Naturally enough, we all love to upgrade our skiing holidays to the best we can possibly afford. The difficulty is, if we also want to do our bit to combat the climate emergency at the same time, it gets tricky.
Tradition definitions of luxury boil down to getting more personal space and comfort and that usually means using more than your average personal share of resources. For example, flying is generally bad, but flying business class or, the greatest crime against the climate of all, in a private jet is much much worse. Similarly, a nice big suite in a luxury hotel where there’s a fabulous spa reserved for you and a few other guests is likely to involve much more heating and energy consumption than cramming your party into a small apartment.
The upside of all this is that if you’re too poor to afford luxury, you can at least take the moral high ground when it comes to your carbon ski boot print.
But what is the luxury end of the ski market doing about this anomaly as it becomes more and more difficult to ignore? Well the obvious answer for those with plenty of cash is to “buy your way out”. Essentially keep doing what you’re doing, but spend a bit more to carbon offset the extra omissions. Formerly an opt-in for guests, this is now more of a standard inclusion almost everywhere.
In better news though more and more luxury groups are investing in their own green energy technology as part of group efforts to cut emissions. Some, like Morzine-based Alikats, are even offering discounts if their clients take greener options when travelling to and visiting their accommodation in Morzine.
One of the biggest players in this market sector, The Tschuggen Collection, which operates in some of Switzerland’s best-known resorts, including Arosa and St Moritz, has been on the ball with this issue longer than almost any other and its ‘Moving Mountains’ initiative has been ‘greening’ the nearly a century-old group for more than a decade now.
The Tschuggen Collection have been making headlines with their big-ticket green initiatives for some years now, most notably their ice battery eco-friendly energy system installed at their Valsana Hotel in 2017. Coupled with a sophisticated heat recovery system, it means that the Valsana does not need oil or electric heating. As the oil used to arrive in tankers, there’s a big saving in emissions from transportation too.
But beyond the big initiatives, the whole group looks at every aspect of their operations in an eternal battle to cut emissions and increase sustainability. The Tschuggen Collection has been climate neutral since 2019 and minimises their CO2 emissions through continuous investment into cutting-edge technology and offsetting their remaining and diminishing footprint with carefully selected carbon-credit projects in Switzerland and the developing world.
These include work with myclimate and extensive climate protection projects, such as the re-wilding of bogs near Tourbières des Ponts-de Martel and helping protect the habitat of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Another big plus for travel from the UK to either Arosa or St Moritz is that you can make the entire trip by rail from your local station to the heart of either ski resort, just as the first winter holiday travellers did more than a century-and-a-half ago, in the case of St Moritz at least. The final section of that trip up to the resort is one of the most spectacular on earth and now a UNESCO World Heritage line.
Holidays For The Soul
Interestingly though, the moving mountains initiative goes beyond ‘just’ fighting climate change. The Tschuggen Collection have also taken a human-first approach and sought to create luxury mountain holidays that feed the soul as well as nurturing the body and reinvigorating the mind.
So while staying at the group’s five-star Carlton Hotel, for example, you may be tempted to spend much of your day on the famous resort’s fabulous ski slopes (The Carlton has an in-house ski shop and shuttles you to and from the lifts) if you can tear yourself away from your luxury suite and avoid heading to the three-storey spa, but there’s a whole host of other activities to enjoy instead or as well. Perhaps learning the art of ice sculpture is for you, or touring a glacial cave or perhaps you can pick up the nerve to try ice bathing in a hole cut in the famous frozen lake at St Moritz?
Of course the dining experience can also be included in the Moving Mountain experience with meals (and entire dining experiences) designed to make you feel good (not just full), with locally sourced ingredients.
“Our hotels have long served as gateways to the Alps, welcoming travellers and pampering visitors lured in y the mountainscapes that surround us. Drawing on this heritage and inspired by our breath-taking mountains. We have developed a lifestyle programme to promote vitality, reconnect with nature and celebrate joy,” explains Dr Gotz Bechtolsgeimer who created the Moving Mountains programme for the Tchuggen collection.