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Mid mountain resorts have a decade to convert from skiing...

 Poster: A snowHead
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according to Sandra Ferrari who is a French politician based in the French Bauges mountains. It doesn't mean there will be no skiing but resorts need to have sound alternatives in place by 2030 or die.

In France this means resorts with the bottom of the ski runs in the 1000-1500 meter altitudes.
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Remember talking to someone in Canada about the ski season in and around the Banff national park and them telling me that the park gets far more visitors in the Summer months for camping, trekking, biking and other outdoor pursuits by about 3:1 over the winter visitors, which makes sense. If the traditional winter resorts aren't already capitalising on summer visitor trade, they're probably already way behind the curve.
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Richard_Sideways wrote:
Remember talking to someone in Canada about the ski season in and around the Banff national park and them telling me that the park gets far more visitors in the Summer months for camping, trekking, biking and other outdoor pursuits by about 3:1 over the winter visitors, which makes sense. If the traditional winter resorts aren't already capitalising on summer visitor trade, they're probably already way behind the curve.


and as @weathercam has pointed out it has been a bumper summer for ski resorts due to Covid so they need to make sure those people come back
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Richard_Sideways wrote:
Remember talking to someone in Canada about the ski season in and around the Banff national park and them telling me that the park gets far more visitors in the Summer months for camping, trekking, biking and other outdoor pursuits by about 3:1 over the winter visitors, which makes sense. If the traditional winter resorts aren't already capitalising on summer visitor trade, they're probably already way behind the curve.

Most people, even many skiers, go to the beach in the summer. Mountain holidays are a minority in comparison.

Some of the winter destinations were "traditional summer destination" first, winter second. Banff being one such, Jackson Hole another. They make all their money in the summer anyway.

Of the rest of the winter destinations, they SHOULD try to attract summer visitors. But let's not fool ourselves, not all of them will make much difference, try as they may.
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abc wrote:

Most people, even many skiers, go to the beach in the summer. Mountain holidays are a minority in comparison.

Some of the winter destinations were "traditional summer destination" first, winter second. Banff being one such, Jackson Hole another. They make all their money in the summer anyway.

Of the rest of the winter destinations, they SHOULD try to attract summer visitors. But let's not fool ourselves, not all of them will make much difference, try as they may.


This - the reason Banff & Jackson & Tahoe and a few other places are such good bets in winter is a plentitude of accomodation options and services built for the summer peak. And they have a tangible summer draw being National Parks & lakes etc. Places like Chamonix have no problem being a year round destination and of course certain places have really upped their year round attractiveness by committing to MTBing etc e.g. Saalbach, Morzine etc.

But not every above tree line mid tier resort is going to be a draw in Summer. I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me and that's probably one of the more successful. And I hate beaches....
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@Dave of the Marmottes, I know what you mean about Tignes - though I’ve only spent a day there in summer a few years ago so I can’t really say that was fair. I spent the rest of that week in Saint Foy which which lovely in some way but totally dead - you do need a critical mass of people to make it work.
However I‘ve spent many of my weekends mountain biking in Swiss ski resorts this summer, and it‘s been great. Engelberg and Verbier in particular have grown on me to the extent that I‘ve enjoyed them far more this summer than they ever managed in winter. Many of the lifts/bike parks/trails remain open at weekends well into October so they get a decent season out of it too.

I reckon the French resorts could do better / make more out of the summer season than they do at present.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, The resorts being discussed are below the tree line, the one place I have skied in the Bauges is.

If they had fast broadband then I would be happy to live in one.
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It will be interesting to see whether the Pandemic shifts the balance permanently away from long-haul summer destinations. Not to say that people won't go to distant places once in a while, but not as the standard summer holiday. And whether the definition of 'distant' becomes nearer, e.g. anywhere over 90 minutes flight away, for example. IIt's only in the last 40 years that European destinations became considered as 'local'. When I was young (I'm 66) going to France was seen as an exotic excursion; then it became a pretty standard destination for our family holidays, and then in the last 15 years, it became the place where a number of my British friends lived, while they commuted to work in the UK.

