(1500m - 3000m)
If you love cruising, enjoying skiing in the sun and want a mixture of open and wooded runs then Crans Montana is hard to beat. With mile after mile of red runs (some of which however would be classified as blue runs in other resorts), this is a true intermediates paradise. There is also a glacier to explore at 3000m. Be warned however, all that sun can play havoc with the snow on the south facing slopes.
Resort at a glance
|Ski Range||1500m – 3000m|
Crans Montana actually comprises of two villages, Crans and Montana. From both villages there is a gondola that takes you to the Cry d’Er sector. From here there are numerous red runs that give you access to the whole of the mountain. There are also a few gentle blue slopes here that are ideal for beginners to progress on to. Red runs also go right back down to both villages.
From Cry d’Er red runs also go down to Barzettes. From here a gondola whisks you up to Les Violettes. Once again this area is predominantly red runs. At the top of this area a cable car takes you up to the glacier at at Plaine Morte, where there is a lovely long red run. At Les Violettes there are a few black runs to be tackled but this does not add up to much mileage. At mid mountain there is a chair from this sector that takes you back over to Cry d’Er.
From Les Violettes the final area, Aminona can be accessed via a blue or red run. This area tends to be less busy so may well be worth a visit. These slopes are mainly set in a wooded area which is served by gondola.
The apres ski in Crans Montana is fairly laid back compared with other resorts, many visitors choose to shop or to indulge in the wellness facilities rather than party straight off the slopes, but there are plenty of bars to visit if you choose - most of which come alive fully after 9pm.
Popular venues include the Cuban Punch Bar serving a large choice of cigars, Bar 1900, The Senso Bar, The New Pub with its pinball and large TV screens, the lively George and Dragon and of course the Dutch-run Zerodix which is next to the gondola base station.
There is also Zapata - a Mexican bar with delicious cocktails, the wine bar Postillon, Monki’s, Amadeus Bar, and Constellation which has a huge range of electronic games to keep you amused.
There are also a few nightclubs in Crans Montana that get going late such as Le Pacha Club, Harry’s Club and Chez Dominique to name a few, Bar Absolute is also open late and there is even a disco every Friday night at the open air ice rink for something a little different.
There is a huge variety of dining out options in Crans Montana offering everything from traditional Swiss fayre, to Italian and Spanish, Chinese and Thai, Portuguese, Turkish and even Lebanese. There really is something for all tastes here but prices can be expensive so do check before ordering.
Obviously the traditional Swiss food here is outstanding, the variety of cheeses, meats and wines are extremely yummy and of course don’t forget the chocolates. Traditional restaurants include the wonderful Restaurant des Alpes at the Hotel Guarda Golf, the posh Le Greni, La Dent Blanche, La Desalpe and Les Vignettes.
Asian food can be found at Dun Huang, La Poste and Le Thai du Pouchkine, Spanish and Italian can found found at Marquise, Las Tapas, Restaurant Giardino at the Hotel Guarda Golf, Le Vieux Moulin and Chez Dominique to name but a few.
For something more unusual then do try Le Baalbeck which offers Lebanese cuisine or Chez Chicco Parilla for Argentine food.
Fine dining and gourmet food can be sampled at Le Relais at the Grand Hotel du Golf and Palace, the Caviar House and Prunier and Le Savoy. A few restaurants in Crans Montana are listed in the Gault Millau guide - The Cafe Cher Mignon, the restaurant at the Pas de l’Ours Hotel and Le Mont Blanc restaurant at Le Crans.
As more people visit Crans Montana to do things other than skiing or boarding, the resort is very well equipped with things to do off the slopes with a wide range of activities to keep you occupied.
You can of course find the usual winter themed activities such as snowbiking, snow shoeing, ice skating and ice hockey, curling, dog sledding, tubing and tobogganing. There is also a casino in the resort along with a cinema and bowling too. If you are a horse riding fan then a short distance from the resort is Le Centre Equestre de Montana - a year round horse riding centre and visits to Sierre and Sion are possible too.
Shopping is big in Crans Montana with over 150 shops offering everything from stylish designer boutiques, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Bulgari, to cigar shops, chocolate shops and those selling cheese, wine, caviar and also Swiss watches too. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far then window shopping can be fun.
There are also quite a few wellness centres in resort including those at the Hotel Etrier and Hotel Art de Vivre, there is also the Dabliu Beauty Farm too.
Crans Montana hosted the 1987 World Championships and therefore is fully geared up for further winter sports events, it does regularly host some of the World Cup events and in 2012 the City Ski Championships will be held here too. Other events throughout the season include the Swiss Curling Championships, the Defi des Faverges - a ski mountaineering race and the Swiss R Project - a snowboard freestyle competition. Crans Montana also has its own snowgames too along with the Caprices Festival - a pop rock event.
There are quite a few schools in Crans Montana offering tuition in both skiing and boarding to all ages and abilities. The Swiss Ski School offers group lessons from CHF 225 for 5 mornings, with private lessons from CHF 70 per hour, they also do weekend courses for kids and freestyle and off piste lessons too.
The Ski and Sky School offer private tuition, lessons start from SF 70 per hour with SF 10 extra per additional person, with a morning (3 hours) being SF 230, they also do tandem paragliding flights too starting from SF 150.
Swiss Mountains Sports offer tuition in skiing and snowboarding, they also do race clinics, heli skiing, snowshoeing and more. Group lessons here are called ‘adult modules’ but no prices are shown for them at this stage. Private lessons start from CHF 55 per hour and there is a special ‘happy hour’ session most days between 2.30 - 4.30pm where it costs from CHF 120 per person.