19 SEP 2018: Winter is coming, and that’s just fine with Swiss tourism officials, who are eager to promote the central European country’s popular ski and snow season to Canadians who might want a change from their own winter doldrums, or in Swiss marketing parlance, a chance to “upgrade your winter.”  

So what better way to get the (snow)ball rolling than an apres ski party in the offices of Switzerland Tourism in downtown Toronto, even if the thermometer was still touching the 30s (Celsius!)?

ST’s director for Canada, Pascal Prinz, donned an apron to shave and serve some coveted raclette (melted cheese), while supplier partners engaged with trade guests to impart the latest news from the alpine nation and help paint a picture of “snow covered villages, fantastic ski regions, spectacular pistes, crackling mountains, and mountain huts.”

Indeed, Canadians seem to be getting the message – and travelling in summer too – as 2018 was a record year for Canadian visitations and the best in a quarter century, while this year is already up close to five percent year over year.

But for those not who do not yet have their sights set on a ski holiday in Switzerland, the following top 10 list of “reasons to ski the alps” was unveiled:

1. Skiing in Switzerland is cheaper than you think – up to $300 less than resorts in the Rockies.

2. Warmer weather than North America with average temperatures on the slopes hovering around -6 degrees C.

3. Average vertical drops of 1220 m., meaning longer runs and less crowded lifts.

4. Charming resorts and villages with beautiful ski-in hotels.

5. Powdery, fluffy snow that lasts until spring.

6. Convenient and efficient trail maps and marking system.

7. Plenty of activities beyond skiing, including sleigh rides, snowshoeing, skating, and spa facilities at most hotels.

8. Historical villages that are part of the fabric of the ski experience, including great gourmet restaurants.

9. Switzerland is the “cradle of skiing” – where it all started 150 years ago!

10. Apres-ski is taken very “seriously,” with plenty of bars and lounges to relax after an active day on the slopes.

Prinz notes that the ski scene, and a visit to Switzerland in general, is ideal for all ages, while Alex Herrmann, director North America of Switzerland Tourism, recently stated, “The most recent increase is mainly a result of additional itineraries during the traditional off-season, such as Christmas-market themed river cruises, and a renewed interest in Switzerland as a winter destination, be it to enjoy winter sports or the cozy Swiss winter wonderland.”

IN OTHER SWISS NEWS

As of Sept. 29, thrill-seekers can board the world’s highest cable car in Zermatt. The new "Matterhorn Glacier Ride" connects Trockener Steg with the Klein Matterhorn at 3,883 m., Europe’s highest cableway station. Described as a ‘Ferrari in the air’ the new state-of-the-art lift will transport 2,000 people per hour to the Matterhorn glacier and reduce the journey time to just nine minutes

In spring 2019, the Glacier Express will launch Excellence Class, its new premium railcar class. It will offer comfortable lounge seating with a total of 20 seats and stunning views from its panorama windows. Every guest is guaranteed a window seat. The surcharge includes services such as a personal travel guide, wide array of food and tablets for on-board entertainment.

A new cable car that carries passengers up to the top of the Staubern mountain in Eastern Switzerland has become the world’s first to run on solar power. The Staubern solar-powered cable car, which was inaugurated in April, transports passengers from the Rhine Valley up to the Staubern restaurant and guesthouse at an altitude of 1,800 m., situated between St. Gallen and Appenzell, about 90 minutes from Zurich.

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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