How to Ski in Switzerland Cheap
When it comes to Alpine charm and badass terrain, Switzerland is hard to beat; it is home to more 4,000m peaks than any other European country. Unfortunately it is very pricy. According to the annual resort guide, Where to Ski and Snowboard, the costs in Swiss resorts have risen by 85 per cent between 2007 and 2011. Below is a list on ways to ski *cheap* in Switzerland without emptying your bank account, or be in possession of an offshore one.
Hostels are located in many of Switzerland’s prime ski resorts, from Zermatt to Engelberg to Pontresina, a traditional chalet in Grindelwald, a fancy new property in Interlaken (B&B from $45 per person in a six-bed room and $70 per person in an en-suite two-bed room) and the newly renovated St Moritz hostel (half board from $70 in a four-bed room and $123 in an en-suite double room). Prices shown are for non-members of the Swiss Youth Hostel Association – annual adult membership costs $36 and gives a discount of $6.50 per night and other benefits, such as reduced lift passes. The Bunker in Verbier is not a hostel, but if you don’t need windows is the cheapest place to stay in town.
Free pre-Christmas skiing in Davos and Klosters
For every night’s accommodation booked from November 16 to December 23, you’ll get a day’s free lift pass. Book with Klosters PT Ski and you’ll receive complimentary return transfers from Zurich, ski hosting, lift pass, and breakfast $900 per person for four nights.
Ski big, stay small
If you’re a fan of Verbier’s large Four Valleys ski area but not of its prices, consider staying in one of the pretty, lift-linked satellite villages such as Veysonnaz, Thyon, Nendaz or Les Collons. Alpine Answers offers the ski-in/ski-out Chalets in Les Collons from $840 per person per week, starting January 27, 2013. Ted Bentley operates two eight-bed chalets in Nendaz, available for $355 per person per week.
Other big ski areas with cheaper places to stay “down the road” are Zermatt (Tasch) and St Moritz (any of the surrounding villages, from Pontresina to Celerina).
If you can’t forgo the glamor of St Moritz, you’ll be happy to hear that several hotels are offering lift passes for $25 per day throughout the winter when you book at least two nights’ accommodation. Some go further: the Kulm Hotel (kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch) offers children aged four to 12 free group ski lessons, while the design hotel Nira Alpina (niraalpina.com), in nearby Silvaplana, offers its guests free lift passes throughout the season. Ski Independence (0131 243 8097; ski-i.com) offers seven nights’ B&B at Nira Alpina from $2,281 per person, including BA flights from London, Swiss Rail transfers and a six-day lift pass, departing on January 19, 2013.
The high-altitude town of Arosa offers free group ski and snowboard classes to all children born in and after 1995. To qualify, simply book at least two nights’ accommodation in participating properties, which range from two- to five-star hotels and self-catered apartments, through the local tourist office (81 378 7020; arosa.ch).
The chic resorts of Leysin-Les Mosses, Villars-Gryon, Les Diablerets and Château-d’Oex-Rougemont in the Lake Geneva ski region (alpes.ch) are offering free lift passes and accommodation for children up to nine years when they share a hotel room with two adults. Ski Independence offers seven nights’ B&B in the Hôtel du Golf in Villars from $1,600 per adult and $290 per child, including BA flights from London, Swiss Rail transfers and a six-day children’s lift pass, starting on January 19, 2013.
The Hidden Valley – Val d’Anniviers
In the dramatic Val d’Anniviers, a six-day lift pass costs $275 35% less than in Verbier or Zermatt. Peppered with quaint 15th-century villages such as Grimentz and Zinal, it is a prized secret of the Swiss. Ski Zinal has chalets from $243 per person per week. Also check Rental Prestige, and Ski Solutions for good deals on chalets
Where to Eat
If you aren’t making dinner yourself (def the cheapest route) the general rule is to stick to Italian restaurants for a simple pasta or pizza. The ubiquitous fondue is also good bang for your buck; you can share with friends and will be stuffed to the point of comatose after a few bites of gooey cheese. Just hope you’re not lactose flatulent – or else all your buddies in your hostel bunkroom won’t be very pleased with you.
If you are under the age of 25 you can get 50% off all train transportation if you can give a local address (not necessarily yours…) and have EU citizenship or some type of residency permit. Available at all larger stations.