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Club Med on a downhill slope?

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By Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Members: North American Travel Journalists Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors

Ahh, the joys of Club Med. Sand and sea. Beautiful beaches. Sexy girls for the guys. Sexy men for the girls. Snow capped peaks.

Snow capped peaks?

Hey, this ain’t your mom and dad’s Club Med. Welcome to the 21st century.

Known over the years for its inclusive resorts, Club Med has operated ski resorts since it opened its first one in Leysin, Switzerland in 1956. That has grown by leaps and bounds to some 23 resorts in a most diverse set of options ranging from Europe to Japan and China. Yes, China.

With China opening up to the world and showcasing its exotic offerings from the Soldiers of Xi’An guarding the tomb of the country’s first emperor, Quin Shi Huang to the Great Wall, the vast country is now courting international tourism and skiers.

Club Med stepped in and in 2010 opened a resort in the Northern China city of Yabuli, bringing its elegance to the growing industry.

Those who have skied in the Eastern United States dream of skiing in such prime areas as Park City and Deer Valley, Steamboat Springs and Vail. Those who have had the pleasure of skiing those areas dream of stepping off a lift in the Alps.

The beautiful mountain range cuts through much of Europe and boasts some of the best skiing in the world. Again, Club Med has taken advantage of those possibilities and operates 21 resorts in France, Switzerland and Italy featuring such storied slopes as Chamonix, Grenoble/Mont Blanc and Val d’Isere…and that’s just to name a few.

Adding to the choices will be the brand new Club Med at Val Thorens in the French section of the Alps. The new resort, laying claim to be the highest ski resort in Europe, will feature innovative architecture and design concepts to provide an upscale, yet cozy, atmosphere.

Val Thorens was named last year by the World Ski Awards as the World’s Best Ski Resort, topping such perennial favorites as Park City. Club Med is bringing in Chef Edouard Loubet, a Michelin two-star chef, to create distinctive menus.

There will be direct access to slopes and provides an exciting challenge to those skiers who like to push the envelope. More conservative skiers will find many slopes to relex on the way downhill. Guest can also take advantage of non-ski activities such as paragliding and dog sledding.

Not to be left behind, the Italian Alps host Pragelato Vialettea, called “…a genuine dolce vita…” for the ski crowd. Guests there can ski from their accommodation’s doorway directly onto the slopes of Europe’s second largest ski domain. Altitudes range from an eye-popping 4,429 feet to 9,186 feet.

Pragelato offers 256 ski slopes and 25 miles of cross country skiing over some 280 miles of terrain. That’s enough territory so there is little worry about crowded slopes and the opportunity to enjoy the ski experience.

Chamonix, one of the most storied ski areas in the world has Club Med’s resort situated in an area surrounded by majestic snow covered Alpine peaks. The area, renowned for its panoramic views boasts 80 slopes of varying degrees.

Club Med resorts are, for the most part, inclusive affording the guest to know just what the trip will cost. There are add-ons in some instances and guests should make sure they check before partaking in an activity so that there are no surprises. The concierge at each resort will be happy to give you a list of any activity that might not be included.

Aside from that most items will be inclusive. The ski resorts will provide lift tickets, winter sports lessons, transfers from airport to resort when air transportation is booked through Club Med, child care programs and amenities, gourmet meals and premium beverages, live entertainment and much more.

For more information, contact www.clubmed.us.

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