The 2023-2024 ski season at the Alpe Huez, Les 2 Alpes and La Grave resorts was exceptional in terms of weather conditions, visitor numbers and strategic adaptations. This season was marked by one of the best snow accumulations of the last forty years at altitude, and was punctuated by constant climatic challenges, oscillating between periods of cold and warm weather, which required constant adaptation of safety and piste management techniques.

These fluctuations underlined the importance of climate change adaptation in the sector. At the same time, the resorts recorded record numbers of visitors, with an impressive daily average of up to 24,000 skiers on some days, and outstanding economic results, with a significant increase in turnover. These successes reflect skilful management and an attractive offer, confirming the vitality and dynamism of these destinations in the world of alpine skiing.

Exceptional snow conditions

This season, the Alpe Huez, Les 2 Alpes and La Grave ski areas enjoyed exceptional snow conditions, marking one of the best years in terms of snowfall for four decades. The abundance of snow at high altitude not only enriched the skiers’ experience, but also posed major challenges for piste management. The climatic variations, which alternated between cold and warm periods, required constant vigilance and adaptation of safety and grooming methods, as well as avalanche risk management.

Les Deux Alpes. @Facebook station

“These conditions revealed the crucial importance of adapting to climate change, even in a context of heavy snow accumulation. The management teams had to innovate and adjust their preparation techniques and opening forecasts to ensure safety, while optimising access to the slopes. These efforts enabled the resort to maintain a high quality ski offer throughout the season, which contributed to the record number of visitors. In fact, the resort recorded impressive figures, with daily averages of up to 24,000 visitors, although the start of the season in December was more modest, with around 4,000 skiers per day,’ explains Fabrice BOUTET, Director of the SATA Group.

Record figures for the 2023-2024 season

The 2023-2024 season has been exceptional for the SATA Group, which includes the resorts of Alpe Huez, Les 2 Alpes and La Grave, and has broken records for the third consecutive year, demonstrating sustained growth in both visitor numbers and economic performance.

In terms of the number of days skied, Les 2 Alpes recorded a significant increase from just under 1.2 million last year to nearly 1.4 million this season. Alpe d’Huez also saw an increase in the number of visitors, reaching almost 1.9 million skier days, demonstrating a steady upward trend with no signs of regression. These figures illustrate a remarkable ability to attract and retain skiers, despite the typical seasonal fluctuations that cause the figures to vary, with December season openings of around 4,000 visitors per day, and peaks of an average of 24,000 people per day during peak season periods.

Ecrin viewpoint – Les Deux Alpes. ®LukaLeroy

Sales followed a similar trajectory of impressive growth, registering a 15% increase over last year, which in turn recorded a 6% increase over the previous year. These financial results are all the more remarkable as the group has grown from a turnover of €40m in 2019 to €126m in 2023, reflecting not only increased footfall, but also effective management and the ability to maximise revenue.

“These results are the fruit of an adaptive strategy in the face of climate and market challenges, including an attractive long-stay offer. We have seen growth in day-skiing sales, but we also have strong growth in extended stays, which means that there are strong customer choices at altitude, whether it is the two Alps or Alpe d’Huez. The growing popularity of altitude holidays, where customers choose to book their weeks with guaranteed snow conditions, has contributed significantly to this success. The resorts have also benefited from a particular attraction for spring skiing, a period during which Les 2 Alpes, for example, has seen its visitor numbers remain high,’ explains Fabrice BOUTET.

Consumer trends force a rethink of the tourist offer

Over the past few seasons, the SATA Group has observed several significant trends that are redefining the way skiing is consumed in its Alpe Huez, Les 2 Alpes and La Grave areas. Analysis of visitor and consumer behaviour reveals a marked evolution towards shorter but more intense stays, favoured by technological advances in lift infrastructure. These innovations now allow skiers to maximise their time on the slopes, completing in four hours what used to take eight, thanks to faster lifts and better groomed pistes.

Vaujany ski resort. ®Olivier Lefebvre

This new dynamic has changed the daily rhythms on the slopes, with skiers starting and finishing earlier, leaving more time for other après-ski activities. This trend has prompted the SATA Group to rethink its offer, focusing on the overall experience of the stay. The diversification of après-ski activities, such as gastronomy, shopping, cultural and social leisure, responds to a growing need for varied and enriching leisure consumption, adapted to customers’ desires for complete experiences and not just skiing.

