What’s New in La Tania & The 3 Valleys 2019 – The Definitive Guide (Part 2 of 2)

 

PART 2 – New Accommodation, Bars & Restaurants, Tourist Office changes,  non skiing activities, the demise of Hotel Telemark and 25 Years of Pub Le Ski Lodge…

The 18th Annual What’s New Guide to the Biggest Ski Area In The World
Part 1 – New Lifts, Pistes & Ski Area Improvement

October 2018

Courchevel Valley

La Tania Building Work
Construction of the new Chalets “Steamboat Lodge” next to the Grand Bois building has continued this Summer. What appeared to be a slow start gradually picked up momentum but surely it will be tight if they’re ready for the start of this Winter season (on the right of our webcam GIF).

Steamboat Lodge will be a four bedroom “traditional but with a contemporary twist” Chalet. Yours for €2.05m

Another view across the new La Tania putting green (not really sure why a small triangle of grass was laid in the centre of the village – some lovely new neat tarmac put down here in front of the Chrome Bar but the whole village needs doing really).

 

Meanwhile Yellowstone Lodge next to the Gros Murger drag lift near the Gondola Station is going up… A snip at €1.455m

And another new chalet development going up on the other side of the Gondola too…

The roof on Ski Set is finally getting relaid and the balcony railings on the apartments above the Ski Lodge are getting repaired.

The cinema roof was also repaired this Summer after the fire at the end of last season…

And in search of something else new… Oxygene Ski School have a brand new shiny sign for their meeting point!

 

Hotel Telemark will not be operating this season as far as we know – unless someone comes in at the last minute – quite a loss to La Tania, it’s been there since 2005 as Hotel Telemark and Chalet du Sud prior to that. As well as the flexible accommodation it provided it’s always been a nice alternative for food & drink up in the Chalets area – it will be missed.

The administration costs of operating a full “Hotel” type licence in France along with new disabled access requirements are believed to be behind the closure.

 

On a brighter note it’s the 25th Birthday of Pub Le Ski Lodge – the heart and soul of La Tania since the beginning. A big birthday bash is being planned and a new fresh logo celebrating 25 years is promised. There’ll be a few other promotions during the season too!

25 Years of Pub Le Ski Lodge…

Plenty of returning staff this season, a few coats of varnish on the terrace and a big outing to the London Ski Show (also known as The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Festival in Batterseas Park) on 27 October to see Sunset Sons (amongst the other entertainments) is in the pipeline…

 

Other News from La Tania

The Freeride Republic have added Chalet Aurelia to their portfoli for this Winter – a 6 bedroom spacious chalet with large South facing terrace and built just 5 years ago. They’ve a new website for this season too!

Alpine Generation now run Chalet Jonquille, a traditionally built, wooden clad chalet with 7 bedrooms, outdoor hot tub, open fire and an enviable position close to the slopes.

Ski Progression have a new website for Winter 2019, they’re a small ski school specialising in private lessons with a flexible and high quality service.

The La Tania Medical Centre (also know as Courchevel Medical Centre on social media etc) is now open all year round (via appointment in inter-season). Dr Aude Joncquiert-Latarjet will be assisted by Dr Arthur Andre this Winter and they both speak English. Tel: +33 (0)479 08 29 60

The La Tania to Méribel Road is under repair again. The D98 road from La Tania to Méribel Village is closed until 16 November 2018 for essential repair work. Closed to all vehicles in both directions and access to La Tania from Le Praz only.

Only a couple of years ago this road was closed for 2 consecutive Summers as major reconstruction work went ahead. We were told that a “bridge” solution pulling the road away from the side of the mountain was being looked at so landslides could still occur without effecting the road. This didn’t happen however. Hope they got a guarantee from the architects / contractors!

A new Bouc Blanc Terrace – most of the original terrace has been replaced and a large extension placed at the front of the building.

Bouc Blanc Terrace – October 2018

Only the extreme right hand-side has been left (which used to be seperated by a railing that was really useful to work out new snow depths!)

