As we all look ahead to better times, that means planning that first big winter sports trip in two years or more, reconnecting with loved ones, and making the most of the great outdoors again. As the vast Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski region gets ready to welcome back British holidaymakers to the slopes, tourism providers have been working around the clock to ensure that guests can enjoy the superb facilities across the whole Alpine area safely and hassle-free, while experiencing a welcoming and culturally enriching escape.
Now that quarantine free travel to Switzerland and France is back in full swing for the double vaccinated, and the authorities in both countries have removed most travel restrictions for UK visitors, the Portes du Soleil is the destination of choice for winter sports lovers ready to return to the pistes. Situated between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the huge ski area boasts 600km of riding and 209 lifts. What’s more, the Portes du Soleil, or ‘Gateway to the Sun’, enjoys an annual average snowfall of nearly eight metres, with the region a flurry of activity throughout the winter. The Portes du Soleil has long been a favourite with skiers from across the continent and beyond, combining excellent winter sports conditions, the best in Swiss, French and Alpine cultural experiences, and a varied and exciting gastronomic and après-ski offering across 12 distinct resorts.
A flurry of tried and tested health and safety measures were put in place across the region last year, which worked successfully and have been improved upon further, meaning visitors to the Portes du Soleil can be confident of experiencing a safe and enjoyable holiday this winter. The French and Swiss authorities are continuing to work closely with accommodation providers, restaurants, bars, and the lift companies, to ensure the wellbeing of all visitors and to enable the slopes to open on time, and to stay open as scheduled. For visitors, wearing a mask will be required in some indoor locations, in the waiting areas and on the ski lifts, with social distancing encouraged throughout the region. Hand sanitiser will be widely available, and it is recommended that holidaymakers book their ski passes online, meaning they can beat the queue. What’s more, the easy-to-use French Pass Sanitaire scheme, which is compatible with the NHS app, makes accessing venues throughout the French Portes du Soleil easy, while the NHS COVID Pass is recognised in Switzerland at locations where proof of vaccination status is required.
The region’s ski slopes are set to be in operation from early December to late April, with holidaymakers advised to check the precise opening dates of their chosen resort. For those wishing to make the most of their time on the pistes, one convenient Portes du Soleil Ski pass is available, providing access to the whole region, giving holidaymakers complete freedom to ski where and when they please. The 2021/22 prices have now gone on sale, with savvy holidaymakers urged to save money by booking their ski passes online. Adult passes booked through the website cost €55.50 per day and €42 a day for children aged 5-15 (children under five ski for free). Six-day adult online passes cost €278, while six-day passes for children cost €208. Discounts are available for those aged 16-19 and skiers aged 65 and over, with more discounts available to those that book lift passes for multiple people at one time. What’s more, further price reductions are available to those that opt for a late season ski break, with lift passes costing less for anyone hitting the slopes from 2 April onwards. For full details on these and other ski lift pass incentives, visit the dedicated ‘offers’ page on the Portes du Soleil website.
More news from the Portes du Soleil
Forest Archery: This winter, visitors to the beautiful Swiss resort of Trogon can add a new string to their bow, with a forest archery trail comprising 19 targets of varying difficulty. With expert supervision, participants walk amongst the snowy wooded canopy of the Trogon Forest, while perfecting the art of using a bow and arrow with specialist light weight equipment. The two-hour experience, which is suitable for adults and older children, provides the ideal way of exploring this enchanting location while learning a new skill. Visit: www.torgon.ch
Chéry Dôme: After the last two years, many of us are in search of peaceful and serene experiences, so what better way to make the most of the mountains than an escape to the ‘Chéry Dôme’ in the French hamlet of la Sarre near Les Gets. The extraordinary bubble accommodation, which is new to the UK market this winter, provides 360° views and is perfect for those who love the great outdoors and want to get close to mountain wildlife. With a magnificent view of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks, it is the ideal place to reconnect with nature and to experience a unique adventure under the stars. Sleeping two to four guests, the dome benefits from all mod cons including Wi-Fi, electricity, a toilet and a wood burner – perfect for those wanting to enjoy an aperitif or a delicious Savoie fondue. A night’s stay is priced from €285 / £244 for two people and includes breakfast. Visit: www.cherydome.com
Night Rider: New for this winter in the beautiful French resort of St Jean d’Aulps, adrenaline junkies can experience an 800m descent in a three-wheel kart. The mountain kart descent, which take place at night, sees dare devils take to the Roc d’Enfer ski area, in a human powered vehicle as they travel more than 4km at high velocity down the mountain. Suitable for those 1.35m and taller, the white-knuckle ride starts and ends at the cable car station and is led by an expert guide. The €32 / £27 price includes the return trip on the cable car and a full safety briefing. Visit: www.valleedaulps.com
Mountain kart descent in St Jean d’Aulps, France
Green Award: The town of Morzine-Avoriaz, with its two resorts, is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the Flocon Vert sustainability label. The recognition comes after an extensive process, lasting over a year, in which local businesses, tourism organisations and the Town Halls of both French mountain resorts submitted a joint bid. The accolade, which is awarded by the European organisation Mountain Riders, recognises destinations that demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable development policy. To date, only eight other destinations have been awarded the Flocon Vert label since its inception in 2011. The label is issued based on compliance with 20 criteria divided into four themes: local economy, social & cultural, governance & destination, and environment & natural resources. Visit: www.flocon-vert.org
Rock the Pistes returns: After last year’s edition was cancelled, the Portes du Soleil is preparing for the tenth edition of Rock the Pistes. The original music festival in the mountains and the only event of its kind with concerts on the slopes, Rock the Pistes will feature performances at an altitude of between 1,600m and 1,950m throughout the entire region. Gaëtan Roussel is already confirmed to play, with music fans from across Europe expected to descend on the Portes du Soleil 13-19 March 2022. The largest event of its kind in the Alps will comprise five live concerts and more than 30 après-ski concerts in multiple resorts, with attendees able to base themselves on the French or Swiss side of the border. Past acts have included Rag’n’Bone Man, the Klaxons and Pete Doherty, with this year’s remaining line-up being hotly anticipated. Festivalgoers can literally ski from one performance to the next, and with entry to the concerts free to lift pass holders, revellers can enjoy the freedom to party where they please. Visit: www.rockthepistes.com
Go to the Portes du Soleil
All 12 resorts in the Portes du Soleil can be easily accessed from Geneva Airport, which benefits from low cost, direct flight access from London, Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester. Return flights from London Gatwick during the upcoming winter season cost from £43 pp with EasyJet.
Ski Solutions offer a seven-night stay in the Portes du Soleil at Hotel Suisse in the charming and rustic Swiss resort of Champéry, arriving 2 January 2022, from £1,220 pp based on two adults sharing a standard room on a self-catering basis. Includes return flights from London Gatwick to Geneva and rail transfers.
Or Inghams offer a seven-night stay in the Portes du Soleil at Les Crozats Apartments in the French snow sure resort of Avoriaz 1800, arriving 8 January 2022, from £876 pp based on two adults sharing a one-bedroom self-catering apartment. Includes return flights from the UK to Geneva and airport transfers.
To plan your trip to the Portes du Soleil and for more information, please visit: