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Five affordable places to ski in Switzerland

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Photo: Christof Sonderegger/swiss-image.ch
14:13 CET+01:00
The Swiss franc has soared in value, making a ski holiday in Switzerland a pricey proposition this winter. But you can still find affordable options, says The Local's Emily Mawson, who rounds up five destinations for the budget-minded.


Villars ski resort in the Vaud Alps. Photo: Switzerland Tourism
1) Top of the offers

As a result of the strong franc, the Swiss Economic Institute expects a 1.4 per cent drop in visitors to Switzerland’s Alpine regions this season.

Little wonder then, that a quick search on the Switzerland Tourism website reveals that the country’s resorts are dropping prices to attract business.

Among the tempting range of winter holiday offers on the ‘Affordable Switzerland’ section is Villars, a pretty resort in the Vaud Alps that looks onto the Dents du Midi and Mont Blanc.

It has a day’s ski pass for 20 francs ($19.95) with any night booked in a hotel.

Valid on given dates throughout the season, the offer includes a choice of ten hotels, ranging from two stars to five stars, and applies across the linked ski areas of Villars, Gryon and Les Diablerets.

From the second night booked, you also gain access to the Glacier 3000 area.

There is something for all abilities, with a good spread of blue, red and black pistes across a total of 125 kilometres of connected pistes up to 3,000 metres above sea level.

Bang for buck:
Hotel prices start at 90 francs per person, while ski and ski boot rental costs 93 francs per person for two days.

With ski passes at 20 francs per day, you can calculate from 626 francs for a weekend ski break for two (excluding transport and food).

The offer is valid until December 18th, from January 4th to February 5th , and from March 7th to April 10th (www.villars.ch).


"Magic carpet at Grindelwald. Photo: Jungfrau Region Tourismus
2) Family-friendly prices

This season, a host of Swiss resorts are allowing children to ski for free.

After all, little ones here start learning the discipline as early as the age of two.

Among the appealing weekend offers is Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland: all season, three children between the ages of 6 and 15 years old are entitled to a free ski pass on Saturdays with any adult pass.

Little more than a sleepy cluster of chalets tucked at the foot of the Eiger, the Jungfrau region resort is child-friendly, with nursery slopes with magic carpet lifts, 50 kilometres of blue pistes, and a slope designed for slower skiers – it has a 30-kilometre speed limit.

Enjoy family time off-piste at Hotel Kirchbühl close to the Grindelwald First cable car.

The hotel is a member of the Top Twenty Swiss Family Hotels, has spacious family rooms and self-catering apartments, and is equipped with a games room and playground.

Bang for buck: An adult ski pass costs CHF 63 for one day, with three children between the ages of 6 and 15 free on Saturdays.

Expect to pay from 64 francs for a day’s adult ski and boot hire, or 33 francs for children.

With self-catering chalets for four at Hotel Kirchbühl starting at 240 francs per night (short-term stays bookable until 31st January), you can calculate from around 1,680 francs for a long weekend for a family of four without transport and food (www.jungfrau.ch).

For more information on ‘Children ski free’ offers, click here.

Check here for details on Grindelwald prices.


Above Andermatt. Photo: Christof Sonderegger/swiss-image.ch
3) On the up

Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung recently named Zermatt the best Swiss resort for sporty types, while Arosa topped the country list for families.

However, opting for less fashionable destinations can save cost.

While a six-day ski pass in Zermatt will set you back 380 francs for six days and 200 kilometres of pistes, the same period at the new SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun straddling the cantons of Uri and Graubünden costs just 265 francs for 120 kilometres of runs.

It is a modest price tag for a resort that is on the up: billionaire Samih Sawiris is to invest 130 million francs in its ski infrastructure over the next three years.

For shorter breaks too, Andermatt-Sedrun has an attractive winter package this season, with its “Ski Weekend Sedrun”.

For 246 francs per person, you get Friday to Sunday bed and breakfast in a selection of hotels, and a two-day ski pass.

Bang for buck: The Ski Weekend Sedrun package costs 246 francs per person for two nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation from Friday to Sunday and a two-day ski pass valid on Saturday and Sunday.

Ski and boot hire costs from around 108 francs for two days. Offer valid from January 1st until April 3rd (www.skiarena.ch).

Click here for more details on the Andermatt-Sedrun weekend package deal.


Photo: Petit Barouder
4) Value for kilometres

As the latest TripIndex Ski published by Tripadvisor confirms, Switzerland remains an expensive option when it come to skiing.

The report, which compares the cost of a ski holiday for a family of four in 42 European destinations, ranked three Swiss resorts in the top five most expensive.

However, there is also value for money to be had.

The Portes du Soleil area between Lake Geneva and France provides the best value skiing per kilometre of piste of every resort worldwide, according to the latest study by Tesco Travel Money in the UK.

Across the multi-buy resorts of Champoussin, Champéry and Les Crosets, the lift pass entitles you to a sizeable 650 kilometres of piste — at around a mere eight cents per kilometre.

Stay in Le Petit Baroudeur, a backpackers’ hostel whose classification belies its cosiness: each room has its own wash basin, while communal facilities – including the self-catering kitchen – are kept clean, and you can expect a warm welcome from host Catherine.

Bang for buck: A day’s ski pass in the Portes du Soleil costs 54 francs for adults.

Expect to pay around 60 francs for basic ski hire. Le Petit Baroudeur costs from 30 francs per person and night, excluding breakfast at 8 francs per person.

Based on these prices, you could enjoy a ski weekend starting at around 304 francs per person for two nights without transport and food (www.en.portesdusoleil.com).


Photo: Bun di Scuol
5)Alternative accommodation

A ski holiday doesn’t have to equal a pricy chalet or package hotel.

In fact, alternative accommodation often comes with a welcome price tag.

And from TCS campsites with winter-ready caravans to Reka holiday villages with purpose-built accommodation, Switzerland has a surprising selection.

An authentic option if you prefer off-the-beaten-track experiences is the BnB network of around 1,000 family-run residences across Switzerland.

Part of the network, charming Bun di Scuol is a traditional Engadiner property in the spa town of Scuol in the canton of Graubünden.

As well as serving breakfasts featuring organic eggs, bread from the local bakery and homemade apple cake, hosts Leah and Michael allow guests to self-cater in the kitchen at lunch and dinnertime.

Cutting costs further this winter, they have included ski passes in the price of the room.

Scuol’s snow-sure Motta-Naluns ski area climbs to 2,800 metres above sea level, has a collection of easy and intermediate runs, and couldn’t be easier to reach from Bun di Scuol, which is close to the ski bus stop.

Bang for buck: Bun di Scuol costs from 99 francs per person and night, including breakfast, ski pass, self-catering facilities, and wifi.

Ski and boot hire costs from 44 francs per day.

Bun di Scuol guests also receive a ten per cent reduction on entrance to the Bogn Engiadina Scuol spa — a welcome treat after a day on piste (www.bundi-scuol.ch).

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