So one scenario I see is that as Alpine resorts become increasingly unviable as ski-only destinations, they do indeed shift back to the sort of balance that places like Chamonix never abandoned: great locations for a summer holiday home or holiday base, that in addition offers some winter skiing if the conditions are right. But I suspect that only a minority will succeed, leaving the rest behind as much less desirable locations.
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It's true Banff gets more tourists in summer than winter. I'm not sure many of those tourists are visiting the ski resorts though, they are there for the surrounding area. A better example is Whistler, which attracts summer tourists mainly for the mountain, which a fair bit of is treeline and below. They did this by becoming one of the best mountain bike destinations. If you already have the lifts mountain biking seems like an obvious way to go. Could also add in some family style activities (lip lines, Go ape kind of climbing courses etc.) as I imagine there must be quite a lot of active families who don't want a beach holiday.

I do a lot of hiking, but the Alps has never appealed. Part of the experience is getting away from people and civilisation which I think would be hard within a ski resort.
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Quote:

Part of the experience is getting away from people and civilisation which I think would be hard within a ski resort.

Only a very small proportion of the "hiking country" available in the Alps is "within a ski resort".
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Gämsbock wrote:

However I‘ve spent many of my weekends mountain biking in Swiss ski resorts this summer, and it‘s been great. Engelberg and Verbier in particular have grown on me to the extent that I‘ve enjoyed them far more this summer than they ever managed in winter. Many of the lifts/bike parks/trails remain open at weekends well into October so they get a decent season out of it too.


Not just weekends!


And re hiking, biking, climbing etc being able to use lifts opens up possibilities that wouldn’t be as accessible if hiking from the valley.
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@BobinCH, only weekends because usually during the week I‘m working! I‘ve been in Verbier this whole week and not everything is still open all week but from my perspective it‘s great that the weekend season goes until end of October.
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Gämsbock wrote:
@BobinCH, only weekends because usually during the week I‘m working! I‘ve been in Verbier this whole week and not everything is still open all week but from my perspective it‘s great that the weekend season goes until end of October.


Will be there on Sunday for some downhill with junior. Be good to say hello if you’re still around.
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The first generation Alpine ski resorts were summer resorts that added skiing on to entice visitors in the dead winter months. The second generation resorts were the purpose built winter resorts, which I presume are the ones Ms Ferrari is referring to, and especially those ones with lower altitude upper slopes.
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Quote:
I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me and that's probably one of the more successful. And I hate beaches....


I think any mountain lover would love Tignes in the Summer. And not forgetting you can ski there then as well. Very Happy It's a great place and is well worth a visit.
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@BobinCH, unfortunately not this Sunday but we‘re already planning further trips (over weekends) so hopefully another time!
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Kenzie wrote:
The second generation resorts were the purpose built winter resorts, which I presume are the ones Ms Ferrari is referring to, and especially those ones with lower altitude upper slopes.

There is some accommodation in Aillon-Margériaz but I wouldn't really describe it as a purpose built winter resort, it is a fairly short drive from Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains. She is the mayor of the commune next to it.
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Quote:
But not every above tree line mid tier resort is going to be a draw in Summer. I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me
Then don't go and best stick with a full English & Sky Sports at the Rose & Crown in Benidorm Toofy Grin In which case you'll never know what you're missing - like the wonders of summer skiing; high altitude hikes & amazing mountain bike trails (with free lifts); swathes of wonderful wildflowers; crossing paths with marmots; boating on a cobalt-blue, natural, mountain lake; Europe's highest golf course; archery; pony trekking; beach volley ball; tennis; white water rafting; parcours; mountain refuges; crystal-clear mountain streams; temperatures of 25C plus under an azure blue sky...and more that I just can't recall... Then again, it's each to their own, as ever wink
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@mountainaddict to be fair summer in tignes also has no appeal to me, which doesn't mean I have ever been to benidorm. Why would you go to France when you have the wonders of the Andes, Himalayas, Karakorum, Tianshan? The Alps is the benidorm of the mountain world Toofy Grin

Quote:

Only a very small proportion of the "hiking country" available in the Alps is "within a ski resort".


