What’s new in Val d’Isère winter 2015/16

Redevelopment of Solaise

It’s been talked about for years, but work finally got underway this summer on the first stage of a €16 (£11.1m) million two-year project to entirely redevelop the top of Solaise, one of the two iconic mountains reached from the front de neige base area.

In this case, ‘redevelop’ means literally to reshape the summit. Bulldozers have shifted 70,000 cubic metres – a million tons – of earth to create the setting for a whole new mid-mountain station at 2500m that, from this winter, will be the focal point for skiers and snowboarders.

 The old Solaise Express four-person chair-lift, along with the cable-car, continue this winter to provide mountain access. However, from November 2016 these will be replaced by a 10-person gondola with 91 cabins, complete with heated seats and wifi.  You can park your skis in exterior baskets or bring them inside – the choice speeds up loading time.

The new gondola will increase capacity by 40% and can carry up to 3,600 passengers per hour, bringing an end to any previous peak hour bottlenecks at the base on high season dates. Journey time will be just seven minutes.

On the Val side of Solaise a giant, covered magic carpet lift has replaced the old Terrasse button lift. This serves a new secluded beginner area for both adults and children without the distraction of other skiers whizzing by.

The slope has been regraded from around 16% to 7% to make it a secure learning area. The lift also serves a new tubing area for kids and adults. On the far side of Solaise twin, covered magic carpets have replaced the short double chair that brought you to the summit.

Top stations for all three lifts are on one level beside the new day lodge containing a café, a picnic area, a sun terrace and toilets. It’s a place where you can relax and enjoy spectacular views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The lift company has taken every step to minimise the environmental impact of the project. The redevelopment reduces the number of lift stations from a total of eight with 34 pylons to just two with 16 pylons.

For every tree that has been cut down five others have been planted. Clumps of Sylène de Suède (viscaria alpina), a wild flower with distinctive pink petals that grows naturally in the area of the day lodge, have been carefully dug up and relocated nearby.

The gondola machinery is being buried underground at the base area. This significantly reduces the noise impact both for inhabitants and the fauna living around the front de neige.

To find out more, visit http://urlz.fr/1Zfohttp://www.valdiserepass.com/fr/

New Website

The official resort website valdisere.com is in the process of being entirely redesigned and rebuilt for this winter in multi-lingual format. Key points are up-to-date reports on weather and snow conditions as well as a forecast for the days ahead, along with blogs and social media.  The replacement website will go online in the autumn.

Best Snow App in the World?

We think so. Last December Val d’Isère hosted its first Hackathon. During three days of competition, ten teams of developers from around the world gathered in the resort. They wandered, observed, noted in great detail everything they deemed to be important components of a holiday.

A sample number of guests then got the chance to try them out for themselves and choose the winner. The result, available for this winter, is the definitive resort app with constantly evolving content adapted for each user.  The new app will be available for download before the start of the season.

New Snowmaking

For this winter, a whole new snow-making facility has been built to service the Solaise development. Val d’Isère has guaranteed snow-cover from November until May, but in a dry winter the production of artificial snow plays a key role in keeping the 300km of pistes in Espace Killy in pristine condition.

Last December slopes in most Alpine resorts remained stubbornly green in the poorest December snow-cover in 40 years. But Christmas visitors to Val were amazed to find that all the main runs were open and – and with piped assistance – in great shape.

Le Snow Factory, located in a giant hangar beside the Olympique gondola, is the largest snowmaking facility in Europe and was developed almost entirely by engineers in Val d’Isère – only the cannon nozzles come from Canada.

Fortuitously, the factory came on stream in the nick of time last December, pumping out sufficient snow to fill an Olympic-sized swimming-pool in 30 minutes, to cover Wembley stadium to a depth of half a metre in just 60 minute, and the whole Bellevarde mountain that towers above it in less than a week. Le Snow Factory cost €3 million (£2.1m) to build.

