All Inclusive Ski Resorts
For most people, skiing means traveling somewhere and renting a vacation home, hotel, or ski resort lodging. It may not have ever occurred to us that all-inclusive ski vacations actually exist. All-inclusive is the norm when it comes to family beach vacations in some parts of the world, so why not for skiing?
Some of us like to enjoy our adventures surrounded by snow and ice and also want everything paid for before we go so we can avoid the hassle of added-on fees. It adds a level of relaxation to any vacation, and can take a bit of the pressure off Mom and Dad to figure out meals or evening entertainment.
We did some research on the all-inclusive ski resorts out there, and the found a few good options for those of you who prefer all-inclusive skiing. Most of them are in Europe, but we hope to see more emerge in North America as well. However, heading to the Alps and skiing in the comforts of an all-inclusive setup can be pretty incredible. We should think you all should give it a try sometime.
Popular in the Alps, and especially prominent in the French Alps, catered chalets are often unknown to American skiers who have not spent time at some of the great Alps ski towns. These great chalets allow you to have private accommodations but a communal breakfast and dinner each evening, prepared by your chalet host. Think of it as a B&B but at the foot of a chairlift. What’s more, these chalet companies aim to make your stay as easy as possible so often have shuttle or delivery access for rental gear, boots, etc. All you have to worry about is the skiing, and where to go for midday lunch.
You typically have a couple “chalet hosts” who are on point to do all of the cleaning, cooking the breakfast and dinner (and the meals are usually quite good), and look after the chalet full-time. They are also often available for special requests such as helping you track down ski rentals, etc., especially if you tip them.
While there are some catered chalets that also offer child care services, they are usually independently run. It is best to do some local research based on the specific mountain you intend to ski at. We have a few favorites, but are especially partial to the Val d’isere area — towns like Tignes, Val Claret, and espcially Le Fornet, Le Dais, and Val d’Isere town center all provide for excellent options.
An option we are hearing more about is to find your own rental on something like VRBO, and then hire a separate full-time caterer. You could save some money, but it will require a little extra work.
Club Med all-inclusive ski packages aim to provide guests with the same kind of laid back and hassle-free atmosphere as those wanting to vacation in the sun. The plan is to always ensure guests have plenty of time to take advantage of remarkable ski vacation experiences with their family and friends. We have personally stayed at Club Med in multiple locations, and are impressed with the lodging as well as the food.
When you book an all-inclusive ski vacation, Club Med’s goal is to take care of all aspects of your holiday. This starts with transport. A range of flights are available from many international and regional airports. Direct transfers to and from the ski resorts is also included in the price. And, as with other Club Med arrangements, your ski accommodation includes a range of choices from the basic Club Rooms to the Suites, which offer additional skiing vacation luxury.
With winter sports destinations in Switzerland (at Saint-Moritz, where Alpine skiing was born), Italy and at the exclusive Val d’Isere and Chamonix Mont-Blanc resorts there is a wide choice of venues to choose from. For example, you can go skiing in the French Alps at the striking Val Thorens Sensations Resort, or the more traditional Meribel l’Amtares. Skiing in the Alps is an experience everyone should enjoy at some point.
Club Med even offers all-inclusive winter sports vacations in China’s Yabuli. Family friendly skiing with Club Med includes ski lessons with qualified instructors, as well as ski passes and complete access to the lifts. There is also professional childcare available with Club Med’s Kid’s Clubs along with full-board.
Here are three of the best Club Med Ski resorts which you can make your vacation home:
Club Med Les Deux Alpes, France. (find here) Set on the slopes of the Southern Alps, this refurbished resort’s cascade of rooftops nestle in the powdery snow. The 257-room, eight-story hotel stands at an altitude of 5,413ft (1,650m) and offers a level of simple comfort suitable for lovers of snow sports and their families. Les Deux Alpes is the second-oldest ski area in France, behind Chamonix, so you will definitely get some of the classic french ski feel here.
The starting point for downhill runs under the impressive Meije Glacier, Les Deux Alpes has a magnificent terrace that overlooks the village below and in the evenings this offers a cozy retreat for families to gather and chat about their days’ adventures.
Good for those with intermediate skills, the ski area rises to 11,811ft (3,600m). Principal access is on the Jandri Express jumbo gondola. Note: The pistes tend to get busy, especially at the bottom. However, with 51 lifts to get you around the mountain, you can usually find some areas to yourself if you know where to go.
The après-ski scene is young and lively, and centered on the town’s southern part, Alpe de Venosc.
