Switzerland’s Crans-Montana is well-known for its extensive ski area, crowned by a glacier for the ultimate snow guarantee. It is also famed for its large resort base, located on a sunny plateau overlooking the Rhône Valley, easy to reach by road or rail from Geneva.
But its status as one of the leading ski destinations in the Alps for families is perhaps a little less well known. This is an area where it has been working hard to be better and better, however, recently earning the 2019–2021 “Family Destination” label issued by the Swiss Tourism Federation, one of just a limited number of ski resorts to be awarded it.
It’s no walk in the park to get this label, resorts have to ensure they are family-friendly at every level from family dining in restaurants, to in-resort transport options that cater for families with kids of all ages to lots of family-oriented accommodation options.
Another important aspect is offering a wide variety of activities which in Crans-Montana include horse riding, a climbing hall, a games library and bowling, to name just a few examples.
There are also lots of family-friendly events staged through the winter, too, from the all-new Etoile Bella Lui festival, debuting this December, through to the late-season Chocolate celebration festival, ChocAltitude, there’s always something happening.
On The Snow
Crans-Montana has easy-to-ride, safe, comfortable chairlifts and gondolas serving plenty of wide, sunny slopes that are perfect for families.
There are several ski kindergartens run by the local ski schools and the resort’s golf course is transformed into a snowy wonderland for children, Snow Island, with fun on-snow activities and beginner lessons.
The whole family can also sign up for an exciting torchlit descent of the slopes and snow tubing – sliding down a fun slope on a giant rubber ring – as well as tobogganing, are also available at Snow Island where there are dedicated lifts to get you back up the slope with ease too.
A new Christmas family festival
This winter, Crans-Montana will launch a new festival, especially for families, during the most magical of all seasons, Christmas. The Etoile Bella Lui festival, running from 6 December 2019 until 5 January 2020, invites you to discover the magic of winter in the heart of Crans-Montana, illuminated by the light of the Lantern Path between Lake Moubra and Lake Étang Long, with a craft market, storytellers, street artists, light shows, a big wheel, figure skating, an illuminated Christmas tree and a visit from Father Christmas.
The festival is based on the story of “The Shepherd and the Bella Lui Star” and honours the magic of winter lights in the mountains. In the snowy streets of the village, winter will take on the delicious flavour of local produce, its taste enhanced by exceptional chefs, bakers, cheesemakers and winemakers, all serving up their specialities in the craft market.
Artisans will also be present in the “Land and Nature” festival area, which highlights the region’s cultural heritage. Take time to stroll around and discover their wonderful creations; there’s no better way to enjoy the holiday season and its magical moments.
Off The Snow
Families are well looked after in the resort with babysitting and non-ski nursery services available, as well as rental of all the baby equipment you might need but don’t want to heave over from home.
There are lots of family-friendly cafés and restaurants, most with special deals and facilities for kids.
Indoor activities available to enjoy together include tennis, ice skating, a major climbing centre, bowling and a cinema.
For something a little different, you can visit the Swiss Model Railway Foundation, home to 1,300 model trains representing 150 years of Swiss railway history with various models on display.
Family facilities are often focused on younger children, but Crans-Montana is a great choice if you have older children as well.
The resort is already well-known for its winter and summer adventure parks (snow park, bike park and wake park), but it is continually developing the choice for action-sports fans. The latest development is Alaïa Chalet, a veritable shrine to action sports, which opened its doors at the beginning of this year. It features high-quality infrastructure such as trampolines, indoor ramps and foam pits meaning different action sports can be practised year round. Upstairs, there’s a bar which looks out over the activity halls so that families can watch sports fans evolve in their chosen sport.
Crans-Montana has also created what is believed to be the world’s first ski touring park, The Rando Parc, which has 15 new ski touring routes (blue, red and black) with over 40km of marked and secure paths. Created in collaboration with Séverine Pont-Combe, a ski-mountaineering champion, there are some routes with a great challenge, but also somewhere teenagers can enjoy their first ski touring experience in relative safety, with the easiest route giving 212m of climb over a fairly gentle 1.3km.
So, whatever ages your kids are and whatever stage your family is at, Crans-Montana has you covered. That “Family Destination” label may have been hard won, but it’s certainly well deserved.