I was just suggesting I'm not sure how many hikers would be attracted to go and stay in a ski resort. Although I do have the perception of the Alps being overdeveloped. It's clearly not as blessed with vast amounts of backcountry as other places. I don't want the hassle of having to book an overpriced refuge months in advance or not being able to wild camp. I would be interested for some suggetions of some nice more off the beaten path treks to try in the Alps, maybe I can have my opinion changed.
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One of the biggest surprises to me was how good StG was in the summer, at 849 meters it is in the target
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The PDS resorts pretty much have their summer seasons nailed which bodes well for the future. We were in Chatel for most of summer and was swelled with the French choosing to take stay-cations in the alps this year - was the busiest i have ever seen it in summer which did cause some over crowding in the popular areas and carparks (eg Linderets). There were easily avoidable with local knowledge and not hard at all to find remote locations when trying. Year round villages between 1000-1500 meters are ideal as below tree line, have lots of pastures and not overly exposed to the elements. Good also for road cycling as avoids the need to climb up a mountain at the end of a ride. Hopefully more villages will see the writing on the wall and transform to viable summer destinations taking the load off the popular areas. I for one prefer the concept of year round destination and ski in winter above 1500m taking the good and the bad.
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We first went to Les Carroz for a summer holiday as we are not beach people. We had no clue what the skiing was like before we bought our place Shocked . I think the places that are year round villages - and as such lower than the purpose built places have been working very hard and many now have a decent summer season. Flaine has a summer season and last summer they did music camps and the sounds was wonderful as it reverberated off the concrete.
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If this is related to climate change (global warming), then the low lying areas will be intolerable and people will naturally gravitate to cooler climes with fresher air.

Already happens on Hokkaido, Japan.

Far more summer visitors from Asia compared with winter to get away away from hot, humid summer weather in their own countries.
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Quote:

Far more summer visitors from Asia compared with winter to get away away from hot, humid summer weather in their own countries.


There has been a huge increase in the number of Asian tour groups going to Banff in the summers. I just assumed this was due to increasing disposable income and social trends, rather than getting away from conditions in their own countries.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

Far more summer visitors from Asia compared with winter to get away away from hot, humid summer weather in their own countries.


There has been a huge increase in the number of Asian tour groups going to Banff in the summers. I just assumed this was due to increasing disposable income and social trends, rather than getting away from conditions in their own countries.

Both.

Much of southeast Asia are hot and humid in the summer. It only take a small minority heading to Hokkaido to make a big impression.

Japan used to have the image of being "closed" to non-Japanese and difficult to navigate. But that has slowly change (not sure it's for real, but nonetheless the image has changed for sure). Hokkaido specially, had gone out of its way to promote itself outside of Japan too. So it's now the top pick of destination for the well-heeled from all over southeast Asia.

Asia could use a good many more summer holiday destinations. Both in the cooler climate regions, and in the tropical region that stay nice year round.
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mountainaddict wrote:
Quote:
But not every above tree line mid tier resort is going to be a draw in Summer. I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me
Then don't go and best stick with a full English & Sky Sports at the Rose & Crown in Benidorm Toofy Grin In which case you'll never know what you're missing - like the wonders of summer skiing; high altitude hikes & amazing mountain bike trails (with free lifts); swathes of wonderful wildflowers; crossing paths with marmots; boating on a cobalt-blue, natural, mountain lake; Europe's highest golf course; archery; pony trekking; beach volley ball; tennis; white water rafting; parcours; mountain refuges; crystal-clear mountain streams; temperatures of 25C plus under an azure blue sky...and more that I just can't recall... Then again, it's each to their own, as ever wink



I can all of those bar the specific golf course brag in a pleasant Austrian village. I'm just making the point that the vibe of Tignes says Bracknell to me more than Brockenhurst.
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Bergmeister wrote:
Quote:
I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me and that's probably one of the more successful. And I hate beaches....


I think any mountain lover would love Tignes in the Summer. And not forgetting you can ski there then as well. Very Happy It's a great place and is well worth a visit.

