Spring skiing is all about long sunny days and relaxing on the scenic terraces of mountain restaurants: at this time of year, the après-ski is an important factor in choosing a resort. Valais has locations to suit every taste. What's your style of après-ski?
1. Pit-stop beside the piste
Countless piste-side restaurants, bars and their sun terraces offer the chance to start après-ski even before the day's skiing is over. One such venue, located on the last run back to resort, is Bar 1936 between Les Ruinettes and Verbier. Look out for a pair of Mongolian-style yurts with sunloungers outside, and follow the music and the aroma of freshly made mulled wine. In the Veysonnaz sector of "Les 4 Vallées", the Tipi at an altitude of 2,000 metres beside the iconic Piste de l'Ours is known for its party atmosphere with live music. After yurts and a tipi, check out Ricco's Iglu at Schönbiel above Belalp - known to locals as Riglu. The burgers are a sensation. So, here's to a successful ski day - cheers!
2. Where the party is going on
What is the secret of many of the top après-ski venues in Valais? Superb locations with breathtaking views and great music - whether live bands or DJ sets. In Zermatt, revellers gather at Hennu Stall, midway down the run from Furi back to Zermatt. The house slogan, "Come rock with us", says it all. Over in French-speaking Valais, the Mouton Noir in Verbier promises a party atmosphere by the gondola station at Les Ruinettes. Up to 1,000 guests throng the panoramic terrace to beats from the resident DJ and spectacular mountain views. In Crans-Montana, the Club Cry d'Er by the eponymous lift summit station wows guests with its 360-degree views of the Valais Alps. Local musicians play here as well as well-known DJs. A scenic run leads to the base station of the Cry d'Er gondola and the Zerodix lounge bar. With live music and DJs, the après-ski here can run until late.
3. Gourmet treats
Après-ski in Valais can also be a gourmet adventure. How about a glass of wine or a cocktail served with home-made tapas? Try the lounge bar of the restaurant L'Atelier Gourmand in Champéry, which promises a cosy atmosphere at the gateway to the ski area of Les Portes du Soleil. Over at Harry's Skibar in the Matterhorn Lodge Zermatt, the après-ski has a distinctly international feel. The former "chicken shack" hosts a unique blend of Swiss and Austrian après-ski culture, whereby staff serve the legendary Stiegl beer in traditional Tyrolean costume. Another venue not to be missed is Cervo Zermatt, for its buzzing après-ski at the foot of the Matterhorn. Holidaymakers inspired to buy some of the region's delicacies to bring home can stop on their return journey at Fol'terres in Fully, down in the Rhône valley. This gastronomic treasure trove showcases local wines, alpine cheeses and a mouth-watering variety of other gourmet treats from more than 100 Valais producers.
4. Authentic and unpretentious
At the Stafelbar in the heart of the ski area of Grächen, guests sit on cosy sheepskins along long wooden benches or around a fire, or stretch out on loungers by the edge of the piste to enjoy views of the surrounding 4,000-metre peaks. The atmosphere is just as authentic and unpretentious at Aftersky in Ovronnaz. Holidaymakers mix with locals over games of billiards or darts and to enjoy the house beers and cocktails. Across the Rhône valley, beer enthusiasts are in for a treat: Le Barloucâ in Veysonnaz serves no fewer than 75 different brews. If you lose track of time and miss dinner, no problem: Le Barloucâ also serves Valais platters (delicious local cheese and cured meat) along with a choice of snacks and stays open until midnight.
5. Late into the night
Après-ski can lead seamlessly to dinner and clubbing - and for such occasions, you won't have to search long for a suitable venue in Verbier. Le Farinet draws an enthusiastic local and international clientele until late at night with its daily happy hour and live bands. At Le Rouge Restaurant & Club, the après-ski starts on the terrace with live DJ sets. Guests enjoy the stylish but relaxed atmosphere, hospitality with a smile and delicious cuisine from all over the world. In the resort of Champoussin, Le Nid in the restaurant & ski hostel Le Poussin also stages live music in the evening, this time in more of a pub atmosphere. Up on the slopes of Belalp, the après-ski at the NewWaveBar in Bruchegg continues all evening with cocktails and pancakes.