Courchevel is dead

posted: 2014-01-20
Courchevel is dead - Courchevel Enquirer
Biollay lift... when its busy
no wait, I can find a slight pulse. Wait the mairie signed a DNR. TOD 2014.

In years of old after any dump of snow, a good barometer of how busy the resort is is how long the queues for Biollay are. Despite being upgraded from a 4 to 6 man chair the reasoning is the same. 5-10 minutes being the norm. 15+ mins when it’s REALLY busy. On Wednesday at 10.30am I managed to get from the turnstile to the lift in less than 1 minute. I physically didn’t stop moving as there were very few people there!
Likewise walking around 1850 it’s the same, the shops (and by shops I mean normal shops not boutiques) are empty and there are generally very few people walking around. Its almost like a ghost town.
You would have thought with good snow and low season pricing that most tour operators are touting the resort should be busier. So why is this? There are many things.

It’s not just about the price of the holiday anymore it’s the reputation of the resort that matters as well.

Courchevel has clearing decided to position itself towards the 1%ers. Purely looking at the number of 5 star hotels and uber expensive boutiques in town.

Following on from the first point Courchevel 1850 has gone from having a good balance of bars/restaurants/shops to being a resort full of designer boutiques. Even when holiday makers find a cheap deal on a chalet or hotel they look at alternative resorts like Meribel, Val d’Isere or St Anton because they know there are almost no places in Courchevel to go out for (reasonably priced) apres ski or dinner.

In a word its called Symbiosis. You cannot stop catering for an entire sector of the community from your resort without it adversley affecting everyone else. Hello Russians, bye bye English. The Russians might bring the money for a few weeks but the English bring the numbers which counts more when you are S3V (the lift company), ski shops, bars and restaurants.

Add to that the majority of the bars, restaurants and clubs in 1850 are all owned by 1 company meaning there is nearly zero competition around town. All the alcohol is the same price where ever you go and the atmosphere is virtually the same too.

Also there have never been and probably will never be, “on the mountain” après ski in the Courchevel valley.

And it’s going to get worse!

One of the remaining small independent bars in 1850, The Refuge, has been sold and is turning into a clothes shop next year.
Several large English run chalet-hotels, have been sold or are for sale meaning the gross number of English will potentially fall by the thousands next year.