OverviewLaax ski resort in Switzerland's Graubunden region, is a mix of contrasting styles - from traditional to modern - spread over three villages: Laax, Flims and Falera. The region's largest ski domain, it is undoubtedly one of the coolest resorts for snowboarders, with 4 great parks, superb snowsure riding at altitude, and a glorious sunshine record.
The three villages, just a few kms drive from each other are also places of contrast: Laax Dorf, for example, is the orginal rustic village, while what is now called Laax features a newer, more modern complex, Rocks Resort, geared very much to the younger demographic, with cool bars to hang out in and superb on- and off-slope facilities. Falera is a good spot for a more relaxing holiday, and Flims Waldhaus is where you'll find most of the higher end hotels.
Conversely, the resort has also reached out to families in a big way. Each centre has a special 'snow wonderland' where kids can learn about the mountain with Ami Sabi, magician and friend of the forest and the animals.
Access is relatively easy: Laax is around 90 minutes from both Zurich and Friedrichshafen airports, and there are train stations at Chur and Ilanz, both about 30 minutes away, if you're using the highly efficient Swiss Railway system.
While there are some pleasantly wooded home runs, particularly to Laax and Flims, most of the resorts 235km of piste are above the tree-line on wide-open faces, which means skiers are very reliant on Laax's good sunshine record.
Long gondola rides from Laax and Flims Dorf and a very long cable from Laax do the lion's share of carrying skiers up to the main zones of Crap Sogn Gion and Nagens, from where a busy network of chairs and more gondolas fans out to serve extensive amounts of mostly intermediate terrain.
In good weather, the upper slopes are tremendous - the bowl below La Siala (2,810m) and the runs from the Vorab Glacier summit (3,020m) are especially fine, with wonderful panoramic views. The red/black/red downhill run from Crap Sogn Gion back into Laax is also superb when conditions are right.
Fast descents are also in order from the outlying Naraus zone above Flims Dorf. Overall, the variety and extent of the intermediate terrain throughout is excellent.
Beginners have nursery slopes at village level and up at Crap Sogn Gion. Experts will find a few blacks, but will mostly enjoy the vast amount of freeride terrain, especially runs off La Siala and from Cassons (2,675m).
It's snowboarders who are truly spoilt here, however. The four snowparks at Crap Sogn Gion cater for all abilities including a 520m pro-line with four kickers, as well as Europe's biggest half-pipe, and offer many slope-side places to meet and chill, and the freeride down from Crap is another winner. Laax base station also has Europe's first indoor freestyle hall, for that essential pre-slope practice.
The party starts from 3pm at Legna bar at Flims base station aned continues into the night at Tegia Larnags. Indy is more relaxed with cool drinks and chillout sounds. New for 2013/14 season is Bodega y Tapas at Casa Veglia in Laax base station.
Off the slopes and apres ski
There are a wide range of restaurants both on the mountain and in the valley, catering to all pockets and tastes. Flims and Laax both have good shops.
It's worth remembering the splintered nature of the resort, if you come to book here. Laax is the liveliest spot, along with Flims Dorf, while Laax Dorf and Flims Waldhaus are better for those seeking peace and quiet.
For off the slope activities, there's cross-country skiing, tobogganing, an ice rink, sports centre and 100km of winter walking trails.
// HIGHLIGHTS //
// RECOMMENDED //
Bars and clubs