Pioneer of Alpine Tourism

Interview with Reto Gurtner, President and Delegate of the Board of Directors of the Weisse Arena Group

Mountain Vision Skigebiet

Skiing is not just a sport, but a passion that connects people all over the world. From majestic mountain peaks to snow-covered valleys, this activity offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience nature and engage in physical activity. The destination Flims Laax Falera is among the largest ski areas worldwide. The Mountain Vision AG, as part of the Weisse Arena Group, is responsible for the management of all service companies in the tourism and leisure industry of the region.

From the mountain railways for mobility on the mountain, to catering establishments and hotels under the roof of the Weisse Arena Hospitality AG, to a ski and snowboard school as well as sports shops for the entire equipment, all services for the guests are offered from a single source. This makes the business model of the Weisse Arena Group unique in the Alpine region. But the ski area in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland, also proves its uniqueness and pioneering spirit in other areas as well.

Excellent Ski Area

Reto Gurtner, President and Delegate of the Board of Directors, the Weisse Arena Group
Reto Gurtner, President and Delegate of the Board of Directors, the Weisse Arena Group

The Weisse Arena Gruppe was formed in 1996 from the merger of the Crap Sogn Gion mountain railways in Laax and the Flims mountain railways, whose roots go back to the year 1962 with the construction of the first mountain railway. Since its foundation, the group has continuously evolved and today offers a diverse range of companies and services.

The group's company structure includes around 1,100 employees in winter and 440 in summer. The range of services extends from mountain mobility to gastronomy and hotelery, as well as to sports and rental shops. "We are one of the largest ski areas worldwide with 100,000 m² of ski slopes at an altitude between 1,100 and 3,000 m," says Reto Gurtner, President and Delegate of the Board of Directors, whose father built the first mountain railways. "Our positioning in the Alps is unique: With five snowparks for every level, we attract a freestyle-savvy clientele that appreciates the relaxed atmosphere here. We have been awarded the world's best freestyle resort for the 8th time in a row."

Mountain Vision - Weisse Arena Gruppe
The Weisse Arena Gruppe combines the hotels of the region under one roof
Mountain Vision - Ski Resort with 100,000 m²
The destination Flims Laax Falera is one of the largest ski resorts worldwide with 100,000 m2 area at an altitude between 1,100 and 3,000 m

The Weisse Arena Group is facing various challenges in the market, including the effects of climate change and the increasing demand for sustainable tourism offerings. "Winter sports still have a huge fascination," emphasizes Reto Gurtner. "The big challenge is the intelligent control and limitation of visitors. This can only be done through price. We have to optimize the ski area so that it does not become overloaded. We do this with dynamic pricing."

Already 15 years ago, the group launched the Greenstyle initiative with the goal of becoming CO2 neutral and covering 100% of the energy demand from climate-friendly, regional sources. "We want to establish a circular economy and live only on the returns of the environment and not on the substance," says Reto Gurtner. "The climate has changed due to CO2 emissions," notes the president. "This is the great challenge of humanity. We believe that people increasingly want to go on vacation with a good conscience. With us, this is possible." These efforts are also noticed in the industry and the rocksresort, which has over 1,000 beds, was rated as the most ecological ski hotel in the world for the 4th time in a row.

The themes of design, nature, and a balanced compromise between interests are part of the DNA of Weisse Arena. And behind the name LAAX lies a clear strategy. "L stands for Liberty, which is one of the most important values for humanity," explains Reto Gurtner. A stands for our adaptability and the second A for Audacity, meaning boldness. New things only arise when one tries to think for the next generation. The X stands for Exploration and our approach to experiencing nature without overburdening it."

Mountain Vision - Snowboarding
For skiing or snowboarding in Switzerland, the ski area offers 214 kilometers of slopes, 5 snowparks, and 28 facilities
Mountain Vision - Freestyle Region
The area was awarded the world's best freestyle region eight times in a row

Pioneers in Digitalization

Recently, the destination Flims Laax Falera has partially gained a new attraction. The UNESCO World Heritage Tectonic Arena Sardona will be made accessible and experienceable for everyone through a tourist and forward-looking lighthouse project. Currently, two of the planned five stations are open. Through the combination of a traditional cable car and a theory by Nikolas Tesla, the globally novel Ropetaxi system has been created, which takes visitors directly to their destination in every season.

"The Ropetaxi operates autonomously like an elevator and only when there are passengers," explains Reto Gurtner. "This saves us around 50% in energy and significantly reduces the number of employees needed for operation." In the field of digitalization, the Weisse Arena Group has also done pioneering work. "Laax was the first place in the world to introduce 5G, allowing people to enjoy leisure time here as a place to live, but also to work," says the president. "In the 1980s, we were also the first to have a website, back then with a provider from New York." Through their pioneering role in digitalization and their commitment to sustainable tourism, as well as the in-house developed and programmed LAAX App, which is continuously being improved, the Weisse Arena Group has established itself as a leading provider in alpine tourism and continues to set standards for the industry.