Samantha Wills is the driving force behind her namesake Australian jewellery brand, Samantha Wills. Here, she shares her snow holiday experience from the luxurious Club Med Valmorel Chalets in the French Alps.
Destination: French Alps
Les Chalets Club Med de Valmorel
I am thrilled to be partnering with Club Med again, showcasing all of my favorite things in their Exclusive Collection of Villas & Chalets, in some of the most beautiful locations in the world.
Last year, I showed you all my favorite things from paradise at the The Finolhu Villas in the Maldives and this year I am beyond excited to take you to a true winter wonderland at The Valmorel Chalets, in the stunning French Alps.
I grew up in a small beach town in Australia, and now living in NYC, I get to experience snow (still a novelty to me!) every winter… But nothing prepares you for the breathtaking beauty of the Alps. It. Is. Truly. Breathtaking.
At Club Med Valmorel, there are accommodation options spanning all budgets. The Chalets are the ultimate luxury option & sit at the top of the property…. Annnnnnnd when you check into your Chalet, you get your very own butler. I’m not talking about a virtual-butler-app-push-a-button-to-get-room-service type of butler. I am talking about a real life butler, who will unpack your bags when you arrive so you instantly feel at home, will be upstairs in your Chalet’s kitchen when you wake up, with the open fire place roaring & cooking your whatever you would like for breakfast, and have your favorite type of Nespresso coffee steaming hot for you to enjoy before heading out for the day.
That same butler will also be back at your chalet at your specified time in the afternoon to prepare you the most delicious afternoon tea, a different delicious every day from a local patisserie, that you enjoy by your fire place after your day of alpine adventuring (or spa treatments!). Then when you are out at dinner, your chalet will be magically turned into a haven of relaxation ready for slumber, with nothing left for you to do but to slip into your turned down bed, enjoy the gourmet chocolate on your pillow, and dream away on your bed that feels like a cloud, so you are rested to do it all over again the next day. THAT type of butler.*
Cuisine + Cocktails
Club Med is known for its all inclusive holidays. The Chalets at Valmorel are obviously included in this, however their location on the property sits at the top of the resort, where your private balcony looks down over all the happenings. Like the butler privilege, there is also a driver on call, to whizz you back & fourth from the village, where you enjoy an open bar & all dining, inclusive in your experience. In full disclosure, the word ‘buffet’ scares me. To me, it is reminiscent of primary school birthday parties at Pizza Hut… Trays of cold pizza, wilted salad & as much soft serve ice-cream you could physically whip into your bowl….
So I am going to refrain from using the dreaded ‘B’ word, and try to explain to you the luxury that is Club Med Valmorels all inclusive dining; Imagine a collective little gourmet restaurants… Italian, Japanese, Seafood, Home Style Roast, French, a salad & juice bar… A bakery, a patisserie & a locally, hand made ice-cream parlour. Now imagine all these little gourmet restaurants where in a large room, like individual pop-up spaces, each with their own team of chefs, preparing the food there in front you, fresh fish going from grill to you plate, the cheese on the pizza’s bubbling as they are taken straight out of the oven, French baguettes at the bakery so addictive you are convinced they must contain something illegal, and a patisserie offering that is more like edible art…. And no soft serve here; choose from 8 flavors & the hand made ice-cream is served to you parlor style, by an ice cream connoisseur…. What you CAN do for yourself (I mean, word from the wise; it is VERY hard to get back into normal life after spending a week in this heavenly experience!) is scoop your own warm chocolate from the fondue fountain (it alternates between milk & white chocolate) to drizzle over your ice cream…. Me? I’m a Mint-Choc-Chip-with-warm-milk-chocolate-topping kinda gal.
So that gives you an idea of the type of luxury you will experience by checking into the Club Med Valmorel Chalets, but I have two things that I love even more that I want to share with you. If you’re like me – you have a bucket list. My current bucket list is made up of incredible experiences, Scuba dive with manta rays, wake up in one of those bungalows that stretch out over aqua waters, like the ones I had seen on pinterest a million times over, learn to snowboard, have lunch on the top of a snow covered mountain in the French Alps, with views to mountain tops in Italy….You get the drift. Sometimes you don’t know where to start with your bucket list items, and find yourself wishing you had someone just to tell you where to go, what to do, and how to do it. The experience of Club Med is that for me, and should you wish to do it in a 5 star way; Their Exclusive Collection of Villas & Chalets, allow you to do so in the utmost luxury.
