News for the 2014-15 Ski Season in Switzerland

New Wellness hostel in Saas-FeeThe family love ski resorts where we can combine winter sports with a spa. We also find the hostels in Switerland truly awesome, and inexpensive despite Switzerland’s reputation for high prices. So we are excited to hear that new from 5th September is the wellnessHostel4000 with 168 beds, right next to the Postauto bus stop in Saas-Fee. It claims to have a unique architectural design and has direct access to the new spa and gym facilities in the Aqua Allain leisure centre. As well as the usual wellness features, the centre also boasts a 25-metre indoor pool, a children’s pool, waterslide and fitness centre. Typical room rates in a six-bed dorm start from around 40 francs (35 euros, less than thirty pounds) per person per night.

New lifts in Portes du Soleil
After what the resorts call “a period full of uncertainties and intense negotiations” collaboration between Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Verbier and Thyon that comprise the 4 Vallées ski domain has been renewed for the winter season 2014-2015, and for the following 18 years.

The Portes du Soleil is very large, and features a pleasant circuit that takes you round the resorts in the circuit and across the French/Swiss border. You can generally do it all on skis, but at Châtel you needed to catch a bus if you are coming from the slopes near Avoriaz. However two new chairlifts make getting around much easier (Vonnes-Super Châtel and Linga-Vonnes) and for the 2015-16 season there will be a new piste at Super Châtel.

New lifts are also planned to open this season in Parpan (Lenzerheide) and Val Müstair in the Minschuns area, and numerous lifts have been replaced or upgraded throughout Switzerland.

The flak continues to fallout over the Swiss decision to extend the minimum wage to chalet workers, with most chalet operators working out of the UK pulling out. Andy Perrin, CEO of the Hotelplan group, which incudes Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski, opined: “There are no winners here. We tour operators lose, our guests who love Switzerland lose, and all the myriad Swiss suppliers in resorts who have relied on this business for decades also lose.”

Those choosing to buy in the Swiss Alps may also experience difficulties, with a curb on construction of second homes since 2012 and a 50% rule that ensures Swiss citizens get half of any new builds leading to ongoing uncertainty. The result has been rising prices for real estate in a country which has largely enjoyed stable, albeit significant, prices for second homes.

Crystal, who alongside Thomson, Inghams and Neilson provide most of the winter sports holidays sold in Britain, has added Arosa to the resorts it services. An excellent choice,in my opinion. Now linked to Lenzerheide, Arosa is one of the best resorts in the Alps. The train journey to the resort is a delight, and there is plenty for people who don’t ski to do – as well as a fabulous range of piste and off-piste.
Ski Zinal and the fabulous Val D'Anniviers
Finally, news on an attractive deal for early-season escapes in one of my very favourite ski areas, Val d’Anniviers. The newly renamed combined resort of GrimentzZinal for the weekends of 15-16 November, 22-23 November, 29-30 November and 6-8 December offers
1 night in a double room in a hotel, with breakfast + 2 days’ skiing from CHF 175 per person. See here for details.

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Winter Ski Deals in Graubünden

I am a great fan of the winter sports resorts in Graubünden, and will be spending the Christmas period in the canton. It is probably the most complete ski and snowboard destination in the world, but it caters well for ever type of visitor – including the budget conscious.
Arosa ski resort
This season Graubünden once again has a range of excellent deals. The season starts on 18th October 2014 on the Diavolezza in the Engadine, which celebrates 150 years of winter tourism. On 22nd November, Corvatsch and Corviglia in St Moritz open. Progressively other resorts open, with Arosa, Samnaun, Flims Laax Falera and Davos Klosters opening in November.

A great deal for getting there is the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) offer, “Railhit 2 for 1” in which two people travelling together from Monday to Thursday only pay for one if they are hotel guests or in self-catering accommodation. The offer lasts from 8th December 2014 to 10th April 2014. RailHit is not valid on a handful of special services, including the pass associated with using the Preda-Bergün sledging slope.
Skiers in Davos on the Parsenn
For 35 SFr per person per day for visits of at least two nights, a ski pass is included with accommodation at participating hotels in and around St Moritz.

Arosa once again features the “Ski School Included” for youngsters staying in the resort, whereby lessons are available at no charge.

Now linked to Arosa, Lenzerheide gives you a free lift pass if you book a stay at any time between 28th of November to the 20th December.

Up until 21st December 2014 you also get a complimentary ski pass for slopes in Davos Klosters for every overnight stay in a partner hotel in the area. From 20th December until 6th April the resorts are also offering a local insider to accompany you and show you the best of the mountains. Remember also that Ski Club of Great Britain members still can ski or snowboard for free with a Ski Club representative.

More details on these and other offers are posted at the Graubünden Tourism website.

There are also the usual range of budget options if you are going to Graubunden, with some excellent hostels and budget hotels. Check out the Winter Sports Accommodation Guide.

