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From creating to managing resorts

Emerging stakeholder group rationales in the Tarentaise valley
Emmanuelle George-Marcelpoil et Hugues François
Cet article est une traduction de :
De la construction à la gestion des stations


Developing tourist facilities in the mountains is often based on an approach evoking its “enhancement” (Guérin, 1984) based on massive investments sustained by heavy funding from the outside. However, local actors, private as public ones, were not passive and they also brought their investments, ideas to develop mountain tourism. Growth of ski resorts has thus been relying on crossed local and global forces, leading to a diversity of local developments. Nevertheless, nowadays, in a strongly competitive context, their becoming is uncertain, specifically linked to cableway companies’ strategies and organisation. Thus, the analyse of three pattern of management, through three cableway managers, involved in Tarentaise’s resorts will aim to highlight the regional factor and its consequences for local development in Savoie.

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  • 1  This period is only indicative insofar as the Snow Plan has never been the object of any planning.

1Developing tourist facilities in the mountains is often based on an approach evoking its “enhancement” (Guérin, 1984) and involving sustained investment. However, as B.Larique demonstrates (2006), local stakeholders are not passive and are progressively taking over the tourism sector. The question then arises of the balance between local control and external funding. In this respect, fitting out the high-altitude sites supported by the Snow Plan in France is a particularly interesting case-study. The resorts are growth centres, the dynamics of which structure the entire local economy. The Snow Plan1, a policy defined at national level, and instigated by government agencies, thus appears rather as a non-regional movement leaving little room for local stakeholders, at least during its heyday in the period 1965-1975.

  • 2  Service d’Études d’Aménagement Touristique en Montagne (Department for the Research and Planning o (...)

2However, there is no getting away from the major role played by the Savoie department (administrative region) in stimulating the functional integration of the resorts at Courchevel and the overall development of a high-altitude site for tourism. This resulted in an approach defended and subsequently implemented by government agencies via decentralised administration of the equipment before it had its own national agency, the SEATM2. Subsequent recourse to private investors then made it possible to go beyond the capacity of a public stakeholder (the department) alone to deploy the integrated resort concept. Defining the parts played by local control and the use of external means has proven difficult to achieve.

3The first part of our contribution will therefore analyse how the national tourism policy has been regionalised, with a network of local stakeholders interacting with stakeholders from outside the Tarentaise valley. This process has permitted the arrival of stakeholders who today have a central role in the management of high altitude sites. The forming of this innovative sector involves the recognition of localised stakeholder coordinations, which have been qualified in the industrial sector, by concepts which are widely publicised today, of industrial districts (Becattini, 1992), localised production systems (Courlet, 1994), innovative regions (Crevoisier and Maillat, 1995) or clusters (Schmitz H., Nadvi K., 1999). The specific features of the resort stakeholder systems were confirmed through the concept of the Localised Tourism System (Perret, 1994). The characteristics of tourism, an activity allowing the accommodating of a temporary population does indeed lend itself better than others to an interpretation mobilising the interplay of stakeholders in connection with the macroeconomic context. Indeed, interactions between service providers of different kinds (mainly leisure, accommodation and catering) contribute directly to the emergence of a destination and its attractiveness.

4In this analytical context, reading the strategies of the stakeholders managing the ski areas will be the focus of the second part. It will show how group of cableway companies approaches emerge through the local management of resorts which are closer to a sector-based approach than a regional vision, questioning the economic added value for the regions involved. This question of the local effects of winter tourism also guides the action of the Savoie département in terms of support for resorts, action which we will be deciphering in the third and final part.

5With regard to methodology, this contribution is based on the analysis of the germination and development of resorts in the Tarentaise valley (Marcelpoil et al., 2011, 2012). For this purpose, we have used a vast amount of material, based on the examination of the regional and municipal archives and of private resources and semi-directed interviews with 40 private and public stakeholders, both individuals and organisations. The conclusions put forward in this article are the fruit of the analysis of this material. However, given its sensitive nature, we have opted for generic conclusions with the occasional use of verbatim reports when the authors cannot be identified.

