Alpine waterpark sees skiers relax in heated swimming-pool


Mixing ski-suits with swimsuits is the latest idea to take hold here in the French Alps -- with the opening of a huge new water park at an altitude of nearly 2000 metres.

The 30-degree water makes quite a contrast from the sub-zero temperatures just outside.

SOUNDBITE 1, Stéphane Lerendu, Tourist Office (French, 24 sec):

"In winter, families don't ski for a full week. They also want -- at least for a day, day and a half -- to spend some time with their kids doing some other activity. So we thought about lots of possibilities and we decided to do something which was a real break from winter sports. So with this centre we decided to recreate a tropical hideaway."

["En hiver les familles ne faisaient plus du ski pendant une semaine complète, pendant six jours et elles souhaitaient pendant au moins une journée, une journée et demie passer un petit peu plus de temps avec leurs enfants et faire une autre activité donc on a réfléchi sur plusieurs activités possible et on s'est dit il faut faire quelque chose qui est complètement en rupture avec les sports d'hiver et avec la station et on s'est dit on va recréer une bulle tropicale."]

Since the centre opened a few months ago, it's drawn more than 1000 visitors a day during holidays.

And for tourists, it makes an attractive alternative when the weather's playing up.

VOX POP Jean-Laurent (French, 8 sec):

"You can't really get much skiing done today and the facilities here are great, so it lets you vary your holiday -- I think it's a great idea."

["Aujourd'hui c'est une journée pour pas profiter du ski à fond et là les installations sont vachement sympa, ça permet de varier les plaisirs au contraire moi je trouve que c'est une super idée."]

VOX POP Véronique (French, 6 sec):

"I wouldn't come here specially just for this, but it does make for a nice change, yes."

["De venir spécialement pour ça peut-être pas non mais c'est une bonne solution de rechange oui."]

For the ski station, it's a way to keep visitor numbers up even during the summer months -- with numbers here seeing an increase of 25 percent.

But not everyone's happy.

Ecologists say the centre is a waste of energy and water -- and they'll be protesting against plans to build similar waterparks at other resorts.