Bouc Blanc Terrace September 2018

A new cycle / running track on Col de la Loze above #LaTania has been built up from Courchevel 1850. The Méribel side is to be completed in time for Summer 2019. At 2,300m it will be the 11th highest paved Col in France.

This Summer also saw mountain bike tracks down from this area being built despite there being no lift access to Loze or Chenus areas (Chenus used to operate in the Summer with a terrific bike track down to 1850).

This was not a mistake and apparently was for the electric assisted mountain bikes (e-bikes) that were available to hire in Courchevel 1850 this Summer.

Some huge earthworks on the right hand side of the road as you approach La Tania from Le Praz. Below the final right hand bend used to be drop off down the valley – it’s now completely filled in! 

Using the earth removed from Le Praz for the construction of the underground multi storey car park this area looks like it will also be a future car / coach park. If you look at the scale of this (a couple of walkers to the right of the picture) and the lorry in the photo – how many truck loads did it take??? More earth from Le Praz is being used to enhance the snow chain fitting area (Aire de Chaînage) near St Bon on the road up.

Additional car parking will be a necessity when the Moretta Village development (see future plans) takes place as this will be constructed on the Gondola Car Park (underground parking will be provided but obviously during construction won’t be available).

 

Courchevel

Construction continues around the whole area as usual throughout the Summer.  Across the road from Aquamotion between 1550 and 1650 the new Residence L’Ecrin Blanc is now well under construction. 

This development consists of 50 apartments (luxury 5* of course) with an underground link to Aquamotion and eventually a piste and lift via Courchevel 1850.

Meanwhile the demolition of Hotel Courcheneige appears to be getting closer, with further planing reviews and environmental impacts being signed off this Summer – this has been rumoured for forever though and of course anouther ridiculously expensive 5 star place is just what Courchevel needs…

Hotel Courcheneige (aka Bar Waikiki) from the Courchevel Altiport 

Just above Courchevel 1850 a Snow Farming experiment has taken place since the end of last Winter. Some 20,000 cubic metres (that’s about 50 football pitches covered in snow 10cm deep) were stored under a special tarpaulin with blocks of insulation panels placed on top. Below is a pic from April

And this was the view from 1850 in August…

With record breaking temperatures across The Alps this Summer (the La Tania Weather Station at 1400m recorded 31.4ºC on 03/08/2018) it’s looking highly unlikely that the expected 15,000 cubic metres has remained there if any.

Copiña, the Tapas cocktail bar in Méribel Centre that opened last year is coming to Courchevel 1650. Situated across the road from Le Bubble Bar and La Boulotte (aka Katie’s) and just around the corner from the Fire & Ice terrace at Hotel Portetta this will make for a decent après spot and only 10 minutes on the bus from (the dead) 1850.

Copiña is part of the European Pubs group which lost both Jack’s Bar and Evolution at the end of last Winter to the hotel above. Both were massive apres venues and will be a big miss to the Méribel scene this Winter. Rumours of a new Jack’s location never came to fruition and the live music scene is losing 2 popular venues.

The new premises is the former L’arc en Ciel restaurant (which was L’Eterlou before that) which did excellent Pizzas – they will be sorely missed but we’re looking forward to the Tapas this Winter.

 

Méribel

More major construction work in Méribel this Summer including 2 major accommodation developments.

A new five star hotel is being constructed just above the Rond Point in the Belvedere area by the Euripar Group. Again top of the range with swimming pool, spa, fitness centre etc and scheduled to be ready for December 2019.

More massive earth works and the piste is in a right state at the moment but sure to be ok by the start of the season – this was the situation in August with the Rhodos mid-station visible to the top left…

Groupe Euripar have an interest in the top end L’Apogee Hotel in Courchevel 1850 (it’s worth a google on the mysterious finances, the ownership of Naf Naf and the purchase of that hotel!).

