Crans-Montana, Switzerland, a south-facing summer and winter resort high in the Alps, is located in the canton of Valais in southeastern Switzerland. The resort combines the two neighboring towns of Crans and Montana. Julius Caesar led an early group of tourists, when he invaded with his centurions. In 1896, Dr. Stephani visited Crans-Montana realized that the abundant sunshine and clean unpolluted air of the Alps was a perfect place for his tuberculosis patients, and founded a hospital for those patients. Crans-Montana has many miles of ski pistes for all levels of skiers. There are also trails for cross-country skiing, areas for snowboarders, and paths for hikers. In the summer, guests can play golf, go rafting, ride the well-marked mountain bike trails, or go walking. This internationally-known resort lived up to its reputation even during this current Covid-19 Pandemic.
MY VISIT TO CRANS-MONTANA
Swiss ski resorts were open during the Pandemic. Early Saturday morning, 20 March, I decided I wanted to ski at Crans-Montana that day. I was surprised that the resort had only a few rooms for rent. I thought the lack of rooms was because many hotels had closed during the Pandemic.
The website of the Crans-Montana tourist office (www.crans-montana.ch) offers a discounted ski pass (CHF 49.00 per day) for guests, who stay at least one night in a partner hotel. I thought that this was exactly what I wanted. I accepted the offer and reserved one of the few available rooms at the 3 star Hotel Belmont. Because I wanted to spend as much time as possible on the slopes, I did not check the hotel location, the hotel rating, or any hotel reviews. I focused on my desire to ski, not on the place where I would sleep that night.
Much to my delight, the Hotel Belmont was in the center of the Crans town and has private free parking in front of the hotel entrance. The hotel lobby was attractive but totally empty. I became nervous about the limited time remaining for skiing. I heard voices behind the restaurant door so I opened the door. One of the two people working in the restaurant, saw me with my ski clothes and my anxious face, realized who I was, and immediately came to greet me. I was impressed that he pronounced my difficult name correctly. He asked if I needed a ski pass. I said, “Yes”. He immediately gave me my ski pass, gave me a ski map, and escorted me to my room.
My room was much nicer than I expected. It was spacious with a double bed and with a huge south-facing balcony that overlooked the park and the Alps. There were no buildings spoiling the view. All I could see was pure beautiful nature.
As we were leaving the room, the man told me that I should quickly go to the ski bus stop since the bus was leaving for the slopes in a few minutes. He also explained that the ski bus stop was around the corner of the hotel, that I should leave the ski bus at the next stop, and that I should take the ski lift called Crans. I looked at him with a question on my face about check-in procedures. The man immediately understood my unasked question and told me that I can check-in later and that I must rush to take the next ski bus. This personal service is an example of how hotels should anticipate the needs of their guests.
I rushed with my skis to the ski bus stop. The ski bus had not yet arrived, so I decided to study the ski map while I waited. In front of the ski bus stop, there was a shop called Rando. A man, standing outside this shop, was watching me. I suspected that he realized that I was new to the area, so he offered his assistance. I admitted that this was the first time I was in Crans-Montana and I had no idea which ski slope was best for me. He took a good look at my skis, disappeared into the shop, and reappeared with a special map for ski randonnée. He was an employee of that shop, which specializes in ski randonnée. I could not believe my luck since I prefer ski randonnée and have specialized ski randonnée equipment. Everything was falling into place nicely. I thanked the man and got on the arriving ski bus.
There were only a few people on the ski lifts and on the top of the mountain. It was a fantastic experience for me to visit such a scenic and vast ski area without crowds of people. The snow was excellent. Most ski pistes face south and are protected from the cold north winds. Crans-Montana has 140 kilometers of wide and well-maintained ski pistes. I thoroughly enjoyed skiing on these pistes. Despite the fact that Crans-Montana has a huge skiing area with many ski lifts and many ski pistes, I discovered that it was easy to navigate my way around the area because the entire area is designed well and the pistes are marked well.
Thanks to my special map for ski randonnée, I could ski off-piste as well. There were several other skiers also skiing off-piste.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the skiing I had done during the day, and decided to ski down the mountain to the bottom. At the bottom, I saw that many people walk through the village wearing their ski boots. So, I decided to walk to the Hotel Belmont, which was only a few minutes walk away. I did not need to take the ski bus.
The hotel restaurant did not open until 19:00. Since it was early, I decided to explore the village. I changed into warm comfortable clothes and boots and started exploring. I was relaxed and not in a rush. The sunset hour in Crans-Montana was magic. That is the only word that describes the atmosphere. High mountain peaks, which totally surround the village, turn from bright and shiny white, into rose, and finally into saturated pink. What a beauty!!
If you like shopping, you will enjoy Crans-Montana. The main street has many well-known shops, such as Rolex, Cartier, Hermes, and Prada. I must admit that it felt special being surrounded by such luxury.
I walked between two buildings onto a park and discovered that the park was a golf course. The golf course had bridges, many romantic benches under the trees, and endless walking trails. I could enjoy all these things while surrounded by the picturesque mountains.
After the sunset, I walked to my hotel and noticed that the park in front of my balcony had a path with vintage lanterns. It was romantic to walk on the path with the dimmed light of those lanterns.
When I entered the restaurant that evening, the man immediately recognized me and escorted me to my table at a huge window with a breathtaking panorama of many mountains. The dinner was preset with two choices for each meal. It was an entrée, a salad, a main course and a desert. The evening meal was excellent and cost only CHF 35.00. Additionally, the service was much better and much more refined than one normally finds at many 3 star hotels.