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The Best Three Star Hotels in the Swiss Alps

Last winter the Swiss newspaper, the Sonntags Zeitung, published a list of the best hotels in Switzerland. The full article is here, but I have listed what they consider the best three star hotels:

skier gets ready to hit the piste

1. (Last Year: 4) Alpine Lodge,Saanen-Gstaad BE
Tel 033 748 41 51,alpinelodge.ch
Doubleroom from 360 Fr.

2. (1) Waldhaus am See,St. Moritz GR
Tel 081 836 60 00, waldhaus-am-see.ch
Doubleroom from 310 Fr.

3. (3) Romantik Hotel Schönegg, Wengen BE
Tel 033 855 34 22, hotel-schoenegg.ch
Doubleroom from 380 Fr.

4. (2) Krone, La Punt GR
Tel 081 854 12 69, krone-la-punt.ch
Doubleroom 250 Fr.

5. (5) Misani, Celerina GR
Tel 081 839 89 89, hotelmisani.ch
Doubleroom from 230 Fr.

6. (6) Jungfrau, Wengernalp BE
Tel 033 855 16 22, wengernalp.ch
Doubleroom from 440 Fr.

7. (8) Hotel Kernen,Schönried-Gstaad BE
Tel 033 748 40 20, bruno-kernen.ch
Doubleroom from 320 Fr.

8. (-) Chesa Randolin,Sils Baselgia GR
Tel 081 830 83 83,randolins.ch
Doubleroom from 236 Fr.

9. (11) Eienwäldli, Engelberg OW
Tel 041 637 19 49,eienwaeldli.ch
Doubleroom from 280 Fr.

10. (-) La Couronne, Zermatt VS
Tel 027 966 23 00,hotel-couronne.ch
Doubleroom from 256 Fr.

11. (7) Sporthotel, Pontresina GR
Tel 081 838 94 00, sporthotel.ch
Doubleroom from 250 Fr.

12. (13) Bella Vista, Zermatt VS
Tel 027 966 28 10,bellavista-zermatt.ch
Doubleroom from 235 Fr.

13. (12) Parkhotel Schönegg, Grindelwald BE
Tel 033 854 18 18,parkhotelschoenegg.ch
Doubleroom from 340 Fr.

14. (16) Alphubel, Saas-Fee VS
Tel 027 958 63 63, hotelalphubel.ch
Doubleroom from 314 Fr.

15. (15) Chesa Grischuna, Klosters GR
Tel 081 422 22 22,chesagrischuna.ch
Doubleroom from 439 Fr.

16. (20) Alpenblick, Fiesch VS
Tel 027 970 16 60,hotelalpenblick.ch
Doubleroom from 150 Fr.

17. (9) Le Mont Paisible,Crans-Montana VS
Tel 027 480 21 61, montpaisible.ch
Doubleroom from 220 Fr.

18. (14) Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl, Samedan GR
Tel 081 842 82 32,muottasmuragl.ch
Doubleroom from 240 Fr.

19. (18) Adler, Adelboden BE
Tel 033 673 41 41,adleradelboden.ch
Doubleroom from 308 Fr.

20. (19) Müller Mountain Lodge, Pontresina GR
Tel 081 839 30 00, hotel-mueller.ch
Doubleroom from 300 Fr.

21. (24) Meisser, Guarda GR
Tel 081 862 21 32, hotel-meisser.ch
Doubleroom from 230 Fr.

22. (17) Bodmi, Grindelwald BE
Tel 033 853 12 20, bodmi.ch
Doubleroom from 294 Fr.

23. (10) Homann,Samnaun-Ravaisch GR
Tel 081 861 91 91,hotel-homann.ch
Doubleroom from 290 Fr.

24. (21) Europe, Zinal VS
Tel 027 475 44 04, europezinal.ch
Doubleroom from 200 Fr.

25. (25) Alphorn, Gstaad BE
Tel 033 748 45 45,gstaad-alphorn.ch
Doubleroom from 252 Fr.

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Vind je het leuk om te gaan skiën?

Well, if you understand that title, you probably would be interested to hear that our companion web site, Swiss Winter Sports, is now available in Dutch at www.SwissWinterSports.nl. I toyed with calling it the more vernacular “Zwitserse Wintersport”, but decided to stick with the same branding as far as possible.
ski en snowboard website
The site features both the NL suffix and Dutch language text. It also has road distances from the Netherlands and content on the top bar specifically targetted for Dutch winter sports enthusiasts. Some of the minor resorts on the English-language site have been dropped to keep a focus, as it is unlikely somebody planning a visit to Switzerland from Holland would be interested in a resort with just a couple of surface lifts. The site is a work in progress and the translations are largely machine-generated, so I would be interested in finding a native Dutch speaker to review the text for me. If you know of somebody, please get them to get in touch with me and quote a price.

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