Skiing holidays, along with long-haul flights, sunny beaches and city breaks, seem like a distant memory right now. So when the opportunity arose for an exclusive first look at the brand new Club Med La Rosière resort in the French Alps, I was counting down the days until I could jump on the plane, and thankfully, Covid didn't stop me.
The resort initially opened in December 2020, but due to travel restrictions, British media had never set foot through the door – until now. The hotel is located in the Espace San Bernardo, a vast ski area that straddles France's Savoie region and Italy's La Thuile resort, and boasts killer 180-degree views. Along with the genuinely panoramic views, the resort's slope-side convenience is undoubtedly the biggest draw for winter sports enthusiasts. Here's everything you need to know about staying at Club Med La Rosière…
Here's what staying at Club Med La Rosière is really like
What is the new Club Med La Rosière hotel like?
Built at an altitude of 1,950 metres, La Rosière's new Club Med is nothing short of spectacular to look at. With its clever floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, this feature certainly made the most of its sunny south-facing view, a rarity for accommodation in the French Alps.
The hotel boasts 395 rooms, two restaurants, a bar, kids' clubs, a wellness hub, a heated pool and a swanky Cinq Mondes spa, offering something for everyone.
Priding itself on its panoramic views, the hotel connects the main building with the rooms via a glass passageway. An Instagram lover's dream, walking down the see-through hallway didn't get old, and I was met with dozens of, 'Oh my god, where is this?,' messages on my phone every time I shared a photo.
Inside, the hotel is inspired by Savoyard architecture and traditions, seamlessly blending the traditional with modern touches. The Alpine décor extends to the rooms, complete with a cowbell feature, natural wood and cosy vibes, leading into a bathroom with double vanity sinks via a rustic saloon door.
The theme continues into the communal areas, where 3D fires blaze and statement lighting gives it a luxe feel.
The hotel boasts killer 180-degree views
What are the benefits of a Club Med holiday?
Club Med might seem like an alien concept to most Brits, but it's one you should definitely get on board with. Famed for its all-inclusive package, Club Med has been an institution in France since the hotel brand was established in 1950, and it's one they're very proud of.
Growing up in France, I have memories of quickly assimilating the Club Med lingo while meeting the ever-friendly 'Chef de Village' (the hotel manager – which translates to 'the village chief') and wandering around chatting to the 'G.M.' (great members aka guests), while the 'G.O.' (great organisers aka staff) tried to entice me (the lone unwilling and shy participant) into trying various activities and taking part in shows.
As an adult, the experience is a little different. The vibe is relaxed and fun, perfect for families or groups (kids under four stay free), and although the concept is French, Club Med draws an international crowd. And did I mention it's all-inclusive? This brings me onto the food.
What is the food like at Club Med La Rosière?
There are two restaurants: buffet-style dining at the main venue Le Mont Valsain, and the San Bernado gourmet lounge. Don't be fooled by the all-inclusive buffet, which usually translates to a selection of sad salads, overcooked meats and the odd 'local speciality' dish. Club Med La Rosière offers an impressively vast menu, mostly consisting of Franco Italian cuisine – and there was nothing sad about it.
Dining with a view in the Mont Valsain restaurant
The Mont Valsain was a familiar hub after a hard morning on the slopes; providing endless choices of unlimited food and drink for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every meal turned into a five-course experience.
The highlight for me was the Italian station serving up crispy pizzas and pasta dishes daily, not to mention the dessert counter featuring daily local specialities. The cream-filled choux pastry of the Paris-Brest was *chefs kiss* and deserves a shout out.
There are plenty of gooey Savoyard specialities on offer too, including raclette and tartiflette, but if you're looking for something a little fancier, it's worth booking a table at the San Bernado gourmet lounge.
This venue had more of a relaxed atmosphere, complete with dim lighting, jazz musicians and a la carte menu, which was supplemented by an authentic Savoyard menu, including a pretty tasty cheese fondue. Meals at the San Bernardo are included in the all-inclusive package, but need to be booked in advance.
