It was Andy Varallo, grandson of Erich Kostner (Order of Merit for Labour) and son of former downhill skier Marcello Varallo who, in 2004, took over the management of the Corvara Skicarosella Consortium's mountain lift facilities. In addition to investments based on skiing and the winter season, Andy has always regarded summer tourism as vital to the development of the mountains.
In 2010, he created the "Movimënt" parks on the mountain plateau of Alta Badia: A series of leisure areas, games parks and infrastructure at the mountain stations of the main cable cars managed by the consortium.
How did you come up with the idea for Movimënt?
A. The idea came about around the end of May 2008 during a springtime walk on the Piz La Ila. The sense of peace was incredible, and I had the impression that during the summer months, even more than winter, the mountain plateau between La Villa, San Cassiano the Pralongià and Boè could be the ideal place to enjoy the beauty of the Dolomites. It's a perfect spot for all kinds of sports, games, fun and relaxation and, with its distinctive morphology, it is also the perfect place to experience the unique character of the Alta Badia. I drew my inspiration from the concept of "mens sana in corpore sana" – a healthy body in a healthy mind.
Ten years have passed already. What has your greatest satisfaction been?
A. The enthusiasm and the smiling faces of the people who work in the park every day and the people who spend time here with their families has always been my greatest gratification. When I see how much our staff and guests appreciate the facilities and the surrounding countryside, it fills me with joy. The ultimate confirmation has come from local families: Here in our parks they have discovered an excellent area to entertain their young children and a great opportunity to embark on high-mountain activity for the first time.
Whenever I have the chance to go skiing, walking or biking on a Sunday, depending on the season, I go to the park with my family and I see how much my kids enjoy the games and Movimënt activities - there could be no better motivation.
It's going to be a strange summer this year. How have you prepared for it?
A. The events of the last few months have made pre-season preparations for the management of our new projects extremely challenging. We have had to reorganise our teams and tasks, review a few programmes and change our methods and time scales. The off-season months are important to us for maintenance of lift facilities, preparation of infrastructure and putting new projects into practice, and we have to adhere to strict time schedules. I'm happy that we've managed to prepare so well for the coming season even in these unusual circumstances, and have been able to adapt rapidly to situations which were previously unimaginable.
We are opening up again today with clear, strict rules regarding the use of lift facilities to maximise the safety of our passengers. In addition to the personal safety equipment which we provide to all of our staff, we will be disinfecting the lifts and park facilities every day and supplying hand sanitiser gel at the mountain and valley stations of all cable cars and chairlifts, beside all cash registers and in the parks.
What personal advice would you give to people who want to spend a perfect day in the Movimënt parks?
A. I particularly enjoy heading up to the heights early in the morning, doing a bit of exercise and breathing in a lungful of fresh air. I often take a quick e-mountain bike tour. Before lunch, I walk to one of the mountain huts and enjoy the views. Even though I see these mountains every day, I never tire of looking at them. After lunch it's just full-on relaxation, maybe with a good book. If I'm with my kids, the plans are turned upside down (laughs). What with playing and running, there's no time to rest…
What are your plans for Movimënt in the future?
A. Well, there's no lack of plans. In the last few years we've built the Bike Beats trails; in addition to providing masses of fun, the bike trails are also a vital means of separating the bikers from the walkers, to the delight of both. This matter will become even more important in the years to come.
During the spring months, as soon as the Covid situation allowed, we began working on replacing the two La Brancia and Costoratta chairlifts. The new 6 and 8-seater detachable chairlifts will be up and running in the 20/21 winter season.
Thank you Andy, and all the best for the summer season.