Doppelmayr, Sun Group scale new heights in Vietnam

15-May-2021 Intellasia | The Saigon Times | 5:02 AM Print This Post

When faced with what many believed was an insurmountable engineering challenge, in 2007, Sun Group turned to Doppelmayr Garaventa, the world’s leading manufacturer of ropeways, cable cars and ski lifts. Ever since, the two groups have been continually “conquering the impossible” and making history in Vietnam.

A historic alliance: Sun Group and Doppelmayr

Fast forward to 2007, when the founders of Sun Group in Vietnam were seeking a solution to a difficult problem: awakening the sleepy tourism destination of Ba Na, once a mountain retreat for French emigres back in the colonial times, but long since forgotten due to limited road access.

In those days, it took several hours to reach the top of the mountain on a winding road. Sun Group’s leaders quickly realised that a cable car would be the perfect solution but wondered who would actually be able to build a cable car system in Ba Na Hills, which sits at an elevation of 1,485 meters and over 42km from the city of Danang, near the coastline of Central Vietnam?

They realised that to conquer the highest peak in Ba Na Hills, the cable car would have to be one of the longest in the world. Additionally, this cable line would have the largest height difference between the upper and lower stations in the world.

While cable cars are especially popular in ski resorts, they have always been situated up high on the flat plateau in the mountains with a high elevation above sea level. But, the foothill of Ba Na Hills (in the suburbs of Danang) would have to be the departure station, which is located quite close to sea level. That’s why the distance between the foot of the mountain and the summit would have to be vast.

To achieve such a colossal project, Sun Group knew they had to turn to Doppelmayr as the world’s leading group of ropeways, cable cars and ski lifts. At that time, the late Artur Doppelmayr, the grandson of the founder, Konrad Doppelmayr, and the managing director of the Doppelmayr company, had just retired. However, his son Michael was an even more ambitious and adventurous visionary than his predecessors. In 2002, Doppelmayr merged with the Garaventa Group, a Swiss expert for aerial tramways and funicular railways, to form the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group.

Despite having years of experience in building cable car systems across the globe, the construction of the Ba Na Hills cable car was special even for the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group. There was an extra environmental element to challenge them. Sun Group made it clear from the beginning that they would only pursue this project if it could be done without destroying the forest. The Doppelmayr Garaventa Group agreed that it could be done but to ensure the unique natural setting around Ba Na Hills was protected, the workers had to literally inch their way up the precipitous slopes day on day to put the cable-car system together piece by piece.

Conquering the impossible

Upon opening to the public on March 29, 2013, the Ba Na Hills cable car immediately set two Guinness World Records as the longest cable car in the world with a total length of 5,042.62m, and for having the largest difference between the upper and lower stations in the world, with a distance of 1,292.81m. The Doppelmayr Garaventa and Sun Groups had succeeded in their shared mission of conquering the impossible.

Their visionary creation is now an established world-renowned attraction and continues to amaze visitors. More recently, it was named the “World’s Leading Cable Car Ride 2019″ at the World Travel Awards often described as the “Oscars of the world tourism industry”.

The landmark project has not only awakened the sleeping beauty of Ba Na Hills, but also transformed the city of Danang, which now draws more and more tourists.

Ever since they joined hands to work on the Ba Na Hills cable car project, Doppelmayr Garaventa and Sun Group have also maintained a close partnership and worked on many other iconic projects in Vietnam, setting more world records and transforming the country’s tourism industry in the process.

In another incredibly challenging feat of engineering, a cable car system was developed by the two corporate giants to link the former hill station of Sapa to the peak of Fansipan, the highest mountain in all of Indochina. At the UNESCO world heritage site, Ha Long Bay, Doppelmayr Garaventa also created an exceptional installation in a truly special place. “Installing the ropes of the Ha Long Queen Cable Car was a significant challenge,” said Arno Inauen, CEO of Garaventa AG, the subsidiary of Doppelmayr Garaventa in Switzerland. “It was certainly an unforgettable experience. Our team overcame difficult challenges as the entire rope installation operation had to be done at a height of 50 meters above sea level.”

Upon opening in June 2016, the new tramway in Halong broke two world records, one for having the world’s biggest aerial tramway cabins (230 passengers per cabin) and another for having the world’s tallest ropeway tower (188.88 meters). In recent times, the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group stressed they could not have completed any of these projects without the dedication and hard work of the Vietnamese engineers and workers.

All of the above projects have also transformed the local tourism industry. For a century, Ba Na Hills and Mount Fansipan in Sapa could only be accessed through winding, dangerous roads. Meanwhile the unique and heavenly scenery of Ha Long had only ever been viewed at eye level or on a tour boat.

They say that a pioneer is someone who sees potential and an innovator is one who is willing to try new things; in this case, the Sun Group and the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group definitely qualify as both trailblazing pioneers and innovators. All the ropeway installations that were designed and built by Doppelmayr Garaventa and Sun Group have been recognised by the Guinness World Records and helped to raise Vietnam’s profile all around the world. “The latest achievements in Vietnam are exceptional and we’re very proud to share these accomplishments with our future partners,” said Inauen.


Category: Business, Vietnam

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