Family Friendly Skiing: Elm
Where do you think of first when you hear the words Switzerland and snow? Most would think of Zermatt and its Matterhorn, or St. Moritz and Verbier.
But there is more to the winter time here in Switzerland than famous resorts. There are many possibilities to enjoy the snow around almost every corner and it can feel overwhelming when trying to decide where the best place is for your family to enjoy the snow. So most people stick to what they know.
Why not discover something new this winter? It’s time to finally simplify all those choices and discover resorts you may not of tried or even heard of yet. And the best thing is, you’ll be getting advice straight from other families just like you.
Simple Family Travel has taken the summer series “My Badi” and winterised it!
Each week during the winter we will discover where people who actually live in Switzerland like to spend their winter days with their families. You’ll discover the best way to get there, which skiing abilities the area caters to, where to rent skis and which restaurants to try. And we won't forget the non-skiers either!
First up is Tanya from Moms Tots Zürich. Tanya has been exploring Switzerland for the past 12 years with her 2 kids in tow and is the “go-to" for all things hiking. She is an knowledgable outdoor enthusiast and I couldn’t think of anyone more suited to kick off our 2017/18 series.
1. Where is your favourite place to ski?
Our family loves Elm in Glarnerland, about an hour south of Zurich. We like it because it has good terrain for families with wide open runs and it has more affordable lift passes for families and is much less crowded than the bigger resorts.
2. What’s the best way to get there? What’s the parking like? Train Station/Bus Stop close by?
Elm is easily accessible by car or public transportation. Parking is free, but can fill up by 10:00 on sunny weekends, when you’ll have to take a shuttle from the overflow parking. The public bus drops directly in front of the cable car station.
(Take the hourly S25 from Zürich to Schwanden and take the bus directly to the gondola station Elm-Ämpächli.)
3. What ability does the area cater for?
Elm is best for beginners to advanced intermediate. There are a lot of fun off-piste areas next to the groomed runs, so the more advanced skiers in the family can enjoy more challenging terrain while still skiing next to their children or siblings on the easier groomed run. There is some steeper, more challenging terrain accessed from the back chair lift, but probably not enough to satisfy very experienced skiers.
4. Is there a ski school? What facilities are there for beginners?
There is a ski school on site associated with the resort. They use a large enclosed area for beginners, with magic carpets and a short mild slope. Adjacent to this, you’ll find a T-bar lift for beginners that goes up a slightly longer, slightly steeper slope but still appropriate for beginners. The chair lift leaves from the same location, heading up to runs suited for advanced beginners and beyond.
5. Best place to rent skis nearby?
There is a ski rental shop in the parking area, which we used once when we forgot some of our equipment at home. Very convenient, but of course, the prices are higher than renting at a big sports shop in the city.
6. Anything for non skiers to do? Sledding/Snow shoeing/Winter Trails?
They have a great 4km sled run from the top of the cable car down to the parking lot. You can pay for a single run, multi-pack, or day pass. Sleds are available for rental at the cable car station. There are many winter walking trails, both on the mountain and in the valley. There is also a cross-country skiing trail in the valley.
7. Best place to warm up? Anything yummy we should try on the menu?
We keep lunch pretty simple, usually just visiting the main self-service café near the cable car, with typical Swiss fare and amazing views. There are a couple smaller huts on the mountain serving food, which we need to try this year. We also like that they have a covered picnic area with tables and benches if you want to save a few francs and bring your own lunch.
8. What sets your ski area apart from the rest?
We love the hammocks at the top of the back chair lift. On nice days, we like to bring a picnic lunch up there, enjoying beautiful views while we swing in the sun.
9. What’s one thing you never hit the slopes without?
I also bring an extra pair of ski gloves for each kid and switch out at lunch time when the first pair is soaked. No kid is happy with cold wet hands. Also I always have a pack of sour gummy worms in my pocket to cheer up my kids when they get tired and frustrated.
10. Tanya, tell us a bit about yourself
Our family comes from California and has lived in Zurich for the past 12 years, hiking, skiing and exploring Switzerland and beyond with our two boys that are now 10 and 13 years old. I’m the creator and editor of Moms Tots Zurich, a website providing detailed reviews of family friendly activities in Switzerland, particularly hikes that are suitable for all ages and abilities. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for regular tips on weekend outings and family friendly travel.
A huge thank you to Tanya for taking the time to share with us all about her favourite place to ski, Elm. She has written a more in depth review about Elm over on her website.
Do you have a ski area you return to time after time that you would like to share with the Simple Family Travel community? It doesn't have to just be to ski - do you enjoy sledding? Snowshoeing? A spa?! We would love to hear stories of families who also don't ski. Get in contact!