Posted on: 2024-02-12 10:04:18 by davidof

Highest ski resort in the Pyrénées goes bust

The news that the highest ski resort in the French Pyrénées has been declared bankrupt almost went without notice outside of the region. It is not the first time for Puigmal. The ski area already went bust in 2013 when local authorities could no longer finance the 9 million euros in debt. A debt rate payers continue to pay to this day. At the end of November 2023 the Commercial Court in Perpignan put Puigmal into liquidation for a second, and probably final time, given the snow conditions this season. The resort comprises 13 ski lifts and 32 pistes between 1890 and 2660 meters altitude. It will shut after 43 years of operation. The ski area was looking for 150 K euros to restart the lifts but with declining visitor numbers and a series of disastrous winters investors were wary.

The rebirth of Puigmal goes back to 2018 when the Err local authority launched a tendering process for a group to take over running the resort with the aim of initially reopening without ski lifts as a 4 season area. Rossignol's "Outdoor Experience" project was accepted and 29 MTB, trail, ski touring and nordic walking trails were opened. In parallel a small team worked on opening the ski lifts. The project needed 1.5 million euros and 100 small investors, dubbed the "socios" put up money. The idea was to open an Eco-responsible domain with a maximum of 1,500 skiers per day to preserve the ecosystem with fewer lifts and less snow-making. The group were awarded a 25 year concession to run the lift system but trouble started from the second season of operations. At Christmas 2022 the resort couldn't open due to lack of snow and managed just 30 days operations in 2023 for a total of just 7,000 skier days. That's just 235 skiers per day. The resort needed 20,000 skiers per season to balance the books and the domain used to see 80 to 90,000 skier days before 2013. The resort suffered a chairlift breakdown and to compound the problems the station suffers from a lack of accommodation. Rising energy costs were the final nail in the coffin. With 80% less snow forecast in the area by 2050 some local politicians would now like the infrastructure: lifts and snow making, removed from the site to allow nature back. For Bruno Degryse, who was in charge of the lifts it would "be a waste after all the investment in the ski area". The resort is on sale for 1 euro.