In demographic terms, the distribution of visitors remains balanced between locals and internationals, with 50% French and 50% foreigners. Among the latter, the SATA Group notes that the number of British, Belgian, Dutch and Scandinavian visitors has remained stable, while the number of Swiss and German visitors has also increased. This diversification is probably influenced by economic factors, in particular the competitiveness of ski pass prices compared to Swiss or Austrian resorts, which attracts new market segments.

‘There are big price differences between the 90 or 100 euros in Austria and Switzerland and the 60 euros we offer in our ski resorts, which are often higher than in Austria or Switzerland,’ adds Fabrice BOUTET.

The ski season ends on 7 July

This season, Les 2 Alpes offers uninterrupted skiing between the opening of the lifts at the beginning of December and the scheduled closure on 7 July. This strategic decision not to divide the season into distinct opening and closing phases, but to maintain a fluid and adapted offer, reflects the resort’s ability to adapt and its dynamism in response to changing skiers’ expectations.

The arrival of spring brings warmer weather conditions, which leads the resort to adapt its ski area, in particular by raising the level of the accessible slopes to 2000 metres on its glacier. This opportunity to ski on the glacier during spring offers a unique experience, allowing visitors to enjoy snow and skiing at times of the year when most other resorts have already ceased their activities. Spring skiing in Les 2 Alpes is thus distinguished by snow conditions that are often ideal for winter sports enthusiasts wishing to extend their season.

Glacier 2 Alpes. @Luka Leroy OT 2 Alpes

The 7 July closure is therefore not only the end of a ski season, but also the culmination of a long period during which the resort has offered constant access to its slopes, demonstrating its commitment to maximising the customer experience and making the most of its natural environment and resources. This continued focus not only ensures greater profitability for the resort, but also enriches the experience for skiers, allowing them to savour the mountain from a different angle, well beyond the traditional winter months.

“Altitude 3300: an ambitious project for Alpe d’Huez

At the heart of this project is the installation of several new lifts to significantly improve the flow of skiers and increase the capacity of the resorts.

In Alpe d’Huez, the SATA Group is investing heavily to modernise and improve access to the resort as part of the ambitious ‘Altitude 3300’ project. The aim of this project is to remodel the entire altitude access system, the DMC and its cabins, stations and connections.

The first connection will be a gondola lift directly to the arrival station of the DMC. A new gondola lift, called Lièvre Blanc, will replace the old chairlift and will link to the Marmotte 2 area, leaving close to the DMC. It will also facilitate access to Marmotte 3.

At the same time, in the Gorges de la Sarenne, another gondola lift will be built next to the existing Herpie chairlift, providing direct access to the summit of Pic Blanc.

These 3 access points will allow visitors to reach higher altitudes, help to decongest the existing facilities and improve the overall visitor experience.

In terms of timeframe, the facilities are scheduled to be operational from next winter, with the first openings scheduled for December 2024. Work will continue until December 2025, when the final facilities will be completed.

Final stretch for Les 2 Alpes

To highlight the investments made at Les 2 Alpes, it is important to note that the resort has benefited from significant targeted efforts to improve its attractiveness and modernity. “At the heart of these improvements, we have carried out a series of major projects to restore and modernise its infrastructures.

Firstly, the addition of three new telemix lifts (a mix of gondola and chairlift) was a major step forward in improving access and flow on the slopes. Next, the introduction of a new state-of-the-art gondola and lift system, the ‘Trois S’, aims to transform the experience for skiers, offering them greater speed and comfort. Another detachable chairlift will soon be installed, which will further enhance the resort’s ability to effectively manage large flows of visitors” explains Fabrice BOUTET.

Projet 3S ®Agence ATEAM Architectes & Basilico Design

The beginner sector has been completely renovated with a new snow front, affirming Les 2 Alpes’ commitment to all levels of skiers, from beginners to experts. These investments, which affect various aspects of the resort’s infrastructure, aim to restore Les 2 Alpes to its former splendour and consolidate its reputation as one of the most prestigious and welcoming ski destinations in the French Alps.

The ‘Altitude 3300’ project and the 3S of Les 2 Alpes are important strategic investments for the SATA Group, which aims not only to improve the quality of the infrastructure and the visitor experience, but also to strengthen the competitiveness of its resorts in an increasingly demanding ski market. Once completed, these developments will enable the resorts to better host sporting events, clubs and competitions, enriching their service offer and consolidating their position as destinations of choice for ski enthusiasts.