The white gold of Catalan snow
The Catalan snow resorts are currently wrapping up a very good winter season, economically profitable even if the energy merchants have eroded the operating margin. These small or medium-sized resorts were spared the periods of mild spells and humidity that affected many French ski areas, particularly in the Pyrenees.
“Despite some weather difficulties at the start of the season, we succeeded in the two holiday sequences at the end of the year and especially in February, which represents 45% of attendance. We arrive at nearly 1,200,000 skier days, which is the second best historical score after the attendance record recorded last year. Global warming worries us, of course, but what worries us the most is soaring energy costs. Some of our small stations have seen bills quadruple”, explains Michel Poudade, president of Catalan Snows which includes seven ski areas.
Obviously, Font-Romeu-Pyrénées 2000, which will close the slopes on the evening of March 26, does not hide its pleasure. The resort reached a new historic milestone this winter. “513,000 skier days to date. We will end up at 520,000. With even a peak of 11,948 packages in a single day. This is unheard of. Last year, we had already set a new record at 511,000, whereas over the last few years, the station has been running between 450,000 and 475,000 days”, proudly details Jacques Alvarez, the station director who benefited from a particularly favorable weather conjunction (dry weather) while the other resorts in the Pyrenean mountains or Savoy were shrouded in fog and humidity.
“Everything worked very well”
“At the lifts, we are growing by 8% in turnover. Ski schools announce + 14%, altitude restaurants + 10% on average. Everything worked very well. Cross-country skiing has been a huge success and our formula for extending the ski day during the February holidays has been adopted by many skiers who love to start early at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Then 6 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.,” adds Jacques Alvarez, himself surprised by the maddening success of snow tubing (improbable but family descent on snow in a buoy) on the Airelles piste (100% increase in this convenient).
The neighboring resort of Les Angles (closed on April 10) is also having an excellent season, but slightly behind 2022, a record year. At a lower level of slope attendance, Trio Pyrénées is doing well with the holding of 120 days of skiing in its three grouped areas (Formiguères, Cambre d’Aze, Porté-Puymorens).