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In favor of Club Med

I admittedly do not like packaged vacations.

There are few things in this world that annoy me more than having to waste my time on account of strangers. Coupled with the penchant I have for being punctual, I would certainly waste disproportionate amount of time if I joined a tour group, which would prevent me from enjoying whatever such holiday could offer.

I am also not much for lazy do-nothingness. The first day at the beach is grand, the second is ok, the third is boringly drawn-out, and by the fourth I am ready to return home if no diversion is forthcoming. Ok, with good company and pleasant conversation, I can probably survive a week-long sojourn at a Caribbean all-inclusive resort, but I would be perpetually conflicted by the inherent desire to extract maximum value from the all-you-can-eat-and-drink around-the-clock buffets against my need to wander outside regimented boundaries.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a do-it-on-the-whim traveler. I have my moments, surely, but most of the time I prefer to plan well ahead and minimize surprises. But what I do plan for is exploring, and that leaves little room for trip-mates who do not share my mindset (or my punctuality), for itineraries that are made with an average highlight-seeking tourist in mind, or for strict daily schedules.

It was with some trepidation that I was looking forward to a stay at an all-inclusive Club Med for our skiing holiday.

Some of my fears came true. The food was too good – in a different class from anything you’d get offered at a Dominican resort – to tear away from the buffet. The schedule that included dropping Kimmy off at the kids club by 8:45 and being ready for our own skiing group departure at 9:30 forced me to set the alarm clock for 7:15 – on vacation! – so that there would be enough time for breakfast, in addition to all of the morning getting-ready procedures of three females. And the repetitiveness of the schedule would likely drive me mad, if not for the fortunate injury that curtailed my skiing.

Let’s not even dwell on the fact that we traveled during the French half-term break, and about 95% of the guests at the resort were French-speaking (which is not really a problem on the surface, as we can get around with whatever French we possess, but becomes a source of anguish when people habitually address you in French and expect you to communicate back with more than shrugs and grimaces).

But if you are a less-than-expert skier who wants to improve, the only way to do it is with an instructor. Ours was not too good, but Natasha nonetheless thinks that she improved her skills as the result of her perseverance with every single session. Additionally, having the cost of lifts, equipment rentals and instruction included in the package is an incentive for you to stick with it throughout your stay. Furthermore, skiing is a bit of solitary endeavor, even if you attempt it with a company of friends of similar skills. Yes, you go on the lifts together, but you largely part ways on the slopes, getting back together only at the foot of them. Going out with a training group that tries to do most everything together fosters a certain level of camaraderie that is hard to find otherwise. Those are the positives from a purely skiing perspective.

From an accommodations perspective, nice rooms, spacious environment that contains practically everything you’d need on a holiday, free drinks, unremarkable but nevertheless useful spa and gym, events, activities and shows – it all comes together as a one giant argument in favor of having this type of vacation at a large all-inclusive resort.

Let’s put it this way: Returning from the slopes to find a welcoming hot drinks and snacks spread in the main reception area handled by a bunch of attractive twenty-year-olds is not something that you can easily simulate elsewhere.

Have I mentioned that the food was fantastic? Lots of variety, nightly dinner themes, local specialties – all in abundance.

All in all, we likely would not have enjoyed ourselves as much if we did not choose to stay at a place like this. For families with kids, when everyone is a skier, a Club Med or something similar is a perfect way to go about a skiing holiday.

Posted in State of travel

2 Comments

  1. jason

    I’m not big on the packaged tour concept myself. My girlfriend Anne has been trying to get me on a cruise ship for several years, and I just can’t get enthused about the idea of spending a week essentially doing nothing but drinking and eating. I’m much happier wandering down alleyways with nothing but a camera and a phrase book, just to see what I find.

    That said, it sounds like you had a good time on the ski trip. And the “welcoming hot drinks and snacks spread… handled by a bunch of attractive twenty-year-olds” is definitely appealing. 😉

  2. Ilya

    I’m nothing short of allergic to packaged travel to sightseeing destinations. Just as you said, it’s much more satisfying to explore on your own, to “seek” adventures… But a skiing trip, especially most family members are below-expert skiers, is an ideal candidate for a package, as it turned out.

    And you know, cute French girls always flirt…

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