Val Thorens has always been a very popular resort for skiers and boarders. A few reasons for its popularity, it is part of the excellent 3 Vallees ski area, true ski in/ski out hotels, snow sure during the whole season, perfect for early and later season skiing. There have been a lot of changes over the past few seasons and new hotels built so we thought we better go and investigate. As we planned our trip to the highest resort in Europe we were really excited to see the changes in the resort and the hotels.
So the first weekend of December we set off on our trip, with a flight from London Gatwick and no sooner had we taken off we had landed, quickly through security, bags collected and then off to collect our hire car. Finally bags in and SAT-NAV set we were off.
Having never driven to Val Thorens we discovered the drive was very easy and pretty, and we were in resort with 2 hours 30 minutes!
Having settled down for our first evening with a sumptuous dinner (which has to be done in the mountains) we were eager to explore the following day. We were lucky enough to stay at the 5* Koh I Nor Hotel.
Summary: Nice, relaxed, contemporary 5 star hotel. Very good food and plenty of it.
Day 2: Up early, breakfast and we were off, our first stop was back down the mountain to Saint Martin delle Belleville to see some beautiful chalets. From Val Thorens to Saint Martin de Belleville it only takes about 30 minutes by car. This charming little resort is steeped in tradition and has a lovely feeling of peace and tranquillity, yet only a cable car ride to the huge 3 Vallees network. The resort is actually the same height as Meribel.
Summary: The chalets we feature in this resort really are delightful, like a home from home with every detail thought of. Each chalet is individually styled but all 3 have the same level of luxury and comfort. They are simply stunning, a very relaxed feeling and like your own piece of mountain heaven. The staff that run the chalets have been carefully selected and nothing is too much trouble. These 5 star chalets come with a 4 star price tag.
Then we were off back up the mountain and time to explore the village of Val Thorens. Although one resort it is clear that it is on 3 levels as you walk around.
Lower level – Hotel Altapura 5* and Village Montana Apartments 4* & 5*
Mid-level – Hotel Fitz Roy 5*, Le Val Thorens 4*, Fahrenheit 7 4*
Higher Level – Hotel Le Sherpa 3*, Hotel Pashmina 5* and the Hotel KOH I Nor 5* (which is the highest ski hotel in Europe).
The resort is easy to walk around or there is a shuttle, and if you are staying in one of the 5* properties then each has its own private shuttle service.
Day 3: After another early start….but not before a good mountain breakfast we were off to visit the hotels.
First stop the lovely 3* Le Sherpa
Summary: warm, cosy and charming, everything you would expect in a good 3* hotel and more.
Next stop the 5* Pashmina.
Summary: This hotel oozes love of the mountains. It is understated luxury, it is a total chill out experience with style, comfort and ease.
After a brisk walk down to the lower level we visited the 4* & 5* village Montana Residences.
Summary: Perfect self-catering option. Good position and a good level of comfort. The 5* Residences have that extra touch of comfort, luxury and space.
We then visited the 5* Hotel Altapura.
Summary – from the minute you enter you see and feel the attention to detail. Perfect position and fabulous terrace. When you ski back at the end of the day it feels like your own private part of Val Thorens. This really is a true 5* hotel.
Finally we walked back up to the middle level to see the last hotels. (not before stopping for the obligatory hot chocolate and pastry, well we were in the mountains!).
First hotel of the afternoon was the totally refurbished 4* Fahrenheit 7 hotel. This hotel is just fabulous, lots of lovely little touches. For example every room door as a black and white vintage photo of Val Thorens.
Summary: Lovely fun hotel for all, good use of space and lots of nice contemporary colours. The hotel is in an excellent position, a true ski hotel for skiers/boarders.
Secondly we visited the refurbished 5* Fitz Roy, which is the oldest hotel in Val Thorens.
Summary: Fabulous ski in/ski out hotel. Lovely, cosy hotel, with clever use of space. You feel relaxed and cocooned from the minute you walk in/ski in!
Lastly we saw the 4* Le Val Thorens, this hotel again has been refurbished and they have cleverly used the space to its full potential. Although contemporary in style it still retains its mountain charm.
Summary: Good positon, great contemporary relaxed feel.