The Snow Plan, or the local side of a national policy

  • 3  Interministerial Commission for the Development of Tourism in the Mountains.
  • 4  The same group which actively contributed to the construction of Courchevel 1850 headed by M. Mich (...)
  • 5  In the same way, C.Perriand’s family is from Yenne, G. Rey-Millet who worked with her at Les Arcs (...)

6Many authors have drawn attention to the fact that rather than an actual exercise in planning, the Snow Plan refers first and foremost to an intention, or even a doctrine (Knafou, 1978; François, 2007). As far back as 1964, the purpose of setting up the CIATM or CIAM3 was to coordinate the government’s action through the expertise of the SEATM, founded in 1972, based on a team of experts from the Chambéry equipment division4. The actual roots of the Snow Plan are thus more localised than doctrine would have us believe. More specifically, it is part of a desire to control the national development of winter tourism at a local level (Marcelpoil et al., 2010; Marcelpoil et François, 2012), with a rotation of the Savoyard elite and an upheaval in the traditional values of mountain societies. Calling upon the government for assistance was made possible by the ability of the local stakeholders to deliver a message about the technicalities of the modern organisation of winter sports, more often than not after initial training outside the Savoie area. This message is passed on in parallel by politicians with a real national dimension. With regard to the technical side, most of the major stakeholders had roots in the Savoie region, notably L. Chappis, from Aix-les-Bains, and M. Michaud, from Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers5. Even so, although the breeding ground of the promoters was Savoie, the deployment of the resorts throughout the Tarine valley brought in a broad spectrum of investors.

  • 6  FDES, Economic and Social Development Fund.
  • 7  FSIR, Special Roads Investment Fund.
  • 8  FAL, Local Action Fund.
  • 9  The concept of the sole developer is central to the development approach advocated by the Snow Pla (...)

7In this context, Courchevel played a founding role in the history of the resorts. As the prototype integrated resort, it was the first brick in the trial-and-error process applied to different fields, property management, the single developer or the conditions under which local authorities intervened. The property issue, present right from the start of the departmental project, refers back to the experience of Val d’Isère. The growth of tourism in Val d’Isère and the profits made from the sale of property whetted investors’ appetites and the effects of speculation were uppermost in the minds of the developers directing the layout of the regional resort. The village of Saint-Bon, willing to make its land available to the département free of charge, was then selected, establishing the lowest altitude for the urban development of the resort at 1800m. The property issue began to accelerate due to the order of 1958 (order No. 58-997) which allowed villages to expropriate owners in the public interest of projects awarded to private stakeholders. This measure allowed land to be acquired at the price of farmland in order to sell apartments at tourist accommodation rates, thus generating a considerable value-added factor. Expropriation became systematic for the building of third generation resorts, placing the municipality in a strategic position (Perret, 1992; Marcelpoil et al., 2011). The municipality also provided part of the communal equipment. The government’s participation took the form of financial participation in various funds (FDES6, FSIR7, FAL8) in addition to its technical expertise, but this did not cover all the public investment costs. Construction of the resort itself was, as dictated by the doctrine, entrusted to a private company acting as the “sole developer”9.

8At Courchevel, the département developed a coherent site focused on winter sports. It took charge of equipping the ski area and orchestrated the urban development, but did not directly manage the real estate projects based on a broad spectrum of private initiatives. M. Michaud confirmed the central role of the ski lifts in the economic model of the resorts. The considerable initial investment in ski lifts ultimately became the main source of profit for a resort, as shown by the success at Courchevel, which achieved financial stability in 1956 (Marcelpoil et al., 2010). However, although having funded site identification with the potential to be developed into resorts at the start of the 1960’s, the Savoie département, which had already heavily invested in Courchevel, took a backseat and left the development of these sites to private operators. Private initiatives required quicker results in order to be viable. The concept of global development of sites thus emerged with the aim of achieving urban development in proportion to the development of the ski area. The mechanism was therefore as follows: the construction and subsequent sale of flats as second homes brought in profits which balanced the cost of equipping the ski area. Some (particularly Perret, 1992) described this as a vicious circle, whereby the sale of property contributed to filling the ski lifts to maximum capacity, until their saturation required further investment, in turn funded by property development leading to renewed saturation of the lifts, etc.

