Checking In and Checking Out

Club Med? Really? Yeah. Come to the French Alps and Get Over Yourself

by Kim VanderVoort
Skiing The views are pretty good around here. All photos courtesy of Club Med.

An all-inclusive? At a Club Med? Really? Really. Forget what you remember about the resort's '70s swinger vibe. Today, their French Alpine retreat is cozy, welcoming, fun, and easygoing in all the right ways.

GRAND MASSIF, France — I’m an impossible snob when it comes to all-inclusive resorts: They makes me feel claustrophobic and uninspired, like I already know exactly what my trip is going to be like before I even leave home. Really, if I’m getting on a plane, I’d rather eat and explore on my own terms.

But Club Med's Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon Resort, the chain’s new flagship in the French Alps, opened my eyes to the modern, all-inclusive experience, forcing me to get over myself, and even — dare I say it? — enjoy myself.

The company has been pushing a massive rebrand over the last decade, moving away from the hedonistic, swinger-friendly reputation it earned in the 1970s and ‘80s toward a more high-design, family-friendly vacation experience. During the day, kids can choose from plenty of activities. At night, the entertainment options for adults range from low-key live music in the upstairs lounge to raging dance parties with heavily-costumed performers and DJs. Bonus: Drinks are available wherever and whenever.

The experience was not unlike camp, although guests are totally autonomous and aren’t forced to do anything they don’t want to do. For example, there’s a Club Med tradition wherein staff perform lightly choreographed dances called “crazy slides,” encouraging guests to participate. Normally, I'm a dance floor shredder, but I just felt like reconnecting with my inner wallflower that night, and nobody minded.

I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination, but my four days at Club Med Grand Massif made me feel young(er) again, in the best way.

I was blown away when I first walked into the massive lobby, which is three spaces in one: the front desk, a large lounge area, and an even larger seating area that transforms into a stage and dance floor in the evenings, which is flanked by a long bar. The decor was more sophisticated than I anticipated: mid-century modern furniture in whites and grays, with accents that evoke a lodge aesthetic, like wide-panel washed wood floors, animal skin rugs, and floor-to-ceiling windows that show off stunning views of the surrounding Alps.

Normally, I'm a dance floor shredder, but I just felt like reconnecting with my inner wallflower that night, and nobody minded.

Indeed, the mountains are something to behold: The resort is located in the beautiful ski area of Grand Massif, the fourth-largest ski resort in France, with 265 kilometers of piste and off-piste slopes in the valley of Haut-Giffre. The real highlight, as might be expected, is the skiing, and the resort’s prime location allows guests to walk from the locker room onto the slopes for a ski-in, ski-out experience. Instructors are available for everyone from total newbies to skiers who want to explore with a guide who knows the trails inside and out.

Inside, there is a general buzz about the place, lending a sense of excitement and anticipation to the atmosphere. The staff’s energy can be contagious, elevating the level of interaction between the guests without forcing unwanted conversation. GOs (Gentils Organisateurs, or Gracious Organizers), as they’re called, are in their twenties, speak more than one language, and are as passionate about hospitality as they are about having fun — and making sure that you are, too. These unique humans, truly excited to spend time with any and all guests, take hospitality to a new level. It should be overwhelming or off-putting, but it’s not. It’s lovely.

Book It

Rates change seasonally and start at $350/night. Click here for reservations. Or get in touch with the Fathom Travel Concierge and we can plan your trip for you.

Checking In

Location
Grand Massif in the French Alps, about midway between Geneva and Chamonix.

Vibe
Ski all day and party all night — but be chic about it.

Standout Detail
Club Med Grand Massif exists to make your ski vacation as seamless as possible, eliminating the hassle of securing equipment by having guests send measurements in advance. Your ski equipment will be waiting for you in your locker, which corresponds to your room number and unlocks with your room key (which you wear like a bracelet). If you want to try other equipment options, the ski-room staff is kind, generous, and knowledgeable.

This Place Is Perfect For
Large, hard-to-wrangle groups. Let these guys take the stress out of vacation planning.

But Not So Perfect For
Travelers seeking privacy, romance, or quiet time.

Number of Rooms
Small, it’s not. The resort’s 423 rooms are divided into deluxe, family, and club categories. Club rooms are standard, nice-but-no-frills rooms. Family rooms are the same but roomier. Deluxe rooms have elevated decor and nicer amenities.

What’s on Site
A 600-square-meter CARITA spa with a complete menu of offerings, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, Pilates studio, and playrooms for kids.

Food + Drink
There are two restaurants. Cozy Mountain restaurant, where guests eat most meals, is buffet-style, and, I’ll admit, unlike any buffet I’ve ever encountered in my travels. There’s something for all taste buds, young and old, Francophile or Asian-inclined, gluten-free or carnivorous. House wines are included, but you can pay a premium for nicer wines, like local bottles from the Jura. Gourmet Lounge is an upscale space that requires reservations, though there’s no extra cost. It’s a proper restaurant, with a menu by Michelin-starred chef Edouard Loubet and a full waitstaff. The third dining option is Bread & Co., a children’s restaurant. Parents can drop kids off for an interactive, kid-friendly cooking classes or join the fun if they want family time.

Checking Out

What to Do nearby
Ski! Club Meds aren’t meant for leaving, unless it’s to hit the slopes. That said, it’s an easy trip down the on-site gondola to the charming, friendly village of Samoëns. You'll quickly forget that the idyllic mountain town is a little touristy, because it really does feel like the inside of a snow globe.

Plan Your Trip

How to Get There
The closest airport is about an hour away in Geneva, Switzerland. You can request a transport van to take you to the resort.

When to Go
Peak season is December through March, but you can try your luck and hope for snow in November as well. Grand Massif is one of the first Club Med mountain resorts to open in summertime as well, so go anytime June through September for green mountain hikes and refreshing dips in the outdoor pool.

Keep Exploring The Alps

Verbier, That Modern Old Ski Town in the Alps
The Chef Who Warms the Alpine Chills
Rocking the Cradle of Alpine Skiing