6 Day Switzerland Ski Trip — March, 2012

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The Swiss Alps are legendary for beautiful scenery, chic resorts and the most varied skiing in the world. Here are some tips for making your trip one to remember.

Depart: Washington, DC on the evening of March 3 and arrived in Geneva, Switzerland the next morning
Return: Left Geneva on the morning of March 11 and arrived at JFK later that afternoon

Our itinerary: Three days skiing in Crans-Montana (a magnificent ski resort in southwestern Switzerland) and two days in Verbier. We loved it so much we went back for one more day in Crans-Montana.

It’s probably not worth it, price-wise, to carry skis all the way to Europe. Just bring your boots and rent skis there. The skis for rent were great and made life a lot easier for traveling.

If you can, definitely rent a car. It made it much easier in getting from town to town. Give Auto Europe a try for a great selection of cars, including luxury vehicles. The train is fairly limited in terms of where you can go and when it travels. A car was extremely useful in getting between Crans and Verbier.

Make sure you plan to get a mountain guide in Verbier. It was well worth the money and very much needed in order to truly see the mountain and everything it had to offer.

Where to Stay
Breathtaking views and impeccable service make Le Crans one of the best hotels in the region. It’s a bit like having your own personal chalet in the Alps. The hotel restaurant, LeMontblanc, serves exceptional food and has an extensive wine list.

In Verbier, Le Chalet d’Adrien offers ski in/ski out service and charming, comfortable rooms with fireplaces.

Where to Eat in Verbier
For lunch, Fer a Chaval is a relaxed place with good pizza. It’s also a traditional stop for après-ski, with most of the clientele still dressed in their ski pants. Daily specials are also good and cheap for the area.

A bit off the beaten path, La Marlenaz is a hidden gem. Delicious food with a great view from the terrace.

If you’re tired of raclette and fondue, give Nomad Sushi a try. The sushi is fresh and delicious, but it’s often packed.

The best restaurant in Verbier — and probably the best restaurant in the whole country — is Le Restaurant Pierroz in Hotel Rosalp. The food is light and modern with many locally-sourced specialties. Extremely pricey and reservations are required.

Where to Eat in Crans Montana

Cafe Cher-Mignon has a fun pub-like atmosphere and delicious food. Can be a bit noisy and rowdy as it’s one of the area’s most popular eateries. Not actually in town, you’ll need to drive here.

You might not think of the Swiss Alps as a great place for Thai food, but Le Thai is a must-visit. Fun and modern atmosphere. The place is small so make your reservation in advance.

Partly named for its location at an altitude of 2006 meters, Amadeus 2006 is the perfect stop for lunch after a morning on the slopes. Enjoy a cheeseburger or panini while you take in the amazing views.

Heli-Ski Trip in Canada

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Powder snow, stunning mountain terrain, long descents — all with a trained guide and a helicopter to take you there and back. There’s nothing in the world quite like heli-skiing in the Canadian wilderness. Plus, the food, drink and fun are amazing when you get back to the lodge.

Depart: San Francisco Day 1 and fly into Spokane or Castlegar, Canada
Return: Spokane or Castlegar, Canada to San Francisco

We booked our stay and heli-ski package through Snowwater Lodge, perched high in the Selkirks and accessible only by snowcat, snowmobile or helicopter. The lodge books just 12 guests at a time but boasts every creature comfort you’ll need for the best “getting away from it all” trip ever.

Snowwater is accessible by either flying to Spokane or into Castlegar, Canada, which the locals call “Cancelgar” because the flights get cancelled so often. If the skiing is any good — meaning it’s been snowing — chances are you’ll get redirected to Spokane. You can only fly there privately and it defeats the point if you have to re-route, but many Snowwater guests just fly into Spokane and rent a car for the 3-hour drive north.

As you can imagine with its remote location, the skiing here is simply incredible. There is plenty of steep terrain, and even without new snow in a couple of weeks you can still find knee-deep powder. If the weather is clear, you can also make it to the Valhalla Powdercats which is very worthwhile, and the highlight of any trip there.

Even if you’re a seasoned skier, you’re going to get sore. Thank God the Lodge has an excellent massage therapist on staff. Book massages early so you can get a key spot. Many in our group didn’t book early only to find them completely booked up. You’ll need one every night after skiing — you don’t think you’ll need it ahead of time, but you will!

And lastly, bring plenty of Advil or your pain reliever of choice. Not only will you get pretty sore from skiing but hungover from the unlimited supply of alcohol! Especially on your last night at the Lodge — trust me, you’ll have so much fun the hangover is worth it.