The second thing, is how truly, genuinely warm & lovely the Club Med team are. I am lucky enough to travel a lot for work & pleasure, and from all my travels, the hospitality & focus on people is incomparable to how the team at Club Med treats their guests. Bear with me as I jump out of vacation-mode & quickly defer to business mode. I have a business, I am involved in a few businesses, I love learning about business. One of my favorite areas to learn more about how other businesses do things, is in their customer engagement focus, strategy & above all, mindset. On this trip, in speaking with some of the Club Med team, I learnt that everyone who works for Club Med signs a contract that states that they will do everything they can to ensure the guests are having an awesome time, to make sure the guests are smiling. How incredible is that?
The second thing I thought was very cool, was how the company structures their reporting pyramid… From the majority of their team (and it’s a big one!), to their managers, to senior management who report into the executive manager of the entire resort….
Then at the top of the pyramid; Us. The Customers. With that focus on customer experience, in addition to having experienced 5 star luxury, having enjoyed some amazing cuisines, wine & cocktails, ticking some breath taking stuff off my bucket list (snowboarding down from over 2000ft in the French Alps!? Tick!) You leave with a full heart & new friends, both other guests at the resort, & also members the Club Med team. It’s hard to explain – But when you experience it, you will know exactly what I mean… And if you are Les Chalets Club Med de Valmorel bound, be sure to say hello to my new friends there; Laura & Thibault – Who made our stay so spectacularly incredible.
Not a skier or snowboarder…. Neither was I! But I wanted to be! Snowboarding was one of those things I’d always said I wanted to do, and what cooler place to learn the sport then in the French Alps?! So with 5 private lessons booked, the fear of god, and determination to be able to at the very least snowboard down a kiddies slope, I put my big girl snow pants on, and met my instructor Laurent (picture; a French Justin Timberlake. I know, poor me!) for him to impart his 16 years of ski / snow board instructor knowledge to me.
My first lesson started on the kids slope; The Piou Piou (meaning tiny bird). There is NOTHING tiny about this bird, I am 5’10” in the shade, and if the fear on my face was not an indicator, my finger nails digging into his arm where. Laurent assured me, that in the coming days we would be up there *points to French Alps glacial sized mountain. I said he was kind to say such lies, and we got to work.
And guess what, by day 3 we were up 2000ft on the mountain! My dismounts from certain chair lifts required just as much work as my fledging Olympic snowboarding career, but it was INCREDIBLE! Flying (sometimes falling) down the mountain, surfing on snow, with pine tree branches with white dustings, and the world famous Mont Blanc mountain in view. It was so surreal. No words I find will do it justice.
On my last lesson on day 5, Laurent had me speeding down the mountain, and on the final run, pointed over to what now looked like a flat plateau of snow, the Piou Piou. It was an incredible feeling, to think on five days before that was my starting ground. Like all graduates of the Piou Piou, admittedly most of them where aged under 5 years old, Laurent gave me my own Piou Piou medal as a symbol of how far I had come in only a few days. I pinned on the inside of my jacket, and while going up in the lift solo the next day, I took a glance at and felt pretty damn good.
While I may not make the next Olympic team, I definitely will now be snowboarding at any chance I get, plus its one more thing I can tick off my bucket list. With the gratitude to Laurent for his patience, & empathy… And for not laughing (on the outside) when I stacked it off the chair lift.
Take the adventure
So there are my favorite things & recommendations from my time at Les Chalets Club Med de Valmorel. If you are wanting a winter wonderland adventure, and granted there are many places in the world where snow falls, but at Club Med Valmorel you get to experience all these things in the French Alps (And as the ancient French proverb goes, Snowboard & Ski instructors in the French Alps are all French Gods of the snow (read; Really Hot).
So whether you want to tick some alpine adventuring off your bucket list, experience pure luxury by the fire place as the snow falls outside, eat gourmet cheese & the best breads you will ever taste with every meal, enjoy wine on a snowy mountain top whilst overlooking the Mont Blanc (You can do this even if you are not a skier / snowboarder), or if you simply want to road test a new treatment on the spa menu daily & have the best seat in the house to watch the final runs of the day; the outdoor Jacuzzi…. Then The Valmorel Chalets, in the stunning French Alps are waiting for you. – SWx
*Since publishing this post, Club Med has evolved the services offered at the Club Med Valmorel Chalets to include a 24 hour concierge service and a butler available at extra cost.
Want to discover more? Watch this video below, or jump on our website to learn more about the Club Med Valmorel Chalets. ✳ ⛄