Words by Janine Avery
We were en route to Geneva. Our skis and snowboards were packed and we were ready for a snow-packed holiday in Switzerland. Our destination – Crans-Montana. With our rental car loaded up we took the longer route, following the road that travelled just near the edge of Lake Geneva, and what a wonderful decision that turned out to be. The crystal-clear water and beautiful mountain backdrop immediately eased us into holiday mode as we ventured closer to those snow-covered mountain tops.
En-route we passed Chillon Castle, a castle built on a large rock on the shoreline of Lake Geneva. The castle was home to the counts of Savoy for centuries and has many stories to tell. It sits on an island just outside the town of Montreux and offers postcard perfect views over the mirror-like lake and to the Alps in the distance.
Step inside and you will be taken back in time through an interactive journey that takes you through an ancient wine cellar, deep into the glooms of the dungeon and torture chamber and up into the armoury where model soldiers look out over one of the most picturesque parts of the world. In fact, when you are done at the castle, you may even want to linger longer in Montreux as this town is too often passed through on the way to the snowy mountains yonder.
Alongside the glitz and glamour of the Swiss Riviera, the quaint town of Montreux offers the ideal stop for music lovers. For it is here where Queen spent many years recording their music and the remnants of their historic studio can still be visited in the casino today. If you do decide to take your time exploring this lakeside gem, consider spending a night at Hôtel Bristol and be sure to take your breakfast on your balcony where you can enjoy some of the best views you’ll ever find of Lake Geneva.
But I digress, for it was Crans-Montana we had come to see. Upon arriving at the resort and seeing the views from the room of our overnight stop at the gorgeous Le Crans Hotel and Spa, we couldn’t help but linger a while, as rival those of Montreux they did. So we stopped for some cheese and a chilled glass of local wine at the on-site Michelin star restaurant before heading off to sort out our ski passes, get our skis serviced and familiarise ourselves with the town.
The next day was our first ski day and we had arranged for a guide to show us around the slopes. The guide met us at the door of Le Crans and as one of the only ski-in, ski-out properties in the area, we were soon off and on the slopes.
As we hadn’t been on the slopes for some time, we were still getting our ski legs and were happy to discover that Crans-Montana is a great place for beginners with lots of wide open gentle slopes. In winter the central golf course also gets converted into a children’s learn to ski area and there is also a kids section on the slopes with a free lift and learn to ski park.
So if you are thinking about learning to ski or getting your kids into the sport this is an ideal place. For the more experienced, the resort has a play park with ramps and jumps the one and only 22″ superpipe in French-speaking Switzerland.
But it’s not all about the skiing in Crans-Montana and meals are also a part of the day to look forward to. We definitely enjoyed our raclette dinner at Hotel de l’Etrier where we indulged in this traditional-style heated cheese dish served with meat and breads.
The entire experience is definitely a must do and is a bit of a show as the giant wheels of cheese are sliced up right in front of you and melted down for your enjoyment. There is nothing better than some delicious warm cheese on a cold wintry evening!
In a nutshell
If you’re looking for a quick ski getaway or a more relaxed, upmarket atmosphere where you can get away from the hoards that populate some of the other more well-known ski resorts in the Alps, then Crans-Montana is a top choice.