With more and more new and repeat travellers heading to Switzerland for the ski season each year, Switzerland Tourism is introducing fresh products and creating inspiration to encourage visitors to see and experience different parts and activities offered throughout the country. During the 2017/18 winter season alone (between November-April), the number of Australian visitor numbers increased 10.8%.
Research shows many visitors to Switzerland prefer to stay in one or two destinations and ski the various slopes in the same resort. But new itineraries are being developed which encourage travellers to explore almost the length of the country, including visits to popular resorts and lesser-known villages.
Agents with ski clients can direct their clients to the Glacier Express Ski Safari route which combines cross-country skiing and a premium panoramic train journey in one. In essence, for both time-poor or time-rich clients, they can now consider combining skiing some of the best and lesser known resorts in Switzerland that are along one of the world’s most scenic train journeys in the one itinerary.
The Glacier Express Ski Safari features the world’s slowest express train ride, and is a thoroughly impressive and thrilling 5-day itinerary close to the heart of Bjoern Daehlie, the world’s most successful cross-country skier. With 46 world championship victories and 12 Olympic medals under his belt, Daehlie still skis this Glacier Express Ski Safari to this day, visiting long-time friends along the way.
Starting at the glitzy and glamorous resort of St Moritz, the origin of winter tourism, this is a world famous Alpine destination for the rich and royal jet-setters. The ski safari here covers the fairytale-like Stazerwald forest, the stunning ross-country trail to the Morteratsch Glacier and across vast frozen lakes. For an extended stay to include more activities, agents can advise their clients of the prestigious Snow Polo and White Turf horse race that take place in at the of January and February respectively.
Davos, where Daehlie won most of his World Championship races, is the next destination on the safari. Home to the Spengler Cup, the World Economic Forum and Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain”, Davos is reachable on the daily Glacier Express, where the get-off point is Albula. The train ride between St Moritz and Albula meanders through icy glaciers, along the untouched snow-capped wonderland and across the elegant Landwasser Viaduct, part of the Albula/Bernina UNESCO World Heritage Route.
Day three on the Glacier Express Ski Safari takes place in Andermatt, but not before the train traverses the Oberalp Pass, the highest point of the journey at 2,044 asl. With a 30% increase in beds, Andermatt, the Pearl of the Gotthard caters also links up with Sedrun, giving cross-country skiers a more enjoyable experience.
Next, the journey continues from Andermatt through the Urserental Valley and Furka Tunnel to Oberwald and finally to Goms, the undisputed cross-country Mecca. Skiers will enjoy the special feature of the Goms trail, which is that it links about 12 picturesque villages all the way from Oberwald to Niederwald, and almost every village has a stop on the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway (MGB).
The final stop on the Glacier Express is the car-free resort of Zermatt, home of the world’s most photogenic mountain, the Matterhorn, just two hours from the valley of Goms. With an extensive area of 360km of pistes, skiers and visitors will no doubt be bowled over by this landscape that boasts nearly 40 4000m peaks.
First time skiers shouldn’t feel left out on this experience as there are ski classes at every resort, including those featured on the Glacier Express Ski Safari, including St Moritz, Davos, Andermatt and Zermatt.
For a comprehensive list of options and experiences, agents can refer to Learn to Ski for ideas. To help agents sell first ski experiences to their clients, this video showcases what first-timers can expect and look forward to in Switzerland.
Bookings on the Glacier Express can be organised through SkiMax Holidays – more details HERE.