Meanwhile down towards the Chaudanne next to the Olympic Centre the construction of L’Hevana continues….

L’Hevana is another 5* luxury apartment complex complete with pool, spa, cocktail bar & restaurant. Prices from €380,000 to €1,051,000. It’s another addition to Le Groupe Pierre & Vacances – Center Parc properties.

At the other end of the scale Refuge de la Traye above Les Allues at 1650m which closed permanently in Autumn 2017 is rumoured to have been refurbed for Winter 2019 – not confirmed from any reliable sources yet though.

 

Brides-les-Bains

The Grand Spa Thermal in Brides-les-Bains has reopened after 16 months and €15 million of renovations. The new 2,700 m2 spa boasts indoor/outdoor Jacuzzis, swimming pools, steam rooms, relaxing areas, treatment rooms.

 

Belleville Valley

St Martin de Belleville has a new 122,776 gallons skating rink – primarily for ice hockey with special equipment for children.

Also in St Martin is a new refuge called Le Trait d’Union, an authentic Savoyard chalet with 3 rooms, located at 1,725m, Casablanche, a new development of 34 luxurious ski-in ski-out apartments and 2 new top-end chalets Pure Black Crystal Chalet and Pure White Crystal Chalet complete with swimming pool, sauna, personal chef, instructor, driver etc.

In Val Thorens, in Les Balcons area, a new residence of 10 large apartments will be opening for December 2018. The Chalet Cocoon brand was originally from St Martin and has expanded in to Val Thorens with these luxury apartments complete with sauna, jacuzzi, wellness area and hotel type services.

The 5 star Koh-i Nor Hotel in Val Thorens has opened 3 new private cottage type apartments for up to 12 people – again right at the top end of the market, these ones even have a cinema room…

 

Round Up of other News

Geneva Airport has installed the latest security scanners meaning you no longer have to take your liquids bag out of your carry on luggage – should improve the security queues a little.

Chambery Airport has completed its €16m improvement program including upgrades to the passenger flow around the baggage, security and check-in areas. 

Les Menuires is holding a new challange on the opening on 8th December 2018 – The Les Menuires 24 Hours (geddit?). 24 hours of fun for everyone apparently and they are also another resort adding piste basher rides to their list of non-skiing activities this Winter.

Also in Les Menuires the ESF have another automated video system for sharing on social media – this one on the Les Menuires Stade with 10 cameras and there’s a new snow maze going in at the top of the Roc 1 gondola named L’Arène des Neiges.

A re-hash of the Webcams across the Courchevel Valley has been made with a brand new webcam looking across the Le Praz Ski Jump.

We’ll get our 3 Valleys Webcam Page at latania.co.uk/webcam updated fairly soon.

The Oxygène Ski School in Val Thorens are offering a hire service for ski clothes for the first time and Residence MMV is opening a new nursery complex open to all visitors children. Val Thorens seems to be having more and more “Wellness” projects on the go this season including Yoga, Massage, The Dynafit program and Spa treatments.

Also in Val Thorens the main P0 car park on Rue de la Boucle continues it’s street art display started in 2013 – there are now 15 murals across the car park!

Travel

On the travel front easyJet are still leading the way of the low cost operators with up to 76 flights per day from 15 airports across the UK to Geneva, Lyon & Grenoble through the season. Changes for their Winter programme as follow:
Geneva – No Leeds/Bradford Flights.
Lyon – No Southend Flights but Stansted is a new route with flights on Sundays plus Thursday at peak times.
Grenoble – No Birmingham flights. New Sunday flights from Bristol, Luton & Stansted plus Gatwick has added some Firday & Monday flights.

Geneva Airport has installed the latest high tech security scanners meaning you no longer have to take your liquids bag out of your carry on luggage – should improve the security queues a little. 

Chambery Airport has completed its €16m improvement program including upgrades to the passenger flow around the baggage, security and check-in areas.

