It is transfer season for ski resorts with the main players the first division teams Transmontagne and Remy-Loisirs. On the first of August Vosges based Remy took control of the ski lifts of Notre Dame de Bellecombe and Flumet which has previously been run by the local communities. The group, which in 2005 ranked 5th largest in France just begin Transmongtagne with 2.62% of total lift turnover already controls neighbouring Crest-Voland / Cohennos
Situated in the Val d’Arly at the foot of Mont-Blanc, Flumet and Notre Dame de Bellecombe are part of the Espace Diamant which also links Crest-Voland / Cohennos, Praz sur Arly and les Saisies to give access to 180km of runs. Think of it as the Orange bits of the ski station monopoly board. Remy also has its eyes on Praz-sur-Arly which must find a new operator by the end of the year.
Notre-Dame de Bellecombe is the key to the ski area with a quarter of the total lift traffic. Using the ALFI hands free lift pass system it is possible to track the passage of each skier around the domain with Notre-Dame being the main beneficiary of the combined lift pass.
Notre-Dame de Bellecombe still has a lot of development potential with over 3000 beds in the Mont-Rond sector allowed for in the town plan. Remy-Loisirs will be hoping that this attracts a large apartment operator such as Pierre and Vacances or Maeva without which it is hard to run the lift system at a profit. Luxury developer MGM is also developing le Chalet des Oursons at Crest-Voland. The 80 luxury chalets will have their own year-round private swimming pool.
The real jewel in the crown for the Espace Diamant is a future link with Megève via the Praz sur Arly. Currently these plans are on hold following opposition from environmental groups keen to preserve this part of the Mont-Blanc massive and there is some local opposition worried that the character of the villages will be destroyed by the development. If the links into l’Evasion Mont-Blanc, l’Espace Crystal and les Contamines ever get off the drawing board they will create the largest linked ski area in the world with over 600km of ski runs.
At the same time as Remy is expanding in the Savoie there is a strong rumour that it will abandon the Val d’Allos in the Southern-Alps which it took over in 2000. The ski resort of Allos la-Foux is part of the Espace Lumiére linked with Pra-Loup. According to an article by the mayor of Allos in the “Sources du Verdon” Remy pays the local community 60,000 euros per year for its franchise. Despite much development in the resort it is thought that the franchise is not that profitable under the current terms.
Transmontagne is the most likely candidate to take over Allos la-Foux and neighbouring (but not linked) le Seignus. This has some logic as Transmontage currently runs Pra-Loup. Specializing in the total management of medium size ski resorts, Transmontagne also has its own apartment rental business. Its best known “resort” is the massive Ski Dubai desert snow dome.
Remy-Loisirs is currently restructuring its portfolio of resorts, looking for synergies which will lift profits from around 5% to 10% of turnover. The president of the group, Jean-Yves Remy is on the lookout for 3 or 4 other resorts in the Alps and believes the period of restructuring and consolidation that has taken place over the last 5 years is not yet over.