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Switzerland - is it really expensive???

 Poster: A snowHead
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Never been but often heard it's expensive. Is this really true? How does it compare to France? Interested in Verbier primarily. Also heard Swiss don't invest as much in lifts etc as Austria and France. And finally are the swiss a friendly accomodating bunch?????

Can you bust the myths?

ta very much.
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Philip Prior wrote:
Never been but often heard it's expensive. Is this really true?


no, but it's not cheap either. Swiss are more concerned with quality than price.

Philip Prior wrote:
How does it compare to France? Interested in Verbier primarily.


Verbier's not so much different from Val D'Isere really. Not espeically Swiss but nowhere in the 4V is. Good skiing, large area etc. Not my thing personally. And if prices are a concern then Verbier's pretty expensive.

Philip Prior wrote:
Also heard Swiss don't invest as much in lifts etc as Austria and France.


That's not really true, there's just not the mega stations the French go for.

Philip Prior wrote:
And finally are the swiss a friendly accomodating bunch?????


Yes, Swiss service is the best in the world.
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Expense obviously depends on the exchange rate but in general if you're used to Tignes/Val d'Isere or 3V hotel/lift pass/mountain restaurant prices then Switzerland won't feel any more expensive in my experience. I've not been to St Moritz though!

I reckon Austria is cheaper than both France & Switzerland, particularly for B&B accommodation and mountain restaurant prices, but if you haven't been to Zermatt or Verbier yet, you really should...
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Just back from Engelberg and was struck by how expensive it was to eat out. Starters £9 a pop on average, mains from about £15 - at least you can still get good pizza for about £8 Little Angel This would have been OK had the food been exceptional which it wasn't either. Also thought the level of service in restaurants was atrocious - left waiting to be seated - blatantly ignored - orders wrong etc - clear annoyance shown when asking for something in a self service restaurant that was out on the shelves, but which I could see in the kitchen. Not true everywhere but encountered enough to leave an unfortunate impression.

Strange as the service outside of restaurants was excellent at the airport, train stations, accommodation, ski-hire, lifties etc.
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Switzerland can be very expensive but it can also be amazingly cheap, buying on the a la carte list at a restaurant is going to be pricy but I've eaten a 5 course set meal in a 3 star hotel for no more than £20 that you'd have problems finding for less than double that cost in the UK, unfortunately many staff at hotels especially waiters, maids and porters are often not Swiss, typically at the moment it's Portuguese but previously Yugoslavians, Italiens and many other poorer nationalities have been used, this can result in poor service in restaurants and hotels but in general I've found that to be rare.

The Swiss in the Germanic speaking part of the country are generally a little more friendly than those in the French part when it comes to dealing with British visitors but I've never found a Swiss hotelier to be impolite and I've traveled throught most of Switzerland.

When it comes to ski areas the Swiss spend a lot of money on infrastructure but these days they rarely add lifts to open up new areas, I understand this is to do with their enviromental policies but I could be wrong, instead they upgrade existing lifts in as many places as possible.

They have an extensive efficient public transport system that works and is generally clean and comfortable to travel on

Anything else ?
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agavin, we found the service in the limited mountain restaurants we visited reasonable, although I would add that the standard of food varied greatly.

As for prices, they are comparable to London I guess but unlike London, you get what you pay for. Car hire and food tend to be particularly pricey.

I've only visited 4 Swiss resorts (Champery, Wengen, Andermatt and Engelberg) but I found that the quality of lifts varied greatly. The Portes Du Soleil and Engelberg appeared to have the most advanced lifts whereas Andermatt had the worst T-bars I've come across and very slow chairs.

D G Orf, I've had the opposite experience between the French and German Swiss but I guess it depends where you go...
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Why Verbier ?
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I wouild rate the Swiss experience as just about the best around. Don't think it particually expensive probably with the exception of Verbier which used to have a very expensive lift pass compared to, say Val D which had a more modern lift system
and appealed to the same kind of skier
The Swiss have a good idea of value IMO, they don't mind charging the money but then they don't mind giving the service.
And it is true that they are a bit conservative with new lifts but if you follow some of the French ideas of building faster bigger lifts to dispell queues then all you have done is put more people on crowded pistes further up the mountain as say, on the Grand Montet.

Verbier has world class skiing and you probably will pay for it but I can think of at least two resorts that I have been to in Switzerland recently that cover all my bases and I will be looking into a few places that I have heard of for more of the same.

