Two hours South-East of Zurich, the Swiss ski resort of Laax consists of three lift-linked villages - Films, Laax and Falera - which share a fairly large, fairly high and fairly sunny ski area with a snowsure glacier at the top. Laax is also both family-friendly and snowboarder-friendly.
Previously known as Flims Laax Falera – its three base station villages – Laax has a medium large ski area, with 224 kilometres of slopes, 4 snow parks and 28 ski lifts. That’s enough for most skiers and boarders for a week, although strong keen skiers and boarders will find it a little bit restrictive, particularly if the weather is warm. The top lifts on the Vorab Glacier (3020m), La Siala (2810m) and Cassons (2675m) are all high enough to access snowsure pistes, but lower down it’s a different story. The slopes at Laax mostly face South or South East and the villages, at between 1000m and 1200m, lack the necessary altitude for the lower runs to be consistently enjoyable or even skiable.
But once you accept that at the end of the day you might have to take a lift back down to the resort, or plough through slush, there is a lot of very enjoyable skiing and boarding to be had up high, particularly for intermediates who are not seeking very tough challenges. Beginners are also well treated, although the village level nursery slopes might suffer from poor snow. (Fortunately there are some more halfway up the mountain at Crap Sogn Gion which is only one lift away from Laax and two from Falera and Films). Advanced skiers are not totally forgotten about because there are several ungroomed ski routes, as well as some genuine off-piste itineraries to be explored with a guide, but the area’s South-facing orientation means these quickly turn to crud, or into icy moguls, so you need to catch them whilst the powder is still fresh.
The snow parks therefore may offer a more reliable opportunity for challenging fun. Laax has always been a Boarders’ Resort and a Freestyle Resort and it hosts two high profile snowboarding events every year – the Brits and the Burton European Open. On the slopes boarders often outnumber skiers and there are as many snowboard instructors as ski instructors.
Back in the resort, the villages of Laax and Films are split into two, with both having a traditional village called Dorf (Laax Dorf is prettier than Films Dorf) and more modern suburbs higher up and closer to the lifts. All of the villages have some apres ski and nightlife if you want to burn the candle at both ends, and there is definitely a cool, hip snowboarder scene in Laax but generally this is not a loud’n’lively resort – it attracts too many families with small children for that. Instead the main feeling you encounter among people who come to Laax is one of quiet satisfaction that they have sought out and found a ski resort that is rarely covered by the big mass-market tour operators, but delivers what they want.