In Savoie, the Karellis resort offers inexpensive ski holidays

In Savoie, the Karellis resort offers inexpensive ski holidays

Since 1975, the economic and social model of the Karellis resort has been unique. It allows vacationers to enjoy inexpensive stays and a relaxed atmosphere.

On the chairlift, Julien and Kenza scan the horizon. The snowboarding couple seeks to take advantage of their last hour of skiing: “We’ll take the other side of the slope, the light and the snow will be better”, they finally decide, before readjusting their mask and grabbing their sticks. These two Lille residents, aged 40 and 34, feel at home in the small resort of Karellis (Savoie). She learned to ski there when she was a child, he made several trips there as a teenager. “Since then, neither of us has found better anywhere else,” confides Kenza. The wallet argument wins: here, a week’s stay, all inclusive, costs them 580 euros per person, compared to 900 to 1,000 euros elsewhere, on average. The two young parents are also seduced by the “caring” and “friendly” atmosphere of the resort, “the polar opposite of most other winter sports sites”. The secret ? A unique economic and social model in Europe that the Karellis resort has cultivated since its creation. At the beginning of the 1970s, the village of Montricher, in the Maurienne valley, was in decline: agricultural activity was disappearing, the school had just closed, the inhabitants were leaving. The mayor, who seeks at all costs to give it new impetus, then meets Pierre Laîné.

The mountain for everyone

This mountain enthusiast and social tourism thinker is looking for a place to launch an experience that could change the game: a ski resort based on “harmonized development”. “His project looked like a utopia: making winter sports accessible to all, while respecting the environment, boosting the local economy and offering good working conditions,” says Fabrice Perez, director of the office. tourism.

The operation, which has evolved very little, relies on the pooling of actors and resources. To avoid land pressure, the municipality remains the owner of the land and grants a special lease to a set of associative holiday villages, which replace large hotels and second homes. All undertake to finance ski lifts and sports or cultural infrastructures, without margin, in return for a fixed price and services for their customers. As for the shops and restaurants, they are united in a cooperative, belong to the resort and their managers are employees. “There is no speculation possible: whether we book a stay or have a coffee, we participate in the maintenance and modernization of the site,” summarizes Jean-Sébastien Dorel, president of Sacma, Cooperative.

A pampered clientele

The result is attractive prices: a day of skiing costs 30 euros, or 20 less than in Valloire, a few kilometers as the crow flies, and the prices of the products are close to those of the valley. Holidaymakers especially love the flagship offer for the resort’s 2,300 beds: a full-board stay, which includes the package and a range of services, such as the entertainment and childcare offered by the residence. Odesia. “It’s very practical for families but also groups like students or retirees who have less means… We have no trouble building loyalty,” explains Céline, the director. Having come to enjoy a week with their walking association, Martine, 70 years old, and Yvette, 61 years old, are delighted to enjoy such an inexpensive stay in the snow. “But it must be said that there are not many stores,” says one. “And in the rooms, we don’t have television,” adds the other. The two retirees laugh about it, but they point out the downsides of the coin: slightly aging infrastructure and a less vibrant commercial life.

But the station assumes. And in residences as in businesses, each actor becomes an ambassador of the model. “It’s important that vacationers know why they are coming,” we confide at the equipment rental store, where we are annoyed to see, sometimes, a few luxury cars of tourists coming “for the day.” . But the project should still have a few good years ahead of it. Responsible for imagining the future governance of the Karellis, Fabrice Perez assures us: “Our guideline will remain the same as fifty years ago: skiing for all. »

Recipes for success

  • Snow The Karellis site is advantageous: its ski area, located between 1,600 and 2,520 m above sea level and facing north, benefits from very good snow cover.
  • A unique model The station has preserved its values ​​thanks to its cooperative system (associations, municipal public service, etc.).
  • Attractiveness From 1979, a building with 180 housing units was reserved for seasonal workers, making it possible to counter a recurring shortage.

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