If you're in need of a pre-dinner drink, the spacious lounge and bar at the hub of the hotel await, and yes, alcohol is included.
The all-inclusive hotel boasts 395 rooms
What is skiing like at Club Med La Rosière?
This is where the hotel really comes into its own. As a very rusty but once confident skier, I was excited to be given a first look at the slopes surrounding the resort. First impressions were strong, especially since ski-in/ski-out access is so rare in French resorts.
Club Med's new Covid safety measures mean that your ski gear is already waiting for you in your locker. The ski shop and adjoining boot room lead straight from the hotel onto the slopes – you simply put your skis on and you're off. Having experienced dozens of resorts where a gondola ride or a long, blister-incurring walk uphill is necessary, the benefits of this can't be ignored, especially if you're travelling with young kids.
The resort is perfect for beginners, with a designated area and children's ski park located next to the ski room, as well as gentle slopes surrounding the resort. And if skiing's not your cup of tea, there are plenty more winter sports on offer, from snowboarding to cross-country skiing and hiking. Due to its south-facing nature, La Rosière is famed for being exceptionally sunny, as well as having a higher snowfall compared to nearby resorts.
Another Club Med benefit is the ski pass, which is included in the all-inclusive package. A full price Espace San Bernado ski pass, which allows you access to 5.2 km of ski routes and all areas in La Rosière and neighbouring La Thuile, will set you back 239€, with discounts for children and seniors.
The view from the pool is incredible
What are the spa facilities like at Club Med La Rosière?
It wouldn't be a four-star resort without a pool and wellness centre to unwind in after a day on the slopes, and Club Med La Rosière didn't disappoint. I went for a solo post-ski swim in the heated indoor pool, gazing out across the snowy mountains as dusk fell.
If I'm honest, I didn't do much swimming and mostly watched the spectacular view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. There is also a kids' paddling pool as well as a hammam and jacuzzi, but these were sadly closed during my stay (another Covid casualty).
The Cinq Mondes Spa by Club Med is located right next to the pool, providing a welcome escape for a pre-dinner massage.
For those of you who can't bear to ditch your training regime, there's a gym and packed class schedule including HIIT on offer, not to mention the ByHeberson yoga studio.
A yoga lesson was not something I've had the chance to do during a skiing holiday before and provided a welcome change. I was taught Vibhava Yoga and breathing methods, emerging in a meditative state.
Club Med has a great Covid-19 cancellation policy
What is travel to France like amid the Covid-19 pandemic?
Club Med La Rosière is easily accessible from the international airports of Geneva and Lyon (a 2.5-hour drive away) and from the Bourg-Saint-Maurice TGV high-speed train station (35 minutes) if you'd rather catch the Eurostar into Paris first.
Yes, travelling might seem like a hassle right now. Totalling up the cost of PCR tests and scouring government websites for travel advice is enough to test anyone's nerves. The rules about Covid tests changed while we were out there, a foreshadowing of France's ban on all non-essential travel from the UK that came on December 15, which has now thankfully been reversed.
The 2022 ski season will definitely be pushing ahead, however. Club Med also has a cancellation policy which might help.
All departures up to December 2022 are covered by their complimentary Covid-19 insurance, which includes testing, GP appointments and housing if quarantine is required. The company also has an extremely reactive policy towards international travel changes and full refunds so you won't be out of pocket.
If my whirlwind weekend in La Rosière has taught me anything, it's to embrace every opportunity and book a skiing holiday – because who knows what the rest of 2022 will bring.
An all-inclusive hotel stay at Club Med La Rosière starts at £1,414 per person for a week (departure 17/04/2022). The package includes accommodation in brand new 4-Trident hotel, gourmet food and drinks, lift passes, lessons and mountain guides with ESF instructors, expert childcare, swimming pool and indoor activities.
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