Hotel News

Le Savoie, set back from the main street in the centre of town, is one of Val d’Isère’s exclusive five-star hotels. From this winter it now becomes a new luxury home for guests of Inghams, Ski Total, and Esprit. The Chalet Hotel sleeps up to 87 people, in a choice of spacious bedrooms and suites, all with en suite bathrooms with separate WC.

Neighbouring buildings on the street, including La Perdrix Blanche, have been demolished to make way for a whole new building complex. This includes an underground car park, apartments and a replacement restaurant part-owned by the Killy family of Jean-Claude fame (see restaurants below). For more information on Le Savoie, contact:

inghams.co.uk / 01483 791 114, or skitotal.com / 01483 791 933, or espritski.com / 01483 791 900

Five-star Le Yule is a new ski-in, ski-out hotel on the edge of the front de neige. The hotel has 41 bedrooms, most of which offer exceptional views of the piste. You can lunch in the brasserie or on the sun terrace. In the evening, dine on regional specialities in front of a roaring log fire. The Yule also has a lounge bar, swimming-pool, wellness area (three treatment rooms, two saunas and a steam room), a hairdresser, a ski shop, games room, and a cinema. http://www.leyule.fr/

Hotel Le Samovar in La Daille now has four stars. Improvements include a spa with Pure Altitude products, a south-facing terrace for all the first floor rooms, along with a new bar and rooms. http://www.lesamovar.com/fr/

Hotel Village La Mourra is a new luxury hotel complex at the top end of town that will hopefully be completed in time for this winter. The Hotel Village is designed in the style of a typical Savoyard hamlet. It’s owned and run by the team from the five-star Le Blizzard and has ten suites, along with four large chalets with five to seven bedrooms, home cinema, and a Clarins spa with pool, steam room, sauna, and treatment rooms. Contact Hotel Le Blizzard (www.hotelblizzard.com) for more details.


The Fondue Factory, serving traditional Savoyard specialities, grills and salads, replaces La Perdrix Blanche. Along with a salon de thé, it’s part of a new leisure and dining complex that also houses a permanent display of skis from the 19th century to the present day.

For nearly 60 years, the Killy family has gathered over 1,000 pairs. Robert Killy started the collection after World War ll and his son, Jean-Claude, added to it during his racing career. Pride of place goes two pairs belonging to Val d`Isère’s triple Olympic champion: the first, Jean-Claude used to win the downhill at the 1966 Alpine Ski World Championships in Portillo, Chile. The second pair he wore to win no less than seven World Cup downhills in 1967.

L’Atelier d’Edmond, opposite the cable-car at Le Fornet, is one of only 80 restaurants in France to be awarded two Michelin stars for its original cuisine presided over by chef Benoit Vidal. For a truly unique gastronomic experience book a table in the main restaurant. The adjoining Brasserie Gourmand gives you a taste of what to expect, with a daily low-cost formule skieur menu. http://www.atelier-edmond.com/en/index.php

Anyone for Bowls?

Five-star Hotel Les Barmes de l’Ours now has a two-lane bowling alley, which caters for parties of up to 12 people and is open to non-residents. There’s also a snooker table and a kids’ mini-club. http://www.hotellesbarmes.com/

 Tour Operator News

Alpine Elements has two new chalets for this winter. Chalet Tutelière (sleeps up to 21) is a traditional stone-built chalet at the foot of Bellevarde. All bedrooms are brightly decorated and some have balconies with mountain views. Chalet Vero (sleeps 8) is built of traditional stone and is in an excellent location, a five-minute stroll from the town centre. www.alpineelements.co.uk

Consensio has taken on two more luxury chalets for this winter and now has six in all: Le Solyneou (sleeps 8+4) successfully blends traditional Alpine style with cool, contemporary features. Its central location is convenient both for the skiing and for the shops and restaurants. The swimming-pool has a fountain and corner jets. There’s also a steam room and outdoor hot tub. Le Rocher (sleeps 14) is in a ski-in ski-out position with commanding views over the resort. It has a pool with jetstream and a projector screen. There’s an outdoor hot tub heated by a log-burner, a steam room and a fully equipped gym. www.consensiochalets.co.uk

