We stayed in a family room for one week in mid April 2013. Our four years old son loved the Mini Club and the Mini Club staff actively went our of their way to make him feel welcome and play with him - the Mini Club was the most positive aspect of our holiday and our child loved it. I could not praise the Mini Club staff highly enough - they are the reason this review is an "average" and not a "poor" or "terrible".
There were a number of issues that impacted very negatively on our holiday experience. When we arrived on the Sunday, our son found the Mini Club room on the ground floor - it is a lovely roomy space, with windows with views of the slopes and chairs and tables of a size suitable for young kids. When we registered our son for the Mini Club, we were told that, actually, as there were not many children of his age attending that week, our son would be allocated the Junior's Club room with the older children instead - a horrible space in the basement with no windows, no light, chairs and tables of a height suited to older children and games such as pinball and table football that are completely unsuitable for younger children (they cannot even reach the handles!). I had a stand-up row with the Chef de Village about this on my first day - I said that the allocation of play rooms should not be made for the convenience of the Club Med staff, it should be for the enjoyment of the children. The Chef de Village eventually relented, but not without an argument that I simply should not have had to make.
As for our room, the family room is very small. The two beds for kids are located in the 'hall' of the room leading to the main bedroom and the kids' sleeping area does not have windows. Worst of all was the state of the bathroom. We had mould growing around our bath. Also, the gap between the shower screen and bath was completely unsealed meaning that on each occasion we took a shower, water flowed freely on to the floor, which made the floor sopping wet, slippy and completely unsafe for all of us. In fairness, the bath was resealed at the third time of asking on the Tuesday but we were not able to use the bathroom from morning until evening on the day of the repairs to allow the sealant time to dry and it did not prevent water leaking on to the floor as the shower screen is simply too small. It is a disgrace that the bath was allowed to get into that state and the room allocated to paying clients, and that repairs were then made to the bath on the clients' time with no credit whatsoever.
In general, we found staffing to be an issue. The evening meal service begins at 7.30pm and we found that until around 7pm there would be only one person serving at the bar, at most two. There would be no table service at all until around 7pm. We were told by one GO that she was only serving drinks as there were staff shortages. Also, on two occasions we found communal toilets, one by the ski room and one in the restaurant, without toilet paper, paper towels, soap and even a working hand drier - these are basics that the resort should be getting right. The food and drink were both fine we found.
Our son loved swimming in the pool, but the pool is small and the supervision by the 'lifeguard' is nonchalant. On two evenings in a row, two older children whose parents were not supervising them ran riot in the pool and constantly splashed my son, who is learning how to swim. The 'lifeguard' simply looked on.
It grated with me also that while at the resort, the Club Med way is to earn more money from its clients, not least in the exorbitant rates charged for ski and helmet rental. Also, there is clearly open collusion between the ESF instructors and the resort photographer. On the last day of our ski lessons, we were 'shadowed' by the photographer (we on skis, he on a snowboard). The ESF instructor gathered us without explanation at a particular spot on La Grande Motte Glacier, then about 15 minutes skiing time were wasted while the photographer arranged the skiers for increasingly cheesy photographs. I refused to take part and complained to the instructor that our valuable skiiing time was being wasted with this nonsense, only to be told that he had no choice but to allow the photographer to do this. The resulting photographs can be bought in the dedicated photography shop on the ground floor of the hotel - prices starting at NINE EUROS each for a small print. Worst of all, when I went to visit my son to see him learning to ski at the Mini Club, I found one of the photographers taking numerous pictures of all the kids. No-one had asked my permission for a photographer to approach my son in this way - as far as I was concerned he was learning to ski all day, not posing for photos.
Our ESF instructor was good, but he insisted on taking the group on a longer excursion on the Thursday and going to a restaurant outside of he resort of his choice for lunch - those of us with children simply could not join the party as we would miss lunch with our own children at Club Med and so we lost a whole day of ski lessons while the instructor brought the entire group on an extended trip to a restaurant outside the resort for lunch. I have no idea what arrangement the ESF instructor has with this restaurant, but I felt it was completely inappropriate.
The hotel is clearly showing its age, the rooms and the basement area in particularly, are very much showing their age. We had a very positive experience in Club Med in Val d'Isere previously, but despite the excellent Mini Club, we will not return to Val Claret, it is simply not worth more than EUR 4,000 for a week's stay.