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Advertisement Brittany Ferries

Europe's greenest ski lodges

Posted by Richard Hammond at 03:25 on Monday 01 March 2010











Mountain Living Residence Hotel Lagació, photo Tim Martin/ green traveller.co.uk

What can beat the exhilaration of downhill skiing, the crisp alpine air, the vast mountain panoramas and the adrenaline rush of hurtling through powder and pine?

Yet the energy required to service high-altitude purpose-built resorts, operate chair-lifts and run artificial snow-making machines – as well as the carbon emissions emitted in getting there - means that skiing can hardly be considered a particularly green holiday.

So how can you limit the damage? The Ski Club of Great Britain has produced a Green Resort Guide, which rates over 200 ski resorts on their environmental credentials to help skiers and boarders choose those resorts that are doing their bit for the planet. Two of the best performing resorts are Lech in Austria, where almost all the town’s heating energy comes from a biomass heating plant, and Switzerland’s high-altitude resort Saas-Fee, where cars are banned and there’s a free bus service around the resort.

Thankfully there is also a new breed of eco-conscious ski lodges and hotels that aim to keep your footprint only snow deep. In early December, I had a sneak preview of a new hotel in the Italian Dolomites, which has received the highest rating for energy-saving from the Tyrolean certification scheme KlimaHaus Casa Clima.

The elaborately named Mountain Living Residence Hotel Lagació is in the South Tyrolean village of San Cassiano, a small but fashionable village (home to two Michelin-starred restaurants) on the doorstep of the Sella Ronda and Alta Badia – the world’s most extensive ski region carousel with more than 750 miles of piste served by 460 ski-lifts. Hotel Lagació’s interpretation of green is as much about using natural materials as it is about energy efficiency.

The 24 beautifully crafted apartments are made of a combination of local wood, natural slate, loam, loden and linen fabrics as well as swiss pine, larch and spruce with old timber beamed facades and large glass thermally insulated windows. Breakfasts include fruit, muesli, jams, freshly pressed juices and local delicacies and the hotel’s water comes from the owner’s own spring. However, the hotel doesn’t skimp on creature comforts - there’s a Finnish sauna, steam sauna, low-temperature sauna, ice crushed ice well pool, and a ski shuttle service to and from the Alta Badia ski area.

A room at Hotel Lagació costs from €180 B&B (+39 0471 849 503, www.lagacio.com). For more information on Alta Badia and the Sella Ronda see www.altabadia.org and for travel in the South Tyrol see www.suedtirol.info.

Train from London to Innsbruck costs from £213 return. For more details on how to travel by train to Innsbruck see our detailed journey planner:

Travel by train from London to Innsbruck


More green ski lodges and hotels

Tucked beneath the Dents du Midi above the Swiss alpine town of Les Cerniers, this innovative low-impact, hi-tech camp of domed “pods” is a glimpse of how eco chalets could look in the future. The camp has reopened after renovations last winter and now has 15 pods that are a short walk from Chalet des Cerniers where there’s a restaurant and spa. The camp also has access to a 600m private run (with two drag lifts) or you can strap on a pair of snow shoes and explore off-piste woodland trailsSee Whitepod's listing on greentraveller.

La Source
Luxury eco chalet five minutes from the village of Samoens and the 264km linked pistes of The Grand Massif (Samoëns, Flaine, Morillon, Sixt, and Les Carroz). The food mostly comes from local organic suppliers and farms and ski holidays at La Source include yoga, wood-fired hot tubs and back-country trips. Guests arriving by train, shared car, hitching or by bike receive a €100 green travel discount in the winter and €50 discount in the summer. www.sourcealps.com, +33 (0) 9 79 68 41 82

Chalet Chatelet
A luxury catered solar-powered chalet near Portes du Soleil with access to 650km of slopes in the French and Swiss Alps. www.chalet-chatelet.com, +33 4 50 73 69 48

Maison Coutin
a small family-run lodge near Les Arcs, for those that want all the benefits of the Tarentaise Valley but without having to stay in the crowded resorts. www.maison-coutin.fr, +33 4 79 07 93 05


An edited version of this article, by greentraveller's founder Richard Hammond, was first published on Timesonline.

See also: The Responsible Traveller column: responsible skiing

See also: Winter holidays featured on greentraveller

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