Courchevel has signed a deal with Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, a North American company, to redesign its lift network and bring years of uncoordinated development to an end.
Like many alpine resorts, Courchevel's lifts were built haphazardly over years instead of being constructed according to a finished plan. Consequently there are lots of drag lifts particularly around the bottom slopes, which are not nearly as efficient as chairlifts or gondolas.
Paul Matthews is the founder and president of Ecosign, and has spent 35 years reinventing how mountain resorts are designed. Companies like his use technology to figure out things like where to build ski lifts and locate lodges rather than guesswork. Ecosign now even has a tool to locate the warmest sunshine spot for a patio restaurant.
Matthews told The Globe And Mail, "It's detailed work, everything from the precise elevation of front steps, the height of the buildings, the commerical space, before the architects come in. We design the whole village, the ski hill, the unity, the experience."
Some of Ecosign's design innovations include replacing two or three surface lifts with one high-speed chairlift, mixing chairs with gondolas for winter and summer business, the 'diamond' maze system to accommodate lift loading up to 3200 persons per hour, designing parent-free facilities for children, and the creation of terrain parks and halfpipes.
Ecosign has worked on more than 200 ski areas worldwide, including Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and Sochi in Russia - host the 2014 Winter Olympics.