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Club Med Val Thorens & Lyon France

Date: Jan 18-28, 2020
Trip Leader: Alex Karger
Trip Assistant:
Steven Krapes
(click pictures to see high resolution image)

Our Club had 37 people on the trip, 33 flying with us on Swiss Air from Newark to Geneva (connecting in Zurich) and 4 meeting us in Geneva Airport.  Swiss Air allowed 1 free ski bag per person, and most of the people took advantage of the offer.

The group met at Newark airport for the Saturday flight around 7pm.  Our plane left Newark airport on time. We had no issues with the connecting flight in Zurich. We arrived in Geneva at 2:15 PM (on time), meeting 4 people at airport. We then loaded the bus for our 3-hour drive via windy switchback roads to the mountain village of Val Thorens. When we arrived at Club Med, their "GO" team took our luggage and staged it on the appropriate floor for each of our rooms. Our skis and boot bags were placed near ski room individual doors. Within a few minutes we were all in our rooms and then we went to the bar lobby to enjoy a drink and sign up for lessons by group difficulty number.  There was a video/presentation that showed what type of skier skill level is appropriate for each level. 1=never-ever; 2A=parallel-fast; 2B=parallel-moderate; 3A= moderate-speed-plus-off-piste; 3B= moderate-speed; 4=aggressive-plus-off-piste.

The Club Med Hotel was a very good choice. The rooms were large for Europe. All food and drinks were included, and the quality and variety of the buffet was very good. About 10 people rented skis, mostly at Caron Rentals (about $22 per day). The hotel had an official ski room with individual lockers, so people didnít have to carry skis to the room.

Monday morning began the 5-days of instructor led lessons. Each skier level had a similar meeting time and destination, which changed each day, based on instructor decision. Val Thorens Club Med resort is a true ski in, ski out resort. Several of the skier level groups consisted of all or mostly Holmdel Ski Club members. It was important to align with a particular social group on the first day since this was your group for the entire week. Some instructors gave frequent lesson tips/assessments, while others mostly guided us around the mountains. Once again, it was important to initially align with your preference of an instructor or a guide. 

The skiing at Val Thorens/Mirabel/Courchevel had variety of groomed and ungroomed runs. Off piste cover was mostly packed with some untouched area of powder. Weather presented some challenges with low clouds, some wind, cold temperature and flat light for couple of hours in a first 2 days.

Free steam room was available and welcomed by some members. We had a great time together at meals since Club Med designated a specific dining area for our club. Many toasts and accompanied laughter filled each evening.

For dinner, we had choice of using Main dining area with an excellent variety of food choices and drinks or we could have made a reservation at a smaller restaurant. Most people stayed in the dining area. Breakfast (7:30 to 9:30) and lunches (12 to 2 PM) were served in the same dining area.

Sunday morning was the departure day for most Club Med guests, so the lobby was filled with luggage going to different places. It was again imperative that each of our memberís bags had our Club's colorful luggage tags so that we could differentiate our bags from others. By 9:45am we were on our way to Lyon. The first hour was driving above tree line across passes, switchbacks, and rural towns with narrow roadways. We stopped at a typical French rest area that served high quality meals, fruits, sandwiches, etc.

We arrived at the Hotel des Celestins in Lyon around noon. This was an average city hotel, right in the middle of downtown area. Rather small rooms and a good continental breakfast. After everyone checked in, which was a quick process, we all fanned out into the city and enjoyed a rain free day. Many people took hop-on-hop-off bus tour and walking city tours. We were within walking distance of the old town and the nicest shops. French architecture and French style surrounded us, like the buildings and bistros you would see in Paris. Lyon is widely considered the culinary capital of French food. Lyon has more restaurants per capita than any other city in France, and a lot of people took advantage of it, trying variety of dishes.














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