Ski Lenzerheide

Lenzerheide has historically been one of lesser-known Swiss ski areas - a mid-range resort less popular with English-speaking skiers and tour operators than its better-known rivals in the Jungfrau region or over in the south-western Valais canton.

That has been slowly changing as the popularity of independent ski holidays increases with the ability of skiers to book their own flights and hotels - and certainly eastern Switzerland has been one of the main beneficiaries with the range of flights to Zurich and the good public transport system.

Lenzerheide is also set to benefit from the publicity surrounding the long-winded project to link up with another medium-size resort over the mountains. The link with Arosa was finally agreed in 2011 and work started in the summer of 2013 on the massive cable car to bring skiers across from one area to another. With the addition of the Arosa runs the ski area increased from 155km of piste to 225km.

Village View

Lenzerheide History

The route over the Lenzerheide pass goes way back into history. It was near a major military route used by the Roman military between their settlements in Milan, Chur and Augsburg. The mountain slopes around Lenzerheide were used as high seasonal farming meadows, while the Rothorn, where the cable car now stands, was the site of iron ore mining in the Middle Ages.

The first hotel was opened in Lenzerheide in the late 19th century, although there had previously been a guesthouse in the village for cattle merchants. At around the same time, what had previously been seasonal settlement turned into year-round habitation and Lenzerheide took on the trappings of a proper village rather than a summer farming hamlet.

The inhabitants of Lenzerheide were worried about the potential competition to the traffic over the pass from the Albula railway from Thusis through to the Engadine and they decided to work on the prospects for winter tourism in the village. Originally there was a plan for an electric tram line from Chur to Lenzerheide which never came to fruition but eventually the road over the pass was paved and tarmac-ed just before the Second World War broke out.

Lenzerheide actually set up the first ski lessons in Switzerland just after the turn of the century but it wasn't until the 1940s that the first ski lifts as we would know them were built on the slopes of the Pit Scalottas.

The lifts on that side were followed in the 1960s by the cable car up the Rothorn on the other side of the valley. During this time between the end of the war and the 1960s construction and tourism had boomed along the main road through the pass.

Lenzerheide Today

Nowadays Lenzerheide has more than 2500 hotel beds and can claim overnight stays in all forms of tourist accommodation of over 1 million. Holidaymakers stay in the main resorts of Lenzerheide or Valbella at the other end of the Heidsee lake, with some staying in the smaller settlement of Parpan or even in Churwalden further down the valley.

However, from its prime position at the beginning of Swiss skiing, the resort has slipped behind near neighbours in the region, let alone resorts over in the centre and the west of the country, in terms of winter tourism.

The discussions over a ski link between Arosa and Lenzerheide date back to the 1970s, but the actual proposals were first made in a formal fashion at the beginning of this century. Originally the plans called for chairlifts and ski runs through the Urden valley between the two resorts, but these were deemed unworkable on environmental grounds.

The two ski areas, the lift companies and the environmental organisations came up with an idea for a cable car without any intermediate pylons direct from the Arosa side to the top of the eastern ridge on the Lenzerheide side.

This was agreed by Arosa in 2008 and by Lenzerheide in 2011 in referenda and finally by the environmental groups in 2012. Work started on the connection in summer 2013.

In return for the agreement, the Lenzerheide authorities agreed to place a priority on public transport links and to rework plans to link the eastern and western slopes in an environmentally-sensitive area around Parpan.