In the UK travellers from Luton Airport will see futher changes from last Winter – a temporary road bridge to allow passengers underneath traffic to get to the taxi and drop off area. Meanwhile the Meet & Greet is still on level 3 of the multi-story – comple madness as every car will be driven 4 times around 3 level of car park, it’s not even on the same level as the bridge to the terminal (level 2)!

Manchester Airport are the latest airport to start ripping people off charging for a drop off with a £3 charge being introduced. Most UK Airports now do charge, the only free drop offs left that we know of are: Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Southend, Belfast CityCardiffInverness, Norwich, Newquay, Jersey & Guernsey.

No Eurostar direct from London to Lyon for Winter 2019 and just the one additional half term service on Saturday Night and Sunday Day over half term (16/2 and 24/2).

Eurostar Ski Train 2018/2019 tickets went on sale at 8am on Wed 18 July 2018 with prices from £75 each-way. Half Term prices were £270 each-way by the end of the day. More on the train and coach services for Winter 2019 here

Mandatory Winter Tyres in moutainous areas of France may become law for Winter 2020. The idea is that all vehicles driving in certain geographic areas from the start of November to the end of March must have these fitted – while similar to other European countries (all Swiss hire cars must have tyres or chains supplied in Winter for example) and of course sensible from a road safety point of view it will be interesting to see how this is enforced. The actual chances of needing equipment to get to La Tania for the once a year skier is very small – of course you could be regularly unlucky (well lucky really) but it’s probably less than a 10% chance on average.

Further consultation and studies regarding All Season, M&S and Snow tyres are now on-going and it will be up to individual local councils if they wish to enforce the law in their area. In addition the articles we’ve seen, they mention snow chains and socks being an alternative – so that would be no change as you really should be carrying those in Winter anyway.  The cost of a set of Winter tyres will put a few people off driving across to The Alps for sure – but let’s see what happens first…

To take any worry away there are more and more shared transfer options becoming available which is great news for those picking up cheap flights. There’s a few changes to private transfer operators in La Tania this Winter as some chalet companies concentrate on their catered chalet product.

Le Van Rouge from Three Vallee Transfers put 6,400 shared seats to/from Geneva with their daily scheduled service on sale last month and Snowbound Transfers also are running a daily schedule this season too along with their Last Minute options.

The coach service from  Geneva to La Tania has quite a reduced service to La Tania for Winter 2019 (many services just going to Courchevel resorts). There is now just one a day mid-week (was 3), two on a Sunday (was 4) & seven on a Saturday (was 8) and the rip-off cost is €90 one-way – it’s much better value and convenient on a shared transfer with one of the local transfer companies from around €65.

All the Transfer options on the La Tania Transfers Page

As for renting cars from the airport we noticed some huge differences in renting from the French or the Swiss sides at  Geneva Airport this Summer (a Fri-Mon long weekend was £62 on the French side and £214 on the Swiss side). Always check both with Carrentals.co.uk

All the info you need on airport car rental for La Tania including which side and why, driving directions, tolls, parking, the Swiss Vignette and fuel prices at latania.co.uk/resort/transfers.htm

 

Live Music

Without Bring Your Sisters in full effect (although we’re bound to see a bit of them somewhere this season surely) there’ll certainly be a gap in the Apres Ski scene this Winter but a chance for new bands to fill the void…

Les Lunettes are Fernando’s (of LiveWire fame) new band for Winter 2019.
Tenacious Ski is Westy’s (of smiling BYS guitar playing fame) new band
Irish Gallie returns for a whole season after a few years away

We hear that regular band favourites The Dominos and The Marivaux will be returning to The Alps for a few stints of several weeks and we expect to see the likes of Albert Jones and Freddie Fingers return for their resident spots plus a few new artists and some big surprises too!

The Rond Point will once again be hosting the Ronnie Loves Music Festival in March 2019 (dates TBC) – now in its 7th year. This year included Norman Jay, Craig Charles and Sunset Sons.