Club Med Cervinia, Italy. (find here) Ski holidays in Italy are relaxed and informal, with plenty of hedonistic fun to enjoy. Italians take skiing and snowboarding as seriously as their eating and drinking. They also love children, so this is a truly family friendly destination.
Sitting in the shadow of the Alps, Brueil0-Cervinia (the broader resort town) offers a wonderful panorama to enjoy. The Club Med Resort is at 6725ft (2,050m), and the hotel is a most comfortable mountain refuge. What makes Cervinia special is its proximity to the Swiss ski areas around the Matterhorn and Zermatt. In fact, it is very common for skiers to make a day of it by spending the morning skiing and riding over to Zermatt, stop for a nice long lunch in Switzerland, and then spending the afternoon skiing back to Cervinia. We’ve done it, and it is an incredible experience.
You also get some of the longest ski runs in the world in this region. From the Klein Matterhorn peaks, you can piece together runs of 10 or more miles (17 km) down to the village.
The ski area at Cervinia is best for beginners and intermediate skiers. There are challenging slopes to be found for advanced skiers, but they require a bit of exploring to locate. The beginners’ slopes are right next to the village, but most intermediate skiers will enjoy Cervinia’s terrain as many of the red runs here would be rated blue elsewhere and there are many long pistes for cruising.
The lift system here includes fairly modern installations, but queues are still likely, especially at the base station. It is possible to obtain a combined Cervinia/Zermatt ski pass.
Club Med Villars, Switzerland. (find here) Villars-sur-Ollon and Villars-Gryon, known as Villars, is 4,265ft (1,300m) up a south-facing plateau looking down on the Rhone valley. Its atmosphere is more that of a small town than a village, with good shopping opportunities and an excellent selection of hotels, bars and restaurants.
This is a good weekend destination as it can be reached easily by car from Geneva Airport or via Swiss Rail offering a wonderfully picturesque ski area offering the opportunity to travel a long way on skies, as well as access to a snow-sure glacier.
Villars and its neighbor Les Diablerets share 45 lifts and 77 miles (125km) of pistes. This includes the Glacier 3000 ski area that is served by a large cable car from the Col du Pillon. Of the 78 runs, about half are geared toward beginners, so this is an excellent area to consider if your family is made up of skiers who prefer some tamer terrain.
Although slopes in this area are mostly aimed at intermediate skiers, some can still be quite challenging with lots of variety and panoramic views and there are many trails through woodlands. The mountain railway from Bex to Villars and on to Le Bretaye serves as a ski-lift to the ski area’s heart. The Glacier 3000 offers some good blue runs and the red Combe d’Audon run, with a 3280ft (1,000m) vertical and cliffs rising on both sides. Expert skiers can explore some off-piste options with a guide. These include some challenging skiing around Chaux Ronde.
Villars is also perfectly suitable for all levels of intermediate skiers while experts will find plenty to keep them busy as well.
The resort does not forget the tiny tots either, who are pampered at the Baby Club, while older kids from age four have plenty of activities from which to choose.
If you are not quite ready to book an all-inclusive ski area, or an American who might not have the budget or time to go to the Alps, but still want the creature comforts of a ski resort with lots of amenities, consider our list of the best family ski resorts in North America. Most of the destinations offer several various lodging options, including high-end options. The only places that made our list are destinations that offer things for all members of the family, even those non-skiers.
In particular, one option is to book a vacation at Deer Valley Resort in Utah and do a package that will include amenities such as child care, meals, and all of your rentals and lift tickets. With nearly all of the lodging within easy ski-in, ski-out access, a renowned kids ski school and child care setting, and 17 on-resort restaurants (some on the mountain, some at the base areas) Deer Valley probably provides the closest thing to all-inclusive in North America. They also limit the number of skiers each day so you don’t feel like you are battling hordes of crowds. For the most seamless ski vacation, be sure to plan in advance through the resort and get everything set before you get there.
You can piece together a pretty good, all service ski vacation in North America if you book through the major resorts at places like Whistler, Vail, Aspen, Big Sky, or Park City, which are some of the best family ski resorts you will find and can offer a broad range of activities and amenities. It won’t be cheap, but you can prepare for daily meal reservations, child care or ski lessons, and evening child care — and you will have the next best thing to an all-inclusive. Just work with some of the concierges at your ski area before you leave from home.
You can also go the route of finding your own fully-equipped vacation rental, and then hire a chef and a nanny locally. It will require extra work, but can be done.