A-Z of resorts: Davos

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The Independent Travel

Switzerland's "Magic Mountain" claims it was the first village in the Alps to turn itself into a ski resort, although it had been popular as a health resort long before the skiers arrived. These days, the conference clientele fills as many rooms as the tourists.

Davos is famous for the sheer vastness of its ski areas. In recent years it has become infamous for the queues waiting to reach them; at peak holiday times these are among the worst in the Alps. The problem is the connection from the village up the Parsennbahn funicular. This winter, though, a new chairlift linking with the funicular will ease congestion further up the mountain.

But once the ordeal of reaching the mountain is over, there are 200 miles of pistes to explore, enough to suit skiers of all levels. The main Parsenn area extends from the Weissfluhjoch above Davos Dorf to Gotschnagrat above Klosters. The Strela area starts at Schatzalp, and is connected to the Parsenn by a series of lifts and a cable car. On the Jakobshorn, across the valley, skiers are usually outnumbered by snowboarders.

Apart from the queues, the only other possible drawback to skiing in Davos is Davos itself. The village is more than three miles long, a feature worth bearing in mind when you are booking a hotel. The smartest option, putting you ahead of the crowds when it comes to getting up the mountain, is to follow the example of the early visitors. The Berghotel Schatzalp, at the top of the Schatzalp lift, was once a sanatorium, and was the setting for Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain. In these healthier days it provides luxury accommodation for skiers. You can book on 00 41 81 415 5151, or visit www.schatzalp.ch.

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