We might take the ski lifts and the pistes for granted on our ski or snowboard holidays, but if you start to think about the effort it takes to keep the lifts running smoothly, to get the pistes groomed to perfection overnight each night, and updating and modernising existing lift systems and equipment, you can appreciate it's a huge task - especially in the largest linked ski area in the world the 3 Valleys!
Last year the Société des Trois Vallées spent over €50 million in the area which resulted in new & refurbished lifts, faster journey times and an increase in capacity - getting you to the slopes faster and in more volume than ever before. And it doesn't stop there, S3V already have plans in place to develop the area further, adding new lifts and upgrading existing ones, adding new ski areas and pistes right the way through to 2022.
We wanted to find out a bit more about this dynamic company, so we caught up with head of Marketing & Sales and member of the board Jean-Pierre Lalanne, who tells us not only about their history, but their plans for the future, but not being able to keep up with his kids on skis and tending to veggies in his down-time...
Jean-Pierre - tell us a little bit about your business, how it started out and where you're based...
My company, the “Société des Trois Vallées” manages the ski areas of Courchevel, La Tania and Méribel-Mottaret. We operate 77 lifts and 116 runs in the 3 Vallées. The company was founded in 1946 by the Conseil Général de la Savoie (General Council of SAVOIE). In 1972, we created Méribel-Mottaret allowing the 3 Valleys to be fully connected and in 1989, the ski resort of La Tania. The company is known for its innovative ideas such as: the 1st grooming machine in the French alps, tjhe 1st ski patrol in the French alps, the 1st detachable chairlift in the French alps... My office is in La Croisette in Courchevel 1850… almost on the slopes!
How long have you been in your current role and how long have you been with the company?
I have been working for the company for 22 years (the coming season will be my 23rd) and I am Marketing and sales manager, and a member of the board of the company since 2001.
What makes Courchevel & Meribel a special place to be for someone in your profession?
These resorts are among the nicest in the Alps, with undoubtedly the largest ski area in the world fully connected. Moreover, their success allows us to go on investing and improving, which is a fantastic challenge for us.
What are the best bits about your job?
Living in the mountains (a dream come true), many opportunities to ski, to be in contact with sports enthusiasts, and to meet people from all over the world.
And the worst bits?
Spending almost 5 months without leaving the valley, giving me little time to devote to my family and friends in winter.
What is in store for the future with your business, any exciting projects in the pipelines that you can share with us?
We are the no.1 investor in ski areas in France for the next 10 years. For me, as a member of the board of the company, it’s an opportunity to contribute to the history of the 3 valleys (see files enclosed)
What are you personal and professional goals for the future?
Personal goals: To hike on as many mountain ranges as possible all over the world (I already climbed Ben Nevis in winter 1987). Professional: Ensure the sustainability and investment capacity of S3V.
What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing?
Favorite piste: In Courchevel: Saulire between 9 and 10 am (Marvellous grooming, best run for carving…. Yeeeessssssssss) or Combe des Pylônes after that - You get perfect snow on this North facing slope. In Méribel: Combe du Vallon (For the scenery and the length of the runs).
Where would send someone who was after that something 'something special' in resort, to stay, eat or drink, and what is your favourite place for lunch or dinner?
What has been your best ever day in this area?
In January 2013 I was skiing with my wife, son and daughter. It was1 full day skiing in the 3 Valleys, with great snow, great scenery, a stop at a great mountain restaurant (Chalet de la marine in Val Thorens). For the 1st time ever I couldn’t follow my son and daughter…. Wouah! To ski the 3 valleys this day was like a ski trip having fun… enjoying all the runs, all the resorts… skiing from one resort to another.
Do you remember your first trip to this area?
Yes, in October 1991, the mountains were covered with snow… it was marvellous. I thought “This is where I want to live”.
What's your favourite thing to do in resort when not skiing or snowboarding?
Fitness (when the weather is not good for skiing).
What do you do in the summer?
Hiking … and travelling and (I must admit) cultivate my vegetable garden!
Which is your favourite shop in resort?
Le Camp de base in Courchevel 1850 (Le forum).
Where are we most likely to find you for après-ski?!
At the Fitness centre In Courchevel 1850 or Chabotté.
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