Les Diablerets (pronounced lay dee-AH-blur-ay) is part of a ski region that includes the linked villages of Villars and Gryon in Switzerland. Of the three, which are skiable on a single lift pass, Les Diablerets (tel. +41 (0)24-492 33 58; www.lesdiablerets.ch) commands the most attention in the early season, the late season, and in any season of below-par snowfall.
Les Diablerets' Glacier 3000 complex is like a ski area within a ski area. The 3000 refers to its approximate top elevation in meters, which translates to roughly 10,000 feet. Reached by the high-capacity Col du Pillon-Cabane-Scex Rouge cable car from the valley, it is one of Europe's largest glacier skiing and snowboarding areas. Skiers love the wide-open cruising terrain, including the 7km Olden run. The lifts start daily operations on Oct. 31 and run through May 2. The glacier is a tremendous summer and winter attraction for skiers and non-skiers alike, and Botta 3000, the summit restaurant complex, is a destination in its own right.
In particular, Les Diablerets is a winter and summer snowboarding mecca. There's a cool boardercross course on Isenau, but the glacier is the real deal for riders. It holds Europe's largest summer terrain park, which was designed by Nicolas Marduel with Mitch Buchanan, Lolo Besse and Berti Denervaud, all big names in the international rider realm. It boasts three halfpipes, a boardercross course, and a terrain park.
The Meilleret sector is paradise for advanced skiers and riders. It has the highest concentration of lifts and appealing variety of groomed runs. Those down to nearby Villars are the longest and most challenging. A beginner area, charmingly called "Snowli" lies at the bottom, but most beginners head to Isenau, a separate area well populated by Swiss Ski & Snowboard School instructors to shepherd newbies through the first phases of learning to slide on snow.
Les Diablerets is a charming and intimate town in the French-speaking part of Switzerland but close to the German-speaking part of the country. It is an ideal family destination. Located just 1½ hours from Geneva, it is easy to reach. Children to age nine ride lifts free, and most accommodations also offer a free stay for youngsters when sharing their parents' room. And fully half the runs are rated for beginners and novices. Plus, international flights still do not charge for checked baggage, which cuts the total cost of family ski vacationing.
Classic Alpine chalets are the dominant architectural style in this intimate, low-key resort. The Eurotel Victoria, the largest hotel, has just 101 rooms, and no other hotel in town hits the triple digits in terms of room count. In addition to intimate, family-owned hotels and B&Bs, Les Diablerets offers abundant apartment accommodations.
Miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter walking lace through the valley. Best of all is a 7.2 km sledding run at Meilleret, a don't-miss experience. The resort also offers a tubing park, skating rink, pool, para-gliding, and wellness programs.
Les Diablerets Stats
Lifts: 3 cable cars, 1 gondola, 6 chairlifts, 14 surface lifts in Les Diablerets; 45 total lifts including Villars and Gryon and 71 in Alpes Vaudoise Region
Hourly lift capacity: 22,565 Les Diablerets; 44,755 in the region
Terrain: 50% beginner and novice, 42% intermediate, 8% advanced and expert
Vertical: 1,200 meters (3,936 feet); top: 3,000 meters (9,840 feet)
Runs: 130 kilometers of marked runs
Snowboarding: 3 halfpipes, 2 boardercross courses, 1 terrain park.
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