9Progressively, concessions for development purposes became concessions for operation, anticipating the Public Service Delegation measure between the municipality and the current operator, the Société des Trois Vallées. Other factors favoured this relation, such as the FAL, a fund with government participation, encouraging the installation of a resort on municipal land, reserving a share for “new resorts”. The more the municipalities invested and borrowed, the more they received from the fund. Subcontracting is thus indirectly, but strongly encouraged. Municipalities invested in ski lift equipment which they then hired out to operators for the amount of the annual payment of the loan they had taken out.

10From the point of view of principles, the figure of the sole developer directly structured the interplay of the stakeholders today encountered in resorts, but it is also instructive to look at the stakeholders who brought about the concept of the sole developer with the emblematic example of the Belleville valley. When the Trois-Vallées resort was originally planned, the land belonging to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville seemed the most suitable for the location of the resort, but the departmental mission found itself up against opposition from the inhabitants. However, a few years later, the success of Courchevel in the neighbouring town allowed Joseph Fontanet, a fervent defender of the integrated resort concept within the Conseil Général (Council of the Département), to carry through the project for the resort at Saint-Martin-de Belleville after becoming the Mayor. With this end in mind, J. Fontanet intended to benefit from the same advantages as Saint-Bon-Courchevel.

  • 10  Société d’Équipement de la Vallée des Belleville. (Belleville Valley Equipment company)
  • 11  The link between the CDC and winter sports did not stop at Belleville, as the financial organisati (...)
  • 12  Société Civile Immobilière de la Vallée des Belleville. (Belleville Valley non-trading real estate (...)

11As the département was at this time deeply involved in Courchevel, the idea of the sole developer germinated with the constitution of the SODEVAB10 in 1961. The aim was to find funding above and beyond that available from the département only, with from 1959 onwards, the support of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), of which the current Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) is a subsidiary. Although the original aim of the SODEVAB mixed economy company was to reproduce the income generated at Courchevel in a better-managed context, the private initiative did not come up to the expectations of the developers and the CDC11 took over, creating SCIVABEL12. The Belleville valley therefore experienced the emergence of the concept of the sole developer (Marcelpoil et al., 2011, 2012) and in just a few years switched from being in opposition to being a national priority with regard to the development of mountain regions for tourism . At the same time, the desire to develop skiing on the glacier at Val Thorens crystallised environmental opposition to ski resorts and was to lead to the fourth generation, of which Valmorel is emblematic. Finally, this marked both the end of the systematic development of mountain regions for tourism purposes and the successful achievement of developments in the Tarine valley.

Structuring of stakeholders and emergence of groups

  • 13  Source: BD Stations 2012 (IRSTEA) / STRMTG 2011
  • 14  The power moment corresponds to the product of the passenger flow by the total altitude difference (...)
  • 15  Public authorities seek to attract industry leaders by advantageous installation conditions (prope (...)

12Thanks to their past growth, the large Tarentaise resorts now represent 70%13 of the Savoie’s power moment14 (which represent 42% of all the winter destination). Logically, the economic stakeholders organise themselves to operate this tool in the best possible way and current management questions the share of the regional variable in their strategies. Once the majority of the resorts are built, the government starts to withdraw and the transfer of skills and responsibilities to the municipalities hosting the resorts is initiated (Decentralisation laws, Mountain laws of 1985). As ski lifts are officially recognised as a public service under the responsibility of the local authorities, the latter may therefore opt to manage their production tool themselves or delegate it to a tourism operator. Today, the status of ski lifts as an industrial and commercial public service (SPIC) speaks for itself: activity wavers between the role of regional development and the strong competitive pressures of the tourism market. SPIC incorporates the public and private spheres in different proportions depending on the period and the stakes15.

13Seeking a company to delegate the running of the ski lifts to is strategic, given the operating risk and the regulatory context which is not adapted to the management of a SPIC which is subject to strong competition (in particular, no captive users as compared to other services likely to be delegated). The 1980’s and 1990’s highlighted some of the limits of local authorities in the management of their production tools (in particular, see criticisms of the Lorit report, 1991 and Pascal report, 1993).

