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Crans-Montana, Switzerland

When conditions are right – clear skies above fresh, deep snow – Crans-Montana takes some beating. The mountains you bounce down with the midday sun full on your face are charmingly scenic, the slopes broken up by rock outcrops and forest. The mountains you gaze at – Zermatt’s Matterhorn just discernible among them – are mind-blowing. When conditions are right, mountain-lovers may forgive Crans-Montana anything – in particular, its inconvenient, linear layout and the plain, towny style of its twin resort centers.

Sadly, conditions are more often wrong than right. Except in the depths of winter, the strong midday sun quickly bakes the slopes. For someone booking six months ahead, this is enough to keep Crans-Montana off the shortlist. For those who can time a visit according to the weather – and are more interested in impressive distant views than cozy immediate surroundings – the resort is worth serious consideration.

What’s Great

  • Large slope area suitable for all, except if you prefer black runs
  • Splendid wooded setting with magnificent panoramic views
  • Fair number of woodland slopes – good for bad weather
  • Modern, well-designed lift system, with few liftlines
  • Golf course provides excellent, gentle beginner slopes
  • Very sunny slopes (but see right)
  • Excellent cross-country trails

What’s Not-So-Great

  • Snow badly affected by sun except in early season
  • Large town (rather than village) composed partly of big chalet-style blocks but mainly of dreary cubic blocks – and therefore entirely without Alpine atmosphere
  • Bus or car rides to lifts from much of the accommodation
  • Not many challenging slopes
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