Club Med Crested Butte - ski resort

Club Med Crested Butte: the scoop

Sadly, winter 2005-2006 was the last season for Club Med Crested Butte. This unique resort is much missed!

See Crested Butte Mountain Resort, for a more recent profile of Crested Butte.

It's North America’s only all-inclusive ski resort: but that’s not the only reason to go.

  • "all-inclusive" includes lift tix, ski and 'board lessons
  • the (twice-daily) lessons are excellent
  • kids programs (on and off the slopes) are first-class
  • Club Med ambiance is the friendliest

Club Med: background

Club Med was started by an energertic individual in post-war France, who set up a camping “village” on the Mediterranean using army surplus tents – hence the name “Club Mediterannee”. Much has changed since, and Club Med now has resorts worldwide, many of them opulent: but several key points have stayed the same.

Most notably, all Club Med "villages" have GM's and GO's: GM's are the guests (Gentil membres, or "gracious members") ; and GO's are the staff (gentils organisateurs, "gracious organizers.") Both groups socialize together, which makes a wonderfully friendly ambiance, especially in a family resort: kids love to share a meal with their ski teacher.

Crested Butte: background

The one negative about Crested Butte is also a positive: it ain’t so easy to get there; which means it hasn't turned into an Aspen (yet). Crested Butte is 45 minutes from the airport at Gunnison, Colorado; most guests fly to Gunnison from Denver, though some flights come direct from the east.

Crested Butte is a former mining town, restored into quaint shops and restaurants. A free shuttle runs from the town to the ski area. Club Med has a great location, right at the foot of the Crested Butte ski lifts.

Crested Butte has mainly marketed its X-treme terrain: 60% of its runs are black diamonds. Fortunately for us lesser mortals, there are plenty of blue and green runs too. And Club Med Crested Butte is ready to teach any beginners how to ski or board -- see below.

Runs are relatively short but the snow is terrific, and so nice for easterners: dry snow, no ice.

Club Med Crested Butte: features

Unlike tropical Club Med "villages", this resort is in one low-rise building, located right by the ski lifts. Decor is comfortable rather than swank, with 283 units including some roomy suites; and there's an indoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, massage rooms ( -extra charge).

Lodging, food, drinks (all that ski hot chocolate), lift tickets, lessons, kids programs, are all-included; but equipment rental costs extra.

Crested Butte has 183 GO’s – of 18 nationalities- and a good number of them are dedicated to teaching you to look good on skis or 'boards.

Ski and Snowboard School

Club Med's kids' classes rule the slopes -- read more, below. Many grown-ups take lessons too: probably because lessons are all-included, the approach is very developmental; it's expected you'll participate for several days, and the instructors really aim to take you to "the next level".

Many guests take two lessons a day, and stay for a week. Classes are sorted so that every group is close in ability: this makes for efficient learning time.

* all photos (c) Teresa Plowright

Continue to Club Med Crested Butte, p. 2 for Kids' Programs, Food, Drink, Entertainment, and the Brazilian Connection.

Kids' Programs

continued from Club Med Crested Butte. p. 1

You'll see Club Med's kids' classes all over the mountain: ski school starts at age 4, snowboarding at age six.

When not on the slopes (2 sessions daily), the kids programs occupy the bottom floor of the resort, and two points stand out:

  • the many separate rooms and programs for different ages. Mini Club Med is for ages four to ten, in different sub-groups; Junior Club Med is ages 11 to 13.
  • the lack of screens-- video or tv. The kids play games and have fun! They also create dance numbers for the Mini Show-- see below.

Kids can also do a Siesta evening program, but for an extra charge. As for teens: programs for 14 to 17-year-olds run during peak holidays.

Food & Drink

The buffet restaurant serves three very good spreads a day. Chocolate breads are a specialty of Club Med. In fact, breads have an entire section (-- and desserts have a room--): walnut bread, cheese bread, and – on Asian night— wasabi and cream cheese bread.

Note that most seating is at round tables that seat eight: this is another feature of Club Med; GO's and GM's(guests) eat together and the vibe is friendly.

Each dinner has a theme, and Asian night included sushi, spring rolls, and Mongolian hot-pot. Kids section' is always well-stocked with pasta (with separate sauce,) pizza, and other faves. Kids also like the self-serve ice-cream machines. Don't worry: lots of healthy veggies too.

The resort also has the reservation–only Wilderness Restaurant, and the Cold Creek Grill, which has a sit-down service and also presents beautiful appetizers that you can just pluck and eat.

In late afternoon, hot dogs and other munchies are laid out. And hot chocolates are endlessly available. Vive le all-inclusive!

Food and Drink

"Animation" is a word used at resorts in Europe, and basically means "to animate": to lead games, run activities, maybe sing and dance; and at Club Med this is all done by the 183 GO's with boundless energy. They even put on stage shows, (some impressively ambitious). Read visitors comments' to find out more.

"Crazy signs" are a Club Med trademark: a team of GO’s --and maybe the “chef de village” too-- dance and do hand signs while an avid audience of kids and grown-ups imitate. (Sort of like the Village People.)

The weekly Mini-club show is always a hit: each kids' club age group has costumes suitable for a musical number, and even the youngest group takes a turn on the professional-style stage, complete with proper lights and sounds effects.

Guests wanting more nightlife can try the bars adjacent to the resort, or in the town of Crested Butte. (Free shuttle; just a few minutes away.)

A few more points about Club Med Crested Butte...

Meeting up with older-kid skiers is a breeze. Instead of “meet me at X lift at noon, so we can go have lunch" --which usually means one party hangs around wasting time -- simply meet kids at the restaurant, and if they arrive first they can start on their own. Chances are they'll enjoy the company of friendly GO’s.

The Brazilian Connection:


Why so many guests from so far away? First, they're familiar with Club Med, because of three popular resorts in Brazil. Secondly, these travelers love the ski classes, and the all-inclusive concept. Third: during the Brazilian mini-"high season", kids in the family will find pals who speak Portuguese.

The resort has a half-dozen Brasilian staff. Ski lessons are in English; but it all seems to work out.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.