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VT 3RD TIME WINNER - Katie Bamber, PlanetSKI
Wednesday November 30, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

As Val Thorens wins title 'Best Ski Resort in the World' for a third time, PlanetSKI visits to find out how it has turned around its reputation.

It has earned its stripes and been awarded, for the third time in four years, top resort worldwide by World Ski Awards.

Accoladed for its 'exceptional snow conditions', the highest resort in Europe officially opened on the weekend of 26th/27th November and, after a few years of disappointing Decembers, there was early snow.

It's not unfair to say that VT was known, not so long ago, for its rough and ready vibe as a young person's resort and its easygoing attitude.

Val ThorensVal Thorens
















Trucks of snow in VTTrucks of snow
















November snow in VTNovember snow in VT
















Mass university ski trips and cheap-and-cheerful holidays with lots of skiing are my memories of Val Thorens.

So, how has VT turned around its reputation and into a resort that keeps winning awards?

 It has pumped in a lot of money - an "unmatched and constant investment", says Gregory Guzzo, director of the resort.

There is an investment of €839m for "innovation" between 2010 and 2020.

Gregory GuzzoResort Director Gregory Guzzo at the celebratory party in VT
















There have been two new lifts - one completely new and another redesigned.

There has also been a push to improve the resort's luxury facilities.

This past year has seen lot of revamping going on.

New 'concept store' Alpen Art holds yoga lessons, is a photograph gallery and a coffee shop.

Full for the opening weekend, 30,000 people were in resort -  see here for a report on the opening weekend from the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

About 600 of that number are made up of 5* accommodation - some old, some new.

New hotel Fahrenheit Seven replaces the Mercure by Le Fitz Roy lift (itself redesigned just two years ago).

It is a ski-in, ski-out hotel and based high up in VT, meaning that its numerous terraces are ideal for dawn views, sunny lunches and instant après coming off the slopes.

F7 HotelSun terrace, F7
















Val ThorensTerrace
















Val Thorens holds the highest Michelin starred restaurant in Europe, Jean Supplice, with two stars.

Dawn in VTSunrise from Fahrenheit Seven terrace
















Aside from the injection of money is the team who really go by the resort's slogan: 'Live United'.

Working with Geoffrey Guzzo is Emilie Rouzaud, head of PR.

"The resort is very dynamic and everyone here walks together; that's our claim, to be united. And it's a reality," Emilie said to PlanetSKI.

"As soon as I arrive somewhere, everyone is so accommodating and willing to help."

Emilie's energy talking about the resort well explains the success of VT's development.

"Lots of people say it is an artificial resort, but it's not the case. People come from everywherre. It's fun for walkers, skiers, tourists..."

"Lots of resorts are based on people coming back through the generations. Val Thorens is more cosmopolitan. And this is the reason for its success, as well as the ski lifts and the quality of the snow."

So diversity and unity seem to sum up VT's success over the last five years and the way it works that has seen such an improvement in its image.

It is of course different to Les3Vallées sister resort Courchevel, with its 5* clients and more sophisticated atmosphere. But this is not what VT is going for.

It's going for comfortable luxury that is for everyone, keeping firmly away from exclusivity.

Pashmina 5* HotelPashmina Bar
















And there is plenty of luxury in the resort - Hotel Pashmina is a 5* modern accommodation located at the top of the village and top of a hill.

In its second year, the hotel has a mountaineering theme. It is sophisticated but has a laid back and comfortable feel.

"Val Thorens: it's a new-world resort that combines the best of skiing with the best of atmospheres," reads the World Ski Awards website.

It would be insane for Val Thorens to lose its roots. It is after all an artificial resort and doesn't have the alpine charm of Val d'Isère, for example; But, it does have the essentials - height and good snow conditions.

It has improved its image whilst hailing its history.

Beer Pong in VTA touch of the old - Beer Pong
















Apres concert Après on the opening weekend
















Val Thorens opening weekendAprès ski concert
















Vincent Lalanne, the man who heads Les3Vallées, spoke to PlanetSKI about how the VT team has boosted its reputation.

"Gregory Guzzo got everyone together to sit down - ski schools, hotels, lift companies - to get everyone in the resort on same page."

"Before it was a lot of young people [in VT] and now the award has helped show clients that it is serious."

Folie Douce Val ThorensLunch-time spot La Folie Douce
















The togetherness pushed in its promotions is mirrored behind the scenes with the team and set up, and seems to be a key factor in its recent success.

The awarding body celebrated Val Thorens with this statement:

"With its ever-present pioneering spirit, breath-taking natural environment, remarkable amount of sunshine and exceptional snow conditions, it is both unique and cosmopolitan, boasting a lively, sociable and welcoming atmosphere."

Having visited this season and explored Val Thorens anew I, and anyone there, would say the same.

SNOWNovember snow in resort
















VT has upped its game and developed into a new and modern resort.

Val ThorensVT views
















The top point of Southern Alps skiing Top of Val Thorens
















Val Thorens is Europe's highest ski resort and this year has had a good amount of early snow (with hopefully a lot more to come).

And the views have to be some of the best.

Val ThorensEurope's highest ski resort
















See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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