Les Arcs Panorama by Club Med: the most fun you can have in the Alps sans snow
I’m surrounded by Alpine pastures, hiking along a mountain path on the spruce-dotted slopes of the Tarentaise Valley and notably, there is no snow to be seen anywhere. Visits to the Alps are, for many people, synonymous with ski holidays - but savvy travellers are increasingly becoming aware that the vast mountain range also makes an excellent summer destination.
And situated in the heart of it all, in France’s Savoie region, is Les Arcs Panorama - Club Med’s newest all-inclusive Alpine resort.
The vast new £90m hotel can accommodate more than 1,000 guests, and offers exceptional views of the surrounding forest and the enchanting nearby town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice - perfectly situated not only for a high-octane ski break, but also gloriously relaxing summer holidays.
Ringed by more than 200km of walking trails through dense woodland, Les Arcs Panorama is a nature lover's paradise. Peaks soar to nearly 3,000 feet in nearby Vanoise National Park and the whole area is famous for bird watching and wildlife spotting, not to mention active outdoor pursuits such as hiking, rafting, cycling and more.
Having never tried paragliding before, I decide to give it a go on the first afternoon I arrive. No particular level of fitness is required for paragliding, just a degree of bravery (or perhaps foolhardiness). After the initial adrenaline rush of leaping off a mountain, the experience swiftly becomes quite peaceful, as I relax into my harness and my instructor seeks out thermal gusts to push us higher. Warm, sunny days are ideal for paragliding, bringing more thermals and thus more flight time.
After we arrive back on Earth, we immediately head for a bite to eat. Dinner is from the hotel's all-inclusive buffet, which overlooks a valley that tonight is lit up with a spectacular sunset. Dispelling any buffet stereotypes, the food at Les Arcs is outstanding, as is the extensive wine list. Everything from creamy raclette to fresh fish cooked Teppanyaki-style and an array of mouth-watering desserts are on offer, and the quality is uniformly high.
There are actually three restaurants on site: White Stone offers traditional Swiss cuisine, while the 1790 Gourmet Lounge (named after the 1,790m height at which you’ll dine), boasts a high-end culinary experience. Finally there’s a “family experience” restaurant, which allows children to play chef and invite their parents to enjoy their creations.
According to the President of Club Med, Henri Giscard d’Estaing, the success of the brand is down to the “Club Med spirit” which is at the very core of the company. Positions are so sought after here that Club Med receives more than 70,000 resumes per year.
Giscard d’Estaing tells me emphatically: “We select employees based firstly on their values - what is important to them in life, what makes them happy and how they interact with people. This comes before any professional qualifications and makes sure that we protect the Club Med spirit.”
More than three years in the making, Les Arcs offers a cool alternative to the traditional chalet-like resorts dotted over the French Alps. Despite its colossal size, every guest is catered to individually and the resort run impeccably.
Les Arcs is one of the easiest ski resorts to get to by train - the station at Bourg-St-Maurice is a direct stop on the Eurostar and a short walk from the funicular which takes you up to Arc 1600. Transfers to the resort from nearby airports are also easy to arrange. The resort is easily accessed from Geneva airport (3 hours, 97 miles/156 km), Lyon (3 hours, 125 miles/200 km) and Chambéry (2 hours, 79 miles/127 km).
Les Arcs Panorama summer
Departing August 2019 for seven nights (flights not included) from £3,940 for a family of four or from £1,703 per person. For more information, visit clubmed.co.uk/r/Les-Arcs-Panorama/s