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Best of the Alps has clearly set the bar high for alpine resorts that wish to join.
The group of prominent alpine resorts in Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy and Germany offer visitors lofty locales, with the lowest of the mountain resorts — Germany’s Garmisch-Partenkirchen — found at some 600 meters, reports Best of the Alps CEO Sammy Salm.
And simply being a high-altitude Alps community doesn’t mean being quickly welcomed into the Best of the Alps fold, Salm adds.
“Ninety-five per cent of towns don’t quality,” he says, adding Best of the Alps isn’t interested in admitting a “purpose-built” resort that dates back to the 1960s.
Rather the group — which describes its members as “The Classic Mountain Resorts” and includes such famed communities as Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Kitzbuhel, Megeve, Davos Klosters and Cortina D’Ampezzo among its ranks –says members have long and storied tourism traditions, often catering to tourists for over 100 years.
“There’s a long ambiance,” Salm says of his resorts. “There’s a history. People live there. Their children go to school there.”
Member resorts were responsible for many skiing innovations, such as the first ski lift and the first ski school.
But Salm says those visiting a Best of the Alps member today will find modern ski lifts, snow-making and long-standing hotels that are constantly renovating, ensuring guests will find modern amenities in resorts that Best of the Alps labels “the cardle of skiing” and which collectively have hosted 5 Olympic Games, 2 nordic world ski championships and 10 alpine world ski championships.
Salm also says people shouldn’t simply view the resorts as winter retreats, with Garmisch-Partenkirchen actually welcoming more visitors during the summer than in winter.
Andreas Stoffel of Davos Destinations-Organization says Davos and fellow Swiss resort St. Moritz were “pioneers of winter tourism,” with Davos among other things having been home to the first bob-sleighing.
Winter-time Davos visitors can opt for the likes of alpine and cross-country skiing, while those visiting in summer can participate in different sports as well, among them mountain biking and hiking.
Davos is known in part for hosting the World Economic Forum, giving it an upscale image, with Stoffel saying that doesn’t have to be the case. Those vacationing in Davos can find four- and five-star hotels but can also stay in youth hostels, he notes.
Stoffel says visitors will be impressed by the alpine scenery, regardless of the time of year that they visit: “The mountains are always beautiful.”
Some Alps resorts have been struggling with little snowfall in recent years but Stoffel reports that Davos hasn’t had to contend with that issue.
Best of the Alps members are Kitzbuhel, Lech Zurs, Megeve, Seefeld, St. Anton, Davos Klosters, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Crans-Montana, Courmayeur, Cortina D’Ampezzo and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
More information is available at bestofthealps.com.
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