Ski School Feature – While we use all the large well known ski schools we are always searching for that independent smaller ski school that offers just that little extra. We are so happy to say we have found just that in Val Thorens, the wonderful Ski Cool. This ski school has been running since 1981 and there emphasis is on fun and quality. We were lucky enough to have coffee with Annie the ski school director. From the minute we met her passion, knowledge and love of skiing shone through.
We discussed the usual adult and children group and private lessons, and then we got onto all of the unique programmes they offer.
Cool Ride for 12-16 yrs – suitable for those children that desire the thrills and freedom the mountain offers without their parents. The course offers the opportunity for children to try freeride, freestyle, skicross and monoski.
Cool Ride Mountain – This offers adults the chance to get familiar with off-piste techniques and to discover pristine, untouched powder with a professional guide
Ski Therapy Women Special – This gives ladies the change to enjoy a zen morning on the slopes with relaxed breathing and visualisation techniques.
Les 3 Vallees Sensations – The opportunity to explore the world’s largest ski terrain with a guide, just for you!
Les Weekend Privileges – the chance to start off with confidence and get your bearings at the start of your holiday.
Heli-Ski – Take a Heliski outing of your dreams with one of their specialists.
EXCLUSIVE to Ski Cool
Share n Ski – Create your own mini group and share lessons with others, let your self be surprised by who you may meet and share the fun.
Wing Jump – Ski Cool are the only ski school in Val Thorens to have the educational ‘toy’ the Wing Jump. This is used the children’s classes, it gives children experience and confidence with controlled speed, turning and progressing.
Paramotor Flights – Stop dreaming and start flying! Experience Val Thorens and Belleville Valley form a birds eye view.
Off-Piste Certified Training – Ski Cool are the first ski school in the 3 Vallees to offer a new international avalanche training programme ISTA to prevent mountain risks.
And then we were finished.
Val Thorens Summary: After a whistle stop weekend we realised Val Thorens had been reinvented for us. The resort has an excellent selection of hotels and apartments, should you want a chalet then Saint Martin delle Belleville is the perfect option. Val Thorens is a friendly resort and has a good atmosphere and it is a true skiers resort. But it also caters for those who are just beginning, non-skiers or those who just want to enjoy a mountain experience.
Please call for details 01243 200 202 your Val Thorens adventure starts here.
Day 4: Sadly our final mountain breakfast and stunning views, we were back on the road for our journey home.
Our first stop on the way back down the mountain was the utterly fabulous 4* Hotel La Bouitte in a hamlet of Saint Martin delle Belleville, which is part of Relais & Chateau and best of all it has a 3 star Michelin restaurant! We had a quick guided tour as they were preparing to open in 4 days and we had a plane to catch. We were even lucky enough to meet one of the chefs, what a treat.
Summary: This hotel is truly stunning and we are delighted to say we are the FIRST UK ski tour operator to be working with them. This property is the perfect start or end to your holiday or even your whole holiday. Beautifully decorated, it really does exude style and luxury, yet comfort.
But Shhh don’t tell anybody….
We felt sad to leave this property as we would have loved to have a satellite office there but we were finally back on the road. But our adventures didn’t end here. We decided to use the SAT-NAV in the car and not the one that had brought us here. After fiddling and deciding we had entered the details correctly and selected the right route we were off.
After a while we realised that we had not gone through any tolls??? Ooops we had taken a different route home, but not to worry we would surely end up back in Geneva Airport. After a little while longer there was a shriek of excitement from the front seat – ‘Lake Annecy!’
We then realised we had taken the scenic route and were driving round Lake Annecy, what a treat and it was truly beautiful. Now the important question, did we have time to stop for lunch? After a quick calculation, yes we did, just about. So we jumped out of the car and found a charming little restaurant and had a quick lunch by the lake. Having been lucky enough to do this new experience we would recommend this route to or from Val Thorens, it really is stunning to see the lake and the mountains and just adds that little extra touch to your holiday.
(Also not forgetting Lake Annecy is a fabulous summer destination and we can happily say we can help with any summer holiday)
We finally made it to the airport, checked in and we were flying home.
Please call for details 01243 200 202 your Val Thorens adventure starts here.