  • 16 The recent bankruptcy of Transmontagne underlined the risks involved in running a ski area and affe (...)

14In the context of a mature market, what state of balance can possibly be reached between the delegating party and the operating company to which it delegates? Today, there are evident phenomena of exclusion in cases where the competent authorities have not been able to find an operating company due to operating risks being too great. Climate change is lending growing weight to the uncertain snow coverage factor in decisions concerning the investment risk16. The issue is therefore the coordination between a regional approach and a group approach with the aim of maximising and securing the activity of a resort and the ski lift business structure. To provide some elements of an answer, our approach examined the policies of two major groups in order to decipher their strategies per site and understand how they fit together.

Labellemontagne, sharing means at the service of regional development?

15The originality of the Labellemontagne policy lies in its choice of management focusing on resorts considered to be medium-sized both by their size and altitude. The group judges that these resorts represent interesting growth margins compared to the investment required to manage them. There is room for manoeuvre not only in the ski area whose development can be optimised, but also in that of tourist accommodation. The crossed property/ski lift strategy adopted by this group has a specific feature: here, the accommodation represents only a very small portion of the volume which the ski lifts can absorb, but the multiplication of income sources contributes to the equilibrium of the entire operation of the site for Labellemontagne. The real estate approach is orientated by the need to reinvest to maintain the level of the site. Real estate plays a decisive role and the legal mechanisms facilitating these operations have been adapted to operating issues rather than investment issues. Henceforth, with tourism residences, property investment is no longer necessarily a source of short-term profit, but constitutes a way of ensuring that operation is profitable. The aim is to ensure that the facilities are filled and thus guarantee their operation. The developer/manager of the residence is in a dominant position, as during the Snow Plan era, as shown by the unilateral reviewing of the rental sums for flat-owners to compensate for any management difficulties encountered. Finally, accommodation allows the operating income of a resort to be diversified beyond the ski lifts alone. Moreover, it is noteworthy that only this type of medium-sized resort (resorts which have the reputation of being difficult) is open to this type of strategy without any danger of a monopoly and welcomes the intervention of a leader in the tourism sector to boost local activity.

16Indeed, the possibility of occupying a prominent position on the commercial accommodation scene is a prerequisite for Labellemontagne before it starts to operate on the site. By occupying both the accommodation and ski lift slots, the group occupies a dominant position which it intends to use to be a real driving force in the tourism sector, in particular in terms of defining the target clientele of the resort and thus the prices. Moreover, its aims go beyond simply leisure property and affect a variety of service providers, involving them in “all-inclusive” products associated with accommodation (in particular the hire of ski equipment). The group’s strategy aims to guarantee its intervention strength by its internal structuring (sharing of marketing, communication and sales skills internally and of some centralised administrative and accounting services to reduce the costs of each site) based on its use of local social and professional structures. From this angle, a certain form of underlying regional integration exists in the intervention of the Labellemontagne group.

The Compagnie des Alpes, federalism at the service of a group?

17Conversely to the Labellemontagne group, the CDA has adopted a different strategy to secure its activity, with a source of income outside the mountain area and winter sports resorts, thanks to the leisure sector and amusement parks, whilst only conserving those winter sports sites where operation appears to be stabilised. These are resorts on an international scale which have no image problems and are at a sufficiently high altitude to ensure “guaranteed snow coverage”, if necessary using snow-making equipment.

  • 17  The CDA also has variable shares in 14 large resorts in France: Val d’Isère, Tignes, Méribel, La R (...)
  • 18  Local elected representatives also criticise the CDA for placing the decision-making centre at a d (...)

18De facto, the CDA occupies a prominent place on the French winter sports market, with a constellation of resorts which dominate the national offer both economically and geographically17: CDA resorts represent 1/3 of the French power moment and 65% of the power moment of resorts in the perimeter of the Assemblée des Pays Tarentaise Vanoise (Tarentaise Vanoise districts group) (IRSTEA resorts database, 2012). Are fears concerning the abuse of a dominant position and a stranglehold on the ski market which worry the local stakeholders18, in particular the public stakeholders, founded? How does the CDA mobilise the expertise acquired through its action on national and international markets? These issues concern both the economic strategy of a group and its legitimacy in managing a public service activity originally intended to be an instrument for regional development. In particular, financial objectives are of prime importance and are linked to the CDA’s position on the stock market. Nothing guarantees their compatibility with regional development and organisation of the local economic life.

