SITTING ON THE wide deck of the luxurious Koh-i-Nor Hotel drinking foaming hot chocolate, we look out over the snow-laden roof tops of Val Thorens to the pristine white mountains beyond. The view is spectacular and we decide that this hotel is justly named after the famous diamond. Perched at the peak of the village it is the jewel in Val Thorens’ crown, with panoramic views from its rooms and 24 carat service.
This is the highest resort in Europe, which ensures reliable snow and incredible vistas. With its own glacier and a peak elevation of 3,200m, you’re guaranteed amazing snow conditions throughout the season and into late spring. Add to this a huge network of runs and so many on and off snow activities that you’ll hardly have time to sleep and the resort is just too good to miss. The Val Thorens valley is made of three separate villages, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Saint Martin De Belleville. With it own glacier and a peak elevation of 3,200m, For piste-lovers the ski run Jerusalem is regularly rated in the world's top ten red runs and the runs from the top of Pointe de la Masse are breath-taking.
Val Thorens is action central. There are ice go karts, ice driving, a zip line across the mountains, a six kilometre toboggan run, husky sled ride and a family fun park with rails, jibs and boxes for mini freestylers and even powered hang-gliders (for age 12 and above). Which offer the best eagle’s eye view of the mountain; which is how I come to be biting my ski glove, watching my son circle above me in a tandem powered hang-glider. He lands on his skis, using the gentle slope as a runway, and declares the experience “awesome’. His Go Pro footage confirms what I already know; the slopes of Val Thorens are vast, beautiful and perfect for skiers of all ages.
Children can learn in a safe environment thanks to the dedicated kindergarten section of the mountain . Close by is a covered magic carpet and beginner’s runs such as Castor and Pollux. Skiers and boarders of varying skills can enjoy the whole mountain thanks to a clever network of easier blue runs such as the new La Corniche which runs from the top of the mountain. More experienced skiers can ride the Cime Caron gondola for mountain-top views and red and black runs down.
There are clear blue skies during our stay and skiing- above the tree line feels like being in a wonderland of pure white. For lunch we love the burgers at Folie Food an on-slope food cart made from an old snow groomer .Although there is a healthy alternative in the form of sushi at Chalet d’Altitude. However, our favourite on-snow restaurant is the family-run Chez Pepe Nicolas which even supplies stylish panama hats for days when helmets are too hot for the outdoor deck.
Next time we return and there will be a next time, I’m tempted to try a stay at the faux-fur lined igloo pod on the roof top of hotel Pashmina le Refuge – pure romance-on-snow.
Hilary Doling 12/11/18