It was at the end of the summer of 2019 that the Skyvall gondola began to ascend its first travelers to the peaks of the Hautes-Pyrénées. More than a ski lift, above all it is a way of giving structure to the tourist offering of the Louron Valley, Loudenvielle and its high stations. Just one year since the Skyvall has entered service, the time has come to take stock. Is it profitable? Is it used by locals? Does it add value to visitors? We’ve taken this opportunity to exchange words with the Director of Peyragudes, Laurent García.
The Skyvall goes from strength to strength: 19% increase in summer activity
In this current delicate sanitary situation, the summer results of the new Skyvall are actually very satisfactory: “after being fully operational during the summer, and despite the effect of Covid, we have created a totally new recreational offer with the Pyrenees Central Park concept. From Loudenvielle, the Skyvall gondola is open 7 days a week and the Privilège chairlift 3 days a week. This has allowed us to attract new clients”, explains Laurent García, General Manager of the Peyragudes resort.
“Until 2017, the Peyragudes complex was struggling during the summer. Thanks to the renovation of the Privilege residence entrusted to the residence management company Vacanceole, the creation of the Skyvall cable car, the opening of Spassio in summer and the incorporation of numerous activities, the situation has changed. In terms of attendance, they have generated an increase of 23% in 2018 and 19% in 2019. The increase continued this summer in the Peyragudes spa, which registered a 10-point increase in frequency even with the particularities that 2020 has brought. We gained 40,500 overnight stays during the summer thanks to the new dynamics that the Skyvall has provided to the entire valley”.
New tourism and new consumerism on the mountain
Skyvall has contributed to a boost in the offer of contemplative tourism. From the bottom of the Louron valley, it allows you to climb comfortably in altitude, to see the landscapes and enjoy the terraces of its mountain cafes. In the same way, it allows residents of the Peyragudes ski resort to go around the Génos-Loudenvielle lake or go for a walk.
The Skyvall gondola has also allowed the development of sports tourism. It is now possible to get on and off on an enduro mountain bike on fifteen specially designed routes. Those who prefer hiking on the mountains appreciate starting the route at 2,400 meters. “We have created scripted routes, and connected hikes to experience the mountain differently.”
As an operator, we have gone from 15,000 euros in turnover 2 years ago to 250,000 euros this year. This is a step forward, especially since the gondola represents a significant investment of 10 million euros. We have made a great effort in Marketing so that the gondola is not only a means of transport but also an attraction for the practice of outdoor activities on the mountains”.
Loudenvielle, a third village for the Peyragudes station
The Peyragudes station, which owes its name to its two slopes and towns Peyresourde and Agudes, can now boast a connection with a third village: Loudenvielle. This fast connection provided by the Skyvall gondola connects this Pyrenean town in a few minutes with one of the most modern mountainous areas of the Pyrenees.
“The departure of the Skyvall gondola from Loudenvielle, at an altitude of 900 meters, is the perfect opportunity for the resort to have accommodation at the base of the slopes and the mountain as well as create the feel of a typical Pyrenean village in the valley.
Loudenvielle offers an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Génos Loudenvielle with many of the usual valley accommodations (hostels, guest rooms), small lakeside residences and other services. Most recently, after a total renovation, a 5-star campsite, managed by UCPA, offers mountain chalets which have a total capacity of 400. UCPA moved to Loudenvielle in 2019 because the Skyvall gondola was arriving and it was the perfect opportunity to move between 2 ski resorts: Val Louron and Peyragudes and be in the heart of an activity for 4 seasons”.
The good news for the Louron Valley is that a 4-star hotel will open its doors on December 18. The aim was to offer 4-star accommodation that did not exist in the Loudenvielle-Peyragudes destination, and that could only be found in Saint-Lary, Baqueira or Andorra. For the clientele from Bordeaux and Toulouse who frequent us regularly, we needed to offer them premium accommodation. The 4-star Mercure Peyragudes-Loudenvielle hotel will be equipped with 60 rooms, 231 beds, many family suites, a Spa area, a beautiful swimming pool … and everything 100 meters from the starting point of the cable car “.
Skyvall Loudenvielle: a birthday party with masks and social distancing.
Just one year after its launching, the Skyvall gondola blew out its first candle in a very particular health situation, that of COVID19.
“We tested the health protocols this summer and organized the queues. In particular, at Skyvall Loudenvielle we have deployed a new ticket office equipped with automatic machines, which opened on July 5th for the Tour de France. It is a space for the sale of tickets that promotes autonomy. We still provide sales help but no longer offer counter reception. We have created an exclusive step for customers to access the cable car. ”
New App, new experience: “Skyvall Experience”
“We have also launched the “Skyvall Experience” application in association with the startup Youstiti and EDF. The purpose of this application is to offer a wide range of services and information related to the destination. In this application, our visitors will know, before arriving, waiting times at the ticket office or the gondola. You can also find out when the next shuttle will pass in front of your accommodation to reach the Skyvall departure station.”
Eventually, they will be able to find out the waiting times in the most problematic zones of the ski area. This is the case with sectors such as Serre Doumenge, Cap de Pales or Privilège. This is very important to us because the East-West exposure of our ski resort means that our clients follow the sun. In addition to the fun aspect of the application with several “selfie points” installed in the ski area, the Skyvall Experience application will facilitate the flow of skiers and improve the experience of our visitors”, concludes Laurent García.