It might be the middle of summer, but preparations for the next winter season are well under way in Les Arcs.
The new 6 person Pré St Espirit chairlift is being built in the Arc valley, bringing to end those freezing 15 minute journeys on Les Arcs longest (nearly 2km) and probably slowest lift. Originally constructed in 1980, its aim was to improve the link between the then brand new Arc 2000 and the resorts on the other side of the Arpette ridge, Arc 1600 and 1800. The Comborcière lift (about which I have written previously) had been the first attempt to provide a quick route back to Arc 1600 and to avoid the long, flat and avalanche-prone return walk running parallel to the main road.
|It really was as cold and slow as it looks!|
|Archects image of the new lift stations|
However, perhaps there's a hidden agenda operating behind these major infrastucture developments. No one who comes to Les Arcs can fail to be impressed by the number of accommodation developments such as the massive Eden Arcs at Arc 1800 (increasing the bed capacity there by 30%), and the 5-star Tah-i-Maj hotel and several new 'Chalet des Neiges' buildings that crowd over the front de neige at Arc 2000.
The owners of most the ski area, Bourg St Maurice commune, and the ADS company which has the franchise to exploit the ski area seem to have concurred in recent years on the need to maximise revenue from the their 'asset', by offering more and higher quality facilities, building 'brand loyalty' and providing for a less snow-sure future.
The MilleHuit fun park at Arc 1800 is a perfect embodiment of this objective. More beds may equal more lift passes sold, but it also equals more people on the piste and using the lifts. Crowds, queues and bottlenecks the enemy of this strategy, so new high speed lifts are essential if the ski area is to keep pace with the demands that are going to be made on it in the future, and shift people quickly to the resorts higher and more snow-reliable areas.
|Club Med site from Les Deux Tetes|
|New Club Med at Arc 1600|