19One of the messages upheld by the CDA consists in asserting its proximity with lands on which resorts are located through the room for manoeuvre left to local teams. Indeed, managing a resort involves the site itself having a minimum amount of means in terms of personnel and equipment. In concrete terms, federalism is imposed but must not mask managers’ freedom of action. As managers of the largest ski lift companies in France, their credibility lies both in their ability to make decisions autonomously and on their in-depth knowledge of the running of the resorts. Their professional mobility contributes directly to their training, by confronting them both with different functions and actions in different contexts. Finally, they are more than just puppets executing the strategy of a group. They constitute a real source of proposals multiplied by the number of sites they manage. Local experimentation and the sharing of this experimentation thus contribute to innovation on the scale of CDA. Coordination between regions hosting resorts and management of the resorts by the CDA is therefore established, in particular in terms of the choice of the operating company most likely to contribute to the general interest through the management of a public service for which the municipality remains the guarantee.

  • 19  Thus, without this being a groundswell movement, several local authorities hosting resorts, someti (...)

20Backed by the CDC, the CDA does in fact have significant means to implement its strategy and enjoys privileged access to credit. On the one hand, the ability to mobilise capital from banking sources can be considered favourable for the quality of the ski areas which the company runs, but on the other this contributes to restricting the opening to competition of the delegation of management of the sites in its care. Thus, the host municipalities are to some extent (since they remain the delegating authority) bound by excellence: the investments made by the group’s subsidiaries participate in the increase of the entry fee for new managers, which restrict the opening of calls for tenders, unless the municipality can find the means to reduce this entry fee in its own resources19.

21The game of excellence is all the more risky in that the CDA has an ability to analyse the demand and commercial clout, unparalleled in the winter sports sector. Its range of resorts allows it to reach a very broad range of customers, in particular international, and to compile very detailed knowledge of their practices and expectations. Indeed, the Company can thus argue that it has the ability to grasp the current trends, and its expertise endows it with a structuring echo with municipalities which do not dispose of this level of information. Thus, the commercial issue also contributes to clouding the issue of Public Service Delegation (DSP) by isolated municipalities whereas the CDA manages a variety of sites more or less directly connected to each other.

Savoie Stations Participations, is the département obliged to adapt to the new management practices?

  • 20  FACET, Departmental Support Fund for Municipalities for Tourism.

22Faced with these groups, the Savoie département has updated its intervention in the field of winter sports. Where Savoie was proud to announce in 1945 (Marcelpoil et al., 2011) its ability to support a project which private initiative alone could not envisage, it must today come to terms with a very different landscape. It must face up to strong stakeholders, structured along the lines of the CDA, in order to optimise an operating phase of the resort tool for which the département appears less apt than for the development phase. Technical expertise, gleaned from the experience of Courchevel, has given the département a dominant position. This position is also linked to the FACET20, displaying not only the success of the département’s experience, but also affording it a view of the various projects currently under development.

23Today, the mature market context restricts the legitimacy of action of a département for which the secure income results from the primacy of its action in the winter sports sector. With the assertion of groups in the delegation of ski lift services, the Savoie Conseil Général is faced with stakeholders with strong internal expertise and often managing a greater number of domains than it does itself. For example, in relation to all the resorts in new sites, Courchevel excels in the development of hotels, in particularly luxury hotels, but tends to be closer to “village” resorts such as Chamonix, Megève or Val d’Isère rather than 3rd generation resorts strongly marked by the development of second homes.