Must admit I have visited Tignes once out of season in October many years ago and thought it was a bit unattractive as far as mountains go. Plenty to do but I'd rather have a bit more variety of scenery than ski lifts and bulldozed piste tracks. I've preferred other resorts in the summer that I've visited.
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boarder2020 wrote:
............I would be interested for some suggetions of some nice more off the beaten path treks to try in the Alps, maybe I can have my opinion changed.....


Hiking / Randonee was there way before skiing and where I live (1400m) the station was only developed on the Northern slopes, whilst the Southern side of the valley* is wild and all around we're surrounded by National Parks where accommodation is bountiful either in campsites, gites, hotels and at altitude (2,000m+) refuges.

There are networks of multiday tour hikes these are just a couple of examples.

https://www.gr-infos.com/en/gr54.htm

https://www.gr-infos.com/en/gr58.htm

My friends run a Hotel in La Grave and that was a randonee hotel before the lift was even built, and in many villages Gites and Refuges are only open in the Summer!

And obviously, if you want something more demanding than a simple trek there are exposed ridge hikes, glaciers and so so much stuff to do.

*exhibit A https://www.strava.com/activities/3412536289
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T Bar wrote:
Bergmeister wrote:
Quote:
I've heard Tignes has plenty going on but it just doesn't feel appealing to me and that's probably one of the more successful. And I hate beaches....


I think any mountain lover would love Tignes in the Summer. And not forgetting you can ski there then as well. Very Happy It's a great place and is well worth a visit.

Must admit I have visited Tignes once out of season in October many years ago and thought it was a bit unattractive as far as mountains go. Plenty to do but I'd rather have a bit more variety of scenery than ski lifts and bulldozed piste tracks. I've preferred other resorts in the summer that I've visited.


I've never been in the summer but our resident expert instructor and VdI resident (I know, not Tignes but close by) has posted some summer pics of Val that look fab.
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@weathercam they look like perfectly nice hikes. If I lived close by would be more than happy doing them. They are still a bit developed for my personal liking (lots of roads and settlements around), but I get for some people that's a bonus. My expectations are probably too high from being spoiled hiking elsewhere in the world. I think my preferences for now still lie outside Europe, although lofoten islands are very tempting. If longer distance international travel is still difficult next summer, maybe I'll give France a chance.
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Wife, youngest son and I spent 2 weeks in Mayrhofen during the summer a few years back and absolutely loved it. Sun, heat, mountain scenery, outdoor pools, rafting, canyoning, lift assisted hiking, mountain biking... what's not to love? Almost as good as skiing, almost.
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@boarder2020, there is some fantastic hiking in the Alps, but the established routes (like the GRN in France) are indeed popular and no doubt frustrating to remote hikers like you. That wouldn't stop you choosing your own routes from a map, or hiring a local guide, though.

(I have also seriously considered the Lotofens, but they get booked out in the summer and I suspect you would frequently find yourself in the villages, if only to take the necessary ferries).
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@j b I'm sure you are correct. Unfortunately it's the more popular classic hikes you see when googling, I'm sure that are better areas but require a bit more research to find. For lofoten I saw this route https://www.rando-lofoten.net/en/the-long-crossing-from-north-to-south-on-the-lofoten-islands plan is to go a little outside the tourist season and wild camp the whole time (partly just do to costs, but has the benefit of avoiding some of the crowds). Under no illusion it's not a huge tourist spot though, and yes will need to visit some bigger places for supplies and transport. I think the appeal of lofoten is the scenery which looks unlike anywhere else (except maybe Iceland), whereas I don't feel European Alps is so unique. For example Kyrgyzstan has similar scenery without the crowds, and more interesting culture (walking all day without seeing another person and then coming across a nomadic family that invites you to stay overnight in their yurt is pretty special). There are other places I consider to have better trekking scenery than European Alps (e.g. Nepal).

