Switzerland: A Winter Playground for Groups
When it comes to skiing and winter sports in Europe, Switzerland ranks as one of the top countries because of the all-encompassing, snow-capped Alps, the modern ski facilities offered, and the abundance of upscale hotels, resorts and apartments that can accommodate skiers. It’s almost as if Switzerland was made for skiing, snowboarding and snow-related activities.
An amazing number of areas in Switzerland’s winter wonderland are exceptional ski regions that welcome groups and host thousands of skiers, snowboarders and winter sport enthusiasts every year.
At 10,000-foot-high Mount Titlis in the Lake Lucerne region at Engelberg, and only two hours from the Zurich Airport, you’ll find the largest ski area in central Switzerland, with as many as 25 lifts, downhill runs for the pros and three slopes for beginners. And with the glacial slopes at 9,800 feet, the snowpack makes skiing possible from October to May.
After a full day in the snow and sun, your party can retire to a comfy hotel, guesthouse or apartment, and indulge in one of the Swiss’ favorite dinners—fondue and wine in front of a warm, roaring fireplace.
There are 51 miles of slopes and trails in the Titlis ski area, with a variety of snow sports available, including winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding—and there’s even an igloo village where your group can relax over dinner or drinks after a day of riding snowbikes or paragliding.
In the Jungfrau region, three spectacular mountains reign supreme—the massive Eiger, Mönch and Junfrau—and throughout the area skiing, snowboarding, sledging and winter hiking also reign supreme for enthusiasts.
Beatenberg-Neiderhorn, Habkern, Grindelwald-First, Mürren-Schilthorn and Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen ski areas all combine to make the Jungfrau region popular, with the most beautiful backdrop in the world. Groups coming here enjoy numerous choices of accommodations and restaurants, and excellent transportation including trains, aerial cables, buses and automobiles.
In the southwestern part of Switzerland in the beautiful Valais region, the two neighboring trendy resorts of Crans and Montana at an altitude of 5,000 feet lie on the sun-drenched Plaine Morte plateau high above the RhoneValley. Together they form one of the largest vacation spots in the Valais, with ski slopes stretching from the plateau up to the glacier at 9,800 feet. This region hosts the Ski World Cup races, as do Wengen (Jungfrau), Adelboden, Lenzerheide and St. Moritz.
Near the quaint alpine village of Verbier, with its slate-roofed chalets, are nearly 100 lifts and more than 250 miles of ski runs for all levels of expertise. At Saas-Fee, called the Pearl of the Alps, groups find cross-country skiing with five miles of trails, ice sports, snowboarding, sledging and snowshoeing with a professional guide. The area is surrounded by 18 peaks of 13,000 feet or more. Surrounded by Saas-Fee’s unique mountain scenery, the new Kneipp hydrotherapy area is the ideal place to give your body and soul a healthy boost. It has a foot bath, water stream, arm bath, barefoot trail and relaxation zone. Close by are the resort areas of Saas-Grund, Saas-Almagell and Saas-Balen, all with cozy accommodations, excellent food and special events during ski season.
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Zermatt, the resort city with a world of charm, sits a mile above sea level in the heart of the highest peaks in the Alps. Everyone loves to see the Matterhorn, ski the area’s slopes and relax in the evening at charming restaurants and enjoy the après-ski scene.
The panorama at the Matterhorn glacier area provides a breathtaking view of Italian, French and Swiss alpine mountain giants from an altitude of 12,700 feet. Here you are at the peak of the international ski area—beneath you lies the largest summer ski area in Europe, and not far away there’s a cool snow park for snowboarders and free skiers, open 300 days a year. Besides skiing and snowboarding, there’s winter hiking, tobogganing, cross-country skiing, paragliding, curling and ice skating.
In the eastern region of Switzerland is St. Moritz, a jewel known for its inspiring panoramas, dramatic mountain backdrops, sunny climate (322 sun days a year), and celebrated shopping and glamour. Winter sports were invented here more than 150 years ago: the first ski lift was installed in 1935, and St. Moritz has hosted two Winter Olympic Games.
With 217 miles of ski slopes, the Engadin St. Moritz region is one of the largest snowsports area in Switzerland. (Zermatt, with 223 miles of trails, has the most). It’s a complete package for tour groups, with glacier runs and full-moon descents.
Switzerland’s beauty, expansive accommodations and warm hospitality are the keys to a successful “run” for your next group tour.