Surrounded by the Alps and Jura Mountains, Geneva is ideally situated for easy, day-long skiing trips — the season usually runs through late April — and the following three resorts can get you from the heart of the city to world-class slopes in under an hour and a half, allowing you plenty of time to retreat back to your downtown room after your runs.
Why stay in the snow when you can return to luxurious accommodations in Geneva like the sophisticated Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotel President Wilson, A Luxury Collection Hotel, the comfortable and restful Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Geneva or the quirky Four-Star Hotel d’Angleterre? And let’s face it, after a long day of skiing, there is no better reward than a treatment at Kempinski’s Four-Star Le Spa or Le Spa by Sisley – Le Richemond.
Additionally, you can avoid hefty ski and snowboard baggage charges by flying Swiss Airlines directly into Geneva where equipment travels free of charge. Though there are public transportation options to get to some ski areas, they are not convenient and take an inordinate amount of time. It’s best to either rent a car or hire a driver. If you need last-minute equipment, look into Doodah, Penseyres-Sports or Tranzport, all located conveniently around the city center.
Chamonix Mont Blanc
Drive time from Geneva: 1 hour
Chamonix hosted the very first Winter Olympic Games in 1924 and it’s still the place to go for those wanting to push the envelope. The resort is known worldwide for its challenging runs, off-piste powder and dramatic terrain. Its storied 12-mile Vallée Blanche is a high off-piste run, the longest in Europe, and a rite of passage for most skiers. Chamonix offers 65 lifts and over 100 runs, mainly favoring intermediate to advanced skiers. It is also packed with excellent restaurants — over 150 places, in fact — that range from fine dining at Le Bistrot to burgers at Pointe Isabella. The MBC microbrewery offers live music and fresh pours, while the Mix Bar not only provides cocktails but fresh fruit juices. Casino Barriere is open until 2 a.m., should you need an adrenalin fix with roulette, black jack or stud poker.
Drive time from Geneva: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Megève, with its 88 lifts and 183 runs for mainly intermediate and advanced skiers on its 7,700-foot summit, is one of Europe’s iconic ski destinations. Created by the Rothschild family, Megève was not built as a specific vacation destination but was founded upon a 13th-century village with cobbled intimate streets. The place is now surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants like Flocons de Sel. Hang out at Club de Jazz Les Cinq Rues, one of Europe’s oldest jazz lounges, dating back nearly seven decades. There’s also the Casino, open until 3 a.m. nightly, which entertains with slot machines, Blackjack and Palo Alto’s dance floor.
Drive time from Geneva: 1 hour, 30 minutes
This unblemished French ski resort, around since 1907, is one of the oldest in continued use. Since La Clusaz is still very much a village, it is a nice change of pace from the larger, bulkier ski resorts. La Clusaz is also one of the most family-friendly addresses, thanks in part to the new Fun Zone and Family Run. The latter offers freestyle options for the kids but still has challenging runs for parents.
There are a total of 49 lifts, making this resort smaller but more manageable. Five mountain slopes and 84 pistes that descend from open timberland into tree-lined pistes are surrounded by 988 acres.
Ideal for beginners, 58 percent of the pistes at La Clusaz are dedicated to those just starting out on their skis. Twenty-six restaurants are located in the village center, including La Ferme, a traditional and very popular French Alpine restaurant. Later, stop by L’Eculse, a bar and dance spot with a glass floor set directly above the river.