Christmas in Switzerland with Club Med (or somewhere else)
Sometime last September we made the decision to travel to Switzerland for our Christmas week. Its snowy peaks, wonderful gastronomy (which includes an excesive amount of cheese and chocolate *sigh*), long beautiful slopes pickled with vin chaud tasting opportunities and kilos of chocolate… a dream of a ski trip.
So about three months in advance we booked one week at the new resort of Valmorel in the 5 tridents area which is supposed to be one of the most luxurious Club Med has to offer. Two days before travelling date, with our plane tickets bought and gloves located, we got a call from Club Med that there was not enough snow in Valmorel!!! So, after the preceptive "heart attack moment", Club Med gave us the choice of a different resort in range of Geneva Airport and we settled for Villars-Sur-Ollon. It was a lower category resort but had both a ski course and Petit Club Med Ski for the 3 year old which was definitely something to consider. After the initial shock this turned into a luxury vacation for the following reasons:
1.-The building is an absolute dream from the outside and evoques the essence of swiss skiing. It makes you feel like you are part of skiing history. So charming…
I will say that the inside it is a bit run-down, it smells like 1900s and it definitely was not furnished to the level of luxury we where expecting when we booked back in September. But the outside was a delight and the personnel made up for the lack of facilities by a long way.
2.-Petit Club Med program and Initiation Ski Course for 3 year olds. skiing trip are wonderful; beautiful mountains with snowy peaks, warm vin chaud and the feeling of deserving the extra portion of Raclette and chocolate… It is absolute extasy.
But now travel with two children; the 12 year old who buffs and puffs because I am apparently not fast enough and the 3 year old who is testing the «white cold slidy stuff» for the first time. To add to the mix my husband combines two back hernias with his total of five years of ski experience and I love skiing but after living in Switzerland for many years and having had two children my idea of a day on the slopes includes a reasonable dose of vin chaud and warm chocolate spread out during the day.
The children programs with Club Med are among the best we have experienced. Our three year old took classes and was entertained from 09:00 until 17:00 while we skied and our 12 year old had the ski companions she «deserved». Finally.
3.- The food. Actually I am not sure this was a possitive or a negative. Food, wonderful food, warm and rich and all around all the time.
The buffets were fresh and you always had a wide choice of options. Breakfast was in our opinion a bit weaker than the rest but even Christmas Eve buffet was a wonderful experience which we enjoyed greatly.
Club Med is all inclusive which is something of which I am always a bit weary. But all-inclusive in Villars-Sur-Ollon means all-inclusive. They even keep a chalet where you can have Raclette everyday and enjoy wonderful views of the valley. Fantastic.
4.-The surroundings.They cannot be beat. Villars is a small swiss town situated at 1300m on a sunny south-facing terrace in the heart of the Vaud Alps. From the terraces you can enjoy amazing views of Mont Blanc and, on a good day, even as far as Lake Geneva.
The skiing area incorporates the areas of Villars/Bretaye and Gryon and is linked with Le Meilleret and Les Diablerets. In total, 44 lifts and 125 km of ski slopes some of them serviced by a snow train to reach the slopes. It is hard to explain how much fun it is for the kids to go into the train to reach the slopes.
A definitely plus was the possibility to change to a different resort due to lack of snow with so short notice. I will say that, obviously, this was possible because there were rooms available but still. If we would have booked anything different we would either have had to cancel our Christmas week on the snow or would not even have realized until we got there.
UPDATE: So Club Med Villars-Sur-Ollon has closed but I do have to say that I still feel it is a beautiful option for skiing with children. When looking for options for x-mas dinner (thinking erroneously that Club Med would not be festive enough *OMG*) I looked at Chalet Royal Hotel & Spa which, honestly, might grant a new trip to Villars-Sur-Ollon :-)