To present these themes and the projection for the future of the Val Louron ski resort, I Love Ski attended the meeting of Anne Delignac, Director of the ski resort. It is complex to see a woman in front of a ski resort; the rugged mountain environment, the altitude, the cold, the snow and its inclemency… Since we interviewed her 2 years ago, for the fortieth anniversary of Val Louron, this small ski resort in the French Pyrenees with limited resources keeps showing courage, work and good will to continue with the activity and continue being in the future an economic engine of the valley.
I Love Ski: What are the bets for the future of Val Louron resort?
Anne Delignac: The main challenge of the resort of Val Louron. is above all to survive. Why? For three reasons. The first, because we are a small resort located at 1,450 meters above sea level. Next, because we are not part of any group (N’PY New Pyrenees as our neighbor Peyragudes, or Altiservice as our neighbor Saint Lary), and, finally, because our mode of operation is ruled by higher entities. The tourist centers of the Pyrenees weigh little in the balance of the local economy. According to a recent study, all ski resorts in the Pyrenees weigh as much as the those of La Plagne and Les Arcs. The region in the Rhône-Alpes area is heavily involved in winter sports and has invested heavily in snow-making facilities and in the replacement and optimization of snow cannons by cutting-edge technology. The Occitan region look out for the development of mountain resorts and we must position ourselves to be proactive.
I Love Ski: What are the difficulties facing the city of Val Louron?
Anne Delignac: Today, it is the ski lifts that take all the costs of operation and investment, we do not receive any help from local partners, hosts or socio-professionals. Since I arrived, I ask the professional partners to help us, especially in the field of communication: in recent years, we have done very well and now we should help each other, working together, to carry out new projects. We want to enter into a participatory dynamic, where everyone must fight to maintain our economic activity and offer the best service to customers.
I Love Ski: What are the next projects in the future ?
Anne Delignac: The flagship project of the resort is, and will continue to be, to replace the Myrtilles chairlift. This installation is entering the phase of “large inspection” in 2019, and we must choose between replacing this aging equipment or face the high maintenance costs involved in the complex inspection. We have already negotiated with the authorities to be able to carry out this maintenance operation in three phases. If the option is to replace this unit, we would ask that the inspection to be postponed until next year. In any case, this will depend on the financing that can be obtained because today we are facing financial institutions, which have little or no confidence in the elevation projects. It is very difficult to contract a bank loan for this type of project. Some tourist centers, such as the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, have found solutions with the Department that directly administers these mountain resorts. In the same way, the department of Haute-Garonne is in the process of taking over the management of the three ski resorts. We have planned several projects that could happen with the new lift, and in particular the installation of new snow cannons to secure the snow. The development of spaces for beginners in the forest of Lapadé is also one of the first things we would like to do.
I Love Ski: What are the main objectives of Val Louron in the future (short, medium and long term) ?
Anne Delignac: In the short term, our goal is to repeat the success of last season, which was the best season in the history of the resort. We also want to strengthen the positioning of the ski resort of Val Louron. with respect to other resorts, such as a family resort, which makes skiing more accessible, with a ski pass for less than 30 euros per day. Many skiers maintain an emotional connection to the resort where they learned to ski. Today they return to ski with their family, or their friends and return to the slopes of Val Louron.
I Love Ski: How do you deal with climate change in Val Louron today?
Anne Delignac: We develop complementary ski activities, such as mountain bike tours in the Lapadé forest. The installation of a new chairlift should allow skiing, but also mountain biking. This winter we will organize two Fatbike competitions. I think Val Louron. is one of the most prepared ski resorts for climate change. We are used to juggling delicate weather conditions and irregular snow conditions. The employees hard to keep the snow. We have already opened for the Christmas holidays without having natural snow on the slopes of our mountains. Some areas of the resort do not see the sun in winter, and are often used to produce and preserve snow when weather conditions permit.