24In this context, the département asserted its intention to claw back the regional development of resorts with the implementation of the tourism plan. First of all, it asserts its ability to act with the releasing of considerable credit drawn from departmental property, in particular the sale of real estate in Courchevel. By selling this property, the cycle is complete: The subsidies generated by running a resort are channelled into winter sports and regional development. By reallocating these funds into a broad spectrum of resorts, the département is no longer simply seeking to draw the maximum amount of profit from the site it is running itself, but is rather seeking to allocate means correctly over its entire territory as a public stakeholder. With the Tourism Plan, a willingness to develop a “summer” part appears, whilst maintaining a “connected domains” theme which is the basis of its action with regard to tourism development. This part of the departmental policy reveals a change of position. Whereas previously it was in a pioneering position, in this case it is a “follower” of the Rhône-Alpes region and the Isère department which have already initiated this type of action, respectively since 1995 (contracts between resorts and companies in the region) and 2003 (diversified development contracts in Isère), without having solved the delicate matter of diversification.

  • 21  Shares of the SSP Holding, founded in 1991 in the following resorts: SEDS, 100%; SETAM, 43.78%; SA (...)

25How are we to understand this change in the position of the département and the place held by Savoie Stations Participations (SSP21) financial holding company, in such a context? Is this a sign of the Conseil Général’s ability to adapt, wishing to accompany the evolution of the role of resorts in the context of regional development or an evolution of the role and status of resorts in regional development?

26The reality has in effect changed and the practice of subsidies, considered on a case by case basis according to criteria specific to each resort and the structuring of its ski holiday offer, seems outdated today. An approach integrating criteria for economic success seems in practice to be a guarantee of relevance for effective allocation of public credit. This tends to promote a regional capitalism approach which involves giving preference to the local distribution of the wealth created and accumulated via the resorts. This dimension of the SSP is eminently political and should be assessed in comparison to the practices implemented, but a significant difference with a purely private stakeholder doubtlessly lies in the level of requirement with regard to assessment of the benefits (not only monetary but also quality of life, job creation, spillover effects in the areas concerned, etc.) and in the maximisation of profits in the more or less short term.

27Finally, SSP makes the profitability of resorts one of the criteria for regional development in order for the development of winter tourism to accompany the economic life of the regions without its operating and/or investment costs compromising their future. The questions lie in the ability of SSP to bring its participation to a broad range of resorts. How should the order of priority be established? Less profitable sites, whatever their potential, are in the most danger, but giving them priority would risk weakening SSP. Conversely, would giving priority to the most interesting sites not condemn the more fragile ones?


28The slide from resort construction to their current management has occurred in step with a renewal of the stakeholders and their management methods. The significant constraints in each of these large centres of tourist activity (the accommodation facilities are suffering from ageing and from beds leaving the market whereas ski lifts remain a highly capitalistic activity) encourages the stakeholders to adopt a sector-based approach to maximise their activity.

29Moreover, the question hanging over the ability of the regional authorities to manage the resorts has led the organising authorities to turn to private managers. This introduction of new stakeholders in the running of the resorts or the transformation of the sole developer into a simple ski lift operator may have profoundly modified the resorts’ anchoring policies.

30Paradoxically, whereas in times gone by the door was thrown open to an increased regionalisation of resorts set up in the context of the Snow Plan, the trend is now rather towards a sector-based approach initiated by groups specialised in ski lift management and whose growth strategy involves deploying their activities on different sites. As the resort approach is not global, it encourages an approach by trades, the ski lift profession being the most fruitful branch.

31Thus, groups such as CDA, Labellemontagne and to a certain extent SSP propose a horizontal approach to resorts managed on multiple territories, whereas the regional approach favours the vertical integration of tourism. This calls into question the sustainability of resorts as a tool for regional development according to two main themes.

32Firstly, developing resorts has contributed to the constitution of an innovative tourist environment in the Tarentaise area. What is the innovation capacity of the resorts and how can this movement come to terms with globalised stakeholders? Today this seems to be directed towards questions of promotion and commercialisation but is it really going to last? Secondly, the question of the distribution of the fruits of running the ski areas arises. How far do the profits made by a group benefit the area where the resort is located? There is indeed a risk of transfer between areas or redeployment in the various activities of the group (e.g. amusement parks for the CDA). The question of inter-area transfer is particularly interesting insofar as it can hide particularly contrasting, if not opposing, realities: On the one hand, they may constitute a factor sharing the operating risks and reasserting the role of resorts in land-use planning, but on the other, contribute to a single stakeholder gaining a hold over the winter sports sector by assuming a dominant position.