The 2019 Piste Bash Music & Comedy Festival is being held in Méribel from 11-15 March 2019. This year included Newton Faulkner, DJ Yoda and Marcus Brigstocke.

Fahrenheit 7 in Val Thorens and Courchevel Moriond will continue to host (mainly French) Live Music and some nationally renowned DJs in the Zinc Bar from Après Ski until late.

Expect a surprise gig or two from Courchevel Tourist Office this season – TBC

Finally, The 3 Valleys Charity Day 2019 takes place on Wednesday 10 April 2019 in Meribel Village. This years joint headliners were The Dub Pistols and Jaguar Skills.

 

Tourist Office Changes & Lift Passes

Tourist Office politics seems to have been playing out over the past few months with the bosses of Val Thorens and Courchevel both reportedly resigning this Summer.

The former Director of Tourism at Val Thorens, Grégory Guzzo has joined Compagnie des Alpes as a Marketing Director. CDA own the lift companies of Méribel, Les Menuires, Espace Killy, Paradiski, Chamonix and Les Deux Alpes plus Theme Parks across Europe.

Meanwhile in Courchevel (which of course now includes La Tania) there was a sudden announcement on 4th October 2018 of the immediate resignation of the Director of Tourism Sébastien Merignargues who’d only been in the job about a year. Amongst other achievements and with his experience of working in Tignes he did try and increase interest in the Summer season including the free lifts promotion. There was obviously some falling out with the Mairee and/or old school establishment in Courchevel who seemed to get very defensive in their response to his resignation.

The new Courchevel Director of Tourism is Yvan Petit, the former Director of Aquamotion. The addition of Aquamotion admittance on the Courchevel lift pass for the first time this season was announced well before this by the way…

More on the Winter 2019 lift passes including all the prices, options and discounts on the La Tania & 3 Valleys Lift Pass Page.  The Courchevel 6-day pass is now €272 and the standard 3 Valleys 6-day pass €306 (a €34 difference with a day extension now costing €37) so if you’re not going to Aquamotion and will ski another valley just once it’s now cheaper to get a 3 Valley Pass (you used to have to visit a second time to make a 3V pass worthwhile).

The Winter 2019 Piste maps are at latania.co.uk/skiing/pistemaps.htm

 

Future Developments

Not a great deal to report that wasn’t included a year ago in the What’s New 2018 – Future Plans report. 

The Grangettes mid-station didn’t happen (a new direct lift to 1850 planned from Aquamotion instead), no update on the Moretta Village developement and new chair in La Tania and the chance of a piste and lift near Lac de Lou off La Masse seem to be getting smaller.

The Bozel lift story is gathering traction now and the Mairee have stated that this is a when, not if project now. Detailed reviews of the impact of traffic, coach parking, environmental concerns etc are still on-going but a gondola is planned from Bozel near the hamlet of Moulins via a mid-station at St Bon next to the Jairaz Bridge then arriving in Courchevel Village 1550 next to the Dou du Midi car park.

A big driver for the project is to reduce traffic and a gondola would reduce the current journey time from 16 minutes to 6 minutes. In addition a maintained piste would be created down from St Bon to Bozel.

The replacement Praz gondola (10 seater & 20% quicker) from Le Praz for December 2019 is to be extended up the Tovets chair top station next to La Croisette which is also being completely refurbed and modernised. However work on La Croisette (previewed below) which includes an underground bus station is not expected to begin until 2020.

Over in Orelle the new Gondola work will continue and for Winter 2020 we should see this arriving up at the top of Cime de Caron.

Finally the Creux Noirs chairlift will be repaired or replaced after being temporarily closed this Winter – more on that in Part 1 of the What’s New with all the new Ski Area lifts, pistes, snow cannons and improvements.

 

Many thanks for all the contributions. Photo Credits to Ski FanCourchevel Tourist OfficeMeribel Tourist OfficeVal Thorens Tourist OfficeThe Freeride Republic, Charlie Gorman & Natalie Earl.