The one thing that Switzerland probably doesn't do as well as, say the French, is market their resorts so overtly, which im my view is a very good thing. Everybody ends up going to Swizterland in the end and then you wonder what took you so long
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Chris Brookes wrote:
Why Verbier ?


Well, interested in that resort initially as it has a lot of kilometres and buzzing nightlife. Nightlife is not the be all and end all for my group but we want it a bit lively. We eat up quite a bit of miles aswell hence the attraction of Verbier. I know the piste map gets criticism, but at least you know that before you go.

Never done Switzerland and have been to France last two seasons and fancied a change of country. Looked at Saas Fee aswell but that has a lot less km.

Any other recommendations would be welcome.

thanks.
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Philip Prior,

The best thing about Verbier is Mont Gele IMO which was an off-piste track. Tortin is very good but the queues back made that trip a rarity for me. So the milage doesn't really stack up as anything special and I can't recall the pistes as too inspiring.
My memories were of the aforementioned Mont Gele and little old Bruson which in good snow is a delight away from the crowds.
You should get very good nightlife and the off-piste away from the beaten track gets rave reviews but if you aren't up for that I think you have lively nightlife versus pretty average piste sking.

Horses for courses but not on my list unless with a guide every day outback.
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Philip Prior where/what do you prefer ski-wise? Is France the only country you've skiied?
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Manda wrote:
Philip Prior where/what do you prefer ski-wise? Is France the only country you've skiied?


No, been to Austria, Italy and Andorra all a few times.

The initial attraction to Switzerland was it's a country we have not done. Ours is a group of high end intermedietes/advanced boarders (perhaps being a bit generous to ourselves Razz ) who love to get a lotta mileage in and spend the occasional half day in the park. Ride on piste a lot and if conditions are right most of our group can comfortably ride deep powder. Obviously being boarders we don't bother too much with mogul blacks but anything else is fair game. We luv a beer or five aswell so nightlife is a factor. Did Alpe D'Huez this season and covered the lot in a week which isn't too bad going for tea trayers.

I know the obvious choices are in France with 3V and Espace Killy, but was curious about Switzerland.

Suppose could look at Stateside for a change, but can't say I am gagging to go there. I like the european buzz and hectic disorganisation a bit Confused
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Philip, I think youll get as many different opinions as replies.

Mine, FWIW, isnt as positive as some.

In contrast to Mr Orf, I have found the French area more personal than German side.

Even in predominantly German orientated areas closer to Italy (ie Zermatt) the locals tend to consider themselves more Latin, ie favouring the Italian way of life rather than the Teutonic.

I have found that the Swiss take the attitude, "if you dont like it, dont come, we dont care."
Then again, I find that in England too.

Switz is typically more expensive than everywhere else Ive skied with the exception of parts of France (although lift passes in USA and Canada outcost even Switzerland).

£9 for a brandy and lemonade, 8 Euros for a 25cl bottle of supermarket beer (that costs 1.10 euros in the supermarket) £4 for a bottle of weissbier etc. Once youve found your feet things can be made more manageable but you cant help but go through money like water. Fine, in remote areas you can exect to pay over the odds, but if you object to being blatently overcharged then Switz might not be for you.

Swiss scenery is universally spectacular and mountain towns, such as Adelboden, do have an aura of tradition that other places see but often fail to replicate. Some towns have fabulous traditional wooden architecture, but you are never far from a plain, boring or often ugly modern building.

The quality and efficiency thing is largely a myth. Sure the trains work reliably (albeit slowly) but lifts dont always connect together well, beginner areas can go unpisted, queues do happen (on public transport and at skilifts), you might find yourself pushing along more than you imagined you would.

You wont necessarily find hotels to be as spotless as you might be lead to believe, generally they are much the same as anywhere else, which is fine, but slightly short of what the Swiss myth might suggest.

Some places,(eg Zermatt, Wengen) are "musts" on any skiers list, but to suggest, as some Trinny and Suzannahs in the prestige Swiss resorts loudly do, that "once youve been to Switz youll never go anywhere else" is dismissable piffle. (I once heard Wengen described as "a poor mans Klosters" by one skwarking idiot.)

