Sustainability is a hot topic in the ski holiday industry. As the climate changes and the ice melts, so do our chances of getting to experience the beauty of the snow-capped mountains. As such, more moves than ever are being made towards eco-conscious winter travel to protect our mountains. The best part of these efforts? We don’t have to lose out on luxury when choosing an eco-friendly ski holiday.
Morzine is one of the ski resorts leading the efforts to push for more eco-conscious travel in the Alps and make sustainable ski holidays the norm. In part, this is thanks to Al and Kat, our luxury chalet partners in Morzine. In this blog, they let us know about their luxury sustainable ski chalets in Morzine and their efforts to increase sustainability in the mountains…
Why is sustainability so important to you?
I don’t think we have a choice. We see the environmental impact that modern lifestyles have on the planet. There’s so much information around climate change out there, and it all says the same thing. We have to change the way we live, and we have to change now. Businesses should be at the forefront of leading this change, and governments will then follow.
What are your key areas of concern as a sustainable ski chalet company?
We are mainly concerned with mobilizing change and better practices to reduce impact. Not just in our own business, but our valley, Morzine ski resort, and the wider mountain industry. Eco-conscious travel in the Alps must increase to make a difference.
We take an active role in finding environmental solutions across our community. Specifically, through our positions at Montagne Verte, an environmental non-profit we help run. Its area runs across Morzine and the wider Haute Chablais region.
I am also working with Seasonal Business in Travel (SBiT) to develop a sustainable strategy for the ski industry. Our biggest challenge is reducing the impact created by travel. This is largely the emissions associated with how tourists find their way to our resort. We aim to make train and coach the preferred methods of travel to the Alps for UK tourists by 2030.
We – and the resort as a whole – are working towards four-season tourism. Of course, this is absolutely essential to a sustainable future in mountain tourism. Being less reliant on snow is important, not just for our business. Mountain tourism as a whole must be more adaptable, as eco-conscious travel in the Alps has huge benefits for local communities.
How did you come to develop your sustainability strategy? What was the turning point?
Since starting the business 12 years ago, our intention has been to tread lightly on the environment. During COVID-19, we took the opportunity to completely re-imagine our business model in-line with our social and environmental goals. Sustainability is a mindset. It’s the first lens that any problem or objective should be viewed through. Hence, we work as a team to increase the amount of eco ski chalets in Morzine. Everyone in our team has joined, in part, because of our approach to sustainability. We are all working towards the same goals.
How do you achieve high standards of catering whilst ensuring minimal impact?
Catered chalets are a popular choice for clients. However, food waste is one of the biggest issues in hospitality. Designing a menu that is light on meat, local, and seasonal is the best way of reducing the impact. Another way is reducing the packaging associated with food production. We buy food with minimal food miles by shopping seasonally and locally with regional producers as much as possible. We also introduced a permaculture ethos. As a result, we started rearing chickens and created an annual vegetable, herb and fruit garden. With these, we supply organic produce to our kitchen, from our own backyard.
Last year, our amazing chefs achieved a 26% reduction in overall meat purchased by smart and creative methods to cut down on the amount served in the chalets. Now, all starters are vegetarian and only four of the 15 courses served on our main menu contain meat. Where we do have meat on the menu, it is locally, ethically and sustainably produced.
In terms of the operational running of our kitchen, we made a profound realisation. The traditional chalet catering model of cooking one menu across several chalets and chefs was hugely wasteful and unsustainable. Instead, we employed a head chef, created a central kitchen, and introduced more controlled and efficient purchasing and cooking practices. Our team did all of this with the goal of reducing waste, packaging and energy consumption. We couldn’t be happier with the results, and our food continues to get 5-star reviews.
How are your chalets customised for a greener operation?
Renewable energy is a major factor. The primary contributor to our carbon footprint is the heating and fuel needed to run our properties. We heat 90% of our chalets through renewable energy. We achieved this feat through a radical system; eliminating oil-fired heaters and introducing air-source heat pumps.
For our properties’ electricity, we use 100% renewable energy. This is including the chalets we run, our central kitchen, home and office. This energy comes specifically from river-fed dams instead of the more harmful reservoir-fed dams, from a local source in France. We build renewable energy for heating and electricity into every new chalet contract to make our ski holidays in Morzine an example of eco-conscious travel in the Alps.
We have also recently found a solar partner. Through them, we have installed solar panels on our house/office as an initial trial for our business and the valley. Also, we have strict waste management systems in place. Today, we have 80% less waste than we did 3 years ago, and we are at 100% zero food waste.
How do you share your tips for a green luxury lifestyle to your clients?
