The strength of the Swiss franc has proved a challenge for some British skiers and boarders in recent seasons, but the good news is that the pound is fighting back and the Swiss ski areas are helping ! In any case there’s something very special about Switzerland that makes us keep wanting to return regardless. It could be the scenery, with more stunning mountain panoramas per ski area than most other resorts on the planet; it could be the snow-surety – with lots of high-altitude terrain available – including Europe’s highest lift-served runs, or it might be the seamless, high-quality service for which the Swiss are famous, to name just some of the reasons (cheese and trains being two more).
As mentioned, the good news is that, for whichever reasons we’re in love with Switzerland, the pound is gradually fighting back against the franc, and Swiss ski resorts are offering ever more great deals to keep Swiss ski holidays affordable.
Here are some of the savings it’s worth being aware of.
Then again you might not need to pay for a lift pass at all if you head to the snow-sure resort of Davos Klosters between the start of the season on 21 November and the start of Christmas week on 20 December. The famous ski destination’s “Lift Pass for Free” offer is back, which means you get a free lift pass for every night you stay in a selected property during those dates.
Whenever you visit, though, you can take advantage of the Davos Klosters Inside programme, a free selection of daily experiences compiled by a resort “Insider Team”. This includes experiences such as watching the sun rise from a mountain peak, a behind-the-scenes look at an avalanche detonation session or even a sit inside a piste-grooming machine. To take part simply complete the registration directly at the Info Screen at your hotel. davos.ch
LAAX has a reputation for being one of the world’s top freestyle ski and boarding destinations, although there’s plenty for all abilities and tastes besides too. So it is the perfect destination for a fun-filled, action-packed break – and sharing all this with friends makes it twice as memorable. The resort’s “4 Nights for Friends” package includes a 4-night stay in an apartment with 4-day ski-lift ticket included for only £191 per person.
Saas-Fee was where Wham! filmed their famous Last Christmas video in the 1980s, and the resort is understandably so proud of the fact it keeps reverting to 1980s pricing in celebration.
This winter, from 5 to 18 December 2015, special “1980s” packages are available starting from only CHF225 (about £145) for 2 nights’ B&B accommodation and a 3-day lift pass. saas-fee.ch
After replacing its remarkable rotating cable car, the Rotair, after 20 years’ service, with an even better new version last winter, this season Engelberg will unveil a new connecting gondola which will dramatically cut journey times to the top of its huge 2000m skiable vertical.
Early booking deals are already available for skiers and boarders ready to hit the slopes between the start of the ski season on 14 November and 17 December 2015. Packages at a wide range of accommodation and for various durations include lift pass, local tax and a guest card which unlocks many more reductions. engelberg.ch
As already mentioned, Switzerland offers great lift-pass value for families, but the classic resort of Arosa, which dramatically expanded its ski area last year with a lift connection to neighbouring Lenzerheide, more than tripling its skiable terrain, goes further.
Next winter Arosa is offering “Ski School included” group ski/snowboard classes free of charge for children born in or after 1998 (so actual children including teens up to age 18). The offer, which is part of a swathe of special deals for families, is valid on bookings of 2 nights or more in participating hotels and holiday apartments. arosa.ch
The Jungfrau region is often referred to as one of the most spectacular in the skiing world, as well as being home to no less than three classic ski resorts – Grindelwald, Murren and Wengen – which all share a common lift pass.
Despite having been around much longer than most ski regions, the Jungfrau’s ski areas are very up to date when it comes to offering ski holiday value, as they have their very own version of lastminute.com on their site. Along with plenty of special-deal packages (such as 4 nights for the price of 3 at selected hotels), check out the special “Lastminute” offers in the region’s website’s Accommodation section. jungfrauregion.ch
Engadin St Moritz
The Engadin region was where winter sports began just over 150 years ago and remains one of the world’s best to this day.
You can enjoy substantial savings on lift-pass prices here all season long (and it’s a very long season, thanks to glacier skiing, starting as soon as 17 October and continuing right through to 22 May next year). The “Hotel and Ski Pass” offer is available on stays of 2 nights or more and entitles you to buy your Engadin lift pass for just CHF35 (£22) per day. engadin.stmoritz.ch
Finally, ski resorts around the world talk about being family-friendly and increasingly offer family-price deals, but few offer lift tickets that are completely free to younger children and substantially discounted for older children as Swiss resorts do.
Children can ski free at up to age 9 in more than 50 of the country’s ski resorts; in Zermatt it’s up to age 10! Then children typically pay half price until age 15 or 16, and there are often ongoing young-adult savings of 20% right up to the early 20s.
This compares to the ski industry norm which sees children charged from age 4 or 5 at most resorts and often 70–80% of the adult price, not half price. Then, as with airlines, children are often asked to pay the full adult cost from around age 12 or 13.
So families need to do the lift-pass maths.