During the 2019-2020 season, the Gavarnie-Gèdre ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrenees set its record with 66076 visitors. On average, the resort welcomes 44400 skiers a day.
A winter season with extraordinary conditions and results
The historic Unesco World Heritage ski resort, experienced a record winter season, with “natural snowfalls like nowhere else, and 84 days of opening, including 53 with pleasing sunshine, perfect for revealing the area,” explains Coralie SANCHEZ, head of Marketing and Sales Departament.
The natural snowfall of the Gavarnie-Gèdre resort, nestled in the Hautes Pyrenees, makes the resort a success year after year: despite occuring modest snowfalls in most part of the Pyrenean massif, it benefited from many heavier others.
This quality of the snow, therefore, generated an increase in the influx of visitors at the resort “which eventually required an increase and greater effort in the responsiveness (sale of ski passes, parking, technical equipment, etc.). But the smile and response of the clients lived up to our reputation, as we can read in the satisfaction surveys carried out during the season”, mentions Coralie.
The increase in attendance was also accompanied by an increase in billing and big results in the restaurant division, which saw its billing increase by 68%. “Many skiers enjoyed a break on the new terrace of the resort, although tourists should also be counted as well. To delight our palates, our chef regularly prepared his astonishing Pyrenean burgers with rustic bread and local products“, says Coralie.
The Covid-19 crisis hastened the resort’s closure by one day, the day before the originally scheduled closing date. Since then, all resort’s managers and administrative services have been teleworking.
Gavarnie-Gèdre and slow-ski
The Gavarnie-Gèdre ski resort is clearly geared towards family tourism. “The main strategy that we have implemented in Gavarnie is a familiar and slow-ski positioning, by default and by obligation. We had to adapt to our structural context, a small resort with 3 fixed chair lifts. We benefit from many outstanding natural snowfalls. The increase in attendance this winter confirms that the average client of the resort seeks, above all, for abundant natural snowfalls to enjoy all the pleasures of skiing in an idyllic surrounding. The “artificial snow only” approach does not work, which this resort uses as a tourist attraction and guarantees as a starting point. Facing outrageous facilities at the resort is no longer relevant for the average skier. Mass and wellness tourism must be replaced by tourism for people and those who look for the purest sensations” explains Christophe Fabre, director of Gavarnie and the Hautacam leisure park (Stem International – CEO Vincent Tassart).
Located in the Gaves valley, the Gavarnie-Gèdre resort is a tourist destination in its own right: thermal and recreational baths, the Hautacam mountain, among the valley ski resorts. Many skiers have discovered or rediscovered the Gavarnie-Gèdre resort this winter season. ‘‘So basically, our customers booked in the valley because they were looking for a snow destination. We recovered a significant number of skiers who chose the valley and who were looking for quality natural snow ”, points out Christophe Fabre.
Gavarnie reinvents the 4-season mountain
The vision of the Gavarnie ski resort is to fly towards a year-round opening project. This project is aimed to develop tourist and holiday activity during the four seasons in the Gavarnie Valley. This will involve, particulary speaking, removing part of the current ski lifts and closing the access road to Col des Tentes. A closure that would result in a significant reduction in emissions of approximately 450 tons of C02. The project contemplates the creation of, first, a gondola from the village to reach the resort, and a second further connection that links the area outside the national park, near the Pic des Tentes ski lift.
Christophe Fabre shares his opinion on the ambitious 4-season project at the Gavarnie-Gèdre resort. “We want to offer a catalog of 4-season activities. We no longer rely solely on cable transportation to get to the resort, but we also have an educational alternative (thanks in particular to virtual reality tools and a modern gateway to nature).”
The mountain must and should be a place for everyone, and particularly in terms of accessibility.
This requires specific equipment and facilities such as the aforementioned gondola, for example. Bringing the opportunity of being part of the fun and education, facilitate the connection with nature, channel the masses and offer another perspective on important matters and the environment. We enjoy an exceptional environment and we want to preserve it. Nowadays we are facing it as a true turning point.
Gavarnie-Gèdre resort: discover the rest of the story.
Frankly, I believe that a ski resort should be an integral part of a whole, a true destination, but it should not be the mere object of the destination. All in all, people are looking for simplicity. The mountain destination must be kept in mind during the 4 seasons of the year. In this harsh period of confinement, many people tell me: I miss the mountain. Our resorts should be considered as locations of revitalization. The Gavarnie resort is transforming, becoming a place of slow-ski and discovery of the seasons of the year. Pyreneanism was a precursor, for us, a few chosen honoured, such as local farmers and villagers, to reinvent this concept with the tools of the XXI century: Ascension, writing and feelings version 2.0.
Athletes and former athletes must be the relay of this ambitious change. We must give back to the mountain what the mountain has given us, what we are.
At the time, the people who came to heal in the mountains played a therapeutic role. Nowadays, society wants to rejuvenate itself, to go back to its very roots.
Without forgetting the fitness side of skiing: if you really want to practice sports, of course, there is skiing! We must highlight the sporting side of the activity, because everyday there are real new skiers to discover, or to be discovered. Instead of going to a gym, you can train or practice sport at a resort.
People will continue skiing, but we will be trimming up certain areas for the next 10 to 15 years. It is also important to train and teach the young people of our valleys, so in the not so long future, we may encounter a wide spectrum of professionals on the mountains and valleys. The main goal is to have passionate and efficient people in our valleys.