The Essential Skiing Guide: Switzerland

Most of Switzerland's resorts are traditional villages accessible by efficient rail and bus services from its airports.

They also offer the most spectacular scenery in world skiing. However, thanks to the success of winter sports here, most village resorts have grown beyond all recognition. Some, such as Grimentz, have remained largely unspoilt, while other bigger resorts have suffered from ugly concrete constructions.

Large lift-served verticals and high-altitude, snow-sure resorts are the norm in Switzerland. Zermatt operates Europe's highest ski lifts at nearly 3,900m (12,795ft) and is one of only two resorts worldwide that endeavours to open its snow slopes 365 days a year.

Switzerland has a reputation for being expensive, yet costs fluctuate above and below the price of comparable holidays in the eurozone according to the exchange rate of the Swiss franc. And the country offers the best value for family lift tickets because children don't pay until age nine in many resorts, or go for half price to the age of 16 or 18. Some other countries charge children from four years old, climbing to the full adult price by the age of 12 or 13.

Did you know?

The world's first winter sports holidays took place in St Moritz in 1864.

If you visit Davos from 26 to 30 January 2011 you might find yourself rubbing skis on the slopes with famous politicians during the annual World Economic Forum.

All Swiss ski resorts can be reached easily, and without stress, on services from Geneva and Zurich airports.

The Brits festival of UK snowsports and music is staged each spring in Laax, this season from 20 to 27 March with Pendulum headlining (britishsnowtour.com/the-brits).

St Moritz has polo matches and horse races to watch on its frozen lake, a toboggan run that's officially the world's biggest ice sculpture, and the quintessentially British Cresta Run, which is still gentlemen only.

Cross-border ski areas open up Austria from Samnaun, Italy from Zermatt, or France from Champéry.

Best resorts for novices

Arosa (00 41 81 387 7020; arosa.ch); Champéry (00 41 24 479 2020; champery.ch); Crans Montana (00 41 27 485 0404; crans-montana .ch); Engelberg (00 41 41 639 7777; Engelberg.ch); Saas Fee (00 41 27 958 1858; saas-fee.ch).

For intermediates

Grindelwald (00 41 854 1212; grindelwald.ch); Laax (00 41 81 927 7001; laax.com); Les Diablerets (00 41 27 4923358; Diablerets.ch); Samnaun (00 41 81 868 5858; samnaun.ch); St Moritz (00 41 81 837 3333; engadin.stmoritz.ch).

For experts

Adelboden (00 41 6738080; adelboden.ch); Davos (00 41 81 4152121; davos.ch); Disentis (00 41 81 920 4030; disentis-sedrun.ch); Verbier (00 41 27 775 3888; verbier- st-bernard.ch); Zermatt (00 41 27 966 8100; Zermatt.ch).

For families

Grimentz (00 41 27 475 1493; grimentz.ch); Leukerbad (00 41 27 472 7171; leukerbad.ch); Nendaz (00 41 27 289 5589; nendaz.ch); Villars (00 41 24 495 3232; villars.ch); Wengen (00 41 33 855 1414; myjungfrau.ch).

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