I'm not trying to be so negative about the Alps, the views are certainly good, and there are good hiking opportunities. It's just other places fit my personal interests a little better. Perhaps I just resent the idea that me not wanting to go to tignes in the summer means I must be a fan of benidorm Toofy Grin
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@boarder2020, all I say is that Doug Coombes upsticks and moved from North America to La Grave, doesn't that tell you something?

And I still remember being with a guy who turned out to be the resort director of Whistler who just could not believe the scale of the terrain.

Plus as@j b, the likes of the Lofotens / Lyngen get rammed in the Summer as all the Scandis go to their hüttes, for sure go out of High Season and you have other options Cool

This was our first trip (I've done 5) nigh on 25yrs ago as we sailed into the Artic Circle - this is actually a film a mate produced, way before the days of YouTube etc so if bored in the office etc

Lyngen Alps and beyond from Weathercam
https://vimeo.com/37420924
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The Alps are BIG. Even in popular areas, like Verbier, with a short hike it is easy to get away from people, Summer and Winter! Not sure about wild camping though.
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@boarder2020, surely as this is about how ski resorts/villages can (return to) appeal summer visitors, then you're never going to be part of the demographic they need to appeal to.
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davidof wrote:
It doesn't mean there will be no skiing but resorts need to have sound alternatives in place by 2030 or die.
Surely this is about revenue. Most resorts will generate most off their income during the ski season and for the French ones this may be concentrated into the school holidays. It may have been a busy summer in the mountains but the resorts will not have been extracting 50EUR a day from the visitors to walk around the slopes.
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@BobinCH, is it allowed...or just done regardless?
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BergenBergen wrote:
davidof wrote:
It doesn't mean there will be no skiing but resorts need to have sound alternatives in place by 2030 or die.
Surely this is about revenue. Most resorts will generate most off their income during the ski season and for the French ones this may be concentrated into the school holidays. It may have been a busy summer in the mountains but the resorts will not have been extracting 50EUR a day from the visitors to walk around the slopes.


That is going to be a challenge but resorts like Tignes are going to be ok for a while yet, perhaps a generation before they are severely impacted. This is more about mid mountain resorts such as la Feclaz where Sandra Ferrari lives or even bigger spots like les 7 Laux near Grenoble or la Clusaz.

There are a couple of layers to these resort's economics.

1. landowners who sell off land for property development - suddenly some Savoyard peasant becomes daddy warbucks because someone built a ski resort by his cowshed. I guess most of these folk have made their money and passed on the risk to people who have bought property.
2. local business people with cafes, ski instructing gigs, sleigh rides - they need to be thinking closely about what they will be doing for work in 2030 if they are under 50 today.

In the case of 2, can the resort develop enough to run create summer jobs? At la Feclaz for example there is a big rollerski track but this has been criticized as a waste of money.
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What if the people calling for Grand Solar minimum are correct and the mid latitudes experience decades of much colder conditions than they have recently. I don't see why that can't be a credible possibility, as the experts at NOAA are predicting very low solar activity for the next cycle into 2030.

In any case, even it if continues to warm up there can still be plenty of skiing at low altitudes. We've seen temperatures creep up over the last 30-40years but snowfall has remained decent, even at 1200m. Of course there are poor years, just like there were in every decade but resorts have adapted with more artificial snow making and piste management.

Summer markets have developed strongly in the meantime, populations are growing, a lot of europe is becoming too hot to enjoy sea level vacations etc so there is no reason to think that summer season in the alps can't be extended and become even more profitable. There are vast amounts of incredible terrain still untouched.

If I look at the worst case scenario and the natural winter snowline rises to 1500-1800m, I won't be selling up or skiing any less. Either head to a higher resort nearby, or just enjoy the maybe once a month snowfall to low levels. From a purely selfish point of view I wouldn't be too upset if tourism levels fell dramatically in somewhere like the PdS. I don't have any business interests, so worst case the value of property will fall, but there's no sign of that happening at the moment either.

Many of the villages in the 1000-1400m range will remain popular places to live even with reduced snowfall. Especially with big cities nearby and the trend in working remotely etc.
So colder winters will epic, and warmer winters will be quieter, how bad.
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