Go back to skiing’s roots this half term – Switzerland’s resorts are as old as the hills and whether it’s a week with family, friends or that special someone, this country’s a dab hand at ski holidays. Swap the workplace for striking mountainscapes, make the pistes your classroom and fill any spare moment with all the fondue you can muster.
There’s nothing like a chalet for evenings of conversation around the fire, whether it’s with old friends or new.
One of the best things is that breakfast, tea and supper are provided 6 days out of 7, which gives you a well-deserved break from housework. This also means you can ski the most luxuriant ski resorts without a week of restaurant bills... For great value, Chalet Mazot in the world famous resort of Zermatt is right on the money- in the centre of town. If it’s a touch of luxury you’re here for, upmarket properties like Haus Glacier on the high street might be just what the doctor ordered…
Grownup groups will love Verbier’s challenging skiing (off piste that’s out-of-this-world) and heady après ski. Look out for vast, guest-filled chalet hotels like Chalet Hotel de Verbier - this one’s right on the Place Centrale and near the Medran gondola. The penthouse Chalet Caprice is another pick of the crop – if you have a group of 8, see if you can book it for sole occupancy and have the rule of the roost.
Switzerland has some terrifically family-friendly resorts. Tradition-filled Nendaz is Verbier’s quiet first-cousin, in the same 4 Valley’s ski area. The commute will sink to the corners of your mind in well-located properties like Chalet Hautes Cimes, where the main lift station’s opposite and the slopes 100m away.
If there’s anything this country does better than skiing and fondue, it’s unabashed, silver-spoon luxury. Choose from a dazzling constellation of hotels for your week-off – swishy St Moritz (we love Hotel Kulm) hits all the right notes. A week of first class skiing doesn’t have to put you in the red for the rest of the year, Switzerland also has a bundle of budget options.
Keep holiday-planning simple with a Club Med hotel like Club Med Villars-sur-Ollon or Club Med Wengen - pretty much everything you need for the week (usually full board, ski lessons, ski hire) is included in the price.
If getting from A to B’s a pet peeve, you’ll want to pick somewhere near lifts and ski school meeting points. The time saved at Grindelwald’s Hotel Sunstar will be well spent on a trip to the Schiltorn’s revolving restaurant (Bond-themed photos for the folk back home are a must). Saas Fee, meanwhile, is spot on for families wanting to strike a balance between a high altitude ski area and peaceful resort –and in the Hotel Bristol, the pistes and ski school meeting place are opposite.
If you’re a melting pot of skiers and non-skiers, try Crans Montana – intermediates can ski out of Hotel Valaisia, while the rest of the troop explores the resort’s shops and other delights (don’t miss David Pasquiet’s creations in L'Instant Chocolat).
Affordability and flexibility are two brilliant things about staying in a ski apartment in Switzerland. You enjoy the same amazing scenery and skiing - whether you’re skiing Saas Fee for the snow sure slopes, hulking great terrain park, family-friendly village or a bit of all 3, in the Allalin Apartments, home-cooked dinners are savoured gazing out over the Saas valley.
There’s no need to compromise on the traditional either: For a taste of Swiss charm on a budget, self-catered chocolate-box chalets like Verbier’s Chalet Pic Vert could save you a packet. Sleeping 12, this is just the right size for 2 or 3 families wanting to stay with friends and divide and conquer the catering.
Of course there’s no obligation to cook all week… Opt for self-catering in world-famous Zermatt, meanwhile, and you won’t have to touch a pan if you don’t feel like it. The Perle Apartments are almost rubbing shoulders with restaurants like After Seven, which are responsible for the resort’s reputation as a gastro-heaven. They’re also only a five minute walk from the Sunnegga lift when the time comes to burn those generous calories.
A good location can make half term a whole lot easier. When you’re taking ski lessons, proximity to the ski school is a godsend in properties like Grindelwald’s Eiger Apartments (less than five minutes from the Firstbahn lift and ski school meeting point).