Escaping the city can be tough. At My Swft we appreciate that any time off work is invaluable, which means making the most of our weekends and our precious holiday allowance. So to help you all escape the city, we’ve put together your ultimate guide to short-break skiing. So you can be happy, and ski more
The ski addicts among us know that sometimes, the call of the mountains just becomes too much. Top of the list of considerations when planning a short trip is therefore maximising slope-time – which means short transfer times and convenient, late night flights. If you're only in the mountains for a few days, you want to be skiing on the arrival day and the departure day.
Next up - accommodation; which hotels are willing to break the saturday-changeover mould and permit a midweek arrival? Your best chance lies in focussing on hotel-heavy resorts in the quieter months of January and March.
Here’s a summary of our favourite weekend and short-break winter resorts.
The classic weekend ski destination, Chamonix is perfectly placed to host a short-break trip up the slopes. Set beneath the stunning cliffs and glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif, Chamonix is a charming ski town positioned just over an hour (roughly 100km) from Geneva Airport and it has a host of hotels geared up for short stays. The centre of town is now traffic-free and bustles with cafés, bars, restaurants and shops.
Having hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924, Chamonix is considered by many to be the birthplace of alpine skiing and it’s a mecca for all things snow sports. The resort is spread across various ski areas stretching the length of the valley, each offering something for skiers of all abilities. To really maximise your time on the slopes and to offer maximum flexibility in resort, a rental car is the best option although there are plenty of available transfers from Geneva Airport to Chamonix.
Morzine gives you easy access to the 650km of slopes in the Portes du Soleil ski area, which spans the French-Swiss border, and is just an 85km drive from Geneva Airport. Although the transfer is short, pick your accommodation carefully as Morzine is large and spread out, with a somewhat confusing shuttle bus service. The best option is to stay in the centre of town, giving you easy access to lifts towards both Les Gets and Avoriaz as well as the lively nightlife, which carries from après right through to the early hours.
Portes du Soleil really does have the variety of slopes to suit all abilities, from the Super Park and the infamous Swiss Wall in Avoriaz to the quieter, more beginner friendly pistes in Les Gets. A great option for mixed-level groups in search of a weekend ski-trip.
Although it isn’t strictly a ski resort, the former Olympic city of Innsbruck probably offers the most convenient skiing in Europe. It has its own airport that is relatively well served with international flights, including BA and easyJet, and the small yet challenging Innsbruck-Nordpark ski area is reachable via a 25-minute funicular ride from the old town. If you’re looking for more varied slopes, Innsbruck is surrounded by nine ski resorts, including the Stubai glacier, Igls and Seefeld, each of which is served by a free shuttle bus from the city.
Finding a hotel in the Alps that will take bookings of less than a week is often the most difficult task in organising short ski trips, however, that’s not a problem here as the city offers a huge choice of accommodation. The medieval town also makes for a lively base, with more bars, restaurants and shops than any ski resort out there.
Saas Fee, Switzerland
Saas-Fee is a captivating and enticing resort – likened to a miniature Zermatt without the obvious and sometimes in your face consumption. The resort is full of Swiss charm and the snow is incredibly reliable, with most of the ski area at an altitude between 2500m and 3500m, and a glacier that’s open nine months of the year. The downside for week-long trips is that the slopes are slightly more limited than the more famous Swiss resorts, with only 150km of pistes, but that’s plenty of skiing for three or four days for even the hardiest of skiers.
The slight downside for short-breaks here is the three-hour rail transfer from Zurich or Geneva. However, this winter you can cut this down to just 70 minutes by flying to Sion with the new skiers’ airline Powdair, from Southampton, Luton, London City, London Southend, Bristol, Manchester, Antwerp or Zurich.