Travelers are returning in droves to their favorite familiar—and bucket-list—destinations. Often, that means adventures in the great outdoors. Your clients may be planning a fabulous vacation as a holiday gift for family and friends. And a handcrafted ski vacation in Switzerland may be the perfect gift!
While you are helping your clients check things off their holiday gift lists, you might want to buy yourself a present! The gift of education is the ultimate in self-care because it contributes greatly to a happy and profitable future. The Travel Institute has launched its annual Season of Giving opportunity, featuring tuition assistance of 20% off its most popular courses, and is offering a special three-course bundle rate for Northern, Central, and Southern Europe specializations.
The following excerpt is from the Switzerland chapter of our Central Europe Specialist Course.
Hot Spots for Cold Fun
Switzerland is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe and is endowed with magnificent scenery, attracting thousands of visitors interested in winter sports and activities. In fact, the mountain resort towns, including St. Moritz and Davos, are among the most famous in the world.
Bern, the Swiss capital, is a charming city situated on the Arne River and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The high country above the city is called the Berner-Oberland (Bernese Highland), which boasts three of Switzerland’s most celebrated peaks: the Eiger, the Mönch, and the Jungfrau. This area, perhaps more than any other, has put Switzerland on the tourist map.
Interlaken, between lakes Thun and Brienz, serves as a good base for exploring the area. Nearby is the chic resort of Gstaad—where skiing can be enjoyed year-round—and the popular resort Grindelwald—nicknamed Glacier Village. The village is surrounded by the towering peaks of Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn, and countless others.
In the western portion of Switzerland lies Valais. The Alps are a long chain of glittering icy peaks stretching along the border between Italy and Switzerland. On a slope above the Rhône Valley is Crans-Montana, a chic all-season resort that is a haven for film stars and other luminaries.
To the east is Zermatt. It lies at the foot of one of the world’s legendary mountains, the Matterhorn, whose horn-shaped summit is the dominant landmark of this Alpine region. One immensely popular activity is taking the cogwheel mountain railway to Gornergrat, a route offering spectacular views of the Matterhorn and the peaks surrounding the Monte Rosa, Switzerland’s highest peak.
Among the chief delights in Switzerland is the scenic and historic Glacier Express rail trip from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Along this route is the lovely city of Chur, which offers direct connections to many of the ski resorts in eastern Switzerland, including Flims and Arosa.
Arguably the most famous resort in Europe, St. Moritz has been a retreat for the rich and famous for years. It offers bobsledding, ski jumping, the Cresta sled run, skating, and, of course, fabulous skiing. The St. Moritz spa is famous for its soothing mineral springs.
Davos-Dorf and Davos-Platz at the end of the Davos Valley are twin resorts; each is noted as a health spa and ski center. Davos has one of the largest skating rinks in Europe, two ski schools, and outstanding ski runs. Davos also is the highest city in Europe.
More Insider Tips from Our Team
One of The Travel Institute’s own team members—Suzanne Connor, CTC—recently traveled to Switzerland with her family and shares these tips:
- The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise near Zermatt is a must-do! It includes a glacier palace with a restaurant, lounge, and an observation platform where visitors can take in the breathtaking view of 38 mountain peaks and 14 glaciers.
- Because of the proximity of the Swiss Alps to the bordering countries, many skiers and hikers find it easy—and fun!—to ski into Italy or France just for lunch.
- On-slope dining is a major part of the ski scene in Zermatt because of the abundance of world-class restaurants there. But, because of the high demand, it is important to make your clients’ dining reservations as early as possible.
- Many North Americans buy the Ikon Pass—a multi-resort ski/snowboard season pass—for their favorite local ski destinations (e.g., Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont or Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia). But these winter-adventure clients also can use their passes in popular European ski resorts in Zermatt Matterhorn, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France), and the Dolomiti Superski region (Italy).
Thank you for your wonderful insider insights, Suzanne!