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Club Med Tignes: I skied a glacier with Winter Olympic stars — and survived

Blue sky day: Skiiers take to a chairlift at Tignes  (Michael Howie)
Blue sky day: Skiiers take to a chairlift at Tignes (Michael Howie)

“We’re doing the workshop tomorrow, the snow’s looking excellent,” says Adam, Winter Olympic bronze medal winning snowboarder Billy Morgan’s ever cheerful agent.

“Mike, you’re in right?” Somewhat hesitantly, I agree — before discretely checking the itinerary on my phone.

“Advanced skiers and boarders only,” it says. Uhm, that’s definitely not me. There procedes some discussion over dinner about where the highly advanced group (and knee-jangling intermediate) will go. And we’re to be led by not one but two British snow sport luminaries: Morgan, who made the podium in the Big Air in 2018, and the two-times Winter Olympian and broadcaster Aimee Fuller.

The feeling I might be somewhat out of my depth only deepens when it’s decided we’ll ski off the top of Grande Motte, the highest point in the resort of Tignes at 3,653 metres.

Sat next to Aimee on one of the chairlifts on the way to the glacier’s summit, I’m in both rarefied air and company.

The ultimate selfie: Aimee Fuller and the gang after reaching the top of Grande Motte (Aimee Fuller)
The ultimate selfie: Aimee Fuller and the gang after reaching the top of Grande Motte (Aimee Fuller)

“Tignes will always have a special place in my heart,” the 31-year-old says. She points to the valley below. “It was down there that I became the first person to complete the double backflip in competition.”

Quite an achievement. Me? I’ll just be happy to get off the mountain in one piece.

The panorama of snowy peaks that opens up once we disembark the gondola at the peak is truly staggering, and I fight the temptation to linger for a few more snaps before catching the next ride back down.

Thankfully, our group also includes a very friendly ski instructor from the new Club Med resort where we are staying, who gives me more or less one-to-one tuition on the way down as the rest of skiers leave me in a trail of carved snow.

Hiking to the top of the glacier (Natalie Romero)
Hiking to the top of the glacier (Natalie Romero)

I get down without any serious mishap — despite nearly wiping out the instructor as we tried to navigate some exposed rocks while briefly venturing off piste.

Tignes is one of those legendary Alpine winter sports resorts which, due to its height, is almost guaranteed to have decent snow throughout the season, making it a favoured training ground for downhill champions. The ski area includes some 300km of mostly wide open slopes suitable for skiers of all abilities.

The Club Med ski holiday majors heavily on comfort and convenience. Its newly opened resort is perfectly situated in Val Claret, the liveliest part of Tignes, within a couple of hundred yards of the Tichot chairlift which gives access to several of the best runs.

Like most Club Meds in the Alps, it’s a “ski-in-ski-out” hotel, so you can get kitted out in the locker room and walk straight out onto the snow ready for a morning or afternoon’s fun. No need for any bus transfers, or — most of the time — queues.

The resort, located at the foot of the slopes, has direct access to a wide variety of disciplines, including Alpine skiing, snowboarding and freestyle.

“Think about going to the French Alps and one of the first places that springs to mind is Tignes,” says Morgan. “The terrain here is absolutely incredible. You can get the funicular right the way up and get to the top of the glacier, like we did. It’s fantastic.

“The location of the Club Med resort in the basin just unlocks the ease of access to this massive ski area.”

Activities for all levels of winter sports enthusiasts are included in the all-inclusive Club Med package. The best skiers can benefit from the individual advice of mountain professionals, while adult beginners can enjoy their first runs in a dedicated area. Ski lessons with ESF instructors are available from the age of four.

The resort, located at the foot of the slopes, has direct access to a wide variety of winter sports (Club Med)
The resort, located at the foot of the slopes, has direct access to a wide variety of winter sports (Club Med)

The most contemporary of Club Med’s more than 20 Alpine ski resorts boasts 430 rooms, two restaurants, a huge swimming pool and a wellness area.

From the moment you enter, the colourful artwork and the presence of natural wood and stone transport guests into what is a cosy haven within, and of, the mountains. The beating heart of the resort is the Equinoxe bar, where families can get together in a welcoming atmosphere.

Huge picture windows offer breathtaking views of the slopes and peaks — a panorama that can also be admired from a massive sunny terrace. As the day wears on, the bar area is transformed. A cosy place to sit back with a good book and a coffee during the day becomes the vibrant, sometimes heaving heart of Club Med entertainment after dark - when guests are treated to top cabaret acts, DJs or bands with the (inclusive) drinks freely flowing long into the night.

The restaurants provide superb views of the mountains (Club Med)
The restaurants provide superb views of the mountains (Club Med)

As with Club Med’s other French ski resorts, the buffet-style restaurant offers an almost endless array of choice with quality consistently high throughout the week.

Such are the number of options, it’s hard not to spend much of the time wandering around trying to work out whether a visit to the raclette counter after a plate of beef bourguignon might actually be too much after all, or whether to skip the ice cream for once in favour of a sumptious cheese platter.

Details

A seven night all-inclusive stay at Club Med Tignes starts from £1,955 per person (based on double occupancy in a Superior Room) until the end of April 2023. Price includes all food and beverages, lift pass, ESF group lessons, transfers and return flights from London Heathrow.

The same seven night all-inclusive stay starts at £1,866 per person for the upcoming 2023/24 winter season. Visit clubmed.co.uk for more details.