An independent guide to Val Thorens
Here we have news of what's new in Val Thorens for 2016-17. The Boismint chairlift (which dates from 1987) is to be replaced with a modern 6-seater, and the Roc and Stade draglifts will be supplanted by a Stade chairlift. The artificial snow-making capacity in Val Thorens is being considerably increased. The total budget for this year's investments is €14 million. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2016-17 here.
The Val Thorens tourist office has produced a video, in which Director Gregory Guzzo talks about the new developments for winter 2016-17:
Boismint chairlift, Val Thorens
The old Boismint chairlift is ready for retirement, and is to be replaced by a fast, modern 6-seater. The departure point will be moved a little further forward, to free up some space at a busy junction (departure point of Boismint and la Moutière, and start of boulevard Cumin piste).
The arrival point of Boismint has also had to be moved slightly, to be sure that it is built on solid ground and securely anchored.
Start hut on Stade Yannick Richard, Val Thorens
The lift company in Val Thorens, SETAM, generally undertakes two major lift projects per year, and the second new lift in summer 2016 is a Stade chairlift. It replaces the Roc draglift (a short drag from Rond Point des Pistes up towards the bottom of the Stade) and the Stade draglift. This video shows SETAM using helicopters to lift the pylons for the Stade chair into place:
Draglifts aren't universally popular, so it makes sense to use a chair instead. However, there will be a Val Thorens Ski Club draglift on the bottom half of the Stade, for the exclusive use of the Ski Club during training and competitions.
It's not certain that the new Stade chair will be ready to open on the first day of the season, Saturday 26th November 2016.
Climate change is being felt, even in the highest ski resort
in Europe. Permafrost is melting, and causing some of the lift
installations to move, including pylons of the Plan de l'Eau chairlift
and the Funitel de Thorens. The arrival station of the Rosaël chairlift
in Orelle has become unstable, and is being completely redone.
A big investment is being made in artificial snow-making. The periods when it's cold enough for the snow cannons to function are becoming shorter, so the purpose of the work being done is to increase the amount of snow which can be produced when temperatures are low enough.
Moraine piste, Val Thorens
Looking ahead to summer 2017, the Moraine chairlift will be replaced, and perhaps the Col chair too. If administrative obstacles can be overcome, a chairlift may be built from the bottom of the Plan de l'Eau lift in Val Thorens to the top of the Masse draglift in the Masse sector of Les Menuires.
Hotel Fahrenheit Seven, by ValThorensGuide
The Hotel Mercure is being completely renovated over the summer. (I can vouch for that, because I bought one of their old sofa beds). It will reopen for winter 2016-17 as Hotel Fahrenheit Seven. (7 Fahrenheit is equivalent to -13.89C, which is the ideal temperature for the formation of a snowflake). The new hotel is a project of the Unger and Vidoni families, together with Dominique Tournier (founder of the Folie Douce in Val Thorens) who will be director general of the hotel.
La Datcha will open in winter 2016-17. It's a luxury chalet at the bottom of the Plein Sud piste (just before the skiers' bridge into place Caron), and it's the project of a multi-lingual local family from Val Thorens. La Datcha will be the first ever 'passivhaus' in a ski resort. There are five floors, and a total living area of 1,200m2. The five bedrooms can accommodate a total of 15 people. Guests can take advantage of facilities including golf and Formula 1 simulators, two cinema rooms, two wine cellars, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and hammam, outside jacuzzi-type bath, gym, business centre, and library.
Cinema in La Datcha, photo by Val Thorens tourist office
The Salon de Thé Zen et Décontracté is the brainchild of local girl Aurélie Rey. It's a lounge and tearoom with a relaxed atmosphere in the centre of the resort (place Caron). Part of the premises are given over to an exhibition & boutique featuring local and mountain arts and crafts; the rest is a tearoom/café/delicatessen, where you can indulge in a bowl of soup, a speciality tea, or a beaufort muffin. There'll be yoga sessions in the mornings.
Le Crewzer is a new bar, in the Névés building (rue de Gébroulaz). It's the project of young ski instructors Antoine Diet and Victor Freydrich, and is intended to the HQ of freeriders. They will offer beers from around the world, nibbles, and burgers, and the TVs will show alternative sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing.
Also new for 2015-16, in conjunction with the tourist office, Cameron Robb is offering ski rental with your equipment delivered to your apartment.
As well as skis, poles, and boots, he will have lip balm, socks, and more. He'll be contactable from 7am to 9pm during the week, and 7am to midnight at the weekend.
The main innovation on the piste in Val Thorens for 2015-16 is the creation of a new easy skiercross type course, with rolling bumps, banked corners, and a tunnel - ideal for kids ad lower level skiers and boarders. It's to be called Fun Slope. There'll be a new red run, piste de la Chasse, linking the bottom of Pluviometre to the boulevard Cumin, and new arrangements for touring skiing. Off the piste, the five star Hotel Pashmina opens its doors. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2015-16...
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