning and opened the window what a surprise welcomed me…..the whole place was covered in snow it had been snowing all night and was still snowing. Everything was covered in white fresh snow. There is something special about seeing fresh snow and I couldn’t wait to run downstairs and get outside and feel the snow on my face it’s so magical. Overnight the resort had been transformed into a truly magical winter wonderland.
Club Med Pragelato Vialattea is located in Italy’s Piedmont region in the foothills of the Italian Alps at an altitude of 1,600 metres in a preserved natural site with panoramic views of incomparable beauty. The ski resort boasts twenty charming clusters of chalets and a warm family-focused environment. In the heart of the second largest ski area in Europe – La Vialattea – this prestigious ski resort hosted the ski jumping and cross-country skiing events for the Turin Olympics in 2006. You can even now ski down the Olympic runs at Sestrières or cross country, like an Olympic champion.
Vialetta is Europe’s second largest ski domain with an altitude between 2,800m and 1,350m and provides over 450km of slopes including 30 green, 54 blue, 118 red and 42 black runs and 25 miles of cross country ski trails. The ski runs through forests of fir trees and makes a spectacular backdrop especially when they are full of snow.
My daily ski routine started with having breakfast in the Main restaurant which offered so much variety but the omelettes “made to order” seemed to be the biggest hit. After being fitted for skis and boots, I then tackled group lessons. I’m an intermediate skier and stayed in the same group the entire time yet I was always progressing and learning new tricks. Arriving at the top of the gondola each time I was welcomed by Club Med GOs offering a shot of Genepi to take the chill off and warm your insides. This service was also offered at Club Med Val Thorens I soon would happily discover.
We skied for about 2 1/2 hours in the morning with our Italian instructor and then came back to Club Med for lunch on most days but on one day our instructor had booked the restaurant ‘Capanna Mollino’ on the mountain where Club Med guests eat for free. There are 2 high altitude restaurants you can dine at on the mountain. We then skied for another 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon before heading back to the resort where we would enjoy après in the main bar with a selection of food and live music where we could also mingle with other guests and people in our ski group.
We would then head to our rooms relax for a while before meeting in the bar for pre dinner drinks before dinner.
The food was in abundance with a great deal of variety. We mostly dined in the main restaurants at both resorts which offer international and themed cuisine for all meals. There is also a speciality restaurant at both resorts, at Pragelato it is “La Tana” which provides you with the genuine Italian dining experience. You’ll find mountain speciality dishes such as fondue and pierrade. As well as serving Italian wines, the restaurant sometimes organises wine-tasting sessions. In Val Thorens it is the “Epicurious Restaurant” This new concept restaurant offers a variety of great eating experiences in a ‘Gourmet Lounge’ spirit reflecting authenticity and modernity. Their Michelin-starred chef creates extra special dishes for the evening, highlighting the best features of regional tradition. Both restaurants require prior booking.
After dinner we would make our way to the main bar to watch the entertainment and after that a DJ would continue the evening with great music for everyone to dance to. If you still had energy, you could enjoy a quiet night cap in one of the adults-only bars. At Pragelato it is called “Le Dolce Vita” and is a little bit of a hidden secret, an exclusive lounge bar on the 2nd floor of the resort. This is a cosy and intimate space with a friendly atmosphere and upscale decor and an amazing cocktail list. At Val Thorens they have their sleek and intimate lounge bar inside their speciality restaurant Epicuriuos.
This would become my daily routine at both Club Med Ski Villages.
If you wanted to you could do a “wake up gym” class before hitting the slopes and perhaps do a pilates class after skiing. There are other classes throughout the day if you weren’t skiing all day.
Sports include: alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, cardio training room, aqua-gym, pilates, hiking and Nordic walking, sledding etc. There is a spa, indoor pool, Turkish bath and excursions at an extra cost such as sled dogging, night time skiing, snowshoeing, ice karting and fat bike riding.
For visitors staying in the Club Med village, all facilities are within a few minutes walk of each other. A cable car links the Club Med village to the Via Lattea ski slopes near Sestriere which is the nearby village and there is also a shuttle bus to take you to Sestriere.
After spending time in Pragelato we said our arrivedercis and made our way to Club Med Val Thorens. It is situated on the mountain at an altitude of 2,300metres and the day we arrived we could see very clearly the white peaks of the Alps. Everywhere I looked there was snow. We had clear blue skies the day I arrived and every day that week, we were very lucky. In fact the last day we skied it was 17 degrees.
Val Thorens is not only the highest resort in the giant Trois Vallées ski area, which also includes Courchevel and Méribel, but the highest in Europe. It has an altitude between 3,200m and 1,300m offers 180 ski lifts, 2,000 snow canons, a snow park, over 600km of ski runs, 35 black, 110 red, 104 blue, 68 green and 80 miles of cross country ski trails. The setting was very different to Pragelato. There were no trees but endless mountains covered in snow. Val Thorens combines exceptional skiing with the pleasures of après-ski. It had a party feel to the valley with some great bars and restaurants on the slopes playing loud dance music such as Bar 360 and the famous La Folie Douce. When we returned to Club Med their après ski was fantastic and their DJ was playing great tunes from the balcony whilst the GOs would serve a mixture of alcohol and non-alchoholic drinks as well as food. I particularly enjoyed the cheese fondue. There was such a great atmosphere with everyone getting involved just before heading inside.
Val Thorens Sensations accommodation was very different to Pragelato – it is a very modern and contemporary designed hotel. In fact, when you walked into the lobby there is an indoor rock climbing 32 foot wall. Every room has a view of the mountain and most rooms have their own private balcony where you can sit outside and enjoy the spectacular views.
Sports include: climbing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, Club Med Fitness, weights and cardio room, Turkish bath and excursions at an extra cost such as speed riding, tobogganing, mountain biking on snow, etc.
Apart from the accommodation being different, so are the ski terrains. However, one thing remains the same – the inclusions and benefits of staying at a Club Med resort. Whichever Club Med property you choose, you will be guaranteed a stress free holiday with Club Med being an all-inclusive product certainly takes the hassle out of any ski holiday. All day dining, lift passes, group lessons (from age of 4 at Pragelato and from age of 12 at Val Thorens), wide range of sports and activities with expert tuition, and daily and evening entertainment. There is something for everyone and plenty of things to do if you want to take a break from skiing.
Well done Club med you have got it sooo right.
Grazie & Merci
by Linda Cohen, Executive Assistant to Yvonne Verstandig
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