Courchevel, ever the pioneer…!
It took DARING… but these pioneers, adventurers and visionaries did it! What a groundbreaking idea it was that drove the Savoie Council in 1946 to create a ski resort from scratch on a site previously used only by a handful of shepherds in summer. How bold it was for Saint-Bon Council to agree to such a spectacular project that would go on to change the destiny of this little mountain community forever! And yet, they were right… this Savoyard resort has enjoyed success and renown since day one, something that continues to endure. And with good reason… ever since it began, a group of trailblazers have contributed to the development of this cutting-edge resort, each playing their part over the years in the growth of its fame and international standing.
Today, Courchevel is still driven by this pioneering, visionary spirit. It ceaselessly continues to innovate, invent and re-invent itself in terms of excellence in snow grooming, slope preparation, high-tech cutting-edge ski lifts, and slope rescue expertise. This quest for innovation and perfection also extends throughout the resort’s facilities, hotels and restaurants. All this is made possible by the hard work of a number of dedicated, talented, innovative people from all over the world, who excel in their field.
They had to invent everything from scratch… And who better to design a brand new type of ski resort than an expert who also happened to love the mountains… it would be up to him to come up with something totally different to what had been done until then. That man was Laurent Chappis, who after having roamed the slopes, drew up a groundbreaking town plan for the ski resort of tomorrow.
His idea: to meet two of the future resort’s customers’ essential needs:
- to provide holidaymakers with easier direct access to the ski runs by building accommodation alongside them: thus giving rise to the concept of ski-in/ski-out.
- to create a convergence point for the ski runs that would serve as the bustling resort centre: the snow front and “grenouillère” area, where skiers and pedestrians could meet up, have fun and enjoy après-ski activities.
That’s how a brand new type of resort was born, much to the delight of skiers who fell in love with the charm of this purpose-built destination, designed for them.
There was no doubting Courchevel’s success; ski resort designers quickly copied its town plan in the 1960s, creating what became known as integrated resorts. Today, this kind of integration, where town planning and ski runs are considered as one, still endures, which means we’re able to offer a large amount of ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
In order to provide a safe area accessible to as many people as possible, a new profession and new machines needed to be created! Headed up by a dedicated man renowned for his charisma, a handful of pioneers threw themselves into an adventure where experimentation was part of everyday life.
This man was globetrotting ski champion Emile Allais, who took inspiration from what he had seen in the United States to make Courchevel a cutting-edge resort. He set up the Courchevel slope maintenance team in the 1950s, which aimed to:
- provide smooth, also known as groomed, ski runs, testing out ever more modern grooming equipment so that even beginners could benefit from the joys of skiing. Crucially, he imported the Sno-Cat from the United States, a vehicle normally used on polar expeditions, which meant Courchevel became the first resort in France to be equipped with a piste groomer.
- make the ski area safer by clearly demarcating the edge of runs using markers
- rescue skiers who were injured or in difficulty
- prevent accidents and injuries, by using a bulldozer to shape the ski runs in summer to make them more easily accessible
Today, these intrepid explorers have bestowed on us the legacy of their ceaseless quest for perfect piste grooming, as we strive for excellence in our bid to provide a ski area of exceptional quality! That quest for perfect grooming is part of Courchevel’s DNA and today still, the resort is proud to rank among the best in the world thanks to the teams that work in shifts throughout the night.