Snow’n’Rail Prices Published


Snow’n’Rail is the popular scheme organised every year by the Swiss Railways which provides a significant discount on the combined lift and public transport ticket prices for over 40 resorts. The booklets listing the offers are available from stations in local language versions, and the online brochure also provides details in English.

There are no new resorts for 2016/7 although les Portes du Soleil is back after a one year absence. Toggenburg, Hoch-Ybrig and Val D’Anniviers have fallen off the scheme, sadly, and a couple of minor resorts are now only listed online.

After modest increases last year, it is perhaps not surprising to see significant increases in some of the offers. Adelboden, the 4 Vallées, Saas-Fee and many Graubünden resorts have seen hikes around 10%. However Zermatt has kept prices flat, as have a number of other resorts, including Les Diablerets, Leysin, Villars, Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren, Gstaad, Meiringen, Sörenberg, Melchsee-Frutt, Klewenalp, Airolo and Stoos – some routes from Luzern have even fallen slightly.

Tickets can still get pricey, even with the discounts, especially if you do not have a half-price rail card. Without the additional discount, a full day skiing or snowboarding in Zermatt from Basel or Zurich will set you back around 270 SFr. Conversely, with a half-price card, a day in Engelberg will give you change from a 100 Sfr note. Meiringen, Sörenberg and Klewenalp, in particular, provide very good value for the extent of piste available.

For more details of the new season prices visit the resort pages at SwissWinterSports.

Share Button

Season Opening Dates in Switzerland 2015-16

Some resorts have already opened – Diavolezza, Saas-Fee and Zermatt being perennial early starters. As of Halloween weekend Glacier3000 and ArosaLenzerheide should also be open.
Region Chablis is usually a late starter
Other key opening dates are:

14th November
Andermatt
Engelberg
20th November
Davos
21st November
St. Moritz
26th November
Samnaun
28th November
Disentis
Flims Laax Falera
Flumserberg
Grüsch Danusa
Zweisimmen
Klewenalp
Sedrun
Splügen
Zermatt (Winter Programme)

5th December
Adelboden
Aletsch Arena
Wengen/Grindelwald
Lenk
Pizol
Verbier/4 Vallees
Feldberg
12th December
Château-d’Oex
Saanen/Gstaad
Rougemont
Grindelwald First
Mürren
Lauchernalp
Melchsee-Frutt
Savognin
18th December
Anzère
19th December
Airolo
Beatenberg
Belalp
Brigels
Bürchen
Chur – Brambrüesch
Elm
Feldis
Grächen
Val Müstair
Obersaxen
Ovronnaz
Portes du Soleil
Saas Grund
Sörenberg
Stoos
Leukerbad

Share Button

Affordable Skiing in Switzerland

With the continuing strength of the Swiss Franc, a ski or snowboard holiday in Switzerland may not look affordable, but there are many ways you can make a Swiss winter sports holiday fit into most budgets. Here are some of my tips:

Take advantage of the best public transport in the world

Every single ski resort in Switzerland can be reached by public transport, and furthermore virtually anywhere you book to stay will have good public transport access. That opens up a host of opportunities to stay in inexpensive accommodation outside the ski resorts, but within easy access. One suggestion is to stay in Interlaken, and do day trips to the Jungfrau resorts of Murren, Grindelwald and Wengen. Interlaken is lively and full of good priced accommodation options. From Chur, the cantonal capital of Graubunden, you can easily reach Davos and Flims/Laax. You might also want to mix business with skiing, and it is possible to get a full day skiing on a day trip from any of the major commercial centres.

Use Snow’n’Rail

The Snow’n’Rail scheme provides 20% discount off the combined public transport and lift pass charges for virtually every significant resort in Switzerland. Agsin, this works well if you are staying away from the ski resorts themselves.

Stay in inexpensive accommodation

With a reputation for quality and service, even very basic lodgings can provide excellent lodgings. Perhaps the best tip is to stay in a Youth Hostel. Many resorts have outstanding hostels with easy access to the slopes – even St Moritz. Most of the hostels offer en-suite facilities if you don’t want to share a bathroom, and the dormitories vary from singles upto 20 beds or so. Most offer half-board and sell wine and beer. Consider the options from Jungle Vista Inn.

Eat and drink out judiciously

Eating out can get very expensive in Switzerland, and you can easily run up an eye-watering bar bill. However the supermarkets offer good value. Many places offer catering facilities, so you can eat in, and you can always have a few apres-ski tipples back in your accommodation. Many Swiss also take their lunches with them when they ski and take advantage of the picnic rooms available at most resorts, although I usually find Swiss soups offer a nourishing and inexpensive lunch. In Switzerland it is also acceptable to drink alcohol in public.