Fish&Pips features a new uncatered apartment. Marmotte (sleeps 8) is located on the first floor of the Aiglon apartment complex, just 200m from the nursery slopes and main Solaise and Bellevarde lifts. The interior is finished to a high standard and provides a balance mix of contemporary and traditional furnishings. All four bedrooms have their own bathrooms, and the open-plan sitting and dining area is spacious and extremely comfortable. www.fishandpips.co.uk

 Neilson guests staying at Chalet La Vieille Maison (sleeps 12) in La Daille will be able to take advantage of the company’s new Mountain Experts service this season. As an inclusive part of the holiday with fully-qualified ski and snowboard instructors to provide free piste guiding and coaching. The service – Neilson’s answer to the current ban in France on social ski hosting – is aimed at confident blue- and red-run skiers. The instructors will show guests around the mountain whilst also offering professional tuition. These aren’t structured lessons, but a fun and inclusive way to get your ski legs back, make the most of the mountain and improve technique at the same time.  Pre-booking isn’t necessary, anyone wishing to take advantage of the service can simply sign up when they reach the resort.  Neilson guarantees at least two sessions per week.  www.neilson.co.uk

Powder White has six new catered chalets for this coming season. The Marwari, The Pinto, and The Nokota each sleep eight and in a new-build apartment building behind Hotel Le Savoie. Chalet Acajuma (sleeps 12) is a large new freestanding chalet on three floors close to the town centre in rue de la Balme. The company has also taken on the Grand Chevril (sleeps 8) and Petit Chevril (sleeps 6) that together form a freestanding chalet on the main street. www.powderwhite.com

Scott Dunn has taken on a brand new chalet, bringing their total to 14. Chalet Shar Pei  (sleeps 8+2) is their chalet that is closest to the lifts – just a couple of minutes from the Olympique gondola and Solaise Express.  It has a pool, steam room and a large top floor balcony with views across both La Face and Solaise.  www.scottdunn.com

Ski Collection has taken on chalets (sleeps 8 to 12) belonging to the Hotel Le Samovar (see Hotel News above) in an almost ski-in, ski-out position at La Daille. Full of traditional alpine charm, each room is individually decorated with naturally coloured fabrics www.skicollection.co.uk

Ski Independence is offering packages to the new five-star Hotel Le Yule (see Hotel News above) and also to the four-star résidence Les Chalets du Jardin Alpin. These one- to five-bedroom apartments are in two modern chalet buildings in La Legettaz district of town. www.ski-i.com

Ski Weekends has added three hotels to its list of flexible accommodation for weekends and mid-week breaks. These are five-star Hotel Les Barmes de l’Ours, four-star Hotel Ormelune and three-star Hotel Altitude.  www.skiweekends.com 

Skiworld has added the three-star Hotel Altitude to its accommodation portfolio of 12 chalets, a ski lodge, and three apartments. The hotel is ski in/ski out and ideally located for lifts serving both Solaise and Bellevarde. It’s a charming chalet-style building, furnished with authentic Savoyard décor throughout. www.skiworld.co.uk

 VIP SKI’s CLUB Bellevarde (sleeps 24) is an imposing stone-and-timber lodge situated on the edge of the Santons piste. New for this winter is a top-to-bottom refurbishment including bedrooms, a new conference room, as well as a new spa complex with pool, sauna, steam room, and massage rooms. CLUB Chalets are reserved by the room and gives the opportunity to meet like-minded skiers and families in the surroundings of a larger chalet environment. There are plump sofas in front of an open fire, a cosy bar with unlimited draft beer and wine, and high tec entertainment. The Chalet has CLUB chefs who offer a flexible menu plan and a choice of dishes, twin or double rooms and twin hot tubs on the sprawling terrace. www.vip-chalets.com

For more information please visit: www.valdisere.com