Val Thorens is intrinsically associated with the Dutch but maybe not for much longer if the Tourist Office has its way. French ski resorts have for a long time followed the logic of ‘more is better’ packing as many skiers and boarders into as little space as possible. But since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the arrival of new money from Eastern Europe a different logic has taken hold. Rich foreign guests who will spend money not just on the lift pass but in chic resort shops and restaurants. In order to attract this clientele resorts have been going upmarket replacing dormitory style apartment blocks with rustic Tyrolean style wooden chalets and upgrading the lift systems.
Val Thorens has been a favourite with the Dutch, there is a Dutch bar called Bloopers. Dutch registered tourist buses block the 30km long road up to the high altitude resort during the season and the final week’s skiing in May is traditionally ‘Dutch Week’. However it seems that canny clog wearers are not part of the future.
Situated at 2100 meters, Val Thorens has been described by travel writers as ‘lunar’ in appearance. But there has been a change in direction for the station. Buildings are being clad in wood. WiFi Internet is available. Cramped apartment blocks are being redeveloped into larger luxury units and there is even an attempt to plant trees on the slopes surrounding the resort.
Yves Bontoux, the head of the tourist board has just announced that contracts with low-cost Dutch Tour Operators were not renewed this season and although there has been a drop in occupancy the resort turnover has increased by 50% over the last 5 years. A trend that looks set to continue.
The Val Thorens Website.