We share our progress on Instagram, Facebook and on our blog. This includes permaculture gardening and composting tips, as well as our challenges. One example of a challenge is reducing the environmental impact of hot tubs – very important for a sustainable ski holiday in Morzine! We also entered the Global Good Awards, and were stoked to take gold in the SME category earlier this year. The award recognises achievement in social and environmental sustainability, and celebrated some amazing companies. We’re thrilled to have our hard work in sustainable winter holidays appreciated!
How do you encourage clients to make such positive changes?
It is so easy for many to turn a blind eye to climate change. But the impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent every year in the mountains….
We keep our guests informed of our progress and challenges, and try to encourage positive choices. We reward eco-conscious decisions as much as possible. Our incentive package has been created to offer guests up to 20% off the cost of their holiday for choosing a low impact holiday. This can include opting for train travel, choosing a plant-based menu, and excluding hot tub use. All of these are optional, but encouraged by the offered chalet discount.
Furthermore, through our Responsible Hot Tub Initiative, we’ve made hot tub use ‘opt-in’ only in summer. For winter and shoulder season guests, there is the option of opting out. Guests receive a considerable discount of £200 off the cost of their holiday for not using a hot tub.
We promote road travel (with free parking at all our chalets) and train travel over flying. Montagne Verte are working on making train travel to our region faster, more cost-effective and convenient. The AlpinExpress Pass is a campaign to reward those who travel to Morzine by train with a range of discounts across services, including transfers, ski hire, restaurants.
How do you accommodate for the carbon footprints of clients when it comes to travelling to you in Morzine?
As mentioned, we are really pushing for travel by road or track, although we realise this is not always practical. We are finding as many ways as we can to make eco-conscious travel in the Alps more widely considered.
To help account for the carbon associated with guest travel, we introduced a Carbon Neutrality Transport Contribution. The contribution (€9/person) reflects the average carbon emissions of a return flight from a European city to Geneva (our local airport) plus a return shared minibus transfer. The return journey amounts to c. 0.41 tonnes of CO2 per person. This contribution is added to the cost of a client’s booking to help create a more sustainable winter holiday.
What is on your green agenda for 2024?
We keep a close eye on our environmental impact through carbon tracking and reporting. We also have a carbon action plan in place to further reduce our impact. This covers, among other areas, hot tub usage, waste reduction, extensive composting to maintain zero food waste, and upping use of renewable energy.
We now have a full-time maintenance worker overseeing the maintenance of our properties with sustainable values as best practice. Over the coming year, we will strengthen this approach to repair more items, prolong shelf-life, and upcycle where possible.
We are also looking at ways to support our local partners with their own environmental goals. We will continue our work with industry bodies and local non-profit Montagne Verte to find solutions to environmental issues in our beloved mountain valley and beyond.
Sustainable Ski Chalets in Morzine
These innovative ideas are wonderful news for the mountain travel industry. The more chalets there are with sustainability in mind, the better the outcome for both mountain-enthusiasts, and our beloved ski resorts. See our selection of some of the eco-conscious ski chalets in Morzine implimenting these fantastic concepts…
Ideally located in the town centre, Chalet Melodie is a homely and bright sustainable ski chalet in Morzine. It features an innovative air source heat pump to provide a warm environment via sustainable methods. With the stylish interior and traditional wooden beam deisgn, this chalet has all the charm of a classic alpine chalet, whilst also minimising the environmental impact.
In the quaint Montriond area of Morzine, Chalet Riviére offers a peaceful paradise to escape to. With an in-resort driver service to get you anywhere you need, a luxurious hot tub, and tasteful decor, you’ll want for nothing at this luxury ski chalet. Having it all doesn’t cost the earth either. There are current efforts being made to create a vehicle fleet that is entirely electric, which would make in-resort travel and operation all the more sustainable. Another huge eco bonus is the high energy efficiency in part due to the chalet utilising an air source heat pump. And of course, as a luxury catered chalet, there will be a feast of eco-conscious gourmet meals on offer!
Chalet Alpaga 1 sits just 200m from the pedestrian footbridge which takes you across to the centre of the Morzine and the Super Morzine ski lift – no cars needed! Sleeping up to 12 guests total, it’s an ideal chalet for a family ski holiday in Morzine. However, the biggest highlight has to be the views from the traditional alpine style living room. All this, combined with the use of an air source heat pump, it’s sure to be a top choice for a luxury, but sustainable ski holiday.
What a wonderful insight into the choices being made to move towards more eco-conscious winter travel! Our mountains provide us with such fantastic experiences on our ski holidays in the Alps. Choosing sustainable ski chalets in Morzine, and across the Alps, is a great way to protect our winters for many seasons to come. Thank you to Al and Kat for letting us in to their sustainable ski chalet world, and showing us what the future of eco-conscious winter travel could look like.
If you’re interested in environmentally conscious winter travel and want to book a sustainable ski holiday in Morzine, you can send us an email or give us a call on +44 1202 203650 to speak to one of our Ski Specialists.