The trend towards faster chairlifts and gondolas has been well documented, but in recent seasons more and more resorts are looking to go one step further - and this is where the market for luxury lifts has boomed in the past few years.
Sitting on a warm, padded, leather seat, protected from the elements by a coloured bubble is now a normal part of the ski day in many resorts across the world. Indeed, never before have our ski lifts been more comfortable – but just how much further will it go? If the past few years are anything to go by, expect more exciting and innovative developments in the coming years.
Seat heating – the original luxury
On Boxing Day 2004, the first heated seats on a chairlift were offered to skiers at the Austrian resort of Lech. Lift manufacturers Doppelmayr were only able to heat five of the chairs at that point in time, but technology has come a long way since then!
Austria once again is leading the way and is home to the vast majority of world’s heated lifts – in fact the 18 heated chairlifts and gondolas at Saalbach is almost as many as the whole of France, Italy and Switzerland combined (based on stats from skiresort.info). This is an extraordinary statistic and when you consider that USA only built their first (at Canyons – now Park City) in 2010, Scandinavia (at Trysil in Norway) waited until 2012 and even bitterly cold Canada (at Sunshine Village) built their first in 2015, it is clear that Austria is the king of heated seats. So if you’re prone to suffering from the cold this should be the destination for you.