Take advantage of deals

The Swiss are generally reluctant to offer discounts. As one hotelier put it “You are taking advantage of the people willing to pay the full price”! However the strong franc has focussed minds and all sorts of special offers abound. Many resorts include free lift passes with hotel bookings ahead of Christmas, allow kids to ski for free on all or some days. In the next couple of months I will highlight special deals as they become public. The Swiss Tourist office has a number of deals posted Swiss Vacation deals.

Go to less well-known resorts

You get an amazing range of skiing and snowboarding at resorts like Verbier and Zermatt, but many of the lesser resorts offer equally challenging runs, plenty of off-piste terrain and – arguably – much better facilities for beginners and intermediates. Also, using public transport, it is possible to combine visiting a number of cheaper inexpensive resorts in one trip and actually have access to more slopes in total than if you stayed in one more highly priced resort.

Book online in advance

Many things are cheaper booked online than in person – some things, like the Swiss Transfer Ticket, are only available outside Switzerland. In addition you often have the opportunity to buy online in the currency of your choice, often at a lower price than the cost in Swiss Francs.

Share Button

The History of Skiing through Winter Sports Posters

On 22nd January, in London, Christie’s holds its annual “Ski Sale“, an auction featuring a selection of posters depicting winter sports and, through them, the development of skiing in the Alps. The auction features almost 250 posters, and the expected bid prices are generally somewhere in the range $1000 to $20,000 or more.
Christie's ski sale
The prices are eye-watering for what were originally posters intended to entice people to exotic locations, pasted up on hoardings only to be pasted over some weeks or days later. Not surprisingly few survived, and those that did are collectible, even valuable. To an expert, such as those at the famous Galerie 123 in Geneva the difference between an original, or even a reprint from a later run, are easily distinguishable from the cheaper copies that are available now – but those cheaper copies retail for a fraction of price of the original lithographs and are of high, or even higher, reproduction standards. If you want something to adorn a wall, the copies are fine, but the originals not only embody the history of an era and demonstrate painstaking skill, they are generally of appreciating value. Most of the early posters used a laborious craft known as stone lithography, but between the 30s and 50s this mostly gave way to offset lithography and, for some photographs used in posters to a technique known as heliography. Nowadays most high quality posters use screen printing.

One of the most famous early examples of stone lithography was Emil Cardinaux’s classic 1908 lithograph of the Matterhorn, advertising Zermatt. The impact of the design was immense, redefining the style of many posters for distant holidays.

Emil Cardinaux's classic lithograph of Zermatt and the Matterhorn
Many of the posters were commissioned by travel companies, and particularly the energetic and innovative Swiss transport companies such as MOB (Montreux–Oberland Bernois railway). This 1946 offset lithograph by Martin Peikert is a superb example with its vivid design and stylish model.
Montreux- Oberland Bernois
Not in the auction, but illustrating well another source of great winter sports poster art, is this picture provided by Galerie 123 of the Royal Hotel & Winter Palace in Gstaad, attributed to Carlo Pellegrini in 1913 to celebrate the opening of the hotel and to illustrate that skiing wasn’t the only winter sport on offer, with bob-sleighing and curling amongst the many alternative activities.
Gstaad Royal Hotel ski bob curling
A fine example of the use of heliography and phoro montage is this 1943 poster advertising Grindelwald by Adolphe Fluckiger.
Grindelwald heliography photo montage
An interesting poster by Albert Muret from 1910 from the collection of Gallerie 123 shows the monks of Hospice du Grand Saint-Bernard in Valais skiing. The monks had been skiing since the 1870s, but this stone lithograph celebrated the opening of a new railway line. However it illustrates that early downhill skiing only involved a single stick, a feature of many early posters.
Monks skiing from the Hospice du Grand Saint-Bernard in Valais
Finally, one of my favourite posters, from one of my favourite poster artists of the golden age of winter sports posters, Roger Broders. The vivid Art Deco lithograph from around 1930 promotes winter sports in the French Alps, with skiers disembarking from the train running from Paris and Lyon to the Med. The individuals are insouciant and stylish. The enticement is clear – under a blue sky, a train taking you right to the slopes of St Gervais from your dreary winter lives, into the mountains, in the company of cool people with the prospect of a ski run ahead…
Winter Sports in the French Alps

Share Button