Switzerland Turns on the Winter Charm for Personal Travel Manager
For snow bunnies over the world, Switzerland represents the peak in ski holidays – stunning scenery, immaculate snow conditions and world-class infrastructure, not to mention some of the best après-ski atmosphere you’ll find anywhere. So when TravelManagers’ Lindy Hill was presented with the opportunity to join a nine-day Swiss ski famil hosted by Switzerland Tourism, she was quick to sign up.
Hill, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Fairlight, NSW, says her expectations for the famil, although high, were easily exceeded during her time in Switzerland.
“The ski resorts were all first class, with a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. The resorts had great restaurants, both within the village and on the mountain, and the ski hire and lifts were also of a very high standard.”
The group, who were escorted by Switzerland Tourism’s Mark Wettstein, assembled in Zurich, from where they were introduced to the efficiency and comfort of Swiss rail travel for their transfer to the resort town of Zermatt: a picturesque, car-free town that serves as the gateway to the Matterhorn region.
“We made extensive use of the Swiss Rail pass, which is a must for anyone travelling to Switzerland,” Hill explains. “The rail routes are extensive, while the trains are reliable, clean and on-time to the minute. There is even an optional service to have your bags collected from one hotel and delivered to the next on the same day so you don’t have to lug them with you on the train.”
As well as carrying out a number of hotel inspections in Zermatt, the famil participants also had the opportunity to sample classic Swiss cuisine, in the form of a raclette and fondue dinner. This was to serve as excellent fuel for the exertions of the following day, when they headed by gondola to the Matterhorn ski area.
“I loved Zermatt,” Hill enthuses. “There are accommodation and dining options to suit every budget, and because only small, electric cars are permitted within the village, it’s easy and safe to walk around. And the skiing was amazing!”
Hill cites abundant snow, an absence of crowds and long, groomed runs as just some of the highlights of the Matterhorn ski area, which is described as the highest-altitude, largest and most efficiently-developed snow sport location in the Alps. With a year-round guarantee of snow for both skiing and snow-boarding, and more than 360 kilometres of pistes available during the winter months, Hill says it was easy to see why this resort would be a popular choice for Australians.
From Zermatt, the group travelled by train again, this time to Andermatt on the world-famous Glacier Express Panoramic Train: a journey which Hill describes as, “spectacular”.
“Andermatt itself is a work in progress, with millions having been invested in its development. Both the skiing and the on-mountain restaurants were excellent, and once it is complete it will be very impressive.”
From Andermatt, Hill continued to Engelberg and Grindelwald, where the group enjoyed more time on and off the snow, including night tobogganing, a cliff walk and a heart-stopping glider ride on Grindelwald’s “First Flyer” zipline.
“Engelberg was a gorgeous resort which is popular with locals thanks to its location, just over an hour from Zurich,” Hill explains, “while Grindelwald, just 30 minutes from Interlaken, is an equally lovely town with amazing view of the mountains and a fun après bus at the bottom of the mountain: an old bus that’s been converted to an outdoor bar.”
The famil concluded with another rail journey that returned the group to Zurich, where they had time to explore Switzerland’s largest city and reflect on all that they had seen and experienced. Hill says her time in Switzerland provided her with many insights and useful information to pass on to her clients.
“Experiencing the ease and efficiency of the Swiss rail service made me realise how easy it is to combine stays at several resorts,” she explains. “We had the most wonderful time throughout our stay in this stunning country, everything ran like clockwork and everyone we met was so friendly and helpful.”
She says she was also impressed by the high standard of the ski hire, lifts and gondolas, noting that January is an ideal time for Australians to visit: “it’s low season so flights and accommodation are good value, the snow is fabulous, and the slopes are far less crowded than in North America or Japan.”
“We had so many unique local experiences, from traditional fondue dinners to night tobogganing, a ride in a rotating gondola and ice skating in an igloo: I’m really looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned to put together amazing ski holidays for my clients.”