All round, Austria ticks my own boxes for efficiency, ambiance and value, but every country has a different style and approach to skiing and its presentation and each offers emphasis in different areas of service and facilities.
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T-Dub, where did you pay £9 for a Brandy and lemonade ? That's seriously expensive Shocked Wengen hotel bar prices bor spirits are about £3.50 to £5 for a largeish measure of something like brandy, Whiskey (about the most expensive thing to drink in Switzerland supposedly) costs about £6 to £10 but that is for the equivalent of a double and they often measure out spirits by eye and are generous with their measurements, A small beer I believe costs about the same as a small bottle of fizzy drink or arround £1.75 and a large beer starts at about £3

I'll quite happily let anyone call Wengen "a poor mans Klosters" because it means all the up market windbags and royal watchers will stay in Klosters and not occupy Wengen's slopes Laughing

I've never seen the beginners slopes in Wengen go unpisted but I have seen queues on certain lifts get up to quite a size at peak season, that's ok though I just ski on runs that are not as popular on those days snowHead
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Hotel Darioli in Zermatt, the least family friendly family hotel Ive stayed in. Ferocious Frau! Small bar next to reception selling aforementionned supermarket stubbies (at equivalent of £8 a litre) chucked you out at 9.30 so they could lock reception up. Charming. £50 each a night for basic b&b. Thats the Swiss norm, but a bit of a contrast to Aviemore a month earlier where the Cairngorm Hotel was £33.50 per night and superior in every way - although not in such a tourist trap.

Usual buffet breakfast, but one little girl in our team b*llocked for taking a modest piece of cake and only eating half, instructed to take smaller piece next time! Scrambled eggs at breakfast, not an undue expectation, one would think? Available, but £3.50 extra.

Also Grampis Bar next door (most accommodating we found, ok with children early evening and massive restaurant upstairs, recommended) measured 2 centilitres (ie you need a double)of brandy 9 Sfr, 3dl of sprite 3.8 SFr ( I think some places do a deal where if you buy a bottle you get mixers free.)

Bottle of weissbeer 8 Swiss Francs everywhere in Zermatt this March except, strangely, up the Kleine Matterhorn wher it was 6.8 in the mountain cafe at Trockner Steg. Maybe the Italians who ski over wont pay Swiss prices?

17.5 SFR for a pizza, 29 for a plate of ribs.
178 SFR rail return ticket from Geneva to Zermatt

All well above Austrian costs, but not better value.

Hey ho, thats Switzerland though, and it keeps the riff raff away. Laughing

Blue towards Grindelwald from Kleine Sheidegg was in a shocking state when I was there, which surprised me.
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10 day Whistler lift passes for 2 adults and 2 teenagers came to over £1000 (actually I tell a lie as hubbys pass was for 9 days as his ski school included a 1 day pass) . Equivalent in Banff 2 years ago was a little less (about £850)
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You may have found a couple of expensives places but that's not normal. If the service in the hotel was anything like you describe you should have complained to the tourist office.
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With regard to prices, I found that Wengen this year, was comparable with prices in France, certainly no more expensive. And as T-Dub quotes, 'Wengen' is a must at some time in your skiing life, so why not start now.
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T-Dub, Should have got a Swiss transfer ticket £55 or so return 2nd class or about £80 1st class from any point of entry (border or airport) in Switzerland to your destination, get it from the Swiss tourist office or over the internet.

Wengen 3* hotel Alpenrose (My personal favorite) was charging from just under £60 to just over £90 per person per night (the most expensive being Christmas and New Year) that's Half board with a buffet breakfast (cereals, jams yoghurts plus bacon and eggs and a selection of breads and other things) and normally a five course dinner (Soup, Starter, Salad, Main course and Desert), the owner says he won't serve scrambled eggs as it's always that horrible pre made stuff and he likes to make everything fresh, I've never seen him complain about people taking too much either snowHead Bar will officially stay open till arround midnight, it often closes earlier but only if everyone has gone up to bed and I've known it stay open to almost 1 am because lots of guests were up and wanted booze snowHead

By the way the prices for the Alpenrose are the official ones and not what I pay, but I do stay there a lot Laughing There are also cheaper places to stay in Wengen and more expensive ones as well
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PhilipIf you fancy Verbier and need cheaper accommodation, think of some of the satellite resorts that make up the 4 Valleys. We have been staying in Nendaz many times over the past 20 years! There is only UK tour operator who goes there ie On the Piste. We either self-drive or fly to Geneva and the catch the train and post bus up to Nendaz takes about 2.5 to 3 hours). You can buy a cheaper area pass, the Printze, and when you go across to Verbier you pay an upgrade - this is cheaper if you go across to Verbier say no more than 3 times. Included in the Printze are the satellites of Veysonnaz (home the Piste de l'Ours GS race course), Thyon 2000, Les Collons, and Siviez. There are about 5 good agencies in the village and we usually use Interhome which has a great bookable website (5 % discount for SCGB members) . Check out www.nendaz.ch for accommodation and www.telenendaz.ch for all the info on the lifts and snow conditions. There is some nightlife in the village mainly at the Cactus Saloon - check out their website, and the ski school Neige Aventure is first class.

