We’re taking our blog in a slightly new direction adding topics that come up in our day-to-day running of Alpine Ethos for those of you who are interested. We’ll cover issues about running a small business, marketing, social media and web-design. Here’s our first “In house” post.
This week, with the arrival of warmer weather, our thoughts have turned to summer. Last year it was announced that this summer Meribel would host the final UCI Down Hill (DH) World Cup event of the season (from 21-24 August). This is a huge event in mountain-biking circles as it sees the world’s best DH mountain bikers complete the annual 7 stage series and will almost certainly decide who tops the standings.
As keen mountain-bikers ourselves and followers of the World Cup we were stoked and started thinking about how we could get involved. We emailed some of the teams with info about our chalet and what we could offer them and were delighted when the Madison Saracen team confirmed they wanted to stay.
That was nearly a year ago now but recently we’ve been contacted by a few other team managers who weren’t ready to book last year. They remembered our email however and have been in touch as they are struggling to find accommodation in Meribel. Now, you may think that this is a problem for the tourist office but it seems to us that there is a much broader issue here concerning small businesses like ours in certain resorts. Here’s some context…
When you think of Meribel you’re bound to think of a world class winter resort in the heart of the Three Valleys ski domain. However, unbeknownst to many people Meribel also has a huge number of activities on offer during the summer months of July and August. Several ski lifts are open allowing hikers and mountain-bikers to ascend the mountains on either side of the valley in pursuit of views and adrenaline packed (or not) descents.
There is also a swimming pool (with slide) with big windows opening onto a grassy sun-spot, tennis courts, a horse-riding stable, a via-ferrata course (like rock climbing where you are harnessed onto the wire course), a high ropes park in the forest (like Go Ape in the UK), a golf course and nearby a swimming lake to enjoy. There are several bars and restaurants open (ok not the full complement enjoyed by winter holiday-makers but you won’t go hungry/thirsty).
Obviously our favourite part of the non-winter activities is the mountain biking. We’re talking extensive down hill and enduro/all mountain style biking with a number of brand new, purpose built, gnarly, adrenaline pumping singletrack trails most mountain-bikers would give their right arm to ride on any given weekend. Get yourself an IGN map and you’ll discover a staggering number of natural trails running from peak to valley bottom.
So given all these activities it is hard for us to understand why Meribel doesn’t really feature on the destination list of holiday-makers looking for their fair share of adventure on summer holiday. Did we also mention that Meribel lives up to its “sunny valley” nickname?
So what can we do about it? Well, Alpine Ethos has a summer website (which we’re in the process of updating to match our new winter site) covering all that is fun to do in and around the resort as does the Meribel Tourist Office. But apart from these and a few accommodation providers listed on chalet-finder type websites indicating that they are open year-round that’s about it. So there’s no collateral. There’s no collective marketing effort extolling the virtues of Meribel as a stunning location in which to holiday and partake in the activities mentioned.
We do understand that competition for summer holiday-makers is enormous with world-wide resorts spending millions advertising their specific brand of holiday and that’s before we’ve even considered our local alpine competitors attracting their fair share of adventure seekers such as Morzine, Les Deux Alpes and Chamonix.
That said, it feels like Meribel is in a chicken and egg situation – bring the World Cup to Meribel to put the resort on the summer holiday map and put people off as they struggle to find (open) accommodation or don’t hold the events such as these and suffer from unfilled beds in the few places that are open.
So what is the solution? Answers on a postcard….