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1  This period is only indicative insofar as the Snow Plan has never been the object of any planning.

2  Service d’Études d’Aménagement Touristique en Montagne (Department for the Research and Planning of Tourism in the Mountains)

3  Interministerial Commission for the Development of Tourism in the Mountains.

4  The same group which actively contributed to the construction of Courchevel 1850 headed by M. Michaud who would later be dubbed the Snow Dictator (Arnaud, 1975).

5  In the same way, C.Perriand’s family is from Yenne, G. Rey-Millet who worked with her at Les Arcs is from the Haute-Savoie area, G. Regairaz is from Chambéry and in the same team, B. Taillefer, from Cal d’Isère is symbol of the upward social mobility made possible by the construction of the resorts, as are R. and Y Blanc for Les Arcs.

6  FDES, Economic and Social Development Fund.

7  FSIR, Special Roads Investment Fund.

8  FAL, Local Action Fund.

9  The concept of the sole developer is central to the development approach advocated by the Snow Plan. Roger Godino represented this promoter for the resort at Les Arcs in Savoie.

10  Société d’Équipement de la Vallée des Belleville. (Belleville Valley Equipment company)

11  The link between the CDC and winter sports did not stop at Belleville, as the financial organisation is the main lender for local authorities.

12  Société Civile Immobilière de la Vallée des Belleville. (Belleville Valley non-trading real estate company)

13  Source: BD Stations 2012 (IRSTEA) / STRMTG 2011

14  The power moment corresponds to the product of the passenger flow by the total altitude difference of a resort’s ski lifts (source: STRMTG).

15  Public authorities seek to attract industry leaders by advantageous installation conditions (property acquisition and exclusive rights to development licenses) and a convincing, stable development model.

16 The recent bankruptcy of Transmontagne underlined the risks involved in running a ski area and affected a group which was assumed to be sound, given the deployment of its assets in a broad spectrum of resorts and activities, both for ski lifts and leisure property.

17  The CDA also has variable shares in 14 large resorts in France: Val d’Isère, Tignes, Méribel, La Rosière, Valmorel, Serre-Chevalier, Les 2 Alpes, Chamonix, Flaine, les Arcs, la Plagne, Sainte Foy, les Menuires, Peisey-Vallandry.

18  Local elected representatives also criticise the CDA for placing the decision-making centre at a distance: “What the elected representatives criticise the CDA for is not the way they run the resorts, they are very professional, there are no worries on that score. It is simply the fact that final decisions are increasingly made in Paris.”

19  Thus, without this being a groundswell movement, several local authorities hosting resorts, sometimes large ones, are considering taking over management of their site: “Today, the municipality is in a position to take over…What I am saying is simply that today if you are [in a large resort] and you believe in winter sports, you can allow yourself this kind of madness. But I would not be reasoning like this if I was just at la Clusaz”

20  FACET, Departmental Support Fund for Municipalities for Tourism.

21  Shares of the SSP Holding, founded in 1991 in the following resorts: SEDS, 100%; SETAM, 43.78%; SAMSO, 13.33%; SEMAB, 11.55%; SEMVAL, 10.00%; Pralognan-Labellemontagne, 10.00%; Valloire SEM, 9.29%; Jaillet SEM, 6.98%; Bauges SEM, 5.04%; Mont-Cenis SEM, 4.74%; Val d’Arly SEM, 4.58%; Crest Volland-Labellemontagne, 2.51%; Megève ski lift company, 2%; Société des Trois Vallées 0.003%, STOR, 1 share.

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Emmanuelle George-Marcelpoil et Hugues François, « From creating to managing resorts », Revue de Géographie Alpine | Journal of Alpine Research [En ligne], 100-3 | 2012, mis en ligne le 11 mars 2013, consulté le 20 août 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Emmanuelle George-Marcelpoil

Irstea Grenoble – UR DTM

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Hugues François

Irstea Grenoble – UR DTM

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