We open tomorrow at 8:30 AM
We open tomorrow at 8:30 AM

Sustainable Skiing and Our Commitment to Change

Collectively we can take action to help ensure the future of ski holidays.

Skiing evolved from a means of travel into a leisure activity as early as 1767. As debutants in the history of skiing, we’ve only been helping guests enjoy the mountains for the last 30 years or so, nonetheless we are acutely aware of our responsibility to protect our mountains for future generations.
We don’t profess to have all the answers and we’re only starting out on our own sustainability journey, but we have a fierce community commitment to seek practical improvements every day. We recognise our responsibility to make the VIP SKI experience as sustainable as we possibly can without compromising our service in any way.

Why we need to act now. The evolving truth in front of our eyes

As a wizened old mountain guide and friend said to Andy at the top of La Grande Sassière in August in 2008, “ça fait pleurer le cœur quand je vois les glaciers saigner à mort” “it makes the heart cry when I see the glaciers bleeding to death”. All of this is caused by global warming, which is complex, and no doubt a frequent event in past millennia, but it is certainly accelerated by our own current behaviours.

  • Switzerland has lost half the number of glaciers it once had
  • The melt rate is accelerating, and some predict all glaciers may have disappeared by the end of this century
  • Between 1931 and 2016 1,400 glaciers lost half of their volume of ice
  • Since 2016 glaciers have lost another 12% of ice over just six years
  • The teleskis that serviced summer skiing in Tignes only 30 years ago are now abandoned in the fauna hundreds of meters below the snow
  • Passo Stelvio (Italy), Tignes and Zermatt suspended summer skiing in 2023, Val d’Isère and Les Deux Alpes didn’t open at all.
The latest concerns centre on the impact on the water reserves of Europe with glaciers referred to as the ‘water towers of Europe’. The glaciers store the winter snow, and then release some of it over the summer months. They provide water for Europe’s rivers and reservoirs, used for everything from watering crops to cooling nuclear power stations. In France and Switzerland nuclear power stations have had to reduce capacity because the water to cool them is limited.

It seems like tomorrow’s problem but its real and happening now.

So what can we do. Our commitments to change

Some of the following we have already implemented, some are ongoing. This is small stuff, doesn’t impact the quality of our service, but collectively makes a really big difference.

  • Upgrading our chalets and locations to use less energy and touch the planet more gently, skiing to the door above 1800m altitude means no transport to the slopes
  • Installing LED & water vapour fires rather than open chimneys in our more recent developments
  • Installing only LED lightbulbs in new developments and upgrading all of our existing lighting
  • Constantly adjusting our menus to minimise waste
  • Online shopping with local suppliers to minimise our carbon footprint and reduce packaging by buying in bulk.
  • Installation of electric car chargers in new developments such as Bear Lodge and a roll out of car charging facilities and assistance elsewhere in our programme
  • Refillable and sustainable water bottles in every bedroom
  • Replaced miniature toiletries with large refillable and sustainable pump bottles
  • Encouraging sensible use of bath robes and disposable slippers on request rather than standard
  • Refillable cleaning products with increased bio ingredients and washable cloths
  • Producing sparkling water with local water and disposing of purchased plastic bottles
Helping our colleagues be mindful of the consequences of their actions
  • Switch the lights off (again and again and again and again)
  • Check the windows and doors are always closed, heat the house not the pistes
  • Ensure the heating and water are set at a sensible temperature
  • Turning bathroom radiators down or off
  • Ensuring wellness facilities are off or on a timer
  • Ensuring hot tub covers are on and secured
  • Efficient use of boot warmers, an hour at night, an hour in the morning, no more
  • Fill the dishwasher correctly to maximise the use of a cycle
  • Look after kitchen equipment and crockery: less breakage, less rubbish, less landfill

In the big picture we also make every effort to
  • Raise awareness of the impact our daily choices have on the environment
  • Seek out partners and suppliers that are operating more responsibly
  • Communicate clearly and honestly, with full transparency
  • Help to raise awareness and support for environmental charities and businesses
  • Inspire change in people through their love of the mountains

Our resort partners actions towards sustainability

Cars have never been allowed in Avoriaz or Arc 1950, so the centres are mercifully free of belching exhausts, keeping carbon emissions low and the air extremely clean. In both resorts much has been done with efficiency in mind, from long life lighting to the way roofs are built to retain snow for insulation. Les Arcs are campaigning to move forwards responsibly and towards sustainable tourism.

Avoriaz runs on biofuel, thanks to a dual energy wood heating system backed up by electric. Recycling bins are dotted all over both resorts so you can deal with rubbish responsibly, and the snowmobiles are electric powered. There’s even an eco-snowpark in Avoriaz, the STASH, built from fallen trees. Avoriaz have named their commitment to environmental protection ‘Green Spirit’.

Val d’Isère still has cars but understands its responsibility at the centre of a vast national park. The largest linked ski area to be awarded the Green Globe in 2016 is working hard on its environmental credentials. Frozen snow packed roads have been mercifully free of salt of some years now. Most of the resort buses are now fully electric. The resort also plants 5 trees for every 1 tree it cuts down and the new snow cannons use half as much water to produce twice as much snow in half the time compared to 20 years ago. Since 2012, Val d’Isère Téléphériques has held a green-electricity contract with its energy supplier and from 2022 solar panels produce 70 kWh of electricity. So it’s doing a lot, but recognises that it can do much more.

It’s hard for the lower resorts of Morzine or Les Gets. The old village charm that remains their appeal was built hundreds of years ago when the environment was a beast to be tamed, not maintained for future generations. The beautiful villages now struggle with cars and a dependence on snow cannons, but the locals are fighting hard and Morzine-Avoriaz has quite admirably just been awarded the Flocon Vert sustainability label for its efforts.

The resorts recognise they cannot banish lifts or snow cannons, but their ambitious initiatives focus on doing what they can; greener public transport systems, new pedestrian areas, traffic reduction measures, reducing waste and helping local businesses become greener.

Collectively and as a community we can make an impact.

If we don't think about what's right for the planet now, we might not have a ski holiday to look forward to.

Read how skiers can be more sustainable on the slopes in our blog for ideas how you might do your bit to ensure the future of skiing.

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