A new black and a Sunnegga Express upgrade in Zermatt
Last weekend, Zermatt tourist board unveiled a host of changes for the coming two seasons, mindful of the need to keep attracting British skiers and snowboarders put off by that the ever-strong Swiss Franc.
Brits are the second-most important foreign tourists to Switzerland, but thanks to the exchange rate (at 1.51CHF to £1, according to xe.com, better than it has been but still weak) the number of hotel nights booked by Brits in Switzerland has been down by 30 per cent since 2009.
A new run, an upgrade to the Sunnegga Express, free skiing for beginners and a revamped First Tracks programme and are all part of the plans unveiled by Zermatt, which, despite the expense, remains an enduring favourite among the Brits and staff of Where to Ski and Snowboard.
A new, steep black run will open this season, from the top of the Schwarzsee, itinerary 59 will run directly under the Furggengrat, featuring a 65 degree pitch in one section.
For those wanting to make the most of the fresh powder, the Fresh Tracks programme now incorporates a post-ski breakfast in the Swiss chalet-style restaurant Les Marmottes.
For an extra 33CHF (£22) skiers and snowboarders can take the Trockener Steg at 7.40am, nearly an hour before the lifts open at 8.30am. The price includes breakfast at Lest Marmottes, after which you can ski directly down to Furi.
And in the Wollipark Beginner Park on Sunnegg, children up to the age of nine can ski for free every day of the week, with children under 16 skiing and boarding for free on Saturdays.
Next season, journeys up to the Rothorn will be more improved with the replacement of the Sunnegga funicular. A wider tunnel has already been dug for the new funicular, which will be more spacious and larger, with an additional two carriages. New tracks will be laid next summer, with the new, faster funicular opening on 15 June 2013.
And while you’re riding the lift system, Zermatt will become even more user-friendly this winter, with the launch of a new, free audio system — in the shape of an MP3 player — this winter to give visitors “insider, local tips” while they travel. Even more fun for the kids.