Personal Travel Manager, Robin Woods, shares some tips and tricks for travellers looking to hit the Swiss Slopes.
When the topic of skiing in Switzerland is raised, the usual destinations of Zermatt, Verbier and St Moritz generally spring to mind; but for travellers looking for something a little more authentic, a little less crowded and much better value, it’s time to discover the Val d’Anniviers. Located in the French-speaking canton of Valais, reputedly the sunniest part of southern Switzerland, the Val d’Anniviers is situated about halfway between Zermatt and Verbier (which means that a day trip to either of these destinations is also possible).
The five resorts located in this sun-drenched valley are linked by one lift pass (which you can purchase at any one of the main lift stations), and in a couple of cases by a series of ski runs and lifts. Chandolin and St Luc enjoy the sunniest and highest lift altitudes at 2900m (and are linked by a series of lifts and ski pistes) while Grimentz and Zinal (2800m and linked by a large cable car) are best experienced from February as they tend to be in shade earlier on in the winter. The pretty little village of Vercorin completes the collection (at 2500m) overlooking the Rhone Valley and enjoys a sunny aspect almost all year. With an amazing range of pistes from beginners’ to black runs, at least two days in each resort is recommended, and off-site skiing/ snowboarding is also possible with a local guide. Lessons, equipment hire and even a crèche (for the very young) are available at all the resorts. If you are travelling with non-skiers/boarders all resorts have a cable car to at least halfway up the mountain where you can enjoy a meal, a warm drink and the spectacular view of the Swiss Alps.
The beauty of this area is that all the villages have an authentic Swiss feel to them with quaint wooden chalets, cosy restaurants and friendly locals – you won’t find a high-rise apartment complex or a huge 5 star hotel here! There’s no traffic noise and only the crisp, fresh mountain air to breathe. Be sure to experience some of the local cuisine including a cheese or meat fondue, raclette and potence. All five resorts have decent 3-4 star accommodation and apartments are also available. While a car is not essential to reach the Val d’Anniviers, for convenience having your own car is an asset (for example you cannot use a bus to reach Vercorin from Grimentz or St Luc without a great deal of back-tracking). The nearest train station to this area is Sierre/Siders which is an easy ride from either Geneva (2 hours) or Zurich (3 hours) airport.
February tends to be the busiest time of the year in these resorts as it’s school holidays for the French and Swiss students; for the best snow and no crowds, aim to visit from early March until Easter.
If skiing and winter activities are not your thing, why not visit in the summer? The Val d’Anniviers has some great hiking possibilities as well a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family.
Talk to your local, personal travel manage and begin planning your Swiss adventure. Visit http://www.travelmanagers.com.au/ptm-search/