As has been said Switzerland ain't cheap but it is not over the top either - I have never felt ripped off there.
I am sure you will like Switzerland, it is a little more low key than France, and definitely more friendly snowHead .

Come back if you need more info.
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I went to Zermatt for the first time this year, expecting it to be expensive, and it was, but no more than Val d'Isere or St Anton IMHO. Dinner on the mountain was about the same price, and was far better quality on the most part. I didn't notice that drinks were particularly more of a rip off than any other ski resort that I've been to, overall I found it to be quite a pleasant surprise. I would definitely go to Switzerland again.
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Decent hotels in Switzerland are cheaper than the big French resorts. If you are on half board, drink is your main extra - but I did not find that outrageously priced either. If it were, you could always get plenty of carry out from the supermarket. No need to patronise poor quality hotel bars.

Mountain restaurants can be a delight compared to the French stations de skis.

I like ski holidays in Switzerland. For what they offer, they are good value in my opinion.
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opinions about Haute Nendaz vary a little Happy It's probably safe to say if you like large French stations you'll like Nendaz. If you prefer small Austrian villages then Nendaz may not be your thing.
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Philip, we went to Verbier for the first time this season and I enjoyed it a lot. I did notice that everything seemed a bit more pricey than is usual but it wasn't too bad.

I can see why opinions vary on the skiing in Verbier. We spent most of the week on itineries and had a great time - the snow in much of Tortin stayed nice even after the temperatures soared. I didn't experience the queues that JT mentioned so we were able to go up and down the Tortin as much as we liked. I'd be a little wary of taking someone who didn't want to ski itineries - as JT says the pistes aren't great.

I can't comment on the nightlife as we had our young daughter with us. It looked good from afar but then it would, wouldn't it? Smile

Service was generally very good and everyone we spoke to was exceptionally friendly. The staff in our hotel were lovely (although I believe they were mostly French!).

A great week and I look forward to going back, possibly next season.
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whats not great about the pistes then?
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My only criticism of the pistes in Verbier is that there is no area on the mountain proper for real begginers (week 1-2 ) as the nurseries are in the viallge and that can make life complicated if you're a mixed ability group. But for next season there will be a new combiuned chair/bubble lift linking Les Ruinettes with La Chaux which will make the beginner runs over in La Chaux more easily accessible for new skiers and should solve that problem. Otherwise the pistes in Verbier are fine and people shouldn't forget the Savolyeres sector which has some lovely pistes, great huts and safe and easy off piste skiing for those going beyond the poles for the first time.

The piste map has been revised and is as good as most and the entire domaine has been resigned so getting around is easy.

The night life is really varied and you can find something to suit most tastes, people are friendly and the views are stunning. My only criticism is sometimes it does feel a bit like skiing in Chelsea, all Ranage Rovers and posh english accents.
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Philip, the pistes are OK but I think it's the itineries and the off-piste that probably make the skiing.

For example, if a skier wasn't happy skiing the itineries then you lose a lot of terrain around Tortin. You also lose the means to easily ski to Nendaz and beyond - you have to get lifts down instead. It's a bit of a trek over to Veysonnaz as it is without adding more lifts to the journey.

I like Verbier and I'll definitely go back but I'd hesitate in recommending it to all my friends.

Steve Sparks wrote:
My only criticism is sometimes it does feel a bit like skiing in Chelsea, all Ranage Rovers and posh english accents.

It's weird, I didn't experience that at all (although I was expecting it). I heard relatively few English accents the whole week.
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Go 2 Wengen, I'm a convert!!!!!
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Philip I think Steve Sparks has got it about right particularly about the Savoleyres region above La Tzoumaz/Mayennes de Riddes and also the fact Verbier is a bit wasted on absolute beginners as the main slopes with the exception of La Chaux are reasonably "red" Laughing The Four Valleys ski area is very spread out so if you want to make the best of the area Siviez is a good starting place - 1x 4-man chair and a cable car or gondola and you are in Verbier. 1 x 2 man chair, 1 drag, and a T-bar and you are at the top the world cup course (piste de l'Ours) above Veysonnaz. That doesn't mean that you should stay in Siviez, which is little more than a collection of apartment blocks at the cross roads of a lift system. From Nendaz on the other hand there is a free shuttle bus from Nendaz to Siviez. You can ski over from Nendaz although to be fair the link gets a bit tenuous later in the season.

In spite of Ise's comments, who lives in Switzerland, about Haute Nendaz, I respectfully beg to differ on his opinion on Nendaz. It is true there are lots apartment blocks in the station which can scar the landscape - this is more than made up for by the wonderful panoramic views across the Rhone Valley. Most of the accommodation has been taken up by local Swiss people who have purchased the real estate for use at weekends and holidays, so although busy in the high season lift queues are acceptable. Many of the Swiss owners prefer to keep their accommodation for their own use only. There are 2 hotels in the village one of which the Sourire is not to be recommended Toofy Grin the other Le Deserteur looks OK but I have no experience of.

In my experience one of things that I like about Switzerland in general is that the self catering accommodation is much more spacious than the "rabbit hutches" that are common in France. Food and drink on the mountain certainly cost no more than France. Eating out is not prohibitive in the evening but closer in cost to better quality restaurants in the UK.

Wherever you decide to go I feel sure that you'll enjoy Switzerland and hopefully may be return as many times as we have over the past 20 years. snowHead
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Philip Prior,

If you liked ADH then Verbier should stack up against that quite well. I have skied ADH in the last few years and as it had very good conditions I liked it. I wouldn't rush back but that is because the drive was a bit to long rather than the place itself.
As regards expense Verbier is about on par with St A, VD, Zermatt etc and as they are all world class resorts command the same sort of world class prices. I do think the lift price is amongst the highest in europe though.

Tortin used to be a notorious bottleneck but hopefully it is largely sorted. To my knowledge it is still the only way back unless you 'complete' the circuit which I am not sure anyone does anymore. I would go back for the off-piste which is its biggest selling point as far as I can see but I wouldn't miss much else. But thats not to say it isn't a very worthwhile destination.
Used to be regarded as one of the top five in the world.
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JT, The old Tortin lift was replaced by a modern, eight person bubble 5 years ago and queues are now pretty rare.
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Steve Sparks,

Not surprised as they knew they had to do something about it. I was last there in '87 and they were talking about it then. So of course, my comments about Tortin are more than a bit dated. The rest about the pistes and off-piste applies still now though, I imagine. Sadly I can't get my group to go back there...!!
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JT, et al. I can vouch that queues in Verbier are very much a thing of the past. The bubble up and down from Col de Chassoure over Tortin is now very efficient and although busy in the peak season it is not the bottle-neck of old. Likewise the gondola up from Verbier village used to be a "joke" but with 2 gondolas serving the slopes, long queues are thing of the past. Also at the middle station of the ski-area at Les Ruinettes, there is an excellent people mover called the Funispace which is a cross between a cable-car and and a gondola whisking you up to Les Attelas quickly and efficiently. Yes Verbier is still fashionable with a certain section of Brits, but in my opinion, no longer with the loud ra-ra type which were typical of 15 years ago.

With the increasing popularity of France, and the evolution of many new ski resorts, Verbier must have dropped back a notch in attracting Brits (no bad thing). As I have intimated before Switzerland is perhaps waiting to be re-discovered by new up and coming younger skiers.
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IDAVID SNELL,

Quite accept they may have improved the lift system from my time there, still don't remember the pistes as being so great but in that way
a bit like St A, but then I can think of much better reasons to go to St A and Verbier anyway. I would go back quite easily but my ski buddies proably wouldn't....!!

Agree with your last comment, I have a few resorts/areas I will be visiting nest year in CH
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A bit late into this thread for what it is worth I have skied a fare bit in Switzerland over the years but less so now I tend to go with the family.
Obviously how expensive you find a country depends on how the exchange rate is at the time of your visit.
My own experience is that Swiss resorts as a whole are a little more expensive than the average elsewhere but cheaper than some of the popular French resorts esp Courchevel and Meribel, which I have found consistently expensive.
I would also say that eating out in the evening in swiss resorts tends to be pricey unless you stick to Pasta/pizza or Rosti/Kaseschnitte. If going to a hotel half board is definatlely the option to go for unless youare feeling very affluent. On the few occasions I have self catered the accomodation has been excellent.
Personally I have always found standards in Swiss hotels to be good though I would agree that Austrian resort hotels are the best I have experienced in the alps.
Personally I would recommend Switzerland to anyone not on a very tight budget, you will almost certainly get better value than in many French resorts.
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