We travelled with the only UK tour operator in the resort (Snowbizz) and stayed in the Sun Vallee apartments, formally known as Mona Lisa. Set in a small resort Puy St Vincent, everything was close to hand. A supermarket, ski hire shops, cafes, restaurants, and take aways. There was no trudging about in the snow, it was all within the big apartment complex. It is virtually ski in ski out, if you are a good skier, if not you will have a few steps to negotiate with your ski boots and gear.
Materialistically this was not a luxurious holiday, what it did give was a fantastic team offering flexibility. Run by Michel and Wendy along with their team of Pink Ladies (childcare team) they worked so hard to make sure our holiday was a success. If there was the slightest thing we wished for they delivered instantly. If the children were struggling with their ski tuition, they adapted it to ensure they were happy. If they were excelling the children were instantly introduced to the more advanced group. Similarly for the adults, although most groups progressed at the same rate, so only a few adults needed to go up or down.
The ski school (run by ESI) were all English speaking instructors and no other holiday makers from other holiday groups were allowed to join our classes so the people we skied with were on our plane and in the apartment block, enabling us to form a lovely community for the week.
There was childcare on offer, ideal for parents with little ones wanting to ski. For those with children over 5 we were able to get them ready and hand them over to the Pink Ladies who would play games with them from 10am until the 11am start of ski school. It would give us time to get in to our own ski gear without fighting the children’s ski boots at the same time and then all meet up at 11am to wish the children fun and take off for 2 hours with our ski group.
The lessons were all at the same time, but 1 hour later than the French. So we did find the cafes were all either full or the staff exhausted after their busy lunch slots. If we planned the holiday again we would not eat out for lunch, but buy a baguette when we dropped the children off in the morning and make some rolls. Everyone was ravenous and thirsty as soon as we arrived back, so instant food was a priority, and we were lucky to eat by 2:30pm in the cafes.
The afternoons were spent sledging (can borrow from the pink ladies) having a nap to recover or playing with new found friends.
In the evenings childcare was offered for 2 hours each evening (either 6 – 8pm or 7 – 9pm) for either DVDs, parties, talent shows etc. This enabled us to have a meal, or go to the pub with other parents.
The down sides were few, but I would say there was a limited stock in the supermarket for our favourite things. Things like no ketchup, baked beans or J-cloths were a little pain. I had brought dish washer tablets, and our favourite butter and yoghurts in a cool bag in the hold luggage, but had assumed they would have stocked these few items. The supermarket did an irregular stock of cold or hot chickens which were ideal for an easy meal, but wise to ask the supermarket what time they will come out of the oven.
There is no cooker in the apartment, only a hob and microwave, so cooking is limited. I would suggest going with the intention of making a snack lunch and eating out in the evening. If I was the owner of the apartments I would replace the dishwasher with a cooker.
The bed in the main bedroom is also absolutely tiny. If two need to sleep I would suggest pulling out the camp bed in the sitting room.
Children’s food was limited, Steak Hache and chicken nuggets were the main offering in all the restaurants, and chips with everything, and vegetables were not located on any restaurant plate that we came across. There was once a salad but a small worm put me off eating any more. There seemed to be a good Pizza takeaway service.
The green runs often had a steep beginning, and the more experienced skiers said they felt they bordered on a blue run.
My tip is if your ski boots are not comfortable enough, go back and change them. I found the circulation cut off on one of my feet, and could not feel anything in order to make the necessary moves, so I went back and they kindly found me another suitable boot.
Both arrival and departure days require very early starts. Had to wake at 2:30am to get to the airport to go and 4am to return home. The transfers were comfortable and 2.5 hours, which for ski-ing holidays I found a good time. However if you have a travel sick child, like us, we needed to ensure the wrist bands were on, Joy Rides taken and a bowl just in case. SnowBizz do enable you to request front seats, which helped a lot.
This is also a French resort, popular with locals. There was probably the highest concentration I have encountered of French people who either could not or did not wish to engage with the English language, so it would be advisable to brush up on your French before you travel. It was a shock on the first day that the café we went to did not understand any English. I was delighted as it forced me not to be an ignorant Brit abroad, and I rapidly learnt the French I needed.
As you can tell from the above there really weren’t down sides just little niggles did not detract from the amazing effort all the staff went to to ensure we had a lovely time.