I’m often asked where I’d recommend for the ultimate corporate ski trip. This is a tough one to answer as there are so many resorts and so many different activities on offer. Courchevel is a resort close to my heart, having lived there myself for many seasons. Another favourite is St Anton in Austria: the après-ski is epic and the skiing is varied and challenging. However, if you’re looking for a ski resort that has the après, the skiing and an unrivalled selection of activities for thrill-seekers, then it’s hard to look past Val Thorens.
Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe at an altitude of 2300m. That means you can count on good snow conditions and a long season. The resort was scheduled to open on 26th November this year, but good snow already means it will open a week earlier. It stays open until May so a late-season trip, when other resorts have already closed, is another option. It’s also part of the huge Les 3 Vallées ski area – the largest in the world – so with 600km of pistes at your disposal you needn’t even ski the same slope again over a week, let alone a long weekend.
The quality of après, while not quite at Austrian levels, has improved hugely in the last few years. The stand-out venue is the infamous Folie Douce which has revolutionised après-ski in France with its ‘clubbing at altitude’ concept. Every afternoon a huge crowd gathers on the terrace to enjoy an eclectic mix of banging DJ tunes, live music and a stunning cabaret show. Often over-shadowed by its noisy neighbour, the 360 Bar offers a similar and under-rated experience, while in resort Café Snesko brings Danish partying to town. The Frog and Roastbeef, predictably, brings a more traditional British approach and is popular with students.
Off the slopes, Val Thorens offers plenty of ways for your group to have fun. I recommend you start off on the highest ice-driving track in Europe. The 760m ‘Alain Prost’ circuit hosts the first round of the Andros Trophy is superb location to learn the braking and counter-steering you need to master to drive well in snowy conditions.
Fat biking is a great new sport that is taking the Alps by storm. Originally from the States, fat bikes are mountain bikes with over-sized ‘fat’ tyres, meaning you can get much more grip on snow. When the lifts close, an instructor will guide you down the mountain and you can be sure of an exciting new experience and an adrenaline-charged descent.
This is a true test of your concentration as you hammer an ice-pick into a frozen waterfall, and crunch your crampons. Under the guidance of a qualified mountain guide you’ll learn the basic techniques to give you the skills to scale this wall of blue ice. It’s a great activity for sharing with your friends and co-workers.
In Val Thorens there are activities on the slopes, activities off the slopes and there are even activities under the slopes, or more accurately, under the water! Ice diving is an experience you’ll never forget. You start by snowshoeing up to the Lac du Lou at 2035m, and then enter a mesmerising world so near, yet so far from our own. Fully equipped and fully safe, you’ll stay warm even as you explore an icy environment unlike anything you’ve seen before.
No trip to Val Thorens would be complete without trying out the highest zip-wire in Europe- the Tyrolienne. When you’re 250m above the ground and travelling up to 100 km/h between peaks of more than 3000m you’ll feel a buzz unlike any other. This would be my ‘must-do’ recommendation for any trip to VT, whether a corporate group or a family holiday.
Other options for a group include hot-air ballooning, skiddooing and paragliding, among others, so it’s clear there’s a huge choice of activities for trips to Val Thorens, whether with work colleagues, family or friends.
Any trip can be adapted to your specific needs, so whichever combination you choose, your time in Val Thorens will be something you will remember for ever.
Richard Lumb is Owner of Kaluma Travel.
Source: Read Full Article