WE START OUR SEASON
24th November 2019 | James Cove, Val Thorens
Last modified on September 6th, 2021
PlanetSKI has been in Val Thorens in France, the highest resort in the Alps, for its Opening Weekend.
UPDATE: MONDAY 25TH NOVEMBER
The slopes are open and the crowds have gone.
It was a busy weekend with much of the resort closed on Saturday as high winds roared in.
But things got much better on Sunday as you can read further down this article.
And on Monday the weather lifted and crowds vanished.
Val Thorens was at its early season best:
SUNDAY 24TH NOVEMBER
So what could possibly go wrong?
Well, firstly the resort was pretty much closed on the official Opening Day on Saturday 23rd November.
Winds were gusting at more than 100km/hr in the resort itself, and 200km/hr at the top.
We detailed it all in our first article:
No matter, Sunday was windless and looked stunning.
It was time to start the season’s skiing for PlanetSKI.
Now I have been skiing for more years than I care to remember and usually ski well over 50 different resorts per season.
I am a bit of an old hand.
But I’ve never done this before:
I forgot to put my lift pass in my pocket and left it in my hotel room.
What an utter muppet.
It was a return to the hotel for Take 2 on the PlanetSKI start to the season of 2019/20.
The high winds had stripped away much of the snow and the off piste was patchy to say the least.
But there was plenty to ski on the pistes.
And it was a pleasure simply to be back in the Alps and starting the season of 2019/20.
The ‘Grande Premiere’ in Val Thorens is a big affair in VT.
There’s the eating, drinking and partying.
Then there is the Test Village where you can try skis, snowboards and pretty much any bit of kit you care to imagine.
All for free.
It was just fabulous to be back in the mountains after the long summer break.
It was busy and I wasn’t the only one making first turns of the season.
15,000 or so people come for the ‘Grande Premiere’ and after the storms of Saturday people wanted to make their turns.
I saw many near misses and even a near punch up.
The snowboarder on the right smashed into the skier on the left and he was not impressed.
The resort itself has one of the highest concentrations of people on the slopes that I know.
It has 25,414 tourist beds with 150kms of slopes.
That’s 169 people per km.
Mental note to myself – check out some other resorts for a comparison figure.
Obviously not everyone is out at the same time and there are thousands of resort workers to factor in, but it would still be an interesting, if unscientific, statistic.
This winter Val Thorens has a host of new initiatives to keep its place as one of the leading resorts in the Alps.
Over the weekend it won again at the World Ski Awards at a gala dinner in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
It was voted the ‘World’s Best Ski Resort’, beating 25 other international resort nominees.
Over 1.6 million people participated in the vote. It was also voted ‘France’s Best Ski Resort.’
“The World Ski Awards are at the same time a recognition and a reminder to us to continue developing and delivering excellence to clients,” said Vincent Lalanne, Director of the Tourism Office in Val Thorens.
“We’re very happy to win this award again this year, especially because of strong competition from other well-known international resorts.”
We simply couldn’t win this distinction without the intense work, the never-failing motivation and the permanent engagement from all our staff. And I thank everybody for this. ”
We will have a special feature on what’s new in Val Thorens for the winter and what impressed the judges later.
But here are a few things that caught my eye on its opening weekend
The world’s first self-driving electric 4-wheel drive shuttle:
And staying with the green theme all its 18 road vehicles run on the cleaner SHELL GTL fuel.
GTL stands for Gas To Liquid that reduces air emissions.
It is free of sulphur, metals and aromatics.
There is to be a new Igloo Village, an astonomy week in February featuring star gazing and an aliens show.
Plus the resort is part of the Les3Vallees link with Disney that we have reported earlier on PlanetSKI.
And it is further emphasising its adrenalin offerings: zip wires, ice diving, e-fat biking and paramotoring.
And one thing that caught my attention if you want to improve your skiing but don’t want the full-on ski school experience.
Ski Cool, a branch of the ESF, is offering a 30-minute lesson for €30 so you can just get some quick tips.
3 tips for 30. Neat idea.
But, back to the opening weekend.
I was just pleased, once again, to have kicked off PlanetSKI’s winter in Val Thorens.
It is becoming something of a tradition.
Oh, and just in case you are wondering why I confessed to forgetting my lift pass like an utter novice…
I was with some mates who promised to put the whole episode on social media to show me up for the idiot that I was (am).
I just thought I’d get in first.
I’ll try not to do it again guys.
Have a great season everyone.
Make it the best.
See our latest report and photos following yet more big snowfalls over the weekend in parts of the Alps:
Fahrenheit 7 Val Thorens
Rue de la Lombarde
73440 Val Thorens
Reservations: +33 4 79 00 04 04
Start from pricing for a double room bed and breakfast is €180.00
Prices vary but average at around €8 per day, with Intersport bi-weekly discount codes being released via facebook where the current offer is